If you didn’t see the column written by Tom Powers that appeared in yesterday’s Pioneer Press, you should. You have to think that some of that same thinking went into the Wild’s callup of Matt Kassian today. Head Coach has to be sick of seeing his players getting sent headfirst into the boards without any action from the League.
One of those incidents came in the last meeting between the Oilers and Wild on December 23, when Lennart Petrell hit Marek Zidlicky from behind and was given a game misconduct. I don’t think we’ll see Kassian going after Petrell, but you can bet he’ll be on high alert for shenanigans.
Of course, he might have just been recalled because the Oilers have some big boys. There has been some venom between these two teams this year, including the spats between Darcy Hordichuk and Brad Staubitz. Theo Peckham is usually in the middle of something as well, so it doesn’t hurt to have some extra beef in this, the final Northwest Division meeting between these two clubs.
The Wild had the morning off, and Mike Yeo was unavailable so the full lineup is not yet known, but Niklas Backstrom is expected to get the start in goal. It’s possible we see Jarod Palmer back on a line with Matt Cullen and Pierre-Marc Bouchard, but that remains to be seen. You would think the same six defensemen that played last night will be in tonight. They looked strong all game long.
The Wild and Oilers rivalry comes to an end with the final meeting as Division rivals coming tonight. This might have been the most placid Northwest rivalry when compared to Vancouver, Colorado and Calgary. These two teams have never played each other in the playoffs, and the Oilers have been at or near the bottom of the League standings in recent years.There was relatively little bad blood, at least compared to the other teams.
But there have been some memorable moments. There was Richard Park’s overtime game-winner in 2002 that gave the Wild it’s first-ever win over the Oilers.
There was Derek Boogaard’s giant hit on Marty Reasoner that brought in Raffi Torres, Steve Staios and Zack Stortini all at once to take him on while he just smiled (this can be found on YouTube, but the language is R-rated).
There was Marian Gaborik’s goal (he had many against Edmonton) in which he went through four defenders and then tucked in his own rebound.
There was Pierre-Marc Bouchard scoring two goals in a 16 second span against the team he has tortured so much over the years. It’s number five on this list of Bouchard’s best plays.
And of course, there was this.
The Wild has beaten the Oilers more than any other team, but considering the young talent they have and the fact they play in the Mountain time zone, now’s a good time to say goodbye.
Thanks for the memories, Edmonton!