The Minnesota Wild take on the Boston Bruins tonight at the Xcel Energy Center with puck drop slated for 7 pm. The Wild need 1 point tonight to clinch the 7th seed and the top Western Conference Wild Card spot. This means a regulation win, an OT win, a shootout win, an OT loss, or a shootout loss. This is the second meeting between these two teams this season. The Bruins took the first meeting between the teams back on March 17th by a 4-1 final score. What it comes down to tonight for the Minnesota Wild is win and you’re in.
In net for the Wild tonight will be Ilya Bryzgalov and his 6-0-3 record since he came to the Wild. Entering play this evening he has an amazing 1.52 goals against and a .935 save %. In addition to those amazing numbers are the three shutouts since arriving in Minnesota, two of which are in back to back starts. He shutout the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-0 on Saturday on 20 shots and then on Monday shutout the Winnipeg Jets 1-0 on 24 shots. Not all the credit goes to Bryzgalov though, he has a team in front of him that gives up an average of just 2.35 goals a night. That’s the 5th lowest goals against in the NHL.
Boston can put the puck in the net, as they have demonstrated by piling up 53 wins and 113 points to date. They lead all NHL teams in wins, points and goal differential. Boston has scored 83 more goals than they have scored upon them! By comparison the Minnesota Wild’s goal differential is +2. Boston literally has nothing else to play for. They have clinched the Atlantic Division, they have clinched the Eastern Conference. Boston’s main concern at this point in the regular season is keeping all of their players healthy, preventing anyone from getting injured before the playoffs start and getting anyone currently injured healthy in time for the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Not that they would pull an NBA style”tank job”and put forth a less than full effort. I wouldn’t be surprised though if some players get rested tonight as a healthy scratch or if some primary players play far less than their usual minutes.
Your Minnesota Wild will be pulling out all the stops in their quest for a victory and the opportunity to clinch the 7th seed and the #1 Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. The Forward lines will be the same as last game, those being:
Look for the top line to remain hot tonight. Charlie Coyle has a 4 game point streak going. Zach Parise is leading the Minnesota Wild in goals with 28 and Mikko Koivu is the team’s assist leader with 40. These 3 players have a total of 51 goals, 84 assists and 135 points total. The second line for the Wild totals 37 goals and 38 assists. The third line comes in with totals of 29 goals and 40 assists. The 4th line, the one seeking “an identity” has totals of, 17 goals and 22 assists. The 4th liners also have a grand total of 156 penalty minutes. Of course any and all of these lines are subject to mixing and matching by Minnesota Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo. As long as the Wild win it’s all good to me.
The Wild defense will have their hands full and more tonight. The pairings will be the same as last as the last few games. those pairs being:
These are the front line of defense between Bryzgalov and Bruins such as David Krejci (17g, 49a), The “Wild Killer” Jarome Iginla (30g, 31a), Patrice Bergeron (28a, 32a), Milan Lucic (24g, 34a), Reilly Smith (19g, 30a), Brad Marchand (23g, 25a), and Carl Soderberg (16G, 30a).
The Minnesota Wild need to come out swinging both literally and figuratively tonight. The first goal is going to be a big determiner of success in this game. Last night it made ALL the difference. Special teams are going to be another area the Wild must have success in. Minnesota was 4 for 4 on the penalty kill last night. While the goal Charlie Coyle scored was not during a power play it was just after one ended and the carry over play from that man advantage led to the goal.
The Minnesota Wild are at home for the rest of the season and the magic number is 1. This should be a very entertaining game in person, on FOX Sports North (FSN), or on KFAN 100.3 FM. I’ll be back after the game with a recap and analysis of the nights shots, goals, hits, fights and more! Until next time this is Scott Drain pumped up and ready for some Minnesota Wild hockey action shouting, yelling, and chanting, “LETS GO WILD, LET’S GO WILD, LET’S-GO-WILD!!!”