Minnesota Wild (4-0-0: 8 points, 1st in Western Conference, 1st in Northwest Division) at Anaheim Ducks (2-3-1: 5 points, T-8th in Western Conference, T-2nd in Pacific Division) ***Wild at Ducks 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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Tonight is the night. It’s the first chance for the Minnesota Wild to exact some measure of revenge on the Anaheim Ducks since last year’s playoffs. It’s the first chance to face the Brad May’s (if he plays), the Ryan Getzlaf’s and the Chris Pronger’s – just a few of the players who incensed the Wild last year. And, it’s a golden chance to prove that the Wild’s undefeated record is for real.
The Minnesota Wild remained the only undefeated team in the National Hockey League last night, despite a sluggish performance in the desert against the Phoenix Coyotes. Marian Gaborik, Mikko Koivu and Eric Belanger picked up goals as the Wild scored in each situation – even strength, power play and shorthanded. Niklas Backstrom stopped 27 shots to move to 4-0 on the season, and 25-1-2 when leading at any point during a game.
After two games in London, and three on the Eastern half of the United States, the Ducks finally returned home on Wednesday and took care of the Boston Bruins, 2-1. Getzlaf and Francois Beauchemin scored the goals, and Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 18 shots for his first win of the season.
Marian Gaborik was the Wild’s best player on the ice last night, and he finally snapped his goal-less streak. These are all signs that number 10 is heating up as he’s posted a goal and two assists in the last two games.
Wild keys to the game
1. Quick Turnaround: With tonight’s faceoff coming about 19 hours after last night’s game finished, the Wild won’t have much time to rest up. This may cause Jacques Lemaire to try some fresh legs in the lineup, including last night’s scratches, Matt Foy and Keith Carney. Goaltender Josh Harding will also be likely to start. 2. Game Focus: As much as every player may want to throw a Duck through plexiglass, that’s not advisable, or possible. The important thing tonight will be to get a tough road win and send a message for the rest of the season. 3. Better, But Still Not Good: The Wild is undefeated, and every player will admit that the team hasn’t played its best game this season. There was the third period against Columbus and quite a bit of good play against Edmonton, but this team has a lot more in the tank. Now would be a good time to step on the gas.
Keep An Eye On
Derek Boogaard has talked about the importance of worrying about the game, and not the extracurriculars, but we still think he’s going to put a little extra momentum into his hits tonight.
Probable Wild Line Combos
A few players were told to skate today in Anaheim, but no word yet as to who may or may not play. Also, Lemaire was at his juggling best last night, so these lines may bear very little resemblance to what we actually see: