cnotes Posts:33043 Followers:38
On 11/23/2011 03:02 PM in NCAA Basketball

Cnotes Wednesday's NCAAB & NHL Best Bets !

Preview: Blue Jackets (4-13) at Devils (5-8)

Date: November 23, 2011 7:00 PM EDT

The Columbus Blue Jackets have a long way to go in order to climb out of the early hole they've dug for themselves, though journeyman goaltender Curtis Sanford has helped spark a recent surge.

Columbus seeks its first three-game winning streak since February as it goes for its first-ever road victory over the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.

The Blue Jackets (5-13-2) have the NHL's worst record, though their first back-to-back wins of the season and a 3-1-1 mark in their last five have created some optimism. Jeff Carter scored twice, Rick Nash ended a seven-game goal drought and Vinny Prospal added three assists in a 4-1 win over Calgary on Monday, which followed a 4-3 overtime victory over Nashville on Saturday.

``We had talked about chemistry and getting the whole team together and having everybody out there on the same page,' coach Scott Arniel said. ``It's starting to evolve into that.'

Sanford won both games and is 2-0-1 with a 1.46 goals-against average in four appearances - three starts - in place of the struggling Steve Mason. Sanford spent the past two seasons in the American Hockey League and hadn't made an NHL start since Jan. 10, 2009, prior to this season.

Sanford has had success despite recently recovering from a groin injury.

``He came in there after getting an injury and working his way back and got a chance to play,' Carter said. ``He's done everything we've asked of him. It's been good to see.'

A victory in New Jersey would be even better for Columbus, which hasn't won three in a row since Feb. 18-25.

The Blue Jackets are 0-3-0 with one tie on the road against the Devils all-time, and New Jersey likely will be excited to be back home after closing out a 3-2-0 road trip with a disheartening loss.

The Devils (10-8-1) blew a 3-0 first-period advantage and fell 4-3 to Florida on Monday. Goals from Ilya Kovalchuk, Petr Sykora and Dainius Zubrus staked New Jersey to the lead, but Martin Brodeur couldn't hold it and allowed four goals on 26 shots over the final two periods.

``It's disappointing. We stopped playing after the 3-0 lead,' coach Peter DeBoer said. ``A good lesson learned. We probably got what we deserved at the end.'

DeBoer refused to blame the long trip for Devils' sluggish second and third periods.

"I don't know if fatigue's a factor. I don't want to use that as a crutch," he said. "We just have to find a way to close out games. It's early - you hate to lose the points."

A date with Columbus may help get New Jersey back on track.

The Devils have won four straight meetings, with Brodeur going 3-0-0 with a 1.00 GAA and two shutouts during that stretch. He needed to make only 13 saves in the most recent matchup as David Clarkson scored twice in a 3-0 victory March 20.

Kovalchuk has three goals and eight assists in nine career games versus Columbus, while Nash is scoreless in his last three against New Jersey.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33043 Followers:38
11/23/2011 03:04 PM

Preview: Flyers (11-6) at Islanders (5-10)

Date: November 23, 2011 7:00 PM EDT

The Philadelphia Flyers could be without two of their top defensemen again as they make their first visit to Long Island this season.

With the New York Islanders struggling to score, it might not make much of a difference.

The Flyers look to avoid a season-high third straight defeat and post their seventh consecutive victory in this matchup Wednesday night, when the Islanders try to avoid being shut out for a franchise-record third straight time.

Already having missed six games this season after getting hit in the eye with a stick, captain Chris Pronger did not play in Monday's 4-2 loss to Carolina due to a virus. Neither did Braydon Coburn (upper-body injury), as Marc-Andre Bourdon and Kevin Marshall stepped in to make their NHL debuts.

Without Pronger and Coburn, the Flyers (11-6-3) allowed two power-play goals. Philadelphia has given up five goals in 12 short-handed situations over the last two games.

The Flyers have committed a league-high 135 penalties.

"I mean most guys have done a great job all year long and it gets to a point if you keep taking penalties it's going to eventually bite you in the end," forward James van Riemsdyk told the Flyers' official website. "So we've got to really clean that up."

Having Pronger and Coburn back could relieve some pressure on the other defensemen and help the Flyers avoid their first three-game skid since an 0-3-2 stretch March 31-April 8.

The Islanders (5-10-3), though, might not be that much of an offensive threat. They've gone the last 141 minutes, 45 seconds without a goal.

Hoping for a bounce-back effort from Saturday's 6-0 home loss to Boston, New York suffered a 5-0 defeat in Pittsburgh on Monday. The Islanders' poor play was largely overshadowed by Sidney Crosby's four-point night in his long-awaited return to the Penguins' lineup, but it's not hard to figure out why New York is stuck in the Eastern Conference basement.

The Islanders are giving up the second-most goals per game in the NHL at 3.33 and averaging a league-worst 1.94.

"I didn't think we played poorly, we just have to find a way to score some goals," coach Jack Capuano told the Islanders' official website after his team's 12th loss in 14 games. "You have to score two or three goals a night to win in the National Hockey League and we've just gone six periods without a goal."

It's actually been seven since New York didn't score in the third period of Thursday's 4-3 win over Montreal, and the players understand their coach's concern.

"The last two games are unacceptable and so is losing," said center John Tavares, who has a team-best eight goals but none in the last seven games. "We just have to try to stay together, move forward and get ready for Wednesday."

Whoever starts in net for the Islanders better be ready for right wing Matt Read, who has netted six goals while scoring in five consecutive games. It's the longest streak for a Flyers rookie since Mikael Renberg's six-game run March 24-April 2, 1994.

Jaromir Jagr could return to the Flyers' lineup after missing two games with a groin injury. Including the postseason, Jagr has 146 points versus New York - his most against any opponent.

Philadelphia went 3-0-0 on Long Island in 2010-11 and has outscored the Islanders 95-53 while winning 24 of the last 26 overall meetings.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33043 Followers:38
11/23/2011 03:06 PM

Preview: Jets (7-9) at Capitals (7-7)

Date: November 23, 2011 7:00 PM EDT

The Washington Capitals' season-worst losing streak easily could have continued, but a come-from-behind win has the team feeling good about itself.

The Winnipeg Jets also like the direction they're heading as they make their first of three visits to the nation's capital this season.

The Capitals go for back-to-back victories for the first time in nearly three weeks Wednesday night when the Jets try to extend their season-best three-game winning streak.

Facing a 2-0 second-period deficit Monday, Washington (11-7-1) rallied for a 4-3 victory over Phoenix to end its four-game skid. The Capitals had dropped six of seven.

"The come-from-behind is nice," center Brooks Laich, who snapped the team's 0-for-28 power-play skid, told the Capitals' official website. ".. When it's 2-0 for them, you can go one of two ways. You can fold the tent and things really get sour, then there's no life in the building and everyone's looking around or you can push back. I think our team got mad and we pushed back.

"You start moving your feet and you start with little things and from that you get goals and you get success."

The four-time defending Southeast Division champs hope to have found their footing, but they've scored just twice while losing four straight in this divisional matchup.

Facing the Capitals for the first time since relocating from Atlanta this offseason, the Jets (8-9-3) posted a 4-1 home victory Thursday for their first back-to-back regulation wins in 2011-12.

Winnipeg will look to extend that to four in a row following Saturday's 6-4 victory over Philadelphia. The Jets outscored their opponents 15-7 and went 6 for 15 on the power play during their three-game homestand.

"We played three tough teams and got three wins, so it's great," said Bryan Little, who scored two first-period goals against the Flyers.

"I think (confidence) is huge for us. It just kept building, starting with that first game (a 5-2 win over Tampa Bay on Nov. 14). These were not easy teams. These are teams that could give us some real trouble. But we're playing simple ... we're outworking teams.'

They've also been getting solid work between the pipes from Ondrej Pavelec, who posted a 2.33 goals-against average during the homestand after losing five consecutive starts. Given his recent success against Washington, including Thursday's 31-save performance, there's a good chance he'll make a 13th consecutive start.

Pavelec is 4-0-0 with a 0.50 GAA in four starts against the Capitals since collapsing and suffering a concussion just 2 1/2 minutes into a home game versus Washington on Oct. 8, 2010.

He made 45 saves as the franchise snapped a nine-game losing streak in the nation's capital in its last visit, a 3-1 victory on Dec. 4.

Alex Ovechkin, who ended a career high-tying nine-game scoring drought in that contest, has gone five straight without finding the back of the net.

The two-time MVP, though, has 14 goals and 17 assists in 21 home games against the Jets franchise.

Alexander Semin has four goals and four assists in the Jets' last four visits, but it's uncertain if he'll be in the Capitals' lineup after being a healthy scratch Monday for the first time since his 2003-04 rookie season. Semin, who scored in Winnipeg on Thursday, has a team-high 28 penalty minutes.

