Friday, January 2, 2009

Game #9: Minnesota Wild vs. Montreal Canadiens, Thursday October 30, 2008 at 7pm (CDT), Xcel Energy Center (GAME PREVIEW)

Minnesota Wild (6-1-1) 13pts 1st in Northwest Division3.00 Goals per Game (10th in)2.25 Goals Against per Game (4th in)27.8% Power Play (3rd in)96.3% Penalty Kill (1st in)Top 5 Scorers:1. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 1G 12A = 13pts2. #20 Antti Mietinen ~ 6G 4A = 10pts3. #15 Andrew Brunette ~ 4G 4A = 8pts4. #5 Kim Johnsson ~ 1G 4A = 5pts5. #25 Eric Belanger ~ 2G 2A = 4ptsTop 3 Penalty Killers:1. #24 Derek Boogaard ~ 9 PIM's2. #8 Brent Burns ~ 8 PIM's3. #47 Marc-Andre Bergeron ~ 8 PIM'sGoaltenders:1. #32 Niklas Backstrom (6-1-1) 2.29GAA .923%SP2. #29 Josh Harding (0-0-0) 1.54GAA .950%SPvsMontreal Canadiens (6-1-1) 13pts 2nd in Northeast Division3.50 Goals per Game (3rd in)2.25 Goals Against per Game (5th in)17.1% Power Play (17th in)81.1% Penalty Kill (14th in)Top 5 Scorers:1. #11 Saku Koivu - 4G 6A = 10pts2. #79 Andrei Markov - 0G 10A = 10pts3. #13 Alex Tanguay - 6G 3A = 9pts4. #27 Alexei Kovalev - 3G 3A = 6pts5. #84 Guilliaume Latendresse - 1G 5A = 6ptsTop 3 Penalty Minutes:1. #8 Mike Komisarek - 18 PIM's2. #17 Georges Laraques - 14 PIM's3. #6 Tim Kostopoulos - 12 PIM'sGoaltenders:1. #31 Carey Price (4-1-1) 2.06GAA .932%SP2. #41 Jaroslav Halak (0-0-0) 2.52GAA .918%SPThankfully, last night is over and done with. I'm glad that it came when it did. I get nervous when it feels like the Wild are playing based on what their numbers say, meaning that it gives them a feeling of having this security blanket that no one can take away from them. Well, that security blanket is gone, and it's time to get back to work.In the past, a game against Montreal was simply a pride game for Wild coaches Jacques Lemaire and Mario Tremblay. It's gotten to be an unwritten rule that no matter what you come out to play when you play the Canadiens. It seems that once you don the trois couleurs of Montreal you are fair game in the Montreal press. Lemaire & Co. don't care to be questioned about the failure of their team by their "hometown" papers.The Minnesota-Montreal matchup has taken a new turn in recent years. Now the question is not of Canadiens past versus Canadiens now. Now the question is which Koivu. In Montreal, you have the long-time captain of Saku Koivu. As one would expect, Saku is Montreal's point leader. In Minnesota, we have watched the amazing development of Mikko Koivu. Many skeptics in Minnesota wondered if when he was drafted he was simply drafted for the Koivu name. Thankfully, we have found that the younger Koivu is strong player, who still has a lot of growth ahead of him. The icing on the cake for tonight's game, is that since Mikko is the captain for the month of October, not only will it be Koivu vs Koivu, but it will be Captain Koivu vs Captain Koivu. Hopefully that adds another level of intensity for the Wild to notch another win.Now that the Wild have been brought back to Planet Earth, it would be best that the Wild go back to what works. Solid play in both ends, outstanding goaltending, and team play. It won't be easy, because the Canadiens can do just that as well. It is very important that the Wild find ways to score, especially at even strength. They simply cannot depend on power play goals to win. While it's nice to know that they can score on the power play, a true team shows what it can do 5 on 5. Now that their penalty kill has been cracked, it will continue to be cracked, but hopefully not on a regular basis.The Wild bounced back from the Buffalo loss. Now they need to pick themselves up by the bootstraps after last night's loss in Dallas. The Wild will show us their true colors with the outcome of tonight's game. I know I prefer a smooth landing. Source

No comments: