Minnesota Wild (5-0-0: 10 points, 1st in Western Conference, 1st in Northwest Division) at Los Angeles Kings (1-5-0: 2 points, 15th in Western Conference, 5th in Pacific Division) ***Wild at Kings will be broadcast on FSN North at 9:30 PM, and can be heard on WCCO 830 AM, or online at Wild.com***
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The Minnesota Wild will look to avoid a letdown tonight when it takes on the Los Angeles Kings to wrap up the Western swing of a four-game road stretch. Minnesota will look to build on a five-game winning streak, while the Kings are trying to snap a five-game skid. A Wild win tonight would tie last season’s start for longest winning streak to start the year. Last year’s sixth win came against the Kings at STAPLES Center.
The Wild is coming off a grind-it-out 2-0 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks. In his first start of the season, Josh Harding stopped 37 shots for his third career shutout in eight career starts. Brian Rolston and Mark Parrish each picked up their first goals of the season in the second period.
The Kings fell at home to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday, 4-1. Kings leading scorer Mike Cammalleri scored his sixth goal of the season.
Who’s not hot when it comes to Wild goaltending? Normally, Head Coach Jacques Lemaire likes to ride his hot goaltender, but he’s rarely had this problem. Harding is coming off a shutout, but Niklas Backstrom has a goals against average of 1.00 in four games, and two shutouts.
Wild keys to the game
1. More Contributions: With the possible exception of Wes Walz, everybody that should have a goal by now does. Still, only three Wild players have scored two goals, and Brent Burns is the only defenseman with a goal. 2. Penalty Trouble: The Wild drew 33 minutes in penalties and gave the Ducks eight power plays, including two 5-on-3 situations. That’s not a recipe for beating anyone in the NHL, let alone the Cup champs. As much as the Kings have struggled, their power play has clicked. In home games, the Kings have scored on eight of 24 chances, which leads the NHL. 3. Mommy Mojo: If the Wild runs its road record to 3-0-0 tonight, we may see an attempt to book extra hotel rooms for mothers the rest of the season. As it stands now, tonight will be the last game the Wild moms will attend as a group.
Keep An Eye On
Martin Skoula and Stephane Veilleux. Fans often critique both, and both were featured in glowing articles by the local papers today. Keep your eyes on these two, and you’ll see the little things they do that Lemaire is so fond of.
Probable Wild Line Combos
Contrary to what many predicted, Lemaire stayed away from using Mikko Koivu with Pavol Demitra and Marian Gaborik. His lines on Sunday were fairly conventional in the rare times that both teams were at full strength:
Lemaire’s tiebreaker for starting goalie is usually a goaltender’s past performance against a team. Backstrom has never faced the Kings, while Harding is 1-0-0 against Los Angeles with a 1.00 goals against average.
View From the Press Box
No word out of Los Angeles as to who might not play.
Dominic Moore is still recovering from an abdominal strain and likely will not play.
Lemaire Quote of the Day
“There’s no “A.” There’s no “B.” There’s no one. There’s no two. They’re both goaltenders and when we need one of them, we hope that he’ll be ready to play.”
Jacques Lemaire regarding his goaltending situation
Referees: Stephane Auger and Dan Marouelli Linesmen: Andy McElman and Vaughan Rody
Minnesota has yielded just one even strength goal in 300 minutes of action this season, that coming in Phoenix on Saturday.
Honorary State of Hockey Residents
Kings defenseman Tom Preissing played his high school hockey at Rosemount. Another Kings defenseman, Jack Johnson, is a former Shattuck St. Mary’s standout. Kings center Patrick O’Sullivan is a former Wild prospect, who was sent to the Kings in exchange for Pavol Demitra.
If You’re Going
Keep an eye out for the L.A. King Drummers in the concourse of the STAPLES Center. This group of four guys bangs on drums, and will often let fans in on the action.