GAMEDAY: Wild vs. Blues
Saturday, 11.05.2011 / 12:40 AM
Minnesota Wild (6-3-3: 15 points, T-4th in Western Conference, T-2nd in Northwest Division) vs. St. Louis Blues (6-6-0: 12 points, 12th in Western Conference, 3rd in Central Division)
You wouldn’t think that Cal Clutterbuck
would be suspended for an errant self-defense punch that landed on the face of an NHL linesman. But then you wouldn’t think Pierre-Marc Bouchard
would ever get two games for an errant highstick, either. Fortunately, the Minnesota Wild will have Clutterbuck in the lineup tonight after it was ruled his punch that inadvertently struck Darren Gibbs while Vancouver’s Max Lapierre tried to body slam him into the Canucks bench.
The Clutterbuck incident came near the end of the Wild’s dominant performance on Thursday – a 5-1 thumping of the Canucks. Matt Cullen
led the offensive charge with two goals and an assist. Pierre-Marc Bouchard
also posted a three point night with a goal and two assists. Guillaume Latendresse
and Marco Scandella
both chipped in with their second goals of the year. Josh Harding
moved to 3-0-1 on the season with a 24-save effort.
Thanks to a pair of former Minnesota High School stars, the St. Louis Blues are also coming off a win over the Canucks last night. T.J. Oshie struck twice and David Backes notched the game-winner six minutes into the third period. Brian Elliott earned the win, stopping 28 of 30 shots.
Wild vs. Blues will be broadcast locally in high definition on Fox Sports North with a start time at 7:00 PM. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
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As the song says, we all want to ride the Zamboni. But the guys who get to do that every day look for other challenges: like saving lives. Aaron Hinnenkamp and Thomas Lund are two ice workers at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. But last month, they played the roles of life-savers when Rich Mertz, who was playing a pick-up hockey game, had his face severely gashed by a skate blade. It was the quick actions of Hinnenkamp and Lund to apply pressure to the wound that likely saved the life of Mertz.
Tonight, Hinnenkamp and Lund will lead the crowd in the “Let’s Play Hockey” declaration. During intermission, they’ll be driving folks around in the party Zamboni – the Target Red Hot Seats.
Another season of high expectations in St. Louis has been plagued by a rocky start, hampered most by an anemic power play. The fans in Mizzou have probably been distracted by the local baseball team, but all eyes are on the ice and the players that have underperformed thus far.
One of those players is Oshie, who has been looked at as playing a key role in the Blues offense. But until last night, the former Warroad Warrior had only found the net once. It took a demotion to the fourth line to spark him last night, when he drove the net and tripled his goal output for the season with two markers.
Any number of Wild skaters could be considered hot after the way the team was pumping shots on Cory Schneider, who prevented Thursday’s game from getting completely out of hand. Right now, though, there isn’t a hockey player out there enjoying a three-game stretch like Harding. In that stretch, Harding has faced the Red Wings twice and the defending Western Conference champions, and he’s given up just two goals.
We’re not supposed to get excited about the standings during the first week of November. And Head Coach Mike Yeo would tell us we should be more concerned with “the process” of the Wild getting to be the team it needs to be. But fourth place and just three regulation losses through 12 games seems like reason to get a little jacked up. Only twice has the Wild had three regulation losses or less through 12 games, and both times it made the postseason.
The goals were eventually going to come for the Wild, and that’s because Bouchard and Latendresse weren’t going to combine for one goal this season. The key will be if they can build off the momentum they created on Thursday. Latendresse scored the kind of goal he scored so often two years ago, using his hands and vision to get to an open space before burying one from in tight. Bouchard also got going, tacking on his first goal of the year for the game-winner, and setting up two others.
The Wild will keep the same lines that were used in the domination of the Canucks:
appears available, but with the way the defensemen have been playing, it doesn’t look like he’ll get in tonight:
Harding is getting the start because he’s sizzling in goal right now, but it doesn’t hurt that he’s 4-2-0 against the Blues with a 1.77 goals against average.
Technically, Stoner is not considered a healthy scratch even though he likely could play if needed.
(back) and Greg Zanon
(groin) are out, while Stoner (hand) is doubtful.
"It’s not about where we’re at today. It’s about coming to the rink and becoming a better team. I feel like we’re making improvements. I feel like we’re making strides. Winners are never satisfied.”
-- Mike Yeo on not getting caught up in standings and focusing on the task at hand.
Backes is a Minneapolis native and spent three seasons at Minnesota State, Mankato. Oshie won a Class A State Tournament title with Warroad. RW Jamie Langenbrunner helped Cloquet-Esko-Carlton to a state tournament berth back in 1992. D Taylor Chorney grew up in Hastings.
Minnesota has scored the first goal in each of its last nine home games vs. St. Louis (going 6-3-0) since Doug Weight scored in the first period 3/22/07, a game the Wild went on to win 5-1.