Preview: Wild at Oilers
EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Minnesota Wild exited the All-Star break as the top team in the Central Division while the Edmonton Oilers found themselves tied for first in the Pacific Division.
So, when the two teams meet Tuesday at Rogers Place, it will certainly have a Clash of the Titans feel.
This will be the teams' third meeting of the season. The previous two went to the Wild, though one of the games was settled in overtime and the other was decided via shootout. All-Star goaltender Devan Dubnyk secured both wins against the team with which he played 171 games from 2009-14.
But, with Dubnyk playing in Sunday's All-Star festivities and Minnesota competing in Calgary Wednesday, the bet is that Darcy Kuemper will play against the Oilers.
"The energy was great in practice today, and you could tell guys were excited to be back out there again," Kuemper said before the Wild got on a plane for Edmonton. "It's just nice having a couple of days to kind of charge the batteries."
The Oilers were on a 7-0-1 streak before the All-Star break -- and finished that stretch with a sweep of road games against the Sharks and Ducks, teams they are battling for the Pacific Division title.
"I was so proud of our team," Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom said. "We played some really good hockey, like 8-1 (the aggregate score of the wins over the Ducks and Sharks) against those teams speak for themselves. We're a team to count on in the playoffs. It feels really good right now, we've got a lot of positive energy, especially after those two games."
Oilers goalie Cam Talbot, who has 26 wins on the season, said his team needed the break, even though the hot streak was put on hold.
"When things are going well, you can say maybe you've lost some momentum," he said. "But it's a good time to take the break and rest up a little bit. We had some guys who were a little bit banged up with the way that they play, so there were bumps and bruises that we were able to heal and come out of it a little bit stronger.
"(The wins against Anaheim and San Jose) have given us a ton of confidence, going into the break on a high. ... Coming out of the break it's no different here against another top team in our conference in Minnesota. It's going to be a battle tomorrow. Every point is huge nowadays, and it's going to be a fun stretch around here."
The Wild were also hot going into the break, winning four out of five.
Seven Minnesota players are over the 30-point mark this season. Eight players have hit the double-digit mark in terms of goals scored. To say that the Wild is a balanced team would be an understatement.
"When you're having fun, it's great to come to work," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Hockey's no different. Granted, they make good money and they're in the limelight and everything, but it's the same as any other job -- if you don't enjoy coming to work it usually doesn't end up well."
On Monday, the Wild announced that defenseman Mike Reilly has been called up from the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Iowa. Reilly has seven points in 42 career games with Minnesota.
Connor McDavid, the NHL's leading scorer at the break and the Oilers' lone All-Star representative, didn't practice Monday as he was allowed another day's grace after the busy weekend in Los Angeles.
"We'll go there, work hard and hopefully McDavid didn't make it back to Edmonton through the airport and we'll get a break," Boudreau joked.