"He's taken penalties seven games in a row," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "At some point, you have to be accountable for your errors."

The last time the Jets franchise won four straight was a 6-0-0 run from Nov. 19-30, 2010.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33043 Followers:38
11/23/2011 03:07 PM

Preview: Bruins (10-7) at Sabres (9-8)

Date: November 23, 2011 7:00 PM EDT

Only one goal was scored during the Boston Bruins' latest victory, a far cry from the offensive display they've put up during most of a nine-game winning streak that included a 6-2 rout of the Buffalo Sabres.

That result isn't the only reason the Sabres could be eager for payback Wednesday night.

Boston's Milan Lucic leveled Ryan Miller with a hit that's kept the Buffalo goaltender off the ice ever since, providing an intriguing subplot in what could be a testy rematch at First Niagara Center as the Bruins try to push their win streak to double digits.

Boston (12-7-0) scored one goal or fewer in four losses during its 3-7-0 October before putting up at least five goals in six of its eight straight wins to begin this month.

The Bruins' offensive outburst took a night off Monday in Montreal, but they still managed to extend their streak. Two days after making 23 saves in a 6-0 win over the New York Islanders, Tim Thomas stopped all 33 shots he faced - including 15 in the third period - to make Andrew Ference's first-period goal stand in a 1-0 victory.

"You've got to learn to win a whole bunch of different ways over the years and that's one of the things we did last year,' said Thomas, who's started six times during the streak and posted a 1.33 goals-against average and three shutouts.

The Stanley Cup champions have outscored their opponents 46-14 during a streak that's the franchise's longest since a 10-game run from Dec. 12, 2008 to Jan. 1, 2009.

Six of those came when the Sabres (12-8-0) visited TD Garden on Nov. 12 - all in a stretch of 22:12 in the second and third periods - but the big story came in the first. Miller skated out to the right circle to play a loose puck and was bowled over by Lucic, drawing a two-minute charging minor.

Miller stayed in until the end of the second before exiting with tightness in his neck. A day later, he was diagnosed with whiplash and a concussion.

Lucic - who Miller called "gutless" - wasn't suspended by league discipline czar Brendan Shanahan, a decision Miller said he wouldn't speak out against despite not being pleased.

Shanahan's lack of action left many to wonder what sort of retribution Buffalo might provide Wednesday, though Miller doesn't seem to agree that payback is the right course.

"Lucic's a tough guy. What are you going to do, try to hack him, spear him, cheap-shot him? Then you're no better than he is,' Miller said Nov. 15. "I try to have their backs. I trust they have mine, so that's the end of that one.'

The Sabres had won four straight prior to visiting Boston, but they're 2-2-0 since as backup Jhonas Enroth - who has a 6.12 GAA in three games versus the Bruins - has posted a 2.56 GAA.

Buffalo outshot Phoenix 45-29 on Saturday but lost 4-2.

"We missed too many opportunities,' coach Lindy Ruff said. "Point blank. We missed empty nets. We hit a few posts. It isn't good enough."

To make matters worse, the Sabres lost Tyler Myers to a broken wrist, an injury that will keep one of their top defensemen out four to six weeks.

T.J. Brennan was recalled from AHL Rochester to take the place of Myers, who joins Miller, defenseman Mike Weber and forwards Jochen Hecht, Tyler Ennis and Cody McCormick on the injured list.

Thomas Vanek has a four-game goal streak against Boston that started with a 7-6 shootout victory Jan. 1 - the Bruins' last visit to Buffalo.

Boston center Tyler Seguin, who had two goals earlier this month against Buffalo to give him a team-high 11, hasn't scored in four games.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33043 Followers:38
11/23/2011 03:09 PM

Preview: Canadiens (7-9) at Hurricanes (8-11)

Date: November 23, 2011 7:00 PM EDT

It wasn't even the NHL's quarter point, yet the Carolina Hurricanes felt their season slipping away following last week's loss in Montreal.

The Hurricanes have a far different mindset as the Canadiens make the first of two visits to Raleigh this season.

Carolina tries to match a season high with its third consecutive win Wednesday night while Montreal looks to bounce back from its first shutout since opening night.

Thoroughly outplayed in a 4-0 road loss to the Canadiens last Wednesday, the Hurricanes (8-11-3) were searching for answers after falling for the 10th time in 13 games.

"No question there's concern,' captain Eric Staal said following the team's sixth straight defeat outside Raleigh. "Obviously, if we keep losing we're not going to be in the mix for the playoffs. So we've got to figure this out and get back to winning some games because if you keep losing, you're going to be out of the picture before you know it and the season's going to be wasted.'

