Going back to Scott Wedgewood Thursday a ‘no brainer’ for Rick Bowness

Stars (42-27-4, 88 points) vs. Wild (45-21-6, 96 points)

7 p.m. CT, American Airlines Center

TV: ESPN

Radio: The Ticket 96.7-FM, 1310-AM

Video: Rea previews Stars-Wild

As a reminder, puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm CT with coverage on ESPN

Scott Wedgewood might be the happiest surprise of the season for the Stars.

Dallas loaded up on veteran goalies in the offseason in hopes of being able to navigate some injury issues. However, all three of the veterans got hurt, and that forced the Stars to scramble at the trade deadline.

Wedgewood was available after starting the season in New Jersey and getting claimed off waivers by Arizona. The 29-year-old journeyman had some good performances along the way, including a huge win against the Stars, so he was definitely on their radar.

But what started out as a safety valve has become a huge part of the team as they make a push for a playoff spot. Wedgewood is 3-0-1 and is coming off a shutout against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning, so he’ll get the start Thursday in a huge game against Minnesota.

“It’s a no-brainer,” said coach Rick Bowness.

Video: ‘He got a shutout, so I think that’s a no-brainer’

Wedgewood’s rise hasn’t been so obvious. He’s 29, has bounced around the league, and has never really been in a playoff race. But he’s grasping this opportunity and handling the pressure with grace.

“It’s huge,” Wedgewood said of beating Tampa Bay and being a part of a playoff push. “From a structure standpoint, what you need to win, how you’re going to win, guys missing shifts with injuries and blocked shots, there’s a crazy amount of desperation. In the first period, we had three or four guys just eat pucks That’s what it’s going to take to win.”

And for Wedgewood, it’s exactly where he wants to be.

“As an athlete, you couldn’t ask for anything better than this at this stage of his career,” Bowness said. “You bounce around to three different teams, and now you’re in a position to help a team get in the playoffs? It’s great.”

what to watch

Minnesota is one of the hottest teams in the NHL, going 11-2-2 over its past 15 games. It ranks fourth in the NHL in scoring at 3.65 goals per game.

“They’re playing really good hockey,” Bowness said. “They’re physical, they forecheck well, they break the puck out really well, it’s a five-man rush, they’re playing really well, and they’re on top of their game.”

Kirill Kaprizov leads the way with 42 goals among 91 points in 71 games. He’s been playing on a line with Mats Zuccarello and Ryan Hartman.

“You just watch them handle the puck, they’re always moving for each other and they make those quick little passes that as a defend, sometimes the puck goes through your skates or in the triangle between your stick and your feet,” Bowness said . “What they want you to do is like when I coached the [Sedin] twins in Vancouver, they want you to chase the puck. If you chase the puck, these guys will make you look bad. You have to stay with them, you can’t just start chasing the puck.”

line up update

Alexander Radulov has recovered from his illness and is expected to go back in. Vladislav Namestnikov is out week to week.

Here’s a possible lineup:

Robertson-Hintz-Pavelski
Benn-Seguin-Guryanov
Raffl-Faksa-Glendening
Studenic-Peterson-Radulov

Suter-Heiskanen
Lindell-Klingberg
Hanley-Hakanpaa

Wedgewood
Oettinger

Video: ‘They’ve got some high-end skilled players’

numbers
19

Minnesota by far leads the NHL in pulling the earliest goalie and having the most success. The Wild has 19 6-on-5 goals. Dallas has three.

9

Kaprizov has nine points (four goals, five assists) in three career games against the Stars.

42

stars forward Tyler Seguin has 42 points (16 goals, 26 assists) in 36 career games against Minnesota.

he said it

“A wide-open game isn’t really great for me, but it’s fun to play in this type of game. It’s so meaningful to your team, and to theirs, and it was fun to be a part of.” — Stars forward Luke Glendening after a 1-0 win against Tampa Bay Tuesday

Great seats are still available for tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild! Get your tickets now!

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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