In what is sure to be a barn burner between two
top end teams, the Minnesota Wild will face the Calgary Flames in a matchup that has significant playoff and divisional lead implications for at least one of the teams. For the other team, well, it's a game.
In what's been a strange season, divisional rival Minnesota has found itself one point behind the (*vomits*) Edmonton Oilers for the lead, largely propelled by a hot goaltender with an unsustainable SV% as well as playing a defensive style of hockey. Wait, are we sure this isn't 2006? Is Marian Gaborik on this Wild team?
Currently Minnesota is twenty-seventh in the league in goals for/game while they sit in second in goals against/game. Heckuva disparity, hm?
Dany Heatley wasn't exactly the salve Wild fans predicted; neither has Devin Setoguchi. Each have four goals and four assists in thirteen games: hardly lighting the world on fire. Mikko Koivu, a personal favorite, has been as steady as usual, with the same number of points (1-7-8) but also a significant contribution to the defensive side of the puck as well.
One of the bigger oddities we've seen in the Wild this year though hasn't been among the forwards, or even the exceptional goaltending they've received from Josh Harding. Rather, it's the play of rookie defensemen Marco Scandella and Justin Falk, who've been averaging together something around 19 minutes a game. That's either horrible GMing or a hell of a lot of trust in a couple kids. Possibly both.
Personally, this game will likely be pretty even. On the one hand you have inconsistent play from Calgary that could see them dominate, fold like a homeless man playing poker with his last can of beans, or doing all three in the space of a period (not to mention the game as a whole). On the other hand you have Minnesota being, well, Minnesota. I expect a thoroughly awful game somewhere on the level of the Colorado Avalanche game though.
Justin will have line combos and defensive pairings tonight in the gamethread.