Gameday Preview: Wild vs. Panthers. Dvorak Sets Panther Record

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The Wild are coming off a 5-1 loss to Atlanta Thursday night and will be looking for revenge after their worst defeat of the season.  Niklas Backstrom the Wild goaltender is coming off a very sub par performance and most likely gets the chance to redeem himself tonight.  The Wild have dominated Florida with a 7-1-1 record all-time against the Cats, and that includes a 4-1 record here in Florida.

Not a flashy team by any means, the Wild are a tad more exciting with the change of coaches from Jacques Lemaire to Todd Richards last season.  Richards instituted a more uptempo style of play that took the team mostly the entire season to get used to after the defensive mantra that Lemaire installed.  Their most exciting player is Martin Havlat who is struggling with only one goal and eight assists so far this season.

Mikko Koivu, Saku’s brother is the team leader in points with 14, and Brent Burns leads the team in goals with 5.  In four games against Florida Koivu has three goals and four assists, most of which came in a five point night in 2008 when the Wild beat the Panthers 6-2.  Former Panther Matt Cullen is second in scoring for the Wild with 13 points.  One of the best names in hockey Cal Clutterbuck plays for Minnesota.  Hard worker, usually one of the league leaders in hits, often causes a change in momentum with one of hits, has 67 so far this year already.  He’s on pace for 392.  compared to Little Stevie who’s on pace for 74, but there must be a mathematical error there.

The Panthers are coming off a 4-1 victory over a slumping and sloppy Toronto Maple Leaf team, will have forward Cory Stillman back in the lineup tonight, potentially reuniting the Century Village line with Marty Reasoner and Radek Dvorak. In that Leaf contest Michael Frolik was quite impressive and have played extremely well since his “healthy scratch”, as has Shawn Matthias.  These two kids have to have it going for the Panthers to do any damage.

I’d still like to see some net presence not just on the power play which is still suffering, but also at even strength.  A few garbage goals from Steve Bernier or Rusty Olesz would be a nice surprise.  Mike Santorelli continues to play hard and show off some speed, but he’s having trouble creating scoring chances as well as finishing the one’s he has.

Not sure as of this typing who gets the nod in net, as Tomas Vokoun played very well against the Leafs Wednesday, but the Panthers take on the Flyers in Philadelphia Saturday so, I’d almost expect to see Scott Clemmensen tonight.  Jason Garrison remains out of tonight’s game with a groin injury, meaning that Keaton Ellerby will be in the lineup.

Here’s the gameday report from TSN.

Check out our FanSided opponent Gone Puck Wild.

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Tags: Brent Burns Cal Clutterbuck Cory Stillman Little Stevie Matt Cullen Mikko Koivu Radek Dvorak

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