The Sports Daily > Crease and Assist
Game #16: Minnesota Wild at Tampa Bay Lightning, Sunday November 14, 2010 at 4:00pm (CST), St. Pete Times Forum [GAME PREVIEW]
Record Pts Div. Rank G/G GA/G PP% PK%
Minnesota Wild (7-6-2) 16 3rd NW 2.27 (27) 2.33 (7) 27.7%(2)

87.5% (7)

Tampa Bay Lightning
(8-6-2) 18 2nd SE 2.94 (10) 3.12 (24) 22.5% (6) 89.9% (2)


Minnesota Wild
Top 5 Scorers: G A Pts
1. #9 Mikko Koivu 3 11 14
2. #7 Matt Cullen 3 10 13
3. #24 Martin Havlat 1 9 10
4. #8 Brent Burns 5 4 9
5. #15 Andrew Brunette 3 5 8
Top 3 Penalty Minutes: PIM
1. #8 Brent Burns 29
2. #16 Brad Staubitz 27
3. #4 Clayton Stoner 17
Goaltenders: GAA SV%
1. #32 Niklas Backstrom (6-4-2) 2.07 .933
2. #60 Jose Theodore (1-2-0) 3.02 .909
Tampa Bay Lightning
Top 5 Scorers: G A Pts
1. #91 Steven Stamkos 15 12 27
2. #26 Martin St. Louis 6 12 18
3. #4 Vincent Lecavalier 3 6 9
4. #16 Teddy Purcell 2 7 9
5. #6 Ryan Malone 2 7 9
Top 3 Penalty Minutes: PIM
1. #9 Steve Downie 58
2. #10 Sean Bergenheim 20
3. #6 Ryan Malone 17
Goaltenders: GAA SV%
1. #33 Dan Ellis (4-3-2) 2.47 .910
2. #41 Mike Smith (4-3-0) 3.63 .869


It seems like I was correct in my misgivings regarding this roadtrip.  Trust me, I would have much preferred to be very, very wrong.  When I looked closely at the regular season schedule after such a terribly pre-season, this was the roadtrip that raised all sorts of red flags for me.  For other fans their misgivings are associated with a West Coast or a Northwest Division roadtrip.  I will admit, with the exception of perhaps the Florida Panthers, this year’s version of the Southeastern Conference can no longer be sarcastically called the Southleast Division.  Yet, what is tantamount to failure against a division that the Wild have generally played well against has to make you shake your head in frustration.

The feelings of disappointment were pretty much capped up by Brent Burns‘ actions at the end of the game against Florida.  After the final horn Friday night, Burns was involved in a scrum with Florida’s Steve Bernier.  In the scrum, Burns appears to have lost control of his stick, the end of it cutting Bernier in the area around his eye.  Later reports indicated that Bernier required surgery to repair a fractured orbital bone.  Once Bernier is cleared to play, he’ll most likely be sporting a full cage for a while.  Due to the incident, an extremely remorseful Burns has been suspended for two games.  While I’ve never been a big fan of Burns, I have to give him credit for accepting full blame and not complaining about his suspension.  As Burns very accurately said, he has to be in control of his stick at all times.  Burns could have easily complained about Bernier’s actions that led up to the stick infraction.  However he didn’t.  Truth be told, it’s quite refreshing to hear a professional athlete accepting responsibility for their actions, especially when it results in the injury of another player, especially an opponent.  Burns’ two-game sitdown is much deserved, and it appears that even Colin Campbell kept the suspension short as even the league realizes that Burns is not a dirty player.  There was no pre-meditation involved, nor intent to injure.

The disappointment can easily continue as the Wild have to venture into the St. Pete Times Forum this afternoon to face the Lightning.  Once again, this is another team that the Wild more times than not have found success against.  Of course it doesn’t help thinking about the fact that Tampa Bay has Steven Stamkos who leads the league in goals.  To further rub salt in the wounds of Wild fans, Stamkos has more goals than any member of the Wild has total points.  If you weren’t feeling anxious enough, just remember that Stamkos is on the same line as their second best scorer, Martin St. Louis, who also has more points than any player on the Wild.  I would be beyond “happy” if the Wild managed to come out with one point.  I just don’t know if they have enough in them to do it.

With Burns out, it’s a good thing that Marek Zidlicky appears he’ll be making his return to the lineup in Tampa Bay.  However reading an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune yesterday, part of his return is weather related.  While the team has been in the usually much warmer southern United States, the Twin Cities Metro area has been blanketed with heavy, wet snow.  The one thing making his return more probable is that it’s still fairly “warm” here in the Upper Midwest.  If this were January, I wouldn’t count on Zidlicky.  Also making his return in a Wild jersey is Robbie Earl.  It seems that one area that the Wild failed to address during the past off-season was that of team speed.  Let’s face it, we’re far from anything that could even be mildly referred to as fast.  While Earl is not the most offensively gifted player, he possesses speed that most members of the Wild do not.  If Earl could at least use that speed to skate the puck into the zone, the Wild just might have a chance to make a game of it.  However, it also means that his new teammates will have to try and keep up.  I don’t hold out great hope of that. 

Are you feeling like you’d rather build yourself a blanket fort like you had as a kid, and never come out again?


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