GAMEDAY: Wild at Avalanche
Saturday, 11.28.2009 / 6:00 PM
Minnesota Wild (9-12-3: 21 points, 15th in Western Conference, 5th in Northwest Division)
at Colorado Avalanche (14-8-4: 32 points, 4th in Western Conference, 2nd in Northwest Division)
When a team that struggles early in the season starts to pick up some points, fans immediately start looking at the standings. Five out of six points in the last three games? And we’re still in last place?
The Minnesota Wild is still in last place despite closing out a successful four-game homestand yesterday with a 5-3 triumph over the Colorado Avalanche, and there’s still a lot of work to do. But what’s more important is how the team is playing, and right now, the Wild is playing its best hockey of the season, and they are doing it rather consistently.
Gone is the talk of “learning the system” and we’re starting to hear less about “needing to play a full 60 minutes.” The Wild “played the system to a T yesterday, and they did it for all 60 minutes. In the final minute, Chuck Kobasew
capped off the Wild’s first hat trick of the season with an empty netter. Kobasew registered the second hat trick of his career with some help from Mikko Koivu
, who assisted on three of the Wild’s five goals. Andrew Brunette
and Owen Nolan, both former Avs, also scored.
Wild at Avalanche will be broadcast locally in high definition on Fox Sports North at 8:00 PM. The game can be heard on 830 WCCO AM, or online at Wild.com.
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If You’re Going
Tonight is “Family Night” and families of four can get four tickets, four family meals and four sodas for 99 bucks. Your meal option isn’t limited to a hot dog, either. You can also get a cheese steak, a nacho deluxe or a salad.
Meet The Avs
You just met them yesterday, but now it’s their turn to host our boys in their barn. The Wild has beaten the Avs in both meetings this season, but tonight’s game will be the first time the two teams have squared off in Denver, where the Avs are 7-2-1 this season.
For the most part, the Wild was able to bottle up the big names on the All-Star roster, other than Paul Stastny’s second period goal. Chris Stewart tallied a goal and an assist yesterday, and he now has four points in his last three games.
Since his arrival in mid-October, Chuck Kobasew
has brought the energy and the grittiness that the Wild had hoped he would. But when you get a 20-goal scorer in a trade, you’re hoping for…well…goals. Filling in on the top line with Brunette and Koivu, Kobasew found that scoring touch and quadrupled his goal total in a Wild uniform.
For the first and only time this season, the Wild will play the same opponent in back-to-back games.
Keep An Eye On
There shouldn’t be any excuses for either team considering both had to fly out to Colorado immediately following yesterday’s tilt, and both will be dealing with the effects of high altitude. The one guy who may be a bit jet-lagged could be Guillaume Latendresse
, who flew to Minnesota from Montreal on Thursday, played yesterday and was back in the air with his new team last night. Latendresse has been very excited about his new surroundings however, so let’s hope his adrenaline is enough to get him through a tough road contest.
Probable Wild Line Combos
, who is still ill, did not travel with the team, meaning Kobasew will be back on the top line again:
Probable Defensive Pairings
There’s a chance that Jaime Sifers gets in the lineup if Todd Richards thinks one of his blueliners needs a respite:
Between The Pipes
It looks as though Josh Harding
will get his fourth start of the season. All of Harding’s starts this year have come in road games.
View From The Press Box
As of this morning, it appears that Sifers or John Scott will be the healthy scratch.
(hamstring) and Miettinen (illness) did not travel with the team. Pierre-Marc Bouchard
, Brent Burns
and Petr Sykora all remain out with concussions.
Richards’ Quote of the Day
“He’s a big, strong guy that has physical presence and that edge. He’s got to be reckoned with down low.”
-- Todd Richards on what he saw from Latendresse in his debut yesterday
Honorary State of Hockey Residents
D Tom Preissing played his high school hockey for the Rosemount Irish, and C Matt Hendricks won a state title in 2000 with Blaine, and is a former St. Cloud State Husky. Speaking of the Huskies, they are in Denver this weekend, and attended today’s morning skate at the Pepsi Center.
Minnesota is 10-1-2 in its last 13 regular season games against the Avalanche. Colorado has one regulation win against the Wild since November of 2007, and that was a 6-5 win last December.