Minnesota Wild (21-14-2) 44pts 2nd in the Northwest
2.60 Goals For (18th)
2.60 Goals Against (15th)
17.3% Power Play (18th)
81.7% Penalty Kill (15th)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 9G 24A = 33pts
2. #11 Zach Parise ~ 15G 16A = 31pts
3. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 3G 25A = 28pts
4. #29 Jason Pominville ~ 10G 15A = 25pts
5. #7 Matt Cullen ~ 7G 18A = 25pts
Top 3 PIM's:
1. #28 Zenon Konopka ~ 96 PIM's
2. #27 Mike Rupp ~ 65 PIM's
3. #44 Justin Falk ~ 38 PIM's
1. #32 Niklas Backstrom (19-10-2) 2.52GAA .910%SP 1 SO
2. #35 Darcy Kuemper (1-2-0) 1.98GAA .923%SP
3. #37 Josh Harding (1-1-0) 2.92GAA .885%SP 1 SO
Columbus Blue Jackets (16-15-7) 39pts 4th in the Central
2.29 Goals For (30th)
2.55 Goals Against (12th)
14.8% Power Play (27th)
85.6% Penalty Kill (5th)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #10 Marian Gaborik ~ 10G 12A = 22pts
2. #22 Vinny Prospal ~ 10G 12A = 22pts
3. #55 Mark Letestu ~ 9G 11A = 20pts
4. #51 Fedor Tyutin ~ 2G 15A = 17pts
5. #42 Artem Anisimov ~ 10G 6A = 16pts
Top 3 PIM's:
1. #40 Jared Boll ~ 86 PIM's
2. #17 Brandon Dubinsky ~ 53 PIM's
3. #24 Derek McKenzie ~ 32 PIM's
1. #72 Sergei Bobrovsky (13-9-6) 2.09GAA .929%SP 3 SO
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Ah yes, the day has come. The Minnesota Wild get to face their original draft pick who as of just last Wednesday is a member of our fellow expansion team. Good times, good times. But the best part of Marian Gaborik now being part of the Columbus Blue Jackets, is that they now get to deal with his glass groin that we dealt with all those years. Even better is if they could somehow deal with a contract holdout, unfortunately they will never have to deal with negotiating an RFA contract with him. That would be the perfect bit of karma, but alas it will never happen. However, what Blue Jackets fans can be guaranteed to deal with, is a player who really only plays when he wants to and his fragile groin. Now there are those that will say that the last surgery finally fixed the problem. Let me tell you this, do not be fooled. We as Wild fans were told that many times, only to be disappointed when he was placed on injured reserve once again because he "tweaked" that fickle part of his anatomy. So in honor of the "frail waif" (a name bestowed on Gaborik by one of my fellow Wild fans) finding a new home in Ohio, I give you this musical tribute by comedian Heywood Banks because Wild fans know it's only a matter of time until some sort of trauma happens to Gaborik's groin.
All humor aside, this game in Columbus is truly a make it or break it moment for the Wild. A three-game losing streak this close to the end of the regular season is not a recipe for success if one wants to see the post-season. To add insult to injury, looking at the rest of the regular season, the Wild are either facing guaranteed playoff teams, teams fighting for a spot, or teams looking to play spoiler for the other two kinds of teams. For a while, the Minnesota Wild looked like the first kind of team, but now we're going to be lucky if we're of the second variety. A win in Columbus would certainly be a step in the right direction, and just might be the impetus to get the team back on track.
I'm also hoping the insertion of Jason Pominville into the lineup also helps boost the team. Considering it was only his first game on Thursday night in Los Angeles, I have to admit I was impressed with how quickly he seemed to fit in. I was worried it was going to take as long as it did at the beginning of this season for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to find their respective games. Now I'll admit, Pominville at least had the benefit of playing NHL hockey before this trade, as opposed to Parise and Suter coming off a long off-season without a real training camp or pre-season. What I really like about Pominville is that he doesn't stop talking to his teammates or his coaches to help him figure out the Minnesota game. I really appreciated when he turned around at one point and talked to Daryl Sydor to help figure out his positioning. Now while those may not seem like big things, they are a sign of a leader and a sign of someone who wants to make a difference. I don't know about you, but with the recent bout of injuries, we need another leader and another player who wants to make a difference. Pominville so far seems to want to be that person.
I wish I knew how things were going to turn out tonight. Unfortunately I'm not a fortune teller or psychic. Even though I am not, I feel like the outcome of tonight could almost determine what happens with this season. Even if we make it into the playoffs, I firmly believe that we've already ceded possession of the Northwest Division to Vancouver. It certainly would have been nice to be the team to win that honor this last year of the Northwest Division, and the last year that we'd be going against the likes of Vancouver to take that title. There's nothing better than to irk the fans of that particular team. And if there are two sets of fans I like to annoy with our success, it's Vancouver and Columbus.