The Sports Daily > Crease and Assist
Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Phoenix Coyotes @ 8:00PM CST at Jobing.com Arena

Minnesota Wild (4-3-1)  9pts  (3rd in the Northwest)

2.38 Goals For per Game (22nd in the NHL)

2.75 Goals Against per Game (16th in the NHL)

19th ranked Power Play (16.1%)

11th ranked Penalty Kill (82.1%)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #11 Zach Parise ~ 5G 4A = 9pts  

2. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 2G 6A = 8pts

3. #15 Dany Heatley ~ 4G 2A = 6pts

4. #77 Tom Gilbert ~ 2G 4A = 6pts

5. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 0G 4A = 4pts

Top 3 PIM's:

1. #28 Zenon Konopka ~ 14 PIM's

2. #4 Clayton Stoner ~ 9 PIM's

3. #14 Darroll Powe ~ 9 PIM's

Top Goaltender(s):

1. #32 Niklas Backstrom (3-2-1)  2.51GAA  .909%SP

2. #37 Josh Harding (1-1-0)  3.39GAA .873%SP  1 SO






Phoenix Coyotes (3-4-2)  8pts  (3rd in the Pacific)

3.00 Goals For per Game (9th in the NHL)

2.78 Goals Against per Game (17th in the NHL)

13th ranked Power Play (22%)

13th ranked Penalty Kill (81.2%)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #17 Radim Vrbata ~ 3G 6A = 9pts

2. #23 Oliver Ekman-Larsson ~ 2G 5A = 7pts

3. #89 Mikkel Boedker ~ 2G 5A = 7pts

4. #26 Steve Sullivan ~ 4G 1A = 5pts

5. #50 Antoine Vermette ~ 3G 2A = 5pts

Top 3 PIM's:

1. #24 Kyle Chipchura ~ 26 PIM's

2. #19 Shane Doan ~ 13 PIM's

3. #53 Derek Morris ~ 10 PIM's

Top Goaltender(s):

1. #41 Mike Smith (1-2-1)  3.06GAA  .873%SP  1 SO

2. #31 Chad Johnson (1-0-1)  .98GAA  .952%SP  1 SO

3. #1 Jason LaBarbera (1-2-0)  3.25GAA  .897%SP  

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Mikko Koivu & Radim Vrbata


Well if you've been asking for some changes to be made in this short season, well today is Christmas Day.  Now whether the changes inspire the team, well that's another story.

Let's just say that at the end of the season, Friday's game in Anaheim will either go down in the history books regarding this season as either the Wild' eureka moment or as its Waterloo.  I know I can speak for all of you, that you hope it was the game that brought about clarity in what needed to be done.  It's one thing for a team to generate offense, and as Wild fans, that is something we're used to.  It's another thing, and absolutely unforgivable, when the opposition completely takes over and controls your zone.  So how can one game possibly change the outlook, and ultimate end, of the season?  Well look at what happens with tonight's lineup.

First major change is that there will be a new face on tonight's roster.  Making his NHL debut is Charlie Coyle.  Personally, I like this call up even though most of us would have expected Jason Zucker to be the first face up since Jonas Brodin.  According to Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher they needed a bigger player with strong play along the boards.  While Coyle brings that, his call up is extra special because it brings some extra pressure to the roster.  First off, you simply need to remember that Coyle came to the Wild as a package deal in the Brent Burns trade that brought Devin Setoguchi to Minnesota.  Coyle will be on tonight's second line while his older trade-mate will be relegated to the fourth line, and that's if Setoguchi isn't scratched.  It also sends a much-needed message to top Wild prospect Mikael Granlund.  Granlund has been disappointing to many.  Yes, he scored on opening night, but since then his two assists cannot make up for the fact that he appears to not be strong enough for the NHL game.  He too could find himself on the fourth line tonight.  Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune is of the opinion that it will be Granlund in the press box tonight, as there are trade rumors regarding Setoguchi.  If you're looking to trade someone, you can't bench them.  Personally, I too hope that it's Granlund sitting.  He needs to get the message early that just because you were drafted in the first round does not mean you're untouchable.

Between the roster changes and the extensive practice sessions the team has had since Friday we shall see if they have any impact.  I hope they do, but I'm going to remain cautiously optimistic.  Hopefully it's a lesson learned by all.


It has just been reported that the Minnesota Wild have traded Darroll Powe and Nick Palmeiri to the New York Rangers for Mike Rupp.  Contracts are about equal, but what's nice about this trade, is that it frees up a contract space, which could indicate that future trades aren't that far off.  We shall see.


Jack Jablonski & Jenna Privette