The Minnesota Wild are in Denver to take on the Colorado Avalanche in the back end of a home and home series. Don’t forget folks this is an early game starting at 2 pm Minnesota time (CST). This is the two teams second game in three days and if the first was any indicator this should be a fun one. The Wild took the win on Thursday in St. Paul by a 5-3 final in what could be politely termed a “spirited contest”. Former teammates Cal Clutterbuck (2 g, 2 a) and Chuck Kobasew dropped the gloves, Mikko Koivu (6 g, 16 a) scored a pair of goals and popped former Wild Greg Zanon in the kisser. It’s great to see the boys from Minnesota playing with an edge and being truly led by their Captain Koivu. Minnesota needs to do one thing Saturday afternoon BEAT THE AVALANCHE. They need to roll into the Pepsi Center, kick some Colorado ass and take their lunch money, meaning the precious two points in the Western Conference standings.
After Friday night’s action around the league the Wild are in 7th place with 30 points. There are just 4 points separating 3rd from 10th in the tight conference standings. The Avalanche are the bottom dwellers in the Northwest Division and the Western Conference. The Wild should not lose this game even though they have struggled on the road this season going 4-7-1. The nice thing is they are playing Colorado, whom they have beaten 7 of the past 9 times they have met in the milk and cookies atmosphere of the Pepsi Center. The Wild are hot right now going 8-4 over their last twelve games and lowering their goals against to a 2.42 average. One stat that stand out for the Wild is face offs, they are 4th in the NHL in face off wins at 52.2 %. When you control the puck you control the play, then you control the shots, etc. Minnesota is shooting more as of late even hitting the 40-shot mark against the Avalanche on Thursday. Overall Minnesota is up to 19th with an average of 28.5 shots per game. They allow the 8th fewest shots on average at 27.3 per contest. That a good thing going against the lowly Av’s who give up 32.6 shots a game good for 27 in the NHL.
Some of the Minnesota players who are hot right now are Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. Suter had 3 assists for 20 on the season that is second in the NHL for defensemen. That’s 20 assists in 26 games from a D-man WOW! Last season Jared Spurgeon, who is a damn fine defenseman in his own right, led the team in defense assists at 20 in 70 games. Parise is putting up numbers again this season with 21 points so far. He leads the squad in goals with 11 and ranks 4th in assists with 10. Three other guys who have been playing very well are Matt Cullen (3 g, 14 a), Devin Setoguchi (7 g, 7 a) and Dany Heatley (8 g, 5 a). Defensively the Wild have been very solid after a mediocre start to the year. The group is gelling well with the probable pairing for tonight being Suter with rookie sensation Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon with Clayton Stoner, and Tom Gilbert with Justin Falk. If newly signed, free agent Brett Clark plays look for either Falk or Stoner to be scratched along with Nate Prosser. The probable lines for this afternoon will remain unchanged from Thursday’s 5-goal outburst if rookie Jason Zucker sits for another game as he recovers from the illegal hit given him by the now suspended Corey Perry. Those lines are Parise,Koivu and Charlie Coyle, Cullen with Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Devin Setoguchi, next we have Heatley skating with Brodziak and Clutterbuck that leave the energy line of Mike Rupp with Zenon Konopka and Torrey Mitchell. If Head Coach Mike Yeo decides to put Zucker back in the lineup he’ll have a tough choice of who to sit as Bouchard charged back into action Thursday playing well and picking up an assist.
There are two points for the taking today the Wild just have to go out and get them. If they play like they did over their last four games they should. The one area that needs some help though is the power play. It’s been ineffective to say the least as of late. The penalty kill is excellent ranking 5th in the league at 86.1 %. Go get the win Wild. It’s time to distance yourselves from the bottom three in the Northwest division. GonePuckWild.com will be back after the game with recap and analysis. Until then this is Scott Drain saying LET’S GO WILD!!