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Tonight on Versus: First place Wild look to get right against Lightning

Nov 28, 2011, 7:30 AM EDT

Dwayne Roloson, Pierre-Marc Bouchard AP

Who knew that when you saw that the Tampa Bay Lightning and Minnesota Wild were slated to face off tonight on Versus (7:30 p.m. ET) that you’d be seeing a showdown between the first place Wild (they were atop the NHL as recently as this past week) and the defensively struggling Lightning. After all, if you figured anyone was going to have a hard time being consistent in winning games, it’d be Minnesota, right? Not so much these days.

While the Wild have cooled off in their last couple games, they’re still atop the Northwest Division and they’ve got Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley to thank for it offensively. Koivu is the guy that NBC’s Pierre McGuire called “the most underrated guy in the league” and he’s showing the way in Minnesota. More impressive for the Wild is their goaltending tandem of Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding. Sure the Wild aren’t scoring tons of goals, but they’re keeping the wolves at bay.

Tampa Bay, meanwhile, has seen Steve Stamkos bust out a bit lately with five points in his last three games and 24 points in all this season. Of course, Steve Yzerman has worries about the Lightning’s depth and considering their top scorers, it’s a prime worry. The Lightning will need that offense to continue  to counteract the troubles in goal Tampa Bay had before facing Florida over the weekend.

Mathieu Garon may have turned things around against the Panthers, but unless Dwayne Roloson can get things figured out, the Lightning might be in the hunt for a starting goalie somehow. Roloson could be in line to start against one of his former teams in the Wild and giving Guy Boucher a shot to see how he responds.

With the Wild having dropped two in a row and Tampa having won their last two, this match-up sets up to be a curious one. One thing’s for sure, we won’t have to sweat out that whole 1-3-1 thing Tampa does as the Wild will look to move the puck up the ice and get Heatley and Devin Setoguchi moving and hopefully scoring more goals.

  1. rca26 - Nov 28, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    As a Lightning fan that’s now in Wisconsin, this is my best chance to get to a game each year. Had fun being one of about 10 Lightning fans in the Xcel last season. Can’t justify a 5-hour drive on a Monday night though. Go Bolts, time to turn it around.

  2. muttbolts - Nov 28, 2011 at 10:23 AM

    Yay,d-bag commentaters bad mouthing the bolts.gonna watch on mute.

    • comeonnowguys - Nov 28, 2011 at 1:58 PM

      So if they compliment the Lightning, that makes them non-d-bags?

  3. boltsfan777 - Nov 28, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    Mike Emrick is very good and unbiased, if we’re lucky enough to get him tonight, but otherwise I agree; it will be time to mute and turn the radio on to Phil Esposito and Dave Mishkin. That might be very out of sync with my HDTV, though.

  4. illogic87 - Nov 28, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    go wild!

  5. lsxphotog - Nov 28, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    Roli is done. I think that anyone watching him play in his “shakey” games will agree. Starting goaltenders don’t have these troubles where they play brilliant one game and then questionable the next. Dwayne, however, has done just that. I think Tampa’s solution should be to share the starts and maybe even lean more on Garon and see who shines as the better goaltender…as of right now, it’s Matthew by a LONG shot. Teams with this problem don’t make it far in the post season. Hell, right now, they need to focus on MAKING the post season. A goalie needs to be acquired in Tampa or they’re going to have a long season ahead of them where they can never take the torch and run with it.

    Also, sitting the PIM man Downie has been a good idea. He has been a few steps behind all season. Either he got slower or everyone got that much faster.

    Should be a good game and I can’t wait to hear the hatred spewed about the Lightning. Versus HATES them and Pierre McGuire is just an idiot. haha “They don’t teach that in hockey school!” Thanks Pierre…thanks.

    • lsxphotog - Nov 28, 2011 at 1:43 PM

      Not done in the NHL, done as a starter. Is is possible Garon has reached the level in his career where he can be a starter? He’s in terrific physical shape and has been seeing the puck just as well as anyone else.

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