Game #27: Minnesota Wild at Los Angeles Kings, Saturday December 11, 2010 at 9:30pm CST, Staples Center [GAME PREVIEW]

Record Pts Div. Rank G/G GA/G PP% PK%
Minnesota Wild (12-11-4) 28 3rd NW 2.44 (25) 2.78 (17) 22.0%(8)

82.5% (15)

Los Angeles Kings
(16-10-0) 32 3rd Pacific 2.62 (18) 2.38 (4) 14.7% (25) 86.0% (5)

 

Minnesota Wild
Top 5 Scorers: G A Pts
1. #24 Martin Havlat 7 19 26
2. #9 Mikko Koivu 5 17 22
3. #7 Matt Cullen 6 13 19
4. #8 Brent Burns 7 8 15
5. #20 Antti Miettinen 7 8 15
Top 3 Penalty Minutes: PIM
1. #16 Brad Staubitz 38
2. #8 Brent Burns 37
3. #9 Mikko Koivu 26
Goaltenders: GAA SV%
1. #32 Niklas Backstrom (7-7-3) 2.58 .919
2. #60 Jose Theodore (3-4-1) 2.89 .919

Los Angeles Kings
Top 5 Scorers: G A Pts
1. #11 Anze Kopitar 11 14 25
2. #14 Justin Williams 10 15 25
3. #28 Jarret Stoll 8 10 18
4. #23 Dustin Brown 9 8 17
5. #3 Jack Johnson 1 15 16
Top 3 Penalty Minutes: PIM
1. #19 Kevin Westgarth 37
2. #2 Matt Greene 34
3. #17 Wayne Simmonds 33
Goaltenders: GAA SV%
1. #32 Jonathan Quick (14-5-0) 1.87 .930
2. #45 Jonathan Bernier (2-5-0) 3.29 .889

 

Finally.  The Wild found a way to end their downward slide.  Of course, one game does not a season make.  Heck, one game rarely makes for a season comeback.  Yet sometimes all it takes is one game, even one shift  to wake up people who are asleep at the wheel.  And now, while the Wild are enjoying the beautiful weather in sunny Southern California and most of us back home are dealing with heavy snow (and some of you with blizzard-like conditions), one can only hope this three-game road trip that the team is currently on will somehow change the recent course of events.

While injuries on the Wild roster seem to be a reoccurring theme, for some reason this season it hasn’t felt quite so detrimental as it has in the past.  I suppose it might have something to do that with the exceptions of Guillaume Latendresse and Josh Harding the injuries the Wild have faced haven’t been long-term.  During the course of the season, we expect to see the occasional groin pull or other such minor injuries.  Considering some of the long-term injuries Wild fans have seen in the ten years of the Wild’s existence, I’ll take these one or two game absences on occasion.  I suppose it also helps that Brent Burns is back this season and has played very, very well so far.  On a subconscious level it also helps that Pierre-Marc Bouchard is back from his concussion.  While it still looks like he’s taking baby steps on the ice from time to time, just the thought that we have another player back is reassuring.  And as most fans would agree, it would be even better if Latendresse was back in the lineup.

However, when enough of these minor injuries pile up at once, it makes way for members of the Houston Aeros to get their chance with the parent club.  The most recent call-up who has seen action has been diminutive defenseman, Jared Spurgeon.  If you’re a hockey player and are 5’9″ and weigh in at 185, you don’t automatically think “defenseman.”  When you see a player of that stature, you generally expect them to be a forward.  However, that has not been the case with Spurgeon.  For most of his life, he’s been the smaller player on his team.  It’s something he’s gotten used to.  And one can only imagine that Spurgeon has used his small size to his advantage.  For example, many players probably don’t take a 5’9″ defenseman very seriously.  When people have lower expectations of what you can do or are capable of doing, that is when you take advantage of that thinking.  While Spurgeon hasn’t quite found his place with the Wild yet, he hasn’t been horrible either.

Currently, the Wild are faced with some minor injuries to Matt Cullen, John Madden and Greg Zanon.  For tonight, Cullen is most likely out and Madden and Zanon are listed as possible.  Depending on whether or not Zanon plays determines Spurgeon’s appearance tonight.  However with Cullen most likely out and Madden still up in the air, the Wild were forced to call up a center from Houston.  The man getting the call is Warren Peters.  Compared to Spurgeon’s callup, Peters is not an NHL rookie.  Peters has 27 NHL games under his belt, played during his time in Calgary and Dallas.  Sure, 27 games are not a lot of experience, but it’s better than none.  And right now, with a team trying to turn their season around even just a little experience is helpful. 

I suggest when you watch tonight’s game, you try to tune out any references to the wonderful weather in Los Angeles.  Also, close your eyes when you see the Kings fans walking around outside Staples Center in their relatively lighter clothing.  It will only depress you to see and hear these things while you and I are hunkering down to prepare for blizzard conditions and later digging our cars out of snow drifts.  Maybe if the Wild lay an egg on the rest of this roadtrip, when they come back to Minnesota, they can be punished by doing snow removal for the fans that pay their salaries.

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