“Game of the Night” is a feature that takes a daily look at the best game on the NHL schedule, and sets it up for you. So y’know, you should probably watch the game below. This is brought to you by the Werner Ladder Company (check out their hockey vid here), because how else do you think the bulbs in the red goal light get changed?
Anaheim Ducks at Minnesota Wild
(Just wait, hear me out)
Anaheim Ducks 18-3-3 (last 10: 7-1-2) – 2nd in the West
Minnesota Wild 13-9-2 (7-3-0) – 3rd in West
Boston/Pittsburgh is undeniably the premier game on the schedule tonight in terms of general eyeballs on it, but the current 2/3 seeds in the West are playing (the Bruins game is a piddly 2/4 seeder – thanks divisional play!), and nobody wants to read about the Bruins every darn day.
Puck drop: 8:00 p.m. EST
Need to know:
* Suddenly the Ducks are only six points behind Chicago for first in the West…with two games in hand. If they get a couple wins, Chicago’s great start could go *poof* in a hurry.
* With the Canucks being 3-4-3 in their last 10, the Wild have suddenly taken over the division lead. The Minnesota Wild are in first in the Northwest Division.
* Bobby Ryan is on a seven game point streak (three and five for eight), while teammates Corey Perry (four and two for six) and Ryan Getzlaf (six and three for nine) have four game streaks on the go. For the Wild, defensman Ryan Suter also has a seven-gamer going, scoring one and eight for nine points.
* This is game one of a three game road trip for the Ducks
Injuries (via NHL.com):
Palmieri (upper body) is on injured reserve for Anaheim, while defenseman Bryan Allen (flu-like symptoms) is day-to-day. … Minnesota goaltenders Josh Harding (illness) and Darcy Kuemper (groin) are on injured reserve.
What I’m looking forward to:
Look at the leading scorers above – there’s no shortage of great players in this game – Parise, Suter, Koivus one and two, Perry, Getzlaf, Ryan, Selanne…the point is, there’ll be no shortage of talent flying around when puck drops.
Viktor Fasth has been confirmed as the starter, as has Nicklas Backstrom, which is an amazing matchup. Fasth is the 30-year-old first year tender that the Ducks have already re-signed to a multi-year deal, given his stat line so far: 10-1-1 in 12 games, with a 1.92 GAA and .929 save percentage. Those are Vezina numbers. Backstrom’s line of 11-6-2 with a 2.30 and .914 aren’t quite as good, but certainly aren’t anything to laugh off.
There are people – one of whom is podcast co-host of mine – who contend it’ll be the Ducks who come out of the West this year, and it’s awfully tough to call that a ridiculous statement. Time to get to know them.
I like the Ducks better as a team, and think they’ll have the better overall season, but I think the Wild will pull out the win tonight because they’ve finally taken the step to get ahead of the Canucks after a long time staring at their bumper, that’ll give them the first whiff of true confidence, and they’re playing at home. After years of mediocrity in St. Paul, I think the fans will be revved up at this new taste of success too.
Game of the Night prediction record: