March 18 2013 12:44PM
The Canucks and the Wild are fighting for the Northwest Division title.
After the Minnesota Wild's free agent coup back in July, there was talk about how the Northwest would suddenly become a hotly contested division. I, like many others, laughed it off. They were still the Minnesota Wild, after all. Things were going according to plan in the early going; after a decisive 4-1 win in Minnesota on February 7th, the Canucks improved to 6-2-2 while the Wild fell to 4-5-1.
I guess you could say things have changed for both teams since then. They both currently have 32 points through the first 27 games of the season, meaning the winner of Monday night's tilt will (at least temporarily) take sole possession of the Northwest Division.
Read Past the Jump for More on the Game.
Puckdrop: 7 PM PST
Television: Rogers Sportsnet Pacific
Radio: Team 1040
This marks the 4th and final meeting of the season between the two teams. On February 12th, the Canucks won a closely contested, complete snoozer by a 2-1 score. The Wild exacted some revenge just over a week ago, taking a game in St.Paul. The prevailing theme from all of those games was the fact that these two teams don't exactly like each other all that much. You can expect lots of skirmishes, and post-whistle shenanigans tonight. And if the momentum needs to be changed, I'd put some money down on a scrap between Dale Weise and Zenon Konopka. Kidding about the momentum, of course.
In a somewhat surprising development, Roberto Luongo is expected to start his 4th straight game. This comes after having given up a combined 9 goals in his previous two starts. The birthday boy, Cory Schneider, turns a cool 27 today. He'll get a nice seat on the bench, and a birthday cake with some fancy candles, I'm sure.
It looks like Zack Kassian will be missing his 2nd straight game with a bad back. No David Booth tonight, either. Given how well those two were gelling - despite not necessarily producing the results you'd like to see - it really is a shame that they're both sidelined. This means that Jordan Schroeder is back up with the big boys, and according to reports, he'll be centering a line with Chris Higgins and Steve Pinizzotto on his wings.
Finally, I mentioned that the Wild have turned things around recently, and they can thank a sudden jump in offence for that. They have managed 25 goals in their past 7 games, which is quite the step-up from the team that was on a remarkable run of 1 or 2 goal efforts earlier in the season. Michael Russo, an otherwise strong reporter, is beating the 'Ryan Suter for Norris' drum these days. He has improved his play since the start of the year, but the fact of the matter is that it's debatable whether he has even been the best defenseman on his own team. Jonas Brodin is an absolute monster. If you don't believe me, take a closer look at their WOWY numbers this season.
|PP %||16.5% (20th)||13.6% (27th)|
|PK %||86.4% (5th)||81.0% (15th)|
|FO %||52.8% (4th)||47.8% (23rd)|
|Corsi %||47.9% (23rd)||53.7% (5th)|
|Fenwick Close %||46.5% (23rd)||53.7% (6th)|
|Team PDO||99.8 (18th)||101.1 (8th)|