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Minnesota Wild @ St. Louis Blues: Game 5 Preview

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The Minnesota Wild are trying to find their game. Doing so against the St. Louis Blues will not be easy.

Dilip Vishwanat

For those who haven't been paying much attention lately, the St. Louis Blues are pretty good. This is certainly not the team you want to be playing, on the road, when your team is trying to break a two game losing streak. As Mike Yeo would remind you, there is no need to panic. Two losses is just that, two losses, but staring into the face of a team like the Blues is enough to... well... insert bad pun here.

there are positives and negatives with the Wild right now. Zach Parise is everything he was billed to be and more. Two goals against the Red Wings on Friday, Parise has at least a point in every game so far this season. The third line has been impressive, with hard forechecks, and some flashes of offense from a line that normally was nothing more than throw away minutes while the top line rested.

At the same time, the Wild's blue line has been... mediocre at best. Ryan Suter is struggling a bit to find his legs in the Wild's system, Jared Spurgeon is hurt and Tom Gilbert has been much less embarrassing, but wholly unimpressive. Clayton Stoner has been quite good, but overtaken by the lackluster play from Nate Prosser. Justin Falk has been decent, but the Wild need better than bland. The arrival of Jonas Brodin truly improved the play on the back end, which is saying something when the guy is making his NHL debut.

The Wild Twitter account says Prosser is scratched, Marco Scandella (who was recalled this morning) is in, and will skate with Brodin. In addition, Russo reports that Matt Cullen and Pierre-Marc Bouchard will flips spots.

The Wild's goaltending has been solid, but unimpressive as well. Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding have been hung out to try too many times, but they have both fought the puck quite a bit, too.

So, your lines for tonight look to be:

Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Dany Heatley
Pierre-Marc Bouchard - Mikael Granlund - Devin Setoguchi
Matt Cullen - Kyle Brodziak - Cal Clutterbuck
Darroll Powe - Zenon Konopka - Torrey Mitchell

Ryan Suter - Tom Gilbert
Jonas Brodin - Marco Scandella
Clayton Stoner - Justin Falk

Niklas Backstrom
Josh Harding

Add all this up, and you have a team struggling to find itself while running headlong into a brick wall that is the St. Louis Blues. David Backes, Patrik Berglund, Matt D`Agostini, TJ Oshie... the list goes on and on. They have so many weapons, great defense, rock solid goaltending, and some of the best coaches in the league.

If anyone out there still thinks these are yesterday's Blues, be prepared for a rude awakening. This is going to be a battle, and if the Wild play like they did against the Wings, the Blues will sleep through the game and still win 3-0.

By the way, the Blues are going to be honoring Stan Musial before the game tonight. They will all be wearing #6 sweaters with "Musial" across the back. Very classy move by the organization to honor an icon in the St. Louis area.


We'll see you tonight for the game thread. In the meantime, be sure to visit our friends, and the reigning SB Nation NHL cussing champions, St. Louis Game Time.