The Sports Daily > Crease and Assist
Game #20: Minnesota Wild vs St. Louis Blues, Saturday November 19, 2011 at 7:00pm (CST), Xcel Energy Center [GAME PREVIEW]

Record Pts Div. Rank G/G GA/G PP% PK%
Minnesota Wild (11-5-3) 25 1st NW 2.21 (27) 1.95 (1) 12.5% (25)

83.3% (13)

St. Louis Blues
(10-7-1) 21 3rd Central 2.56 (21) 2.17 (3) 10.5% (30) 79.4% (23)


Minnesota Wild
Top 5 Scorers: G A Pts
1. #15 Dany Heatley 5 7 12
2. #7 Matt Cullen 8 3 11
3. #9Mikko Koivu 1 10 11
4. #10 Devin Setoguchi 6 4 10
5. #96 Pierre-Marc Bouchard 1 9 10
Top 3 Penalty Minutes: PIM
1. #16 Brad Staubitz 31
2. #22 Cal Clutterbuck 30
3. #25 Nick Johnson 19
Goaltenders: GAA SV%
1. #32 Niklas Backstrom (7-4-2) 1.97 .935
2. #37 Josh Harding (4-1-1) 1.78 .948
St. Louis Blues
Top 5 Scorers: G A Pts
1. #22 Kevin Shattenkirk 2 10 12
2. #20 Alexander Steen 7 4 11
3. #74 T.J. Oshie 5 6 11
4. #42 David Backes 6 4 10
5. #44 Jason Arnott 4 5 9
Top 3 Penalty Minutes: PIM
1. #25 Chris Stewart 42
2. #12 Scott Nichol 27
3. #5 Barret Jackman 17
Goaltenders: GAA SV%
1. #1 Brian Elliott (7-1-0) 1.43 .947
2. #41 Jaroslav Halak (3-6-1) 2.60 .889

I’ll believe it when I see it. 

One of the complaints I’ve had this season is the random passing by Wild skaters to an area, when there is no teammate there to receive the pass.  Usually, what ends up happening, is dumping the puck when our skaters are fast enough (or lack the initiative) to get there first or they end up turning over the puck to the opposition.  And of course, when they do pass the puck to a teammate, that puck is usually passed into the skates of their teammate, which then also yields either a turnover or even worse, kills what could have been a great offensive rush.  Seems that at yesterday’s practice, Wild head coach Mike Yeo had his players work on puck support.  Of course, I have yet to see if the lessons taught have really sunk in.

Tonight could easily be a let down for the top team in the Northwest Division, not to mention, the second best team in the Western Conference.  First, St. Louis will simply want to get back the win the Wild got two weeks ago.  On top of that, since the last match-up between Minnesota and St. Louis, a lot has changed.  First, the Wild could almost be blamed for the firing of former St. Louis coach, Davis Payne.  Since then, things have changed for the better for the Blues.  Once they hired Ken Hitchcock, the Blues have gone 4-0-1.  Sure, Minnesota has the winning record in this series, but I’m not about to rest my laurels on that, especially since we are such a low-scoring team.  There have been so many games, that Minnesota could have just as easily lost as they one, and that is not the story told in the standings.

Both teams while playing well, are essentially walking M.A.S.H. units.  Between the the two teams, there are five players out with concussions: Marco Scandella, Marek Zidlicky and Guillaume Latendresse for Minnesota and David Perron and Andy McDonald for St. Louis.  Then there are the assorted, groin, back, and ankle injuries.  On top of everything, St. Louis will be without Chris Stewart who is sitting out due to suspension.  Stewart was suspended three games for a hit from behind on Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall.  He won’t be eligible to return to action until November 23rd when the Blues travel to Pittsburgh.  Both teams have adversities to overcome, and it will be interesting how each team reacts to the losses to their respective rosters.

I would like to be pleasantly surprised by Minnesota’s efforts tonight.  However, I am apprehensive at best.  Sometimes, you just have to wonder how long the good luck will hold out.

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