Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Calgary Flames 2/23/2013 @ 9:00PM CST at ScotiaBank Saddledome

Minnesota Wild (8-6-2)  18pts  2nd in the Northwest

2.12 Goals For per Game (29th in the NHL)

2.38 Goals Against per Game (10th in the NHL)

14.3% Power Play (23rd in the NHL)

84.3% Penalty Kill (7th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #11 Zach Parise ~ 7G 5A = 12pts

2. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 3G 9A = 12pts

3. #15 Dany Heatley ~ 5G 4A = 9pts

4. #7 Matt Cullen ~ 3G 6A = 9pts

5. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 0G 9A = 9pts

Top 3 PIM's:

1. #28 Zenon Konopka ~ 52 PIM's

2. #10 Devin Setoguchi ~ 12 PIM's

3. #27 Mike Rupp ~ 12 PIM's

Top Goaltender(s):

1. #32 Niklas Backstrom (6-4-2)  2.28GAA  .917%SP

2. #35 Darcy Kuemper (1-1-0)  2.02GAA  .934%SP

3. #37 Josh Harding (1-1-0)  2.92GAA  .885%SP

 

 

Vs.

 

 

Calgary Flames (5-7-3)  13pts  5th in the Northwest

2.67 Goals For per Game (15th in the NHL)

3.40 Goals Against per Game (28th in the NHL)

24.1% Power Play (6th in the NHL)

73.5% Penalty Kill (29th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #40 Alex Tanguay ~ 4G 8A = 12pts

2. #13 Mike Cammalleri ~ 4G 7A = 11pts

3. #22 Lee Stempniak ~ 5G 5A = 10pts

4. #24 Jiri Hudler ~ 4G 6A = 10pts

5. #26 Dennis Wideman ~ 3G 7A = 10pts

Top 3 PIM's:

1. #40 Alex Tanguay ~ 14 PIM's

2. #5 Mark Giordano ~ 12 PIM's

3. #15 Tim Jackman ~ 12 PIM's

Top Goaltender(s):

1. #34 Miikka Kiprusoff (2-3-2)  3.24GAA  .870%SP

2. #37 Leland Irving (2-1-1)  3.33GAA  .883%SP

3. #35 Joey MacDonald (1-2-0)  3.09GAA  .893%SP

4. #41 Danny Taylor (0-1-0)  4.00GAA  .892%SP

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Niklas Backstrom & Jarome Iginla

Earlier this week, if you had asked me what I would be talking about today, I probably would have said something like the Wild's lack of scoring or inability (or unwillingness) to take shots on goal.  Perhaps I would even ask if Mike Yeo was in charge of his bench, especially after the firing of Lindy Ruff in Buffalo.  And maybe if I wanted to go for a positive spin on things (as I sometimes have a habit of being a Negative Nelly), I would talk about the fantastic play of Wild prospect, Jason Zucker, in his season debut.  And considering the late 9:00pm start time back in Minnesota, I just might go into a rant about how the National Hockey League desperately needs realignment.  It would be great if those were my topics of choice for the day, however Thursday night in Edmonton threw all of that out the proverbial window.  Instead, today's topic of choice is none other than the dangerous and stupid hit on Cal Clutterbuck by Edmonton's Taylor Hall.

Late in the third period of Thursday's game, Hall (who has never been one of my favorite players) caught an unsuspecting Clutterbuck in the neutral zone.  Not only did Hall hit Clutterbuck, he did so in one of the most dangerous ways, that being with his knee.  Whether intentional or not, hits that lead with a knee can and often do lead to severe injuries on the person hit.  While at this time we still do not know the extent of Clutterbuck's injuries, what we do know if that he is on crutches, cannot put weight on his left leg, and has that leg wrapped up.  Instead of flying back to Minnesota, he has remained with the Wild on this short Alberta roadtrip.  For his part, Hall was issued a five minute major for kneeing and ten minute game misconduct.  That call by the officials then triggered a phone discipline hearing with Brendan Shanahan yesterday afternoon.  After that phone meeting, Hall was issued a two game suspension.  If you missed Shanahan's explanation, I'll include it here for you:

 

 

 

Now, you can only imagine the outrage coming out of Edmonton these days.  Let's just say, Minnesota has had few good things said about them by the Edmonton media ever since the Wild's expansion.  You name it, we've pretty much had it said about us by Edmonton, but usually of the "I'd rather watch paint dry" variety coming from their talking heads.  The comments from the fans are even better.  They seem to think that Hall did nothing wrong.  They doubt that it was kneeing because as has come to light, Hall's knee did not come into contact with Clutterbuck's knee.  A kneeing penalty can cover knee-to-knee contact, but kneeing simply means leading with the knee and making contact with another player.  In this case, it's a case of the latter.  Every picture and every video (including in Shanahan's explanation) clearly show Hall leading with the knee and that knee making contact with Clutterbuck.  Like Shanahan said, "that is kneeing."  And to the talking heads and bellyaching fans of Edmonton, you should count your blessings that Hall only got two games.  It could have been much. much worse, for both Hall and Clutterbuck.  But what I consider the best punishment for Hall is that now he has a record with the league, and any further instances he will be treated as a repeat offender.  Plus, he'll be back on the ice for the rematch in St. Paul.

There are some additional concerns that this incident has raised.  That being, just how prepared are the Oilers for serious, life-threatening injuries to players, especially those of the opposing team.  I'll start with the bit that was public in the press.  The Wild were unable to get some immediate information on Clutterbucks injury, because the X-ray machine in the Oilers' medical treatment room was broken.  Really?  To me, that seems like that should be priority number one in any lockerroom.  I have to wonder how long it's been on the fritz, and if it couldn't be in working order on a game day, they should have had a replacement in time for the drop of the puck.  This next part, is the part that should have every team in the league concerned when they head to Edmonton.  Clutterbuck was laying on the ice for a considerable amount of time while the Wild's athletic trainer Don Fuller worked with him.  Once Fuller gave the go-ahead, Clutterbuck's teammates got him up on one skate and assisted him to the Zamboni entrance and the end of the ice.  They had to wait at least an additional two minutes for a stretcher.  Considering the amount of time that Clutterbuck remained on the ice, that stretcher should have been there waiting for him.  I shudder to think of a player having a seizure on the ice or even worse a heart attack on the ice.  Are the Oilers prepared for such an emergency?  With what happened on Thursday night, it wouldn't be a stretch of the imagination for a Sergei Zholtok kind of situation happen there.  You also have to wonder, if it had been Taylor Hall that had received the hit, if the stretcher itself would have been brought out to the ice.  I seriously hope that Edmonton reviews its emergency situation plans, because what appears to be in place now is simply unacceptable.

Hopefully, tonight in Calgary is a nice, simple game.  It can be boring for all I care.  I simply do not need another night like Thursday night.

 

Jack Jablonski & Jenna Privette

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