Minnesota Wild (2-0-0: 4 points, T-2nd in Western Conference, T-1st in Northwest Division) vs. Edmonton Oilers (2-1-0: 4 points, T-2nd in Western Conference, T-1st in Northwest Division) ***Wild vs. Oilers will be broadcast on FSN North at 7:00 PM, and can be heard on WCCO 830 AM, or online at Wild.com***
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Remember when the old trivia question used to be, which team was the last Western Conference team to lose to the Minnesota Wild? That team was the Edmonton Oilers, and it took until Minnesota’s third season of existence before it finally earned a win against the Oil. Now, Minnesota has won six of eight meetings in each of the last two seasons. Believe it or not, the Wild’s all-time record against Edmonton now stands at 16-14-7. The club’s three-game homestand to open the 2007-2008 season comes to an end tonight when the Edmonton Oilers visit. Edmonton will be the first divisional foe of the season.
The Wild moved to 2-0-0 on the young season on Saturday with a 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Eric Belanger each tallied a goal and an assist, and Brian Rolston picked up three helpers. Brent Burns’ first goal of the season was the game-winner in the third period. Niklas Backstrom won his second straight start with a 19-save performance.
The Oilers dropped their first decision of the season on Monday in Detroit, 4-2. Shawn Horcoff and rookie Andrew Cogliano scored for Edmonton. Dwayne Roloson stopped 31 of 34 shots in his first loss of the season.
Bouchard is supposed to be the set-up guy, the wingman who always makes his buddies look good. Bouchard did set up Burns for the game-winner on Saturday, but he’s been making himself look pretty good as well. Bouchard scored the only goal in the season-opening win over Chicago, and he opened the scoring for Minnesota against the Jackets.
Wild keys to the game
1. Enter Sandman: No team enjoyed Geoff Sanderson’s 2006-2007 stint in Philadelphia more than the Wild. Minnesota didn’t play Philadelphia last season, meaning that it didn’t have to face the man that has scored 14 goals and six assists in just 15 games. Sanderson is now in the Northwest, and has already picked up a pair of tallies this season. 2. Backstopped: Backstrom posted four wins in four games against the Oilers with a pair of shutouts and a 0.50 goals against average. It appears that he will make his third consecutive start tonight. 3. Missing Marian: Marian Gaborik is still looking for his first point, as is linemate Pavol Demitra. Gaborik has 30 career points against Edmonton, which is more than he has against any other opponent.
Keep An Eye On
We can’t say for certain that Derek Boogaard got in the collective heads of the Oilers last season. But, when you consider that Oiler head coach Craig MacTavish spent several minutes berating Boogaard from the bench, and that several Oilers took undisciplined penalties in retaliation, it’s a pretty safe assumption that Boogey had entered their psyches. The Oilers recently called up tough guy Jean-Francois Jacques, who will likely introduce himself to number 24.
Probable Wild Line Combos
James Sheppard will likely make his debut…for real this time. He’ll fill in for the injured Dominic Moore: