Game #61: Minnesota Wild at Dallas Stars, Friday February 24th, 2012 at 7:30pm (CST), American Airlines Center [GAME PREVIEW]

Record Pts Div. Rank G/G GA/G PP% PK%
Minnesota Wild (27-24-9) 63 4th Northwest 2.13 (29) 2.48 (9) 15.8% (22)

82.9% (12)

Dallas Stars
(31-26-4) 66 3rd Pacific 2.52 (19) 2.70 (16) 14.6% (26) 81.7% (19)

 

Minnesota Wild
Top 5 Scorers: G A Pts
1. #15 Dany Heatley 19 25 44
2. #9 Mikko Koivu 10 27 37
3. #7 Matt Cullen 13 18 31
4. #21 Kyle Brodziak 16 14 30
5. #10 Devin Setoguchi 14 11 25
Top 3 Penalty Minutes: PIM
1. #22 Cal Clutterbuck 89
2. #4 Clayton Stoner 47
3. #21 Kyle Brodziak 43
Goaltenders: GAA SV%
1. #32 Niklas Backstrom (16-15-6) 2.30 .926
2. #37 Josh Harding (9-9-3) 2.59 .919
3. #31 Matt Hackett (2-0-0) 0.85 .977
Dallas Stars
Top 5 Scorers: G A Pts
1. #21 Loui Eriksson 19 32 51
2. #14 Jamie Benn 17 32 49
3. #73 Michael Ryder 24 20 44
4. #63 Mike Ribeiro 13 31 44
5. #29 Steve Ott 10 18 28
Top 3 Penalty Minutes: PIM
1. #29 Steve Ott 115
2. #10 Brendan Morrow 74
3. #44 Sheldon Souray 59
 
Goaltenders: GAA SV%
1. #32 Kari Lehtonen (22-15-3) 2.37 .920
2. #31 Richard Bachman  (7-3-1)  2.58 .916
3. #30 Andrew Raycroft (2-8-0) 3.52 .898

  

I know, I know.  We’re not on a losing streak right now.  However, considering the major skid the Wild had been on, I’ll admit I’m still not breathing too easily these days.  The epic descent that took the Wild from first in the league to out of the playoff picture still hurts.  Even with the recent wins, it’s hard to feel like we’re even on a winning streak.  Heck, it still feels like the Wild are losing.  I know, it’s crazy, and I should probably be committed immediately to the state hospital in St. Peter.

I can almost guarantee that I along with the rest of the Wild faithful watched the shootout with our eyes partially covered.  This has been the season of “if they can’t win in regulation or overtime, they’re not going to win.”  To say that the shootout has been unkind to the Wild this season would be the understatement of the century.  While the shootout has been unkind for the Wild in general, it has been absolutely horrific for Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom.  This season, when the games have to go to the shootout to determine the winner, fans have hoped that head coach Mike Yeo would make a goaltending switch.  The fact that fans would be more comfortable with a cold goaltender at that point of the game, speaks volumes for fan confidence.  Yet, Yeo refuses to make the switch.  Of course very few coaches would ever decide to make the switch.  Last night, when neither team could decide the game in regulation or overtime, I could almost feel the resigned sigh of Wild fans everywhere.  However, considering how well Backstrom played against Boston and the fairly solid game he had in the first 65 minutes last night, we should have realized that not only was he due for a shootout win, he was due to blank the opposition in the shootout.  I know I am extremely pleased with the result.  Plus, I am sure that Backstrom feels like he has the proverbial monkey off his back with that win.

In other Wild goaltender news, it appears that the Wild will still be without the services of Josh Harding tonight.  What started as a tweaked lower body thing of some sort, has now morphed into an illness.  Considering how mild this winter has been this year, it is nice to see that the flu bug has also been mild this year as well.  With all the road games this month, we should consider ourselves very fortunate that there have been as few illnesses as there have been.  Since Harding will remain in the Twin Cities, Matt Hackett will continue his stay with the team.  Not only will he stay with the Wild tonight, there is a good chance that Hackett will get the start tonight.  With the back-to-back games last night and tonight and a home game on Sunday, it is only wise that the Wild might want to consider giving Backstrom a bit of a rest, especially if Harding is not 100% for Sunday’s game against San Jose.  My only hope is that if Hackett gets the nod tonight, he is strong and the skaters in front of him give him the support that he will need.

So yes, in the classic words of Phil Esposito in the Bud Light Hockey Falls commercials, to the end of our losing streak.

Injury Report:

Minnesota:  Mikko Koivu (undisclosed, questionable), Mike Lundin (lower body), Carson McMillan (lower body), Clayton Stoner (hip), Guillaume Latendresse (concussion), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion, groin),  Clayton Stoner (leg)    

Dallas
Jamie Benn (leg, questionable), Brendan Morrow (neck / back), Jake Dowell (upper body),  

Jack Jablonski  Jenna Privette

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