Game #82: Minnesota Wild vs Phoenix Coyotes, Saturday April 7, 2012 at 7:00pm (CDT). Xcel Energy Center [GAME PREVIEW]

Record Pts Div. Rank G/G GA/G PP% PK%
Minnesota Wild (35-35-11) 81 4th Northwest 2.04 (30) 2.63 (13) 15.4% (25)

81.8% (18)

Phoenix Coyotes
(40-27-13) 93 3rd Pacific 2.52 (20) 2.40 (5) 14.2% (29) 84.9% (8)

 

Minnesota Wild
Top 5 Scorers: G A Pts
1. #15 Dany Heatley 23 29 52
2. #21 Kyle Brodziak 22 22 44
3. #9 Mikko Koivu 12 31 43
4. #10 Devin Setoguchi 19 17 36
5. #7 Matt Cullen 14 21 35
Top 3 Penalty Minutes: PIM
1. #22 Cal Clutterbuck 101
2. #21 Kyle Brodziak 66
3. #4 Clayton Stoner 62
Goaltenders: GAA SV%
1. #32 Niklas Backstrom (19-17-8) 2.40 .921
2. #37 Josh Harding (13-12-4) 2.62 .917
3. #31 Matt Hackett (3-6-0) 2.37 .922
Phoenix Coyotes
Top 5 Scorers: G A Pts
1. #13 Ray Whitney 24 52 76
2. #17 Radim Vrbata 34 27 61
3. #19 Shane Doan 22 27 49
4. #3 Keith Yandle 10 33 43
5. #28 Lauri Korpikoski 17 19 36
Top 3 Penalty Minutes: PIM
1. #37 Raffi Torres 81
2. #11 Martin Hanzal 61
3. #3 Keith Yandle 51
 
Goaltenders: GAA SV%
1. #41 Mike Smith (37-18) 2.25 .929
2. #1 Jason LaBarbera (3-9) 2.54 .912
. .
. .

 

For the past three weekends, I have been at my mother’s new house, helping her get things unpacked.  Since the new house is only four blocks from the old house, and no one has bought the old house, we’ve been back and forth getting the remaining things after the movers moved the furniture.  It’s odd, going back to the old house and seeing nothing but empty rooms.  My parents bought the house when they got married in 1974, and my brother and I were raised in that house.  I’ll admit, I will miss the old house as it’s a part of who I am.  Plus, while the new house is absolutely perfect for my mom in her retirement, I will miss things like the original 1907 cherry woodwork and leaded glass windows.  But times and tastes change.  When I was here last weekend, I stopped at the local grocery store and picked up some pop (that’s soda for you non-Minnesotans) and a small bag of chocolates.  This afternoon, I had one of those chocolates.  This particular brand has messages printed on the inside of the foil wrapper.  Today’s message: Take a deep breath and exhale.  Not only is that good advice for my personal, everyday life, but for Minnesota Wild fans, that’s excellent advice as well.

We have finally made it to the end of the 2011-12 season.  When it started, I doubt anyone envisioned the kind of season we’ve had.  When I think back to the last off-season and heading into training camp and the pre-season, I know I expected a less up and down season.  I, like many, didn’t think they would make the playoffs.  However, I think most of us felt they would end up in about the 10th place spot in the Western Conference.  That spot would demonstrate a more consistent effort in what was expected to be more of a rebuilding/re-evaluation year for the team, especially with new head coach, Mike Yeo.  He had a fantastic season last year with the Houston Aeros, and many were hoping that he could use that success to teach success in St. Paul.  However, a steady year of growth and building is not what we got.  We got a slow start, and then were hit with some injuries.  However, even with those injuries, the Wild managed to dig themselves out of that slow start.  Instead, we saw them climb higher and higher in the standings.  Eventually, the entire league saw the lowly, banged up, young Wild sitting at the top of the league.  However, we were probably jinxed by the media and our success.  The one thing that was mentioned quite often, is that teams who are in first place in December never miss the playoffs.  Well, we all know how that turned out.

We’re also going to need to take a deep breath and exhale when it comes to the draft.  When the team started to plummet more and more in the standings, we were all salivating at the chance of getting a top three pick in the 2012 Entry Draft.  Heck, if you could get into the top three, you even had a chance at the number one pick if you won the draft lottery.  However, once the Wild were mathematically eliminated from the playoff picture, the seemed to turn things around.  To this day, I ask where the current version of the Minnesota Wild were a month ago.  Now, we no longer have that shot at a top three pick.  We simply need to remember (take a deep breath and exhale) that the Detroit Red Wings haven’t had a top three draft pick in ages, yet they still manage to draft incredibly well.  Their secret is their amateur scouting department.  Looking at the picks we made in the last draft along with trades and free agent pick ups along the way this season, we can already see a much improved scouting department since Tommy Thompson was relieved of his position in the organization.  Not only do we need to continue to scout well, we need to let those prospects take their time and develop with their junior league or college team or in the minors.  The Minnesota Wild have been guilty of making young players full-time members of the Wild far too soon.  One can only hope that between the coaching staff, scouts, and general manager, we will finally figure out a better development process.  Of course, there’s no way it could get worse.

With the finale of tonight’s game, we will all have made it to the end of this crazy season.  When it’s finally over, I’m sure many of you will tune into the playoffs to varying degrees.  Once the last game of the Stanley Cup Finals has ended and the Cup is hoisted above the yet unknown team’s head, I suggest you take a deep breath and exhale.  I suspect many of you will head out to the many lakes and rivers in Minnesota and take in some fishing.  Some of you may be looking at a family vacation either in-state or possibly an overseas vacation.  If you’re like me, I’m looking forward to getting caught up on some reading.  The peacefulness of curling up with a good book sometimes cannot be beat.  However you choose to spend this off-season, we all deserve to do something that allows us to take that deep breath and exhale.  I command each and every one of you to do whatever you need to do to recharge.  Before we know it, the 2012-13 season will be upon us.  Hopefully, it holds better things for all than what the 2011-12 season did.

Breathe in, breathe out.  Breathe in, breathe out.  Breathe in, breathe out.

Injury Report:

Minnesota:  Steven Kampfer (knee), Matt Cullen (finger), Mike Lundin (lower body),  Guillaume Latendresse (concussion), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion, groin),       Matt Kassian (groin), Jared Spurgeon (concussion)   

Phoenix
Kurt Sauer (post concussion syndrome)   

 
Jack Jablonski  Jenna Privette

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