Jan 10, 2012, 7:45 AM EDT
You hate saying that a game in early January is a “must win” game for anyone, but that’s how it shapes up tonight for the Minnesota Wild.
Coming into tonight’s game against the Sharks (7:30 p.m. ET), the Wild have lost 11 of their last 12 games and have gone from being media darlings on top of the Western Conference to eighth in the conference and hanging on to a playoff spot by a thread. While defense and goaltending was keeping them on the winning side of things, things have cooled off considerably and the Wild’s poor offense is catching up to them.
Guys like Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley, and Devin Setoguchi haven’t generated the sort of offense the Wild were hoping they would and Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding can only win so many 1-0 or 2-1 games on their own. Having to deal with the Sharks tonight won’t make life any easier.
San Jose comes in as the polar opposite of Minnesota winners of 8 out of their last 10 games. Antti Niemi is playing a special brand of goaltending that’s keeping opponents frustrated to no end all while the offense cruises. Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, and Logan Couture are all at it again scoring goals and points in bunches bringing the Sharks to the top of the Pacific Division.
The Sharks might just be playing their best hockey of the year while the Wild are in in a horrible slide. That sounds like a recipe for bad things to happen to the Wild tonight. After a summer that saw these two teams entangled together thanks to three separate trades, their fortunes couldn’t be headed in more opposite directions.
- Penner blasts refs for having ‘gall to guess’ on goalie interference call 40
- Discuss: Sharks win in OT, draw series to 2-1 18
- NHL fines Sharks $100K for Torres suspension critique 42
- Toews has beef with officiating after Game 2 loss 53
- Discuss: Red Wings even up series, take down Chicago 4-1 26
- No surgery needed for Eric Staal following injury at Worlds 3
- Playoffs tonight: Detroit and San Jose look to change things up 3
- Bruins’ Hamilton: ‘I don’t feel like a rookie anymore’ 26
- Penguins’ Murray: ‘We need to be better’ 8
- Senators’ coach MacLean: Karlsson ‘wasn’t one of the best players’ 4
- Alex ‘they wanted Game 7′ Ovechkin to address media today before heading to Worlds (110)
- Question for commenters: What’s the hardest team to support? (93)
- Video: Crosby scores hat trick, hits playoff milestone against Senators (91)
- Capitals discuss ‘lopsided’ penalty calls (82)
- Bryzgalov thinks Stalin did a good job, wishes Philadelphia wasn’t so old, and believes poor people don’t want to work (79)
- Oxbow ends Orb's Triple Crown hopes
- PBT: Pacers top Knicks, punch ticket to conf. finals
- PST: Teary Beckham likely plays final game
- PFT: Pre-draft fears about Gronk coming true
- MST: Carpenter wins pole for 97th Indianapolis 500
- CBT: Chance Coach K returns for '16 Games
- PHT: Couture strikes in OT, lifting Sharks in Game 3
- Play Video: Highlights: Sharks take critical Game 3 in OT
- Play Video: Stuart lands huge hit on Williams
- Play Video: Toffoli gets Kings on the board
- Play Video: Sharks take advantage of early penalty
- Play Video: Highlights: Red Wings even series, thump Blackhawks
- Play Video: Filppula scores impressive, unbalanced goal