Carolina fell 1-0 to Buffalo on Friday, but bounced back with consecutive victories. Jeff Skinner had a goal and an assist in Sunday's 3-2 win over Toronto, then Alexei Ponikarovsky scored twice in Monday's 4-2 victory at Philadelphia.

"We've changed some things and we've tried to change our fortunes and our season with a pretty deep heart-to-heart conversation after our Montreal game," coach Paul Maurice said after Monday's win. "We made a change and we lost 1-0 to Buffalo, but we played one of our best games of the year. We beat Toronto and now we won here and now everyone is going, 'That's what we're talking about.'

"We think the rock bottom was Montreal and a win like this gets us going. This could change things.'

Cam Ward has surely turned his season in a new direction, stopping 53 of 57 shots after losing six of seven starts.

He made 32 saves last week against Montreal and is 1-4-0 with a 3.73 goals-against average in the last five matchups between these clubs.

The Canadiens (9-9-3) will try to maintain their recent edge in this series after falling 1-0 to Boston on Monday. Montreal outshot the defending Stanley Cup champs 33-18 but was shut out for the first time since Oct. 6 at Toronto.

"I thought we played fairly well," said captain Brian Gionta, who had three goals in the previous two games. "At times we carried the play, but we just didn't find a way to solve their goalie.'

If the Hurricanes are going to open their stretch of five of six at home on a positive note, they'll likely have to solve Carey Price.

Beginning with his 25-save effort against Carolina, Price has stopped 59 of 60 shots in the last three contests.

Price, though, allowed four goals - two apiece to Skinner and defenseman Jamie McBain - in a 6-2 loss March 30 in the teams' last meeting in Carolina.

Canadiens right wing Erik Cole makes his return to Raleigh after signing a four-year deal with Montreal in the offseason. Including the postseason, Cole is tied for seventh in Hurricanes history with 377 points and is 10th with 174 goals.

After recording two assists last week, Montreal leading scorer Tomas Plekanec will try to extend his point streak in this matchup to six. He has two goals and nine assists during this stretch.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33043 Followers:38
11/23/2011 03:10 PM

Preview: Blues (9-8) at Penguins (9-6)

Date: November 23, 2011 7:00 PM EDT

Sidney Crosby looked so good after a 10-month layoff that it's hard to imagine what he might do after being off for just one day.

The hockey world is surely anxious to see what the superstar will do for an encore Wednesday night when the Eastern Conference-leading Penguins host the St. Louis Blues.

Crosby didn't waste any time proving a 10-month layoff due to concussion-like symptoms had no adverse effect on his superior skill set, registering two goals and two assists in his season debut Tuesday, a 5-0 romp over the overmatched New York Islanders.

The Penguins (12-6-3) captain staked his team to a 1-0 lead at 5:24 of the first period and assisted on goals by Brooks Orpik and Evgeni Malkin before closing the scoring early in the third.

"I don't really have good words for it,' coach Dan Bylsma said. "That was a special in a lot of ways.'

Most importantly, Crosby said he woke up Tuesday feeling tired and emotionally drained but without any of the "fogginess" that kept him sidelined for nearly a year after sustaining head shots in consecutive games last January.

Although he will continue to be monitored, Crosby doesn't expect to check in with his medical team each day to give them an update.

"Unless there's really something I need to go to them for I don't see it being a constant thing,' said Crosby, who joined teammates in a spirited hour-long practice Tuesday.

Crosby's return marked only the third time in Pittsburgh's last 103 games that he and fellow centers Malkin and Jordan Staal played together.

"The bench is much different with all three of them on the bench," Bylsma told the team's official website. "It's a lot different with those three guys. You have three guys that are going to play 20 minutes a game."

Understandably overshadowed by Crosby's return was the Penguins' sixth straight home win. They have outscored opponents 24-8 during that span with Marc-Andre Fleury going 6-0-0 with a 1.32 goals-against average and his 21st career shutout, one behind franchise leader Tom Barrasso.

St. Louis (10-8-2) should present Pittsburgh with a more difficult test than the lowly Islanders, but the Blues have lost four in a row on the road despite a 4-1-2 overall mark since Ken Hitchcock took over as coach.

Alex Steen and Vladimir Sobotka scored in the Blues' 3-2 defeat to Los Angeles on Tuesday, just their second regulation home loss this season.

