Minnesota Wild (25-19-3) 53pts 2nd in the Northwest
2.45 Goals For (23rd)
2.64 Goals Against (16th)
17.6% Power Play (16th)
80.6% Penalty Kill (15th)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #11 Zach Parise ~ 17G 20A = 37pts
2. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 11G 25A = 36pts
3. #29 Jason Pominville ~ 14G 20A = 34pts
4. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 4G 28A = 32pts
5. #10 Devin Setoguchi ~ 12G 14A = 26pts
Top 3 PIM's:
1. #28 Zenon Konopka ~ 117 PIM's
2. #27 Mike Rupp ~ 79 PIM's
3. #4 Clayton Stoner ~ 42 PIM's
1. #32 Niklas Backstrom (23-15-3) 2.52GAA .907%SP 2 SO
2. #37 Josh Harding (1-1-0) 3.24GAA .863%SP 1 SO
Colorado Avalanche (16-24-7) 39pts 5th in the Northwest
2.40 Goals For (25th)
3.13 Goals Against (27th)
15.1% Power Play (24th)
80.6% Penalty Kill (18th)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #15 P.A. Parenteau ~ 18G 25A = 43pts
2. #9 Matt Duchene ~ 17G 26A = 43pts
3. #26 Paul Stastny ~ 9G 15A = 24pts
4. #11 Jamie McGinn ~ 11G 11A = 22pts
5. #7 John Mitchell ~ 10G 10A = 20pts
Top 3 PIM's:
1. #55 Cody McLeod ~ 83 PIM's
2. #58 Patrick Bordeleau ~ 68 PIM's
3. #5 Shane O'Brien ~ 58 PIM's
1. # Semyon Varlamov (11-20-3) 3.05GAA .902%SP 3 SO
2. #35 Jean-Sebastien Giguere (5-4-4) 2.84GAA .908%SP
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Western Conference Standings:
It doesn't matter, WIN AND YOU'RE IN!!!
There is no need for superlatives in this game. The objective is as simple as it gets. Win and you're in. Nevermind a 6-1 loss last night in St. Paul to the lowly Edmonton Oilers. Nevermind you have missed the playoffs for the last 5 seasons. Nevermind the fact the Wild's owner Craig Leipold left his personal suite in the 3rd period to talk to General Manager Chuck Fletcher (and by proxy Mike Yeo as well) to perhaps to ask him if he could use any cardboard boxes. Nevermind the fact the team spent well over $200 million over the summer to be in the playoffs. It doesn't matter at all if you win tonight. The fans left Xcel Energy Center either very early or with distinct level of sarcasm and bitterness befit of fans who are sick and tired of having their expectations toyed with. The boo's and Bronx cheers last night said it all. This is it, the team's last shot to make the playoffs.
One thing is for certain. Colorado is relishing the chance to be the spoiler. Just read these quotes from Avalanche leading scorers Matt Duchene and P.A. Parenteau respectively, "Obviously it's a big one for them. Hopefully the building will be full, and we can knock Minnesota out. That will be real nice. I'd be lying if I said it wouldn't. That's a division rival and team that's had our number for a while." And from Parenteau, "We're a proud bunch of guys and we're not going to give (the Wild) an inch out there , that's what it's all about." I would think these quotes would be hanging in the Wild locker room tonight at Denver's Pepsi Center just in case the team needed any more motivation at all. Colorado has enjoyed being a spoiler down the stretch after earning a 5-4 overtime win over Phoenix. If the Wild come out at anything less than maximum intensity you really have to question the desire this team has. The Wild have certainly not had a lack of chances to clinch their spot in the post-season and it was through their own poor play that put them in the position they now find themselves in. Yet that's all water under the bridge now, and the Wild still can make it happen.
The Wild made a few roster moves, sending Jake Dowell and Carson McMillan back to Houston in place of Jason Zucker and Stephane Veilleux. I didn't mind Jake Dowell and what he brought to the club, but clearly the idea is to make the team faster against a speedy Colorado squad. I just hope Jason Zucker remembers what made him effective in his first call up this season. That being, by using his speed to race into the offensive zone and taking every opportunity to shoot the puck. When Zucker doesn't shoot he becomes a liability which is the last thing the team needs in a game of such importance. Veilleux will bring energy and feistiness if the team actually lets him play. Jason Pominville did not make the trip to Colorado just in case you were curious.
This game is another perfect trap game, but the Wild hope the pain of last night will be rewarded with a more zealous and total effort this evening. The person that needs a bounce back as much as anyone is Niklas Backstrom who gave up 3 goals on just 5 shots and was swapped out for Josh Harding (who was not much better) just with 1:22 left in the 1st period. Backstrom must have one of those 'response' games otherwise the Wild could be out of this game in a hurry if he plays the way he did last night. Defensively the Wild need to do all it can to block shots and sweep away rrebounds to help out Backstrom who has already been announced as tonight's starter. So expect Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin to log mega minutes tonight.
The Wild need to really focus and worry about itself and not worry about what Colorado will do. If they play to their best they should prevail. I have little doubt team leaders Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will likely be a bit more vocal tonight, and the game will likely have the emotional tone of a playoff game. I know I am feeling a little anxious after last night's debacle, and its up to the Wild to show us all in the State of Hockey that they can live up to the hype for a change.