NHL schedule maker serves Wild a triple helping of Wings

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 22, 2006 - 11:01 PM

DETROIT - For the next few days Wild coach Jacques Lemaire will be seeing red. And seeing red. And seeing red. He can guarantee you this: By next Wednesday, he will be sick and tired of the Detroit Red Wings.

He just hopes Red Wings coach Mike Babcock feels the same way.

The Wild lost 3-1 to the Red Wings here Friday night. Tonight, at Xcel Energy Center, the two teams will meet again. Wednesday, back in Detroit, again. And then the two Western Conference teams won't see each other again during the regular season.

Lemaire is no fan of the schedule-maker.

"I don't really like it," Lemaire said. "There are a couple reasons why: First, when you're playing a good team, that team has an advantage. Secondly, if you play them [only once], then maybe you can get a game here, grab them on an off night."

Lemaire's point is that playing three games in such close succession takes away any element of surprise and any chance of throwing a wrinkle in to get the opponent on its heels.

Schedule, Part II

TSN Network in Canada reported Friday that a committee formed by the NHL is considering a proposal that would reduce the number of divisions from six to four. The proposal, according to TSN, would group teams by time zone, with two conferences each with two divisions -- one with eight teams, the other with seven.

The top two teams in each division would make up the top four seeds in each conference, with the next four berths going to the next highest point totals.

"They're thinking ahead," Wild President and General Manager Doug Risebrough said before Friday's game. "I don't want to get too far ahead of it. I think the league is showing great leadership right now to think about what it might look at down the road."

If approved, it would put the Wild in a division with the likes of Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis, among others.

Veilleux breaks nose

Wild winger Stephane Veilleux was expected to spend Friday night in a Detroit hospital after having his nose badly broken by an errant puck.

Veilleux, who scored the Wild's only goal, took the puck in the second period and did not return. After the game, Lemaire indicated the break was a severe one and that Veilleux's nose had been smashed toward the side of his face. "Don't count on him for a while," Lemaire said.

Etc.

• Defenseman Petteri Nummelin (upper body) missed his first game of the season, which put Kurtis Foster into the lineup for the first time since a wayward puck found him on the bench, fracturing his larynx Nov. 29. Also scratched was winger Derek Boogaard.

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