Monday, December 3, 2007

Gm # 26: Wild vs. Canucks (3/8)

The Wild were fortunate to get another chance to redeem themselves against the Canucks so soon after their most-recent tet-a-tet. In addition to any continued aggression given that this was Mattias Ohlund's first game against them after his slash on Mikko Koivu, the Wild had at their disposal the sting from two straight butt-kickings at the hands of the Canucks as motivation.

For their part, the Canucks continue to be insane against the NW division, and rode in with Roberto Luongo engaged in a 3+ game shutout streak. The two teams are see-sawing with the division lead on a nightly basis, it seems. And you have to respect the Canucks if you're a Wild fan if for no other reason than they have played Wild hockey better than the Wild each of the first two games this season.

The Wild won the game 2-1 on Aaron Voros' one-in-a-million circus goal in the second period. Yes, it took that kind of zaniness to beat the red-hot Luongo. Yes, he deserves to be called red-hot despite the loss because he was insanely good all game. The other Wild goal was on a nice redirection by Eric Belanger - that Luongo damn near came up with. He absolutely robbed Gaborik a handful of times, and made a sick glove save on a nice one-timer from the point in the third. Even a stinger to the collarbone area on a hard shot from Voros couldn't derail the Luongo Express. The man is simply amazing.

The Canucks blueline was healthy/intact for the first time in a while, and they showed how strong they can be as a unit when they play Vigneault's system.

The Canucks are pretty much as advertised: all-universe goalie, one line deep on offense, good defense. They need Luongo because their margin for error is so small given that they will not score too many goals.

Interestingly, that's a pretty close proximity to the Wild. Excellent goalie who benefits from a great defensive system and a team that buys into it, not-much-more-than one line deep on offense (call it two when everyone's healthy).

Through 26 games each, the Wild have 69 GF and 65 GA. The Canucks have 69 GF and 62 GA.

Toss in the Avs and you have a strong, exciting, close three horse race in the NW right now. Edmonton is improving, and the Flames HAVE to be better than they've been so far (right??) so at just past the quarter-pole of the season, the division is as good as we thought it was.

Season series

Overall: Canucks lead 2-1-0
In Minny: Wild are 1-1-0 (4 GF, 5 GA)
In the 'Couv: Wild are 0-1-0 (2 GF, 6 GA)


POLLYANNA SAYS: I want to party with Aaron Voros - he's a nut!

BOTTOM LINE: Healthy certainly seems to equate to success for the Wild. Some big roster decisions loom.

STUD: Voros has taken St. Paul by storm with his go-go style of play, willingness to drop 'em, and timely goals.

DUD: I just don't see a future for Matt Foy, at least not on this team, if at all in the league. When you make Dominic Moore look good by comparison? That's a bad sign.


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