The Sports Daily > Crease and Assist
Game #50: Nashville Predators at Minnesota Wild, Tuesday January 31, 2012, 7:00pm (CST), Xcel Energy Center [GAME PREVIEW]

Record Pts Div. Rank G/G GA/G PP% PK%
Minnesota Wild (24-18-7) 55 2nd Northwest 2.24 (29) 2.47 (8) 14.6% (23)

82.9% (14)

Nashville Predators
(30-16-4) 64  3rd Central 2.74 (12) 2.52 (9) 22.5% (2) 83.1% (12)


Minnesota Wild
Top 5 Scorers: G A Pts
1. #15 Dany Heatley 15 19 34
2. #9 Mikko Koivu 9 24 33
3. #7 Matt Cullen 11 16 27
4. #21 Kyle Brodziak 13 13 26
5. #96 Pierre-Marc Bouchard 9 13 22
Top 3 Penalty Minutes: PIM
1. #16 Brad Staubitz 73
2. #22 Cal Clutterbuck 58
3. #21 Kyle Brodziak 43
Goaltenders: GAA SV%
1. #32 Niklas Backstrom (13-12-4) 2.43 .921
2. #37 Josh Harding (9-6-3) 2.42 .925
3. #31 Matt Hackett (2-0-0) 0.85 .977
Nashville Predators
Top 5 Scorers: G A Pts
1. #10 Martin Erat 11 24 35
2. #6 Shea Weber 10 24 34
3. #11 David Legwand 13 18 31
4. #15 Craig Smith 11 18 29
5. #12 Mike Fisher 12 16 28
Top 3 Penalty Minutes: PIM
1. #22 Jordin Tootoo 62
2. #23 Brian McGrattan 56
3. #25 Jerred Smithson 28
Goaltenders: GAA SV%
1. #35 Pekka Rinne (28-11-4) 2.36 .925
2. #39 Anders Lindback  (2-5-0)  2.65 .898


If the Minnesota Wild ever had a theme song at this point in the season, it would be Maxine Nightengale’s “Right Back Where We Started From.”  For hockey fans, most of us recognize it as the road trip song from Slapshot.  As has been mentioned in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, it is now “crunch time” for the team if they want to get to the playoffs.  When it comes to getting “right back where we started from” we need to get back to that time where the Wild was winning on an almost nightly basis, often against all odds.  They need to get back to the way they were right before the All-Star break.

The players finally seem to realize what is really at stake.  There is a great video on the Star Tribune’s website today.  The players pretty much had all the same comment, that they need to work hard each and every day and night, both in practice and in games.  They realize that it won’t be easy, as the rest of the league will want to play just as hard.  Devin Setoguchi made the observation that getting players back from injury will greatly help the current woes.  Not only will it help skill wise, but it will most likely give a much needed mental self-confidence boost.  Prior to his shoulder injury, Mikko Koivu was starting to play the way the Wild needed him to play.  Even better, is that Guillaume Latendresse is getting closer to his own return.  It is believed that Koivu is closer to return than Latendresse, but any time a player suffering from a concussion gets back on the ice, it can only be classified as a good thing.  While he hasn’t been fully cleared yet, he says he’s not feeling dizzy anymore and that he’s feeling good.  All he needs now is to get his shot back.

Cal Clutterbuck made an interesting observation about coming back after the break.  According to the Wild’s agitator, he says you “feel like a first timer.”  Maybe that’s what this team needs.  During the recent slump, the team looked old and disinterested.  During the unbelievable winning streak, the team looked young and fresh, probably because they were.  We all know during that time, we were riddled with injuries young players were called up from Houston.  They brought with them energy and excitement.  The team needs to get back to that point.  Where youthful vitality trumped the odds.  Many of them were the first timers that Clutterbuck referred to.  I don’t know about you, but I’ll take energetic first timers who want to make a good first impression over disinterested vets any day of the week.

Thankfully, the Wild have already gone back to the “good ol’ days” of no Marek Zidlicky and Mike Lundin.  For the third game in a row, they along with Brad Staubitz will the the trio of healthy scratches.  If you remember, during the winning time, Zidlicky and Lundin were on injured reserve.  When they came back, especially in the case of Zidlicky, the good fortune pretty much dried up.  But look at the record, and one can only notice that the two games prior to the break were won by the Wild.  The defensemen actually looked like defensemen with that dead weight not on the ice.  I know I did a mental happy dance when I read tonight’s healthy scratches.  Now if we could figure out some way to unload them on some other team, I would be even happier.

Yes, it is time to get back to the beginning.  From the beginning of this team, they were expected to be competitive and give their all every night.  The 2000-01 roster won more games than anyone expected.  The 2002-03 team made the Cinderella run to the Western Conference Finals.  And as I mentioned earlier, this team overcame improbable odds and won games they shouldn’t have, especially when one considers the injuries.  It is time to channel all of those earlier moments, and get back to those.  Channel the energy and get back to the winning ways.  If there was a team that could somehow do it, it would be this team.  They might not get far in the playoffs should they make it, but hey we’ve heard that before.  This just might be the team to be a surprise once again.  That is something I wouldn’t mind getting to.   

Injury Report:

Minnesota:     Jarod Palmer (concussion), Guillaume Latendresse (concussion), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion, groin),  Mikko Koivu (left shoulder)    

Francis Bouillon (upper body, questionable) 

Jack Jablonski  Jenna Privette

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