|Minnesota Wild||(28-26-10)||66||4th Northwest||2.14 (29)||2.56 (10)||15.4% (25)||
|Detroit Red Wings
||(42-19-3)||87||1st Central||3.05 (5)||2.33 (6)||17.5% (14)||82.1% (15)|
|Top 5 Scorers:||G||A||Pts|
|1. #15 Dany Heatley||20||26||46|
|2. #9 Mikko Koivu||10||27||37|
|3. #7 Matt Cullen||14||19||33|
|4. #21 Kyle Brodziak||16||16||32|
|5. #10 Devin Setoguchi||16||12||28|
|Top 3 Penalty Minutes:||PIM|
|1. #22 Cal Clutterbuck||93|
|2. #4 Clayton Stoner||47|
|3. #21 Kyle Brodziak||45|
|1. #32 Niklas Backstrom (17-17-6)||2.44||.920|
|2. #37 Josh Harding (9-9-4)||2.61||.917|
|3. #31 Matt Hackett (2-0-0)||0.68||.979|
|Top 5 Scorers:||G||A||Pts|
|1. #13 Pavel Datsyuk||16||43||59|
|2. #40 Henrik Zetterberg||14||37||51|
|3. #51 Valterri Filppula||19||31||50|
|4. #93 Johan Franzen||24||25||49|
|5. #26 Jiri Hudler||20||19||39|
|Top 3 Penalty Minutes:||PIM|
|1. #27 Kyle Quincey||64|
|2. #8 Justin Abdelkader||58|
|3. #44 Todd Bertuzzi||54|
|1. #35 Jimmy Howard (32-13-2)||2.09||.923|
|2. #31 Joey McDonald (7-1-1)||1.70||.934|
|3. #29 Ty Conklin (3-5-0)||3.40||.878|
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Maybe its a bit late but I think this team could use a bit of a pep talk. The team has looked downtrodden and defeated, playing in such a sullen manner that it makes the club almost depressing to watch. No one likes seeing a person that loathes their job or is just miserable. You avoid them, you try to tune it out. Why? Because the thought of their malaise makes you more depressed about whatever struggles you yourself may be having. The playoff hopes seem to be gone; and the team is getting close to making that a mathematical certainty. When you are at this point your typical inspirational speech won’t do because it will assume that if you win you’ll be champions or that winning a game will suddenly make you winners. For the Minnesota Wild, they need to embrace an pseudo-inspirational speech like this from the classic film Animal House.
I don’t care if its Bluto or Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo. This team needs to get fired up and even if it does end up losing to Detroit tonight, but at least play like it cares and as though they want to compete. Sure, Nick Schultz is gone, so is Greg Zanon, but this team won’t help anything by feeling sorry for itself. Like the Delta House, it may find its future (at least in the near future) doomed but it doesn’t mean it should just rollover and die. It doesn’t mean guys set to become unrestricted free agents like Stephane Veilleux, Kurtis Foster, Erik Christensen, Jed Ortmeyer, Warren Peters, Josh Harding should just throw their hands in the air thinking they have nothing prove. All of these players have EVERYTHING to prove not just to the Wild but to the NHL at large that they deserve another job. For many of these 30-something (or close to it) players there is no excuse for not giving it their all. This team is looking for players and he last 15 or so games should be considered an extended audition. One player who seems to be running with the opportunity three games after being acquired in a trade with the Devils is Nick Palmieri. Palmieri has shown assertiveness, speed and hustle you want to see from a player trying to make a strong case he should be kept around. The Utica, New York-native is a restricted free agent this summer but so far Wild fans are liking what they see.
The Wild are coming off a strange, but hard fought game against the Montreal Canadiens where Minnesota rallied back from a 4-1 deficit to nearly winning the game in a shootout. The team tried to spark itself with an early fight that looked like a sad scrap from Saved by the Bell‘s Screech Powers (Veilleux) fighting A.C. Slater (White). Yet after a disastrous series of penalties, and the loss of goaltender Niklas Backstrom to what is likely a groin injury that will keep him out for the foreseeable future the team still managed to rally back and had a realistic chance at earning two points last night. Will the point it gianed in the standings matter? Nope.
The Detroit Red Wings are trying to climb to the top of the Western Conference ladder but injuries have slowed some of their momentum (a little). They still have plenty of firepower with Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Tomas Holmstrom, Valteri Filppula and others to work their vaunted puck possession system that separates them from the rest of the league. This one could be ugly for the Wild. With so many new players, the easiest thing for them to try to do is to dump and chase and that totally plays into Detroit’s system. The worse thing you can do is to willfully give up the puck and play a game of chase with the speedy Red Wings. You really think Heatley is going to win a race to the puck against Ian White or Niklas Kronwall let alone any other skater the Red Wings’s dress? I’m not seeing it.
Minnesota will have to find a new level of play and not only bring effort but also be smart with the puck unless it just wants to watch the Red Wings be on a virtual power play all game long. This is obviously a team in transition and right now its about small accomplishments. Its establishing chemistry with the new Wild players, its about finding ways to create offense from all of its lines. But there will be stumbles along the way, right Devin Setoguchi?
But that’s ok, its a part of the process. Expectations are low, now is your greatest opportunity to inspire even if the cause you originally started to fight for is unreachable.
Minnesota: Mikko Koivu (shoulder), Mike Lundin (lower body), Carson McMillan (lower body), Clayton Stoner (hip), Guillaume Latendresse (concussion), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion, groin), Clayton Stoner (leg) , Niklas Backstrom (lower body, groin)
Detroit: Patrick Eaves (jaw, concussion), Pavel Datsyuk (arthroscopic knee surgery), Jonathan Ericsson (broken wrist)
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