Game #6: Minnesota Wild vs Pittsburgh Penguins, Tuesday October 18, 2011 at 6:30pm (CDT), Xcel Energy Center [GAME PREVIEW]

Record Pts Div. Rank G/G GA/G PP% PK%
Minnesota Wild (2-1-2) 6 2nd NW 2.20 (23) 2.20 (9) 16.7% (15)

83.3% (17)

Pittsburgh Penguins
(3-2-2) 8 1st Atlantic 2.57 (18) 2.43 (14) 20.0% (12) 95.4% (1)


Minnesota Wild
Top 5 Scorers: G A Pts
1. #48 Guillaume Latendresse 0 4 4
2. #7 Matt Cullen 3 0 3
3. #15 Dany Heatley 1 2 3
4. #10 Devin Setoguchi 2 0 2
5. #21 Kyle Brodziak 1 1 2
Top 3 Penalty Minutes: PIM
1. #48 Guillaume Latendresse 6
2. #28 Matt Kassian 5
3. #55 Nick Schultz 4
Goaltenders: GAA SV%
1. #32 Niklas Backstrom (2-1-1) 1.94 .928
2. #37 Josh Harding (0-0-1) 2.81 .927
Pittsburgh Penguins
G A Pts
1. #58 Kris Letang 1 6 7
2. #18 James Neal 5 1 6
3. #11 Jordan Staal 2 3 5
4. #24 Matt Cooke 3 1 4
5. #71 Evgeni Malkin 1 3 4
Top 3 Penalty Minutes: PIM
1. #5 Deryk Engelland 11
2. #71 Evgeni Malkin 8
3. #58 Kris Letang 8
Goaltenders: GAA SV%
1. #35 Marc-Andre Fleury (3-2-0) 2.58 .914
2. #29 Brent Johnson (0-0-2) 1.88 .926

So this evening, I like many, had to make a trip to my local supermarket in order to make dinner.  Now while that has absolutely nothing to do with hockey, it was the short drive home that did.  In our newer car, we have SiriusXM Radio.  There is rarely a time where it is not tuned to NHL Home Ice, which is the satellite radio version of satellite television’s NHL Center Ice.  I have to admit, that many days, I mentally tune them out, because the hockey talk radio types tend to focus solely on the Eastern Conference, and as a Wild fan I find I get little out of their chatter.  However, this evening, that Eastern Conference chit chat was interesting to say the least.

This evening, the Pittsburgh Penguins are playing in Winnipeg before they head to St. Paul for tomorrow’s matchup.  The nugget of information had to do with Pittsburgh’s lineup.  According to the hosts (and I’ll admit, I’m not sure which group was doing their show), they had received a Twitter update having to do with tonight’s top line center.  It was not going to be Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin both of which are dealing with old (or new) injuries.  No, tonight’s #1 center for the night would be none other than former member of the Minnesota Wild, Richard Park.  Yes, you read that correctly.  One of the hosts figured he hadn’t been a first line center since his days in junior with the Belleville Bulls.  I would argue that Park deserves the shot.  Of course some of that reasoning in sentimental in nature, as it was Park that scored the overtime winner in Game 6 against Colorado in the 2003 playoffs.  Plus, I think it’s nice to see a player come back and help out the team that originally drafted him.  And if I’m honest, he’s probably about the only player on the Penguins that I even like.  Since I mentioned it, here’s a little blast from the past:

Now memories are nice and all, however they’re in the past.  If we’re honest with ourselves, in sports, all that matters is the here and now.  Memories don’t score goals.  Memories do not win games.  And most importantly, memories do not win the Stanley Cup.  I cannot begin to express how badly Minnesota needs its top line of Dany Heatly, Mikko Koivu, and Devin Setoguchi to pick things up.  Of those three, Setoguchi (in my opinion) appears to be the only one who seems to care.  The other two feel relatively absent on the ice.  Lately, the players who seem to be working hard are players like Kyle Brodziak and Colton Gillies.  Yes, scoring by any player in a Minnesota Wild jersey is always a plus, but when your top line (or two) feels non-existent, you’re probably not going to win many games.

Another issue I’m having with the Wild this year really is nothing new.  It appears that we’ve gone back to the days of defensemen unable to maintain the zone.  Now this has been an ongoing one, but it seems worse again because of the calibre of players we currently have on our blueline, on in the Wild’s case, red line.  I cannot begin to express how utterly exasperating it is to see a puck that could have been kept in the offensive zone by a defensemen, except said defensemen is already at the red line or beyond.  As we all know, it’s hard to maintain offensive pressure if you cannot maintain the offensive zone.  And do not get me started on Wild defensemen who are originally from the Czech Republic.

With the past couple of highly disappointing games, one can only hope that Wild head coach Mike Yeo has found a way to wake up his bench.  They’re still not playing a solid sixty (or more) minutes of hockey.  They’re still not getting enough shots on goal.  And the list goes on and on.  Something needs to change and needs to change soon.  Doing so against Pittsburgh would certainly make me happy. 
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