Minnesota Wild Take On Los Angeles Kings – Game Preview


Jan 3, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman

Brett Clark

(7) warms up before playing against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Lightning 7-3. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Wild are back home tonight after a disappointing effort in Dallas last night that saw the end of their 7 game win streak.  They face the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings at the Xcel Energy Center in front of a friendly, sell out crowd.  This will be Minnesota’s first game of three against LA this season.  The Kings are 2-0 on the road this week, in the midst of a five game road trip. The wins raising their record to 19-12-2 good for 2nd in the Pacific Division and 5th in the Western Conference one spot behind the Wild.  Minnesota has a chance to overtake the Vancouver Canucks for the Northwest Division lead by beating L.A. coupled with an Edmonton win over the Canucks.  The Wild are 20-11-2, totaling 42 points, holding 4th place in the Western Conference.

The Wild are likely to see some changes on defense tonight with the probable debut of Brett Clark and the shuffling of the bottom two defensive pairs. Those pairs being Jared Spurgeon and Clayton Stoner along with the tandem of Tom Gilbert and Justin Falk.  Head Coach Mike Yeo will announce any changes closer to game time tonight.  For more in depth analysis of the Wild’s defense situation by GonePuckWild.com Editor Dako0ta Case click here.

Minnesota has continued to score goals, averaging 3.9 goals a game over their last 10 contests.  The Line of Matt Cullen, Devin Setoguchi and Pierre-Marc Bouchard has been hot all month long and I see no reason for them to cool off now.  The top line of Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Charlie Coyle are dangerous and a threat to score every time they are on the ice.  I doubt Coach Yeo will be making many offensive changes tonight.  Minnesota is 10-4-0 this month, the 4 time they have amassed 10 wins in a single month.  The record is 11 set back in November of 2011.

Goalie Niklas Backstrom will return to the net tonight.  He stayed behind when the Wild traveled to Dallas getting some much needed rest after starting 16 of the teams last 17 games.  He has been a workhorse for the Wild this season and is tied with Marc-Andre Fleury of Pittsburgh for the NHL lead with  18 victories.  A strong performance from a rested Backstrom will go a long way toward a victory tonight.

The Wild are going to have to come out of the gate ready to play this evening they can’t afford a slow start against a powerful Kings lineup.  Producing some goals on the power play while avoiding ill-advised penalties is a must.  This is a very winnable game for Minnesota and the chance to start another streak of victories.  Puck drop is 7pm Minnesota time (CST).  GonePuckWild.com will be back after the game with analysis and a full recap of tonight’s action.  Until then this is Scott Drain chanting “LET’S GO WILD!!”