The Sports Daily > Crease and Assist
Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. San Jose Sharks 4/3/2013 @ 9:30PM CST at HP Pavillion

Minnesota Wild (21-12-2)  44pts  1st in the Northwest

2.69 Goals For (14th)

2.54 Goals Against (12th)

17.6% Power Play (18th)

82.4% Penalty Kill (11th)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 9G 24A = 33pts

2. #11 Zach Parise ~ 15G 15A = 30pts

3. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 3G 25A = 28pts

4. #7 Matt Cullen ~ 7G 18A = 25pts

5. #10 Devin Setoguchi ~ 12G 11A = 23pts

Top 3 PIM's:

1. #28 Zenon Konopka ~ 96 PIM's

2. #27 Mike Rupp ~ 65 PIM's

3. #44 Justin Falk ~ 36 PIM's

Top Goaltender(s):

1. #32 Niklas Backstrom (19-8-2)  2.40GAA  .914%SP  1 SO

2. #35 Darcy Kuemper (1-2-0)  2.22GAA  .924%SP

3. #37 Josh Harding (1-1-0)  2.92GAA  .885%SP  1 SO

4. #31 Matt Hackett (0-1-0)  5.08GAA  .848%SP






San Jose Sharks (18-11-6)  42pts  3rd in the Pacific

2.34 Goals For (28th)

2.37 Goals Against (6th)

18.7% Power Play (15th)

86.8% Penalty Kill (3rd)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #19 Joe Thornton ~ 6G 27A = 33pts

2. #12 Patrick Marleau ~ 16G 10A = 26pts

3. #39 Logan Couture ~ 15G 11A = 26pts

4. #8 Joe Pavelski ~ 11G 12A = 23pts

5. #22 Dan Boyle ~ 5G 11A = 16pts

Top 3 PIM's:

1. #29 Ryane Clowe ~ 79 PIM's

2. #10 Andrew Dejardins ~ 57 PIM's

3. #9 Martin Havlat ~ 26 PIM's

Top Goaltender(s):

1. #31 Antti Niemi (17-8-5)  2.12GAA  .924%SP  3 SO

2. #1 Thomas Greiss (1-3-0)  2.78GAA  .906%SP  1 SO

3. #32 Alex Stalock (0-0-1)  2.86GAA  .846%SP  

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Mikko Koivu


I'm afraid dear readers, that we are at a crucial part in this season.  I can think of several cliches, that accruately illustrate where we are: make or break; playoffs or bust; put up or shut up.  I think of last season, where everything was going right until it wasn't.  I feel like were once again facing that very same reality.  We've been living in this dreamland where the playoffs are just in reach.  As fans, we can see them and almost touch them, but truth of the matter, there is still a long way to go.  If you're not feeling some of the same doubts and concerns that I am, I'm concerned about your grasp on reality.

Luck and the downfall of other teams can only take you so far.  Let's face it, the Wild have won several games that they shouldn't have won.  For example, the most recent wins against Phoenix and Los Angeles, and the latter which we must face tomorrow.  And in those games the Wild shouldn't have won, it's because they had to claw their way back into it.  On top of having to fight back, it has often taken extra hockey, whether overtime or going to the shootout.  When you have to play like that game after game, it wears a team out.  Being tired at the time of the final push is not a good combination.  We've also seen games this season, where the Wild just don't get the lucky bounces.  Combine that with some questionable officiating, and there will be fewer and fewer lucky bounces coming our way.  As for hoping other teams collapse, we pretty much can only hope and pray that Vancouver falls on their face, or at least just enough to allow the Wild to maintain hold on the Northwest Division title.  And after Monday night's depressing loss to St. Louis, we must thank tonight's opponent for beating Vancouver in regulation.

We've faced some injuries over the past few weeks.  Now thankfully, the injuries have only sidelined players for a game or two (knock on wood).  What has been somewhat beneficial about those injuries, is that we have gotten to see what our rookies and prospects are made of.  And let's face it, those call-ups are extremely beneficial to the development of those young players.  They get realtime, NHL game experience, without the pressure of playing an entire NHL season before they are truly ready.  With the most recent injury of Matt Cullen (who is expected to be out for a couple of games after falling awkwardly during the St. Louis game), we will get the chance to see Johan Larsson in a realtime situation.  Now while Larsson is listed as a left wing, he is a versatile foward, who can (and has) comfortably played all three forward positions.  Even better, he has the vote of confidence of Aeros head coach, John Torchetti behind him.  Torchetti has been extremely pleased with the play of Larsson.  Now I'll admit, we may not see Larsson playing specifically in Cullen's spot, but he gives Wild head coach Mike Yeo room to shuffle things around.  Personally, I believe we'll see Pierre-Marc Bouchard in Cullen's spot and Larsson in Bouchard's spot or something like that.  With Cullen's injury, the fact that we're simply calling someone up, is indication that General Manager Chuck Fletcher is planning on sticking with the current roster instead of trying to acquire talent from another roster.  My guess is that he looked and inquired, but the prices were too high, meaning those other teams wanted prospects we weren't willing to part with.

I'm going to go out on a limb, and venture a guess that the games tonight and tomorrow's in Los Angeles will make or break us.  If the Minnesota Wild can't put in a good showing (meaning looking much better than they have the past 2-3 games), then we might as well plan on another post-season being on the outside looking in.  If the Wild can't nab the Northwest Division, it will be a fight to stay in the playoff picture.  Yes, the Wild appear to have earned a playoff spot at this time, but I won't guarantee one yet.  It would be beyond foolish to do so.  And I don't know about you, I don't like to be called foolish.


Jack Jablonski & Jenna Privette