Minnesota Wild (26-19-5) 57pts 4th in the Central
2.32 Goals For (26th)
2.38 Goals Against (8th)
18.7% Power Play (13th)
79.8% Penalty Kill (23rd)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #29 Jason Pominville ~ 19G 14A = 33pts
2. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 5G 25A = 30pts
3. #22 Nino Niederreiter ~ 9G 16A = 25pts
4. #24 Matt Cooke ~ 6G 14A = 20pts
5. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 3G 17A = 20pts
Top 3 PIM's:
1. #4 Clayton Stoner ~ 55 PIM's
2. #24 Matt Cooke ~ 32 PIM's
3. #2 Keith Ballard ~ 31 PIM's
1. #37 Josh Harding (18-7-3) 1.65GAA .933%SP 3SO
2. #32 Niklas Backstrom (5-10-2) 3.02GAA .899%SP
3. #35 Darcy Kuemper (3-2-0) 2.17GAA .917%SP 1SO
Dallas Stars (21-19-7) 49pts 5th in the Central
2.79 Goals For (11th)
3.00 Goals Against (26th)
13.1% Power Play (29th)
79.5% Penalty Kill (24th)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #91 Tyler Seguin ~ 21G 23A = 44pts
2. #14 Jamie Benn ~ 17G 23A = 40pts
3. #72 Erik Cole ~ 13G 10A = 23pts
4. #12 Alex Chiasson ~ 8G 15A = 23pts
5. #20 Cody Eakin ~ 10G 12A = 22pts
Top 3 PIM's:
1. #21 Antoine Roussel ~ 109 PIM's
2. #4 Brenden Dillon ~ 58 PIM's
3. #16 Ryan Garbutt ~ 53 PIM's
1. #32 Kari Lehtonen (17-13-7) 2.64GAA .916%SP 1SO
2. #30 Dan Ellis (4-5-0) 3.25GAA .898%SP
Click on "Continue Reading" for the rest of the article…
A few weeks ago it was all doom and gloom surrounding the Minnesota Wild. They were mired in a 6-game losing streak, it appeared that just about everyone who was behind us in the standings had mutliple games in hand and it was just a matter of time before they blew right by us, reports were being made that the team majority owner Craig Leipold was watching practice and Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher did not exactly give current head coach Mike Yeo a huge vote of confidence in an interview with Minneapolis Star Tribune's Michael Russo. Russo, who used to be a Florida Panthers beat writer and had seen other coaches fired felt he was getting the same vibes at the team headed into its game against the lowly Buffalo Sabres. A game where just about everyone felt, if the Wild had managed to lose that axe would fall. The bad news everywhere, injuries, porous defensive play, underperforming players. The bad stories wrote themselves. Oh how things have changed (knock on wood).
Even when the bad news seemed to get even worse, as team captain Mikko Koivu was found to have a fracture of his ankle that required surgery the team still managed to reverse its fortunes, at least in the last week or two (knock on wood). The old saying goes, "adversity reveals character" and Minnesota was showing some remarkable resilience at rose from what looked to be a death spiral. I wouldn't say Yeo's job is safe, but the axe has been put back in its box for the time being.
One of those teams that seemed poised to pass us up was the Dallas Stars. Dallas still has 3 games in hand on the Wild, but even if it was to win them all it would still be behind the Wild in terms of points. The Stars are kind of like Minnesota's last opponent the Edmonton Oilers. They have decent offensive firepower but they have struggled defensively, especially since they lost unsung hero Stephane Robidas to lead their defensive corps. Still, Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are a very potent duo and Minnesota will have to do what it can to keep them in check. If they can manage to make Seguin and Benn a non-factor then the Stars look fairly pedestrian, and luckily for Minnesota, shutting teams down is something it has done pretty well lately (knock on wood).
The Wild should have a very energetic and spirited crowd behind them, but they're still one with a little anxiety after their struggles. Minnesota fans should hope to see a team that has plenty of jump in its skates and is playing that complete game where their hustle is just as voracious on the forecheck as it is on the backcheck. When they do that the team frustrates its foes and more often than not they wear them down and the scoring chances start to really pile up in our favor as they get a little tired or start to cheat a bit in effort to create more offense. Darcy Kuemper gets the start between the pipes for the Wild and let's face it, its as much about his play between the pipes as it is about the guys that are in front of him. The boys seem to be playing well for Kuemper so why not ride that wave as long as we can.
If the Wild's latest little burst of success has taught us anything, is to expect a different hero each night. So who will it be? I am not a big fan of pre-game predictions, but I could see the Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle and Dany Heatley line cause some serious havoc this evening. Although part of me likes the thought of Matt Cooke, Kyle Brodziak and Justin Fontaine line sneaking up with some goals of their own. Who knows, maybe Torrey Mitchell goes nuts and nets the Wild their 3rd hat trick of the season?!?! That's part of the fun isn't it these days? You just don't know who is going to step up and deliver for the Wild. Afterall its Hockey Day Minnesota everyone, its a game that's meant to be fun! So kick back and enjoy it! Game on!