"I think the last two games in the last two periods, we've probably come off it a little bit in the third period,' Hitchcock said. "We've kind of been the team making a few mistakes."

After Jaroslav Halak started Tuesday, Hitchcock could go with Brian Elliott against the Penguins. Elliott is 7-1-0 with a league-leading 1.43 GAA, and has allowed three total goals during a personal three-game win streak.

Hitchcock's defense-first system is having the desired effect on St. Louis, which has surrendered 11 goals in seven games since the coaching change after allowing 35 in 13 contests under the fired Davis Payne.

The Blues could be without center T.J. Oshie after he was checked hard into the corner boards by Kings defenseman Drew Doughty at the end of Tuesday's loss. Oshie - tied for the team lead with 14 points - skated off with a trainer holding his left shoulder and head.

The Penguins are 2-0-1 in their last three meetings with the Blues, falling 1-0 in overtime on the road Oct. 23, 2010.

Crosby has no goals and four assists in five career games versus St. Louis, one of four teams against which he has yet to score.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33043 Followers:38
11/23/2011 03:12 PM

Preview: Flames (8-10) at Red Wings (10-7)

Date: November 23, 2011 7:00 PM EDT

The Detroit Red Wings have had little trouble at Joe Louis Arena lately, winning their last four there in relatively easy fashion.

This wasn't the case, however, when the Calgary Flames visited three weeks ago.

The Red Wings look to avenge their last home defeat when they face the inconsistent Flames on Wednesday night.

Detroit (11-7-1) is returning home after beating Anaheim 4-2 on Sunday to split a four-game road trip. Defenseman Brad Stuart scored twice, Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen had goals and the Red Wings killed off two power plays in the final 5:46 after squandering nearly all of a three-goal, second-period lead.

"It was a big win, but I think we would have drawn it up a little differently,' Stuart said. "We got off to a good start and kind of let them back in it. We got some good penalty kills and were able to hold on. At the end of the day, we got the two points, and that's all you can ask for.'

Detroit has done an excellent job of earning two points lately, especially at home.

The Red Wings, winners of six of eight, have outscored opponents 18-4 during their four-game run at Joe Louis Arena, where they're 7-2-1. Although they've won each of those four home contests by at least three goals, the Flames gave the Wings problems in their last visit.

Jarome Iginla had two goals and an assist and Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 28 shots in a 4-1 win in Detroit on Nov. 3, snapping Calgary's five-game losing streak in the series. The Flames were outshot 29-22 but took advantage of the Red Wings' mistakes, going 2 for 4 on the power play.

Calgary (8-10-1) opened a four-game trip with a 4-1 loss to Columbus on Monday. The defeat to the Blue Jackets, owners of the NHL's worst record, came three nights after the Flames defeated Central Division-leading Chicago 5-2.

That inconsistency has been an ongoing problem for the Flames, who are 6-6-0 in their last 12. They've alternated wins and losses in their last four games, totaling nine goals in the victories while being outscored 7-2 in the defeats.

"This is frustrating for all of us," said forward Alex Tanguay, who leads Calgary with 11 assists and 14 points. "It's one step forward, one step back. One good game, one bad game. It falls on us, as players. We all have to be better.

"We know we can play against anybody, it's just a matter of how we play. It's no secret. If we want to win, we have to play our game."

Kiprusoff is expected to be in goal after getting the night off Monday, and a start in Detroit could help the Flames bounce back from their latest defeat. He is 4-1-1 with a 2.78 goals-against average and a shutout at Joe Louis since the start of 2008-09.

A game against the Red Wings might also be just what Iginla needs to break out of his funk. The captain, who has one goal in eight games since last facing Detroit, has five goals and three assists in the last three games in the series.

Jimmy Howard was between the pipes for the Red Wings in each of those contests, yielding 11 goals. He has started the last seven games in the series, going 5-2-0 with a 2.55 GAA.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33043 Followers:38
11/23/2011 03:14 PM

Preview: Rangers (8-4) at Panthers (10-6)

Date: November 23, 2011 7:30 PM EDT

The Florida Panthers have been one of the surprises during the first quarter of the season, leading the Southeast Division after a major offseason overhaul.

Kris Versteeg has been one of the key newcomers, and he'll look to stay hot against the New York Rangers on Wednesday night at the BankAtlantic Center.

Versteeg, acquired via trade from Philadelphia on July 1, scored twice in Florida's 4-3 win over New Jersey on Monday and is among the league leaders with 25 points. He is already halfway to his career high of 22 goals set in 2008-09 with Chicago, and he has six goals and six assists over his last 12 games.

