The Minnesota Wild is expected to utilize the 11th goaltender in franchise history tonight when Jose Theodore makes his first-ever start for his new team. The 2002 NHL MVP, who signed with Minnesota while the team was in Finland, has served as Niklas Backstrom’s number two in every game since the Wild returned to North America. In his career against the Vancouver Canucks, Theodore is 11-10-3 with a 2.72 goals against average and a .906 save percentage.
Backstrom earned the night off after a sterling performance in Edmonton last night. He stopped 34 of 36 shots as the Wild won its first true road game over the Oilers, 4-2. Kyle Brodziak notched his first two goals of the season, and Guillaume Latendresse chipped in with a goal and an assist. Brent Burns finished up the scoring with a length of the ice bank shot off the glass into an empty net. His third goal in six games equals his entire output from last year.
The Canucks have had a rough week, which upsets nobody in the State of Hockey. It started on Tuesday when the Wild torched Roberto Luongo for six goals in two periods on the way to a 6-2 triumph. Of course, the result was overshadowed by Nucks bruiser Rick Rypien, who grabbed a Wild fan after shoving a linesman while being escorted to the bench. Rypien has been suspended six games after meeting with Commissioner Gary Bettman today.
The Canucks dropped another contest on Wednesday, but did pick up a point in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Luongo rebounded to stop 31 of 32 shots, while Daniel Sedin scored the only goal.
Wild at Canucks will be broadcast locally in high definition on KSTC-TV Channel 45 at 9:00 PM. The game can be heard on 830 WCCO AM, or online at Wild.com.
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As part of the Canucks 40th Anniversary celebration, tonight's game versus the Minnesota Wild will be dedicated in honor of Cliff Ronning. Throughout the night, the Canucks will look back at Ronning's memorable impact on the franchise. Of course, Ronning impacted more than the Canucks. In his one season while playing for the Minnesota Wild, he helped lead them to the Western Conference Finals, including a series victory over Vancouver. Ronning was beloved by Vancouver fans, and every kid who owned a Sega Genesis and used the Canucks as his or her team. Ronning was one of the best video game characters of all time in NHL ‘92 through ’96.
Tuesday night’s game with the Canucks seemed like a microcosm of the last 30 meetings between these two clubs. The Wild lit up Luongo yet again at Xcel Energy Center yet again. A Canuck player lost his mind and did something very stupid. And, of course the Sedin twins performed their offensive wizardry, which fortunately wasn’t enough to score six goals. Henrik set up Daniel for both goals. Daniel has scored the last three Canuck goals.
Why do we always get so worked up over the preseason? The Wild struggled mightily in six North American preseason games, and a struggling and injured Latendresse mirrored that. Despite starting the season on the fourth line, Latendresse proved that preseason means nothing by scoring the team’s first goal of the year. Last night, he continued to improve by posting his second straight one goal, one assist game. He’s now tied for the team lead with three goals.
There will be plenty of off-ice attention focused on the Rick Rypien incident and whether or not his suspension was fair, not fair, too long or too short. The Wild storyline will be Theodore, who will look to make his first impact on his new team.
Brodziak’s two-goal night was the fifth of his career and his first since November of last year, when he scored two goals against the Canucks. Brodziak picked up four goals and four assists in six games against Vancouver last year. Those eight points led all Wild players and accounted for 25% of his season total of 32 points.
Several players may be gassed after having to kill 10 penalties last night. But guys like Andrew Brunette and Latendresse, who don’t kill penalties, should have plenty of wind tonight:
-- Todd Richards to the Minneapolis Star Tribune on the effectiveness of Brad Staubitz, in comparison to behemoth Derek Boogaard.
D Andrew Alberts is from Minneapolis and played his high school hockey with Benilde St. Margaret’s. Injured D Keith Ballard is from Baudette and played his college hockey with Minnesota. LW Mason Raymond played two seasons at Minnesota Duluth.
Last night, when the Wild was on the power play or at even strength, its centers won just 33% of their faceoffs. However, when the team was shorthanded, which was often, they won 59% of their draws.