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Backstrom returns to the cage tonight at Colorado; Havlat riding hot streak

  • Blog Post by: Michael Russo
  • November 27, 2010 - 9:13 AM

Morning from Denver, where the Wild will have its morning skate in 3 1/2 hours (11:30 MT).

Trust you've read Kent Youngblood's coverage in today's paper from yesterday's 5-2 win over Nashville. If not, go to startribune.com/wild. Trust you got to read the Darby Hendrickson/Brad Bombardir feature and saw the Wild will be honoring Dino Ciccarelli on Dec. 16.

Wild arrived in Denver at 6:20 p.m. last night, so it's not your typical back-to-back. Often times teams arrive in cities in the wee hours of the morning, but players were actually able to go to dinner and get a decent night sleep last night.

Coach Todd Richards said after yesterday's matinee that Niklas Backstrom will return to the nets. Hard to argue the reasoning despite Jose Theodore's win. Backstrom is 14-3-2 with a 2.10 GAA, a .928 SV% and two shutouts in 19 regular-season starts against Colorado. At Pepsi Center, he's 6-1 with a 1.61 GAA and .948 SV%.

The biggest Wild killer skater is Mikko Koivu. Eleven of his 83 career goals are against the Avalanche.

Martin Havlat is now the Wild's leading scorer with 20 points in 21 games. He's scored 14 points in the last 11 games. And this is a trip that takes him to Calgary. He's scored 12 goals and 21 points in 21 regular-season games against the Flames. In a playoff series win with Chicago, he scored three goals and six points in six games against the Flames. Last year, Havlat scored in overtime to beat the Flames on what of the great highlights of the Wild season -- beauty give and go with Marek Zidlicky.

Last year, the Wild won five of six over the Avalanche, which made the playoffs. Colorado's a banged-up team right now, but it has a ton of young, explosive talent.

Some notes:

-- The Wild has picked up points in each of its last eight games in Denver (6-0-2), including a franchise-best three-game winning streak at Pepsi Center. Prior to the 6-0-2 run, the Wild was 4-15-2 in Denver.

 
-- Eight of the last nine meetings between the Wild and Avalanche have been decided by one goal, including four shootouts. Looking back at the past 16 games, 13 have been decided by one goal.
 
-- The Wild has earned two straight shutouts in Denver, both by 1-0 margins and by different goaltenders (Harding, Backstrom). The Avalanche has not scored a goal vs. Minnesota at home in 167:20, dating back to Matt Duchene’s first period goal Nov. 28, 2009.
 
-- Injured Chuck Kobasew is on the trip. I don't know yet if Kobasew is playing tonight (he did get a hat trick vs. the Avs last year). Richards may not want to change the lineup after a win, so perhaps Kobasew waits for Calgary, his old stomping grounds.

If there's news from the skate, I'll update the blog. Otherwise, talk to you tonight.

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