Saturday, November 29, 2008

Game #15: Minnesota Wild vs Columbus Blue Jackets, Saturday November 15, 2008 at 7:00pm (CST), Xcel Energy Center (GAME PREVIEW)

Minnesota Wild (9-4-1) 19pts 1st in Northwest Division2.57 Goals per Game (23rd in)2.00 Goals Against per Game (1st in)23.4% Power Play (4th in)93.2% Penalty Kill (1st in)Top 5 Scorers:1. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 2G 13A = 15pts2. #20 Antti Miettinen ~ 6G 6A = 12pts3. #15 Andrew Brunette ~ 6G 4A = 10pts4. #25 Eric Belanger ~ 4G 4A = 8pts5. #47 Marc-Andre Bergeron ~ 2G 5A = 7ptsTop 3 Penalty Minutes:1. #24 Derek Boogaard ~ 16PIM2. #8 Brent Burns ~ 14PIM3. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 12PIMGoaltenders:1. #32 Niklas Backstrom ~ (9-3-1) 2.01GAA .935SV%2. #29 Josh Harding ~ (0-1-0) vsColumbus Blue Jackets (8-7-2) 18pts 3rd in Central Division3.12 Goals per Game (10th in)3.18 Goals Against per Game (21st in)12.0% Power Play (30th in)81.6% Penalty Kill (13th in)Top 5 Scorers:1. #16 Derrick Brassard ~ 8G 8A = 16pts2. #25 Jason Chimera ~ 5G 9A = 14pts3. #61 Rick Nash ~ 7G 6A = 13pts4. #20 Kristian Huselius ~ 5G 6A = 11pts5. #93 Jakub Voracek ~ 3G 8A = 11ptsTop 3 Penalty Minutes:1. #15 Derek Dorsett ~ 56PIM2. #40 Jaren Boll ~ 45PIM3. #19 Michael Peca ~ 30PIMGoaltenders:1. #31 Pascal Leclaire ~ (4-3-0) 3.08GAA .900SV%2. #1 Steve Mason ~ (3-1-0) 2.95GAA .896SV%3. #20 Fredrik Norrena ~ (1-3-2) 3.16GAA .872SV%4. #34 Daniel Lacosta ~ (0-0-0) 3.43GAA .895SV%If ever there was a time for the Wild to live up to the claim that they're ruining the game with their "boring, defensive" style of play, tonight would be the night. Only a fool would say that the Blue Jackets couldn't score. They can, and sometimes with a vengeance. Their 6-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres is clear proof of that.What the Blue Jackets do have problems with is stopping the puck from going in their net. Looking at their overall team stats as well as their goaltending stats tells a sad tale. First off, the Jackets have had a "cast of thousands" in the role of goaltender. Well, maybe not thousands, but when you've played four different goaltenders in a mere 17 games you're going to have problems. Every goaltender has their style and the players in front of them know that. The problem is that when you go through so many different players at that position, it's going to be hard for the skaters to adjust. Clearly that's been a problem. It appears that neither the skaters or goaltenders have had a real chance to find their overall groove.While it's been a team defense nightmare for the Jackets, they still have a decent record. As I said for the last Wild game, it doesn't matter how many goals you stop, it's how many you score. It is by that measure that the Blue Jackets have the record they do. They're not afraid to take shots on goal, especially when they can and do (and often in bunches) score. Although, part of me has to wonder how much longer the Jackets' rookie Derrick Brassard can continue his scoring tear. While he's playing great now, it has to have coach Ken Hitchcock worried. To heap that amount of responsibility on a young player often backfires in the long run. The Jackets definitely need their veterans to step up if they want to finally make the post-season. Tonight could be an absolute nightmare for the Wild. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't be too worried about stopping most teams. When it comes to the Blue Jackets, weird things happen. Considering that the full moon was just this past Thursday, almost anything could happen tonight. It's almost getting to the point, where the league might want to decide to never let the Wild and Blue Jackets meet, ever. First it was the infamous goal up Wes Walz's breezers then it was the waived off goal because Rick Nash had his stick at shoulder height, which is above the crossbar. If you have a weak constitution, this might be a game you want to skip.I don't know about you, but I will gladly welcome grief from all corners about our supposed neutral-zone trap. It may very well be our salvation tonight. P.S. The State of Hockey News would once again like to offer its congratulations to the Houston (MN) Hurricane's 9-man football team. They beat Ada-Borup High School 56-14 in yesterday's semi-final game at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. They will face Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley High School in the state championship game on Friday, November 28th. Good job boys. You deserve all the success you've had this year. Source

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