Minny has kinda given me fits this season, so it would be nice to secure against them. We'll see, Im not worried either way, just hope its a good game. We've been slowing our games down lately, I know it might be dangerous, but I miss run and gun hockey already.
the secret to beating the wild is simple in theory (and counter to what we've done so well this year)...score first... when they score first they're among the best teams in the league versus when we give up the first goal we've been the best team in the league at coming back.. but it's different against these guys (and dallas) with their protect the lead, shorten the game, trap when they get ahead style when they get a lead, than against other teams.. let's them go into their dump the puck deep, take away the neutral zone, trap full bore and always have 4 men back and play the snoozefest type of hockey they have to to win games...
score first and it forces them to open up the game, and they get beat far more times than not.. no surprise, in our 3 games this year, the team that has scored first...won all three games..
another strange fact, is that we've only scored one even strength goal against these guys in 3 games.. and they've got by far the best pk percentage-wise in the league.. no wonder we're 1-2 against them, have to find a way to score a couple of even strength goals against them
and by the way, the home team is this series between these two teams hasn't lost a game since the 01-02 season.
Tomas Vokoun (pelvic thrombophlebitis)
Marek Zidlicky (shoulder separation)
Scott Hartnell (healthy)
Ryan Suter (healthy, doghouse)
Steve Sullivan (sports hernia)
Vernon Fiddler (healthy)
Yanic Perreault (healthy)
Dan Hamhuis (7) from Legwand and Upshall at 17:03 of the 1st.
Weber and Sillinger score to make it 3-1 after 40:00 minutes!
[ Sillinger (30) from Upshall at 4:03 ]
[ Weber (2) from Kariya and Timonen at 13:26 ]
Sillinger missed a wide-open net on the 5 on 3 power play... you could see the look on his face like "I can't believe I missed that one" while shrugging. Kariya, Walker, et al had several great scoring chances. Oh yeah, Markov had a breakaway with him against Harding and he missed.... I guess that's why he doesn't go in the shootout.
It could be 6-1 after two periods if not for being a little snakebitten... overall good performance so far!
The team, for whatever reason, is playing some of the best hockey of the year. the defense has stepped up, forwards included.
Now..if only Sully would come back...I'd feel pretty good going into the playoffs...
I think it's a lot of factors which we could go in depth about, but the last few nights and tonight I definately saw a lot less of the cute lazy passes and more shooting and hard nosed hockey.
I'm honestly feeling really good going into the playoffs. Yeah, we have a lot of injured guys but that said, our team is really pulling together and doing it at the right time. That and now everyone considers us total underdogs no matter who we face, let's make some noise.
Weber was a beast again, he had 4 leveling hits. All-in-all our most physical game of the season. Witt, Tootoo, Smithson and Weber all with a few huge hits. I love it. I'm really going to hate Zidlicky coming back and Weber getting the pine. IMHO we play so much better with him in the line-up.
Adam Hall played a much better game tonight, keep it up.
cann't get too excited because we have to remember the teams we've been playing down the stretch. but having said that, i'm mighty proud to be a pred's fan right now. the team has gone out and done all that could be expected of them thus far, and the way they have rallied behind mason here and gone out and taken home ice advantage with our two best players injured speaks volumes about the character of this club.. a few observations from a very satisfied fan;
...6 straight games with mason in net where the team has held the opponent to less than 30 shots on goal. amazing, considering that 17 times this year we have given up 40 plus shots, and this is by far the longest stretch of the year we've held teams to under 30 shots.
...this is a credit to everyone of course, the forechecking has improved, centers doing a great job backchecking, forwards becoming more defensively aware in our zone. but where the credit really falls is on this group of 6 defensivemen that have played this stretch of games. markov and eaton coming back, the add of witt of course, and putting weber in the lineup have transformed this defense.
...the amazing thing, is that right now, all three defensive pairings we're running out there are getting the job done. i see virtually no difference or dropoff no matter which pairing is on ice right now. could well be the most balanced three defensive lines in the league since the changes. other teams might well have one or even two better top defensive pairings, but i cann't think of a single team with three playing better than our 3.
...weber. i almost hate to see zidlicky come back to be honest. the kid is maturing right before our eyes. he gives us that one more tough guy that gives this balance defensively. and the kid is turning into what we have needed all year on the point on the pp. his play on the pp is starting to make zidlicky's role look less and less critical. and maybe even make zidlicky expendable in the future.
...sillinger. he's a mercenary, but god i hope poile can re-sign this guy. the guy simply has a nose for the puck. these last 15 games, he's been our most dependable player. what a pickup poile made for us here. sure he's slow, but the guy hustles and plays hard every shift. amazing how he misses easy chances, but scores ugly, lunch bucket goals night after night.
...kariya. much like sullivan the guy is a gamebreaker. put the puck on his stick and he's always dangerous to make something good happen.
...don't really understand trotz benching hartnell, unless it's simply to fire him up for the playoffs. hope it works and doesn't backfire, we need the guy.
...don't disagree with the perreault sitting at all, he hasn't been worth a nichol since the injury tto be honest. he's been a step and a second slower in his decision making. hopefully he can work back to game speed before the playoffs, if not we seem to have several decent options.
...upshall had quite the game. this kid has game, and we have to find a place to fit him in somewhere
...erat had nothing to show for it, but played a fine game overall. one of his better puckhandling games. a couple of shifts kariya, legwand and erat were lined together, man what an exciting group that is out there at one time with all that speed. i have to admit, i'd like to see some more of it.
...funny how when you score first on Minny, it's a totally different game. get them away from their trap and open the game up and make them skate and play a skill game and you can expose the fact they don't have near as much raw talent as we do.
...mason. another solid game. shame he couldn't have been given another star, though i cann't really diasagree with upshall, weber and sillinger. wish the mason,mason, mason cheer had been longer, but everytime it started up something happened. can almost feel conifdence growing in him and the team in him in front of him. this schedule was setup absolutely perfectly for us to gain momentum,confidence and to try to work mase into the mix. i said it before, play well in front of mason and he'll win the game for you.
...personally, i love the underdog role we've been cast in with vokoun out. takes virtually all the pressure off this group because all of a sudden we're not expected to do squat. teams actually are dieing to play us now and counting us as an 'easy' first round draw. get sullivan back at full speed and this team will have a great chance to surprise some people and the hockey world for a round or two. could be the thing that wins us more respect around the league than any other circumstance, because in the rest of the league's eyes all this team is, is vokoun and a bunch of nobodies.