Preview of Game 17: Minnesota WIld

The Minnesota Wild's white away jersey has been virtually the same for their entire existence. (via hockey-jerseys.ca)

In an early evening game today, the Ducks face off with the Minnesota Wild for the second time this season. This will be the Ducks first game without Lubo for a while.

Last Matchup:

The last time the Ducks played the Minnesota Wild, it was their last win before the game against Vancouver two nights ago. That game was on Thursday, October 27th. The Ducks got outshot in that game 25-16 but were still able to pull out a win against Niklas Backstrom. The power play was key for the Ducks in that game as they went 2-6 with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf scoring the power play goals. Then again the Wild’s power play was just as good as they went 2-5 with power play goals from Jared Spurgeon and Matt Cullen. The Ducks played a pretty solid game and Teemu Selanne had an excellent game with 3 assists.

Breakdown of the Wild:

After the last matchup between these two teams, the Wild have been the opposite of the Ducks. Since the October 27th meeting, the Wild have gone 5-2. They’ve been getting great goaltending from both Backstrom and Josh Harding, averaging just 1.57 goals allowed average in those 7 games since the 27th matchup. The offense however has not been that good for them but its been good enough with the goaltending they’ve received, averaging just 2.14 goals per game. Dany Heatley and Mikko Koivu have been the Wild’s best offensive weapons so far with 11 and 10 points respectively in 16 games. Some other offensive threats are Cullen, Pierre Marc-Bouchard, Devin Setoguchi and Guillaume Latendresse. Defensively they don’t really have any studs since the traded Brent Burns, but Marek Zidlicky, Nick Schultz and Jared Spurgeon are possibly their best D-men. Despite some calls from Wild fans for Harding to be the starter, Niklas Backstrom will be the starting goalie tonight.

Keys to the Game:

  • MIN: Get the top line going early because Heatley has been hot lately.
  • MIN: Continue the great goaltending with Backstrom in net.
  • ANA: Like against Vancouver, get pucks to the net. Besides the third period, the Ducks were keeping up with the Canucks in shots on goal.
  • ANA: Work hard in the corners, the forecheck and in the neutral zone. When struggling like they are, they need to keep working hard and eventually things will turn around.

Players to Watch:

  • MIN – F – Dany Heatley: 4 points in his last four games and the Wild will need him to be effective on the power play because the Ducks penalty kill has been stellar at home this season.
  • MIN – G – Niklas Backstrom: Amid some calls for his replacement as starting goaltender, Backstrom made 41 saves in a shutout against Flames this past week.
  • ANA – F – Teemu Selanne: He is the best offensive player for the Ducks right now, leading them in points with 15 points.
  • ANA – F – Corey Perry: Even though he had just one point, a goal, in the game against Vancouver, I felt like he was very effective at what he does in front of the net. Getting on the nerves of the Vancouver defense, especially Keith Ballard who he would eventually fight with.

Prediction:

The Wild are a team that was winning games with strong goaltending but in their past two games the goaltending play has dropped off a bit, especially in their last game against the Kings where Harding gave up 4 goals on 21 shots before he was pulled for Backstrom. I expect Backstrom to play well so the Ducks defense and goaltending will have to be strong today. Kill of penalties and maybe a powerplay goal and I think the Ducks can get their second consecutive win.

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Topics: Anaheim Ducks, Corey Perry, Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi, Guillaume Latendresse, Jared Spurgeon, Josh Harding, Marek Zidlicky, Matt Cullen, Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild, Nick Schultz, Niklas Backstrom, Pierre Marc-Bouchard, Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne

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