Oct. 16 2015
MINNESOTA WILD – LOS ANGELES KINGS
WILD (3-0-0) at KINGS (2-0-1)
Season series: This is the first out of three meetings between two teams who wants to show the league that they belong in the top of the table.
Wild team scope: Coming from a stellar victory in Arizona, the Wild goes back-to-back with a trip out west to California for a tougher matchup against the Kings. Their three game road trip ends two days later against the San José Sharks, and the Wild need to win at least one of them to send a clear message to the other teams in the league. The Wild are still undefeated, much thanks to great goaltending from Dubnyk and Kuemper, when the defence has struggled. The Wild have allowed the most shots per game in the NHL so far, but both goalies have performed great and Mike Yeo and the rest of the organisation hope the form continues when they face top scorers like Kopitar and Gaborik tonight.
A question mark before the season and during the first three games has been how to get most out of snipers like Tomas Vanek and Jason Pominville, and Mike Yeos determination to divide the lines into four balanced formations have shown to be a good call. Some might wonder for how long Vanek and Pominville will be satisfied with their lack of ice time, but there are no complaints yet from the forwards themselves:
”You just gotta keep doing your job, no matter what. Take what is given, I use to say, and that’s what I’m trying to do” Pominville said after the Wilds early morning practice. Pominville is considered a good scorer, but was nowhere to be found on the power play lines when head coach Mike Yeo ran a special teams practice for 45 minutes at the Staples Center.
The Finnish centerman Mikael Granlund is still out for the two upcoming games with an upper body injury. Mike Yeo commented on Granlunds status, but was not concerned about his health: “We just want him to be 100% and good to go, but there is no rush. We’ve got a long season ahead of us, and we don’t need to take any risks or stupid decisions. Mika is going to be back in the lineup soon, but we don’t want to gamble, and we’ve got good depth on the roster”.
Niederreiter – Koivu – Parise
Zucker – Coyle – Schroeder
Carter – Haula – Vanek
Sutter – Fontaine – Pominville
Suter – Brodin
Scandella – Dumba
Reilly – Spurgeon
Scratched: Folin, Prosser
Who’s hot: Zach Parise got the win for the Wild against the Coyotes. He scored three goals, including the game winner, and assisted to Nino Niederreiter on the power play to give the Wild a two goal lead. Mikko Koivu has also been excellent so far, especially in the face-off circle, but he also contributes with points as he has five assists and plays a big role in both power play and on the penalty kill.