The Sports Daily > Crease and Assist
Game #36: Minnesota Wild at Edmonton Oilers, Thursday December 22, 2011 at 8:30pm (CST), Rexall Place [GAME PREVIEW]

Record Pts Div. Rank G/G GA/G PP% PK%
Minnesota Wild (20-10-5) 45 1st NW 2.31 (28) 2.14 (4) 16.3% (20)

84.6% (8)

Edmonton Oilers (14-16-3) 31  5th NW 2.67 (14) 2.64 (13) 20.6% (4) 83.4% (9)


Minnesota Wild
Top 5 Scorers: G A Pts
1. #9 Mikko Koivu 8 20 28
2. #15 Dany Heatley 9 13 22
3. #7 Matt Cullen 9 11 20
4. #96 Pierre-Marc Bouchard 6 13 19
5. #21 Kyle Brodziak 11 7 18
Top 3 Penalty Minutes: PIM
1. #16 Brad Staubitz 64
2. #22 Cal Clutterbuck 38
3. #21 Kyle Brodziak 33
Goaltenders: GAA SV%
1. #32 Niklas Backstrom (11-7-4) 2.15 .930
2. #37 Josh Harding (7-3-1) 2.13 .932
3. #31 Matt Hackett (2-0-0) 1.01 .974
Edmonton Oilers
Top 5 Scorers: G A Pts
1. #14 Jordan Eberle 13 21 34
2. #93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 13 21 34
3. #94 Ryan Smyth 12 15 27
4. #4 Taylor Hall 9 13 22
5. #10 Shawn Horcoff 7 13 20
Top 3 Penalty Minutes: PIM
1. #24 Theo Peckham 66
2. #25 Andy Sutton 50
3. #94 Ryan Smyth 39
Goaltenders: GAA SV%
1. #35 Nikolai Khabibulin (10-8-3) 2.05 .931
2. #40 Devan Dubnyk (4-8-0) 3.10 .903

Egads, the ghost of Todd Richards was channeled yesterday.

With all the injuries and the overall tired appearances of the Minnesota Wild, head coach Mike Yeo decided to not have practice yesterday.  When I read that this morning, I suddenly had nightmares and flashback of the two-year Richards regime.  Richards would hold untimely “optional” practices or even worse no practice at all.  Even worse, those would happen after some of the worst games of the season.  Fans would cringe and shake their heads and wonder what the heck he was thinking.  And now, Wild fans were sure we had a no-nonsense coach, yet he has made a similar decision.  Part of me can understand the reasoning.  They’re at the end of a three-game Northwest Division roadtrip as well as they’ve lost five straight games.  They’re physically and mentally exhausted.  Yet at the same time, I think of my own job.  I work in customer service for a clothing company.  At this time of  year, we’re at our busiest.  Yesterday, I worked twelve straight hours, and it’s been that way all week.  I am physically and mentally exhausted, and my supervisors haven’t said to me “why don’t you take the day off.”  Instead I’m operating on about 4 hours of sleep and ready to start the day all over again.

Now the day off, isn’t going to speed of the return of any of the Wild injured players.  Mikko Koivu is still listed as ‘doubtful’ for a return tonight.  It would certainly be nice to get him back one of these days.  With his health status still in question, we’re most likely not going to see him back until after the Christmas holiday.  To the glee of many fans, Colton Gillies will most likely be a healthy scratch again this evening, as they’ve recalled Jeff Taffe once again from Houston.  Taffe seemed to have a decent game earlier in this five-game skid, and hopefully he can have a solid game tonight.  Now, I’m not expecting him to score a goal (though it would be nice and most welcome), at best it can be hoped that somehow he can bring some energy to a lagging Wild bench.  Yeo has noticed that both Cal Clutterbuck and Kyle Brodziak are dragging right now, and those are two guys that Minnesota need to be in full game-mode on a nightly basis.

I really hope the fact that Yeo cancelled practice is more exception to the rule and doesn’t become any sort of trend.  When we saw the true Mike Yeo make his presence known, I had sincerely hoped we had fully exorcised the spirit of Todd Richards.  It seems that there just might be a little bit of Richards lingering around.  I highly doubt that this will become a habit, but I will admit it makes me anxious.  We’ll just have to wait and see, and sometimes that’s the hardest thing to do.

Injury Report:

Minnesota    Devin Setoguchi (leg), Mikko Koivu (lower body), Guillaume Latendresse (concussion),   Casey Wellman (wrist) 

Taylor Fedun (broken femur), Cam Barker (ankle), Andy Sutton (suspended), Sam Gagner (neck)

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