Canucks - Wild Game Preview

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GAME TIME: 4:00 PST

TV: Sportsnet

SEASON SERIES: 3-0 Canucks

LAST MEETING: December 12: Canucks 4 Wild 3

THE ENEMY: Hockey Wilderness

UPDATE (11:02 AM): From Russo's Rants: Cal Clutterbuck is questionable for tonight's game (concussion). If he can't play, Petr Sykora will.

UPDATE (10:57 AM): A little "nugget" from the Province today: Niklas Backstrom is currently tied (with Manny Fernandez) for the Wild franchise goalie wins.

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Well now that the Alexandre Burrows-Stephane Auger saga has been "settled" it's about time to move on. The Canucks have more important things to be concerned with. How about they win tonight's game in honor of their ballsy buddy Burrows? That would put some water on the flames of controversy. So would Burrows continuing his red-hot ways. We will soon find out how Alex channels his anger.

The Canucks find themselves in 7th spot in the West now, still only 2 points behind the Flames. A loss by Calgary in regulation to the Penguins tonight along with a Canucks win will put Vancouver back on top of the Northwest Division.

More after the jump...

Minnesota is catching up to a playoff spot. They are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games. After losing 4 in a row between December 29 and January 5, the Wild returned home and have won 3 straight games over Calgary, Chicago and Pittsburgh respectively. That is no small feat. They hold a 15-6-1 record in their rink. Tonight is the final game of their 4-game home stand.

The Wild currently sit in 10th spot in the West, only 3 points behind the Red Wings (who got blown out 6-0 by the Islanders last night-it's OK to laugh), 4 points behind the 8th place Kings and 7 points behind the Canucks. Yes, a Wild victory will seriously put them back into the thick of the race, if they aren't already. So this will be a tough task for the Canucks.

Controversial or not, the Canucks were handed out 7 minor penalties to the Predators' 4 last game. Forgotten in the whole scheme of things was that Henrik Sedin accounted for 3 of them. Cut it out, Hank! I also did not think Roberto Luongo looked all that sharp against the Preds.

Back to the Wild. In their current 3-game winning streak they have scored 14 goals (minus one in the shootout in that insane comeback win over Chicago):

-Guillaume Latendresse has 3 goals and 4 assists. Oh my.

-Eric Belanger has 3 goals and 2 assists.

-Martin Havlat has 1 goal and 3 assists. He is on an 8-game point streak.

-Kyle Brodziak has 1 goal and 3 assists.

-Nick Shultz has 3 assists

-Marek Zidlicky has 1 goal and 2 assists.

-Cal Clutterbuck has 2 goals.

It's insane to think of how many Wild players can strike at any moment when you look at their team stats.

COMPARATIVE STATS

GOALS PER GAME: Canucks 3rd, Wild 17th

LEAST GOALS AGAINST PER GAME: Canucks 7th, Wild 20th

5 ON 5: Canucks 2nd, Wild 24th

POWER PLAY: Canucks 4th, Wild 22nd

PENALTY KILL: Wild 12th, Canucks 15th

SHOTS PER GAME: Canucks 16th, Wild 25th

LEAST SHOTS AGAINST PER GAME: Wild 4th, Canucks 9th

WINNING % WHEN SCORING FIRST: Canucks 10th, Wild 15th

WINNING % WHEN LEADING AFTER 1: Canucks 5th, Wild 13th

WINNING % WHEN LEADING AFTER 2: Canucks 2nd, Wild 6th

FACEOFFS: Wild 2nd, Canucks 8th

Is there a Petr Sykora controversy in Minnesota? Check out Hockey Wilderness for more on that.

Ryan Johnson (foot) and Pavol Demitra (shoulder, brain) are getting close to returning to the Canucks' lineup, says Alain Vigneault. Just kidding Pavol! Maybe!

Both the Wild and Canucks play the same style of hockey. Should be entertaining. Is it too much to ask for Rick Rypien and Derek Boogaard to drop the gloves tonight? This is the 4th time I've wanted to see this tilt this season yet it has not happened. Sure, that is a monster for Rypper to fight, but that has not stopped him before.

Watch out for Niklas Backstrom. He stopped 35 of 38 shots against the Penguins in the Wild's 4-3 win on Monday.

GO CANUCKS GO! Get back on track! Show that killer instinct!

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