Game #13 Preview: Into The Wild

Alex Burrows led the charge in the Canucks last visit to Minny.
Will it do it again tonight? And will we finally see a breakout performance from Kesler?
(Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Game Day Recon: Game #13 – Canucks @ Wild

The Canucks continue their six-game road-trip with their first visit to the Land of 10,000 Lakes this year. Historically, the Canucks first trip to Minnesota every year usually ends in a loss… when they play in October. However, when their first game against the Wild at Xcel happens in November, the Canucks are 3-0 in the past 5 years. So do the Canucks show some of their October hangover tonight, or do they continue their November dominance?

Broadcast Info

Game Time: 5:00 PM PT

TV: SN-PAC Radio: Team1040

The Setup

The Minnesota Wild and the San Jose Sharks seem to be building the same relationship as the Canucks and Panthers. This off-season, the Wild and Sharks were at it again, swapping significant players in two separate moves. The net of the trades was that Wild picked up Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi, and Charlie Coyle for Martin Havlat and Brent Burns. With Setoguchi and Heatley, the Wild felt that the upgraded their offence in order to start filling the net more often.


So far, the Wild are still the Wild. Actually, they’re even more Wild-y than they’ve ever been. Minnesota is the league’s lowest-scoring team through 11 games. The Wild have netted only 21 goals in 11 games, for a league-worst 1.91 G/gm. It’s not as though they are any better at home versus on the road, with 12 goals in 6 home games and 9 goals in 5 road games. In an effort to get spark up some scoring tonight, the Wild have mixed up their top two lines. Line 1 looks like Latendresse, Koivu and Heatley and Line 2 features Cullen centering Setoguchi and Bouchard. It’s hard to say if it will work, but the Wild are due for a high-scoring game, and the franchise does like scoring on the Canucks at Xcel.

The Wild have similar stats as the Calgary Flames. Low scoring teams with faltering special teams. I wouldn’t suggest that the Canucks duplicate their effort from Tuesday, seeing as how they got lucky with their goal scoring output early then coasted to victory. But they should attack the game tonight in the same fashion, with the same plan heading in.

Normally, for the Wild, a visit from the Canucks to Xcel Energy Center would be a recipe for a glut of goals. The Canucks (and specifically Roberto Luongo) have a history of blowing up in the Twin Cities. However, the Canucks won 4 in a row against the Wild, including a 4-1 win their last trip to St. Paul. Leading the way last time, and tonight, is Cory Schneider. Schneider is a career 4-1-0 against the Wild with a 1.67 GAA and .927 Sv%. It’s just no wonder that the Canucks would play Schneider instead of Luongo in Minnesota, especially when you consider the fact that the Canucks play again tomorrow in St. Louis.

The Three Keys

Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:

  1. They HAVE to gun hard to score the first goal. They must press the offence as much as possible to score first. The Canucks have proved that they just flat-out win when they score first.
  2. Go for a full 60. The Canucks were lucky against Calgary, in that they exploded to a huge lead, and were able to coast. Calgary just mailed in the rest of the game, knowing that they were out of it. So the Canucks didn’t have to exert much force on Tuesday. That means they’re not tired for today. If the Canucks can go for a full 60-minute effort, they’ll be able to come out ahead. And they don’t want the Wild to take this to extra time. The Wild have thrived this year by taking opponents to OT and SO’s and scrounging up extra points. The Canucks have to wrap this up before bonus points become an option.
  3. Exploit a big special teams advantage. The Canucks are in the top 8 in both PP and PK, while the Wild are in the bottom 8 in both PP and PK. Just like they did against the Flames, the Canucks have to use the huge edge to their advantage and bury the Wild.

The Links

Here are your top 5 links for today’s game:

  1. Tale of the Tape (Vancouver Canucks)
  2. Schneider has right ‘mojo’ to face the Minnesota Wild Thursday (The Province)
  3. Canucks’ Chris Higgins back at the top of the class (Vancouver Sun)
  4. For Canucks’ Ballard, balance is his solid base (The Province)
  5. Wilderness Walk for 11-3-2011: Game Day Edition (Hockey Wilderness) <<< SEE WHAT THE ENEMY HAS TO SAY!