Gameday Thread: Wild look to end skid against Oilers

Well, we’re back after an extended winter break to recharge and spend some time with family. Unfortunately, the Wild haven’t yet returned from their winter break yet.

They painted the loss with the “moral victory” brush after the game, and you can see why. They dominated play for a lot of the game. They forechecked hard, they got the puck deep, they played physical – they held the momentum for most of the game. They supported the puck well, they kept the Preds deep in their zone for extended periods of time. They did everything they had to do to win, except score.

Well, that’s not entirely true. They did score once.

Everyone talks about how poorly the Wild are playing and, to some extent, they are, but the bottom line is just that they’re not putting the puck in the net. During their eight-game slide, they’ve scored more than once in a game just twice.

Last night was a terrific example of the difficulty that they’re having putting the puck in the net.

They got the shots they needed, but for some reason or another they just couldn’t get them past Pekka Rinne, who stoned them solid all night long.

Sure, you can blame it on the fact that Guillaume Latendresse, Devin Setoguchi and Casey Wellman (all big parts of the team starting to get it together) are out, but the fact is that this team has more than enough fire power to get the job done – they’re just not.

So, yes, last night was a moral victory because they played well and stuck to their gameplan. You’ll hear the “we’ll win more than we lose if we play like that” line, but the fact is that the Wild have lost eight straight now. The good news is that they have a game tonight against the Edmonton Oilers, whom they have played quite well against of late (despite losing their last outing).

So, let’s take a look at tonight’s tilt, shall we?

Lineup

Matt Kassian was called up and should get the call to go tonight. Per Wild.com, here are the predicted lines:

Clutterbuck/Koivu/Heatley
Palmer/Cullen/Bouchard
Johnson/Brodziak/Powe
Kassian/Peters/Staubitz

Shultz/Falk
Zidlicky/Zanon
Scandella/Prosser

Backstrom is 15-0-0 with a 1.19 GAA against the Oilers at the X in his career. He’ll probably get the nod tonight.

Burning Questions

Can the Wild return to dominance over the Oilers? They lost their first game againstEdmontonin quite some time during this skid. It would be a fair amount of poetic justice, if the Wild could end their skid against the Oilers.

Can the Wild keep up the momentum from their “moral victory?” The Wild did play well last night, but didn’t get the win. If they play that well again, though, there’s a good chance they might be on the other side of things.

Will Dany Heatley finally show up? The Wild’s sniper has yet to have a multi-goal game this season and has scored just twice in his last eight games. For the Wild’s offense to get going, they’ll need Heatley to do the same.

The game starts at 7 pm tonight and will be on FSN.

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