Wild Showdown With San Jose

There are plenty of reasons to believe the intensity between the Minnesota Wild and San Jose Sharks is going to be high enough in Silicon Valley to melt the circuit boards in the scoreboard at HP Pavilion.

Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo expects tonight’s game against the San Jose Sharks to be an emotional one, and for a number of reasons.

First, take a look at the standings (I know I said not to on Tuesday, but come on now). The Wild trails San Jose in the Western Conference by a mere two points with the same number of games played. However, the Wild owns the tiebreaker with more non-shootout wins, so with a win tonight Minnesota would jump the Sharks in the standings, just like that 70’s television pioneer, The Fonz.

Next, the last time these two teams met, forward Dany Heatley was injured when Marc-Edouard Vlasic slashed him and then jumped him, driving his shoulder into the ice. Heatley had to have season ending shoulder surgery and Vlasic was fined for the play. Devin Setoguchi talked about the incident with the media and said that it was more important to pay them back with a two-point win, rather than retaliating on the ice.

Wild Captain Mikko Koivu agreed with Setoguchi’s sentiments and talked about the importance of faceoffs and getting a good start.

Finally, despite playing in different divisions, these two teams have a ton of history. Wild players who have ties in San Jose include Setoguchi, Heatley, Torrey Mitchell and Charlie Coyle, who was drafted by the Sharks. The Sharks also have a number of former State of Hockey residents including Martin Havlat, Brent Burns and James Sheppard.

If anything, it should be a tight game because both teams will ride their proverbial horses in net. The Wild will start goaltender Niklas Backstom while the Sharks start Antti Niemi. The netminders are tied in the NHL in wins with 22 apiece.

The Wild will go with the same lineup as Tuesday’s win in Edmonton. Mike Rupp didn’t practice this morning and is still considered day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

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