Toronto Maple Leafs At Minnesota Wild

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Toronto Maple Leafs
@ Minnesota Wild

Pre-Game: 7:30pm LeafsTV
Broadcast: 8pm Sportsnet ON, AM 640
Post-Game: 10:30pm LeafsTV

Tuesday, Jan 27, 2009, 8:00 PM EST
Xcel Energy Center

Complete Coverage >

I wonder how he would look in blue and white...

Chemmy Edit: He'd probably look like this:

Toronto Maple Leafs Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Marian Gaborik hip 09/23/2009

The Wild obviously play in a world disconnected from most of us (ie a weird timezone) so not only is the game at 8pm but we are never really too sure of what is happening in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Thank goodness the SBN megaverse includes Hockey Wilderness. Here's Eiden to let us know what's been going on with the Wild:

So, we're at the All-Star Break, and the Wild are mired in a fight for the 8th and final playoff spot. Yeah, not exactly what we in the State of Hockey were hoping for. Marian Gaborik is out with hip surgery, Andrew Brunette and Owen Nolan are playing well, but shouldn't exactly be the go to guys on the offensive side of things. Mikko Koivu is a two-way player, a Selke favorite and the best captain a team can hope for. Niklas Backstrom is having an outstanding season in a contract year (more on that at Hockey Wilderness later). Nick Schultz, Kim Johnsson, Brent Burns and Martin Skoula are all playing remarkably well defensively, and even Marek Zidlicky and Marc-Andre Bergeron are helping out on the power play scoring. Unfortunately, not even those positives can outweigh the negatives that are found in the on this Wild team. They spend most of the time dumping and chasing, taking 25 foot shots from the far outside, constantly making one too many passes and still lack a finisher. The worst part? They don't seem to have anyone coming up in the ranks. Cal Clutterbuck has been a surprising bright spot, energizing the team with his physical play and unending energy. However, James Sheppard, Colton Gillies and Benoit Pouliot have been disappointing. None of them have been able to shoulder the load they were asked to carry. Pouliot was so disappointing that he earned himself yet another stint in the AHL after being in Lemaire's doghouse for so long, and there are no signs of him coming back up (see: Robbie Earl acq.). Things are bleak in Minnesota, and we're not seeing them getting any better any time soon.
Fortunately, the future is bright. 2009 is a year for Hope and Change, right? I guess we can Hope that Toronto Changes the way they treat us and our team. First we are robbed of two points on an overturned goal vs. the Red Wings. Then Sheldon Souray isn't suspended for beating Craig Weller's head in with a cast. Luckily, here come the Maple Leafs. Now, I'm not a Maple Leafs hater. In fact, it's good for everyone when the Leafs and Habs are doing well. It just doesn't seem right that the places where hockey is the official language should have a team mired in the crap. Of course, this may be a result of the hockey gods punishing Toronto for being home to the most incompetent executives not receiving a bailout. Bettman, Campbell and the rest have ruined the goodwill of the hockey-loving public by playing favorite worse than anyone since Cinderella's stepmother. Not a Bettman bobo or a marketing darling? You have no chance of catching a break or even a fair representation of the rules under this regime. When Sidney Crosby can punch a guy in the nads, Sheldon Souray can use a cast as a weapon, the Red Wings get a phantom goal overturned on an inadequate video feed, the NHL brass don't do themselves any favors, and Toronto continues to fall victim to the wrath of the hockey gods.
Oh, then your squad goes and hires Brian Burke? Seriously? His branch of thuggery and obstructionist hockey is vastly worse for the game than anything Jacques Lemaire could possibly imagine. Dump Burke and you'll suddenly have many more fans from the West. We hate him, and feel sorry for you guys and the product he will inevitably bring to the home of hockey.

I completely agree that we should organize some sort of armed insurrection to rid downtown Toronto of the NHL head offices. Then it would not only keep people from referring to the city when the league screws the pooch but it would also help rid us of the (completely wrongheaded) impression that the Leafs benefit from its presence.

The Wild are actually having quite an odd season. The Wild currently lie in ninth in the Western Conference but tonight's two points will move them past the Canucks and the Ducks into a playoff spot. One Sundin goes on a patented 18 game goalless streak to end the year they'll get the privilege of taking on the Sharks or the Red Wings in the first round. Yippee!

They have lost their leading scorer and franchise player not only for most of this season but possibly forever. They are also trying to decide what to do with Niklas Backstrom and his impending Unrestricted Free Agency. All signs seem to point to letting him walk especially considering Lemaire's history of building up his goalies through the stinginess of his defensive systems.

That defensive bent is probably why Justin Pogge will be getting the start tomorrow night. Brian Burke, that destroyer of all that is good and holy in the NHL, likely wants to test out his kid in a way that will allow him to evaluate him away from the usual media crush (it's another road game) and against a team that will provide a challenge but isn't likely to deal a crippling blow to his confidence. As Steve's post noted, Pogge looks to have becoming suddenly much hungrier than he has been in any of his previous seasons in the AHL. He can feel the opportunity available and his recent play suggests that he knows how close he is right now. Tonight is one more step.

Also, tonight we will hopefully be having some visitors from Hockey Wilderness during the first period. Be nice. If any of the new people aren't, ignore them. During the intermission everyone should line up from shortest username to longest, in pairs, and we'll head over to Hockey Wilderness to check out their underrated home.

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