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Minnesota Wild vs Colorado Avalanche: Game 44

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Minnesota Wild (21-17-5) vs. Colorado Avalanche (22-16-6)

Xcel Energy Center @ 7:00 PM CST Television: KSTC (HD)
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For the Colorado perspective, check out Mile High Hockey

Minnesota Wild
Colorado Avalanche

Andrew Brunette - Mikko Koivu - Antti Miettinen
Pierre-Marc Bouchard - Kyle Brodziak - Martin Havlat
Cal Clutterbuck - Matt Cullen - Chuck Kobasew
Brad Staubitz - John Madden - Eric Nystrom

Nick Schultz - Brent Burns
Jared Spurgeon - Marco Scandella
Clayton Stoner - Greg Zanon

Anton Khudobin
Matthew Hackett

Chris Stewart - Paul Stastny - David Jones
Tomas Fleischmann - Matt Duchene - Milan Hejduk
Daniel Winnik - Ryan O'Reilly - T.J. Galiardi
Brandon Yip - Philippe Dupuis -
Kevin Porter

Ryan O'Byrne - John-Michael Liles
Adam Foote - Ryan Wilson
Kevin Shattenkirk -
Matt Hunwick

Craig AndersonPeter Budaj

Well now. Three games of NHL experience in the net tonight. This can only end well, right? Right.

This game could be ugly, and it could be spectacular. So many small changes, plus the big changes make this game a study in organizational management. Borat is up, Hackett is up, Spurgeon is up. Patrick O`Sullivan is down, Cam Barker is out. Amazing. Talk about looking for a spark.

On the opposite side, the classiest man on Earth, Chris Stewart is back in the lineup. We'll see how that plays out. It does not appear David Koci plays tonight, which is too bad, since Butch and Spurgeon will both be out there for him. Truly, the heat from the last meeting will still be there, but will anything come of it?

The Wild have two very young goaltenders to protect. Can they afford to play overly physical if the refs are calling it tight? Too many power plays, and Anton will be driven from the game. Not enough physical play, and the Wild will get steam rolled. While the emotion may be high, this is not the best situation to settle scores. There are still three games against the Avs this year, plenty of time.

For now, the Wild need to play disciplined, smart hockey, and protect Borat. The defense needs to limit the shots getting through, and they need to clear the front of the net. Anything less is completely unacceptable with a rookie goalie between the pipes, and another waiting on the bench.

There is no safety net. Tonight is a trapeze routine, 1000 feet in the air over a concrete slab. Enjoy that.

Five Questions:

  1. How will Borat look tonight?
    Can the Wild keep themselves out of the box?
    Will the defense offer the support Khudobin needs?
  2. Can Clutterbuck get inside the Avs' heads and effect the outcome of the game?
  3. How embarrassing will this be?