Sunday, January 11, 2009

Game #7: Minnesota Wild vs. Chicago Blackhawks, Monday October 27, 2008 at 7pm (CDT), Xcel Energy Center

Minnesota Wild (5-0-1) 11pts 1st in Northwest Division3.17 Goals per Game (10th in)2.00 Goals Against per Game (3rd in)25.0% Power Play (3rd in)100% Penalty Kill (1st in)Top 5 Scorers:1. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 1G 9A = 10pts2. #20 Antti Miettinen ~ 5G 2A = 7pts3. #15 Andrew Brunette ~ 2G 3A = 5pts4. #96 Pierre-Marc Bouchard ~ 1G 3A = 4pts5. #25 Eric Belanger ~ 2G 1A = 3ptsTop 3 Penalty Minutes:1. #24 Derek Boogaard ~ 9PIM2. #51 James Sheppard ~ 6PIM3. #8 Brent Burns ~ 6PIMGoaltenders:1. #32 Niklas Backstrom ~ (5-0-1) 1.97GAA .930SV%2. #29 Josh Harding ~ (0-0-0)vsChicago Blackhawks (3-2-3) 9pts 3rd in Central Division3.12 Goals per Game (14th in)2.62 Goals Against per Game (9th in)18.4% Power Play (12th in)87.7% Penalty Kill (6th in)Top 5 Scorers:1. #10 Patrick Sharpe ~ 5G 6A = 11pts2. #88 Patrick Kane ~ 5G 4A = 9pts3. #24 Martin Havlat ~ 3G 5A = 8pts4. #32 Kris Versteeg ~ 2G 6A = 8pts5. #51 Brian Campbell ~ 2G 3A = 5ptsTop 3 Penalty Minutes:1. #37 Adam Burish ~ 25PIM2. #55 Ben Eager ~ 15PIM3. #7 Brent Seabrook~ 14PIMGoaltenders:1. #39 Nikolai Khabibulin ~ (2-1-2) 2.53GAA .919SV%2. #38 Cristobal Huet ~ (1-1-1) 2.61GAA .907SV%For the mental sanity of all Wild fans, it would be nice if the Wild would come out and play like their very lives depended on it. For the most part, they've started out strong, but there have been some minor dips in this year's road to success. The first dip came with the injury bug, however the remaining healthy players found a way to overcome the hardship. Then came the overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres, a game in all reality should have never gone to overtime. They managed to overcome that loss by a win, albeit a controversial one, over the Columbus Blue Jackets. However, even in that win the Wild once again took the fans and coaching staff on an foolhardy roller coaster ride. The ultimate key to tonight's game is to not let the opposition back late in the game. I know it's an obvious key, however it has come into play with the past two games. Against Buffalo, late third period goals ultimately came back to haunt the Wild. The same fate almost felled the Wild yet again, however thanks to that overturned controversial goal, the Wild managed to eek out a win. One really has to wonder what it is with controversial goals when playing the Columbus Blue Jackets. I have to wonder which goal sticks in the craw more with Blue Jackets fans, the disallowed one on Saturday or the infamous goal up Wes Walz's breezers. I do however value my personal safety, so I best not conduct that particular poll.Once again, the Wild will find themselves up against a closely matched opponent in the Chicago Blackhawks. The Wild pride themselves in not being the Wild of old. While they pat themselves on the back, they need to remember that they're not the only team who has improved. These are not the Blackhawks of two or three seasons ago. The Blackhawks just missed the playoffs last season, and they're looking to build on that success. One could argue that they have the pieces to do just that. The 'Hawks have a young team built for the future with players like Patrick Sharpe, Patrick Kane, and Jonathan Toews. If the Blackhawks front office can find a way to keep their young stars as well as bring in those key vets, they will definitely be a forced to be reckoned with. The league is undergoing a much needed youth movement, and it's exciting to watch.If the Wild can continue to play the game they've been playing, minus the third period hiccups, they should come out on top. The fans want and deserve an exciting game, but not at the expense of making the mistakes that either cost or almost cost the victory. Even head coach Jacques Lemaire commented on this form of unwanted excitement. All everyone wants, is a true, honest to goodness win. No calls to Toronto. No overtime. No shootout. Simple hockey, simple win. Anything beyond that, and there could be an increase in voluntary commitments. All I know, is I need to take up yoga again. It might be the only thing to get me through this possible roller coaster season. Source

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