The Sports Daily > Crease and Assist
Game #15: Minnesota Wild at San Jose Sharks, Thursday November 10, 2011 at 9:30pm (CST), HP Pavilion [GAME PREVIEW]

Record Pts Div. Rank G/G GA/G PP% PK%
Minnesota Wild (8-3-3) 19 2nd NW 2.21 (26) 1.79 (2) 12.5% (25)

82.6% (13)

San Jose Sharks
(4-4-1) 17 2nd Pacific 3.00 (6) 2.69 (16) 21.3% (7) 72.3% (29)


Minnesota Wild
Top 5 Scorers: G A Pts
1. #15 Dany Heatley 5 5 10
2. #9 Mikko Koivu 1 8 9
3. #7 Matt Cullen 6 2 8
4. #48 Guillaume Latendresse 4 4 8
5. #10 Devin Setoguchi 4 4 8
Top 3 Penalty Minutes: PIM
1. #16 Brad Staubitz 27
2. #48 Guillaume Latendresse 18
3. #25 Nick Johnson 17
Goaltenders: GAA SV%
1. #37 Josh Harding (4-0-1) 1.18 .965
2. #32 Niklas Backstrom (4-3-2) 2.05 .926
San Jose Sharks
Top 5 Scorers: G A Pts
1. #8 Joe Pavelski 9 8 17
2. #19 Joe Thornton 4 9 13
3. #12 Patrick Marleau 4 8 12
4. #39 Logan Couture 6 5 11
5. #29 Ryane Clowe 4 7 11
Top 3 Penalty Minutes: PIM
1. #69 Andrew Desjardins 21
2. #29 Ryane Clowe 18
3. #10 Brad Winchester 13
Goaltenders: GAA SV%
1. #31 Antti Niemi (5-2-1) 2.96 .898
2. #1 Thomas Greiss (3-2-0) 1.99 .928

When I was a kid, there were two words one could hear during the coveted summer vacation, that could almost ruin that vacation.  Often parents would spring them on you almost at the last minute, so they wouldn’t have to listen to the complaining as long.  Parents today are almost more fortunate than mine, because now kids will “plug in, and tune out” in the back seat with their iPods and smart phones.  If you’re wondering what those two words are, they’re “family reunion.”  I don’t know what your family reunions were like, but mine tended to have few kids there, especially on my dad’s side of the family.  In fact there were times when my parents were the youngest adults in attendance.  I often couldn’t wait to get home, and I grew up in a town of 1,000 people where there was absolutely nothing to do.

Tonight, the Minnesota Wild and San Jose Sharks meet in was is essentially a family reunion.  With former members of the Wild, Brent Burns and Martin Havlat now in San Jose (sorry, but I refuse to count James Sheppard in that equation because he still hasn’t done anything this season either) and former Sharks’ members Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi in Minnesota things could be interesting.  In Minnesota, fans were particularly frustrated with the play of Havlat, so he may feel a need to prove to Wild management that they may have made a mistake.  The trades involved this summer, might bring out some extra competitiveness in the players involved.  At family reunions, you sometimes see brothers who have always tried to outdo the other when it comes to money, success at work, houses, cars, etc.  If the four players involved use that competitiveness to their respective benefits, tonight just could turn out to be an exciting game.

So far, Minnesota head coach, Mike Yeo has been rather mum on the topic of starting goaltender.  Personally, I’m not surprised.  It is a big decision for the night.  With Niklas Backstrom’s outstanding play in Calgary Tuesday night along with Josh Harding’s four straight wins, Yeo should feel confident with his decision.  Of course much of the success of a goaltender is dependent on the skaters in front of him.  First and foremost, while the Wild’s penalty kill has been fantastic lately, you begin to test fate when you allow a team to go on the power play as many times as Calgary.  Eventually, someone will score on the power play against us.  Plus, not every team will have such an ineffective power play as Calgary.  San Jose has a fairly successful one, and I could easily see them scoring.  Staying out of the box and not giving them the opportunity would be the best place to start.    And of course the best way to help you team, especially the goaltender, is to score on one’s opposition.  In fact, a repeat of the Vancouver game when it comes to scoring would be nice.

Personally, I would like some good-natured competition, the kind you see between close siblings.  What I don’t want to see is when the competition means more than the people involved, meaning people get injured because someone used poor judgment.  As the old saying goes, blood is thicker than water, and hopefully there’s just enough family affection between the two teams that they’ll play hard against each other but not dangerously.  However, hopefully this family reunion is more exciting than the ones we all attended as children.

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