The Panthers (11-6-3) trailed 3-0 after the first period, but Versteeg's two second-period goals and a tally from Stephen Weiss midway through the third period helped tie the game before Tomas Fleischmann - signed after finishing 2010-11 with Colorado - scored the game-winner with 2:03 remaining.

``We found a way to win,' said Versteeg, who has only one goal and one assist in 10 career games versus the Rangers. ``We're going to have to be happy about that and just let the game go and come back on an even keel (Wednesday).'

Brian Campbell - acquired in a trade from Chicago - is second among defensemen with 16 assists and goaltender Jose Theodore made 22 saves Monday to win his second consecutive start.

Theodore also has won back-to-back starts against the Rangers, stopping 70 of 71 shots in those victories. He shut them out March 6, 2010, with Washington, then made 40 saves in a 3-1 win March 3 with Minnesota.

Florida, though, has had some recent troubles with New York, which had its seven-game winning streak snapped in a 4-0 loss to Montreal on Saturday.

The Rangers (10-4-3) have won five of seven meetings against the Panthers and are 4-1-1 in their last six at Florida.

Henrik Lundqvist, who had the night off Saturday, is 5-1-0 with a 1.16 goals-against average in his last six starts against the Panthers.

Backup Martin Biron lost his first start of the season despite 27 saves Saturday, but coach John Tortorella placed the blame on an offense that was shut out for the first time since a 2-0 loss to Edmonton on Oct. 22.

``Don't look at our goalie, I'll tell you that,' Tortorella said. ``Our whole crew in front of him never had the puck and we were chasing the game. We never caught up to it.'

New York hopes to bounce back against a Florida team seeking its first three-game home winning streak since Jan. 11-15. The Panthers are 2-0-0 on their current four-game homestand after dropping five of seven there to start the season.

"I think what happened was over a 20-game span, you learn a little bit about your people and about your team," first-year coach Kevin Dineen said. "We certainly have made some entertaining nights at the BankAtlantic and (Monday) will certainly fit right in with that."

Fleischmann has five goals and five assists during a seven-game home point streak.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33043 Followers:38
11/23/2011 03:16 PM

Preview: Predators (9-6) at Wild (8-5)

Date: November 23, 2011 8:00 PM EDT

Sporting the best record in the NHL, the Minnesota Wild believe they are creating an identity that they are a difficult opponent to beat.

The Wild will try for their second five-game win streak of the season Wednesday night when they host the Nashville Predators.

Minnesota (12-5-3) has 27 points from 20 games, with Chicago and Pittsburgh owning the same point total while having played one more time. The Wild have relied on the goalie tandem of Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding to limit opponents to a league-best 1.95 goals per game.

First-year coach Mike Yeo is pleased with the progress of his team.

"Is Nashville going to come in here and change their game?" Yeo said. "I'm sure that they're not. And that's what we're trying to establish here is our own identity as far as the way that we want to play the game, it shouldn't change night in and night out."

Harding is 5-1-1 with a 1.79 goals-against average and 3-4-0 with a 3.01 GAA against Nashville (10-6-4) while Backstrom - 7-4-2 with a 1.97 GAA - is 5-4-0 with a 3.10 GAA in nine career starts against the Predators.

Nashville enters after an ugly performance as Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne gave up three goals on 13 shots in the first period and was replaced by Anders Lindback in Tuesday's 6-2 home loss to Edmonton.

"I didn't want to continue to subject Pekka to the way we were playing,' coach Barry Trotz said.

Rinne is 5-2-1 with a 2.18 GAA in eight starts against the Wild while Lindback has never started against them.

The Wild went 0 for 10 on the power play in losing three of four matchups with the Predators last season. Although their power play is still struggling at 13.5 percent and the club has been outshot in 15 games this season, Minnesota has found success with its defensive approach.

"Guys came ready to play this year," right wing Pierre-Marc Bouchard said. "It's been fun so far, we want to keep it going."

Minnesota owns an NHL-leading eight one-goal victories.

"We've been in a lot of one-goal games all year long," right wing Dany Heatley said. "I don't think we get nervous when it comes down to the end. Guys just go out and do their job and find a way to win."

The Predators are beginning a five-game trip as they try to avoid a third straight loss. They fell behind by three goals in the first period and never recovered Tuesday.

"I think we all need to be better, particularly early," center Mike Fisher said. "We got some chances but we still have to be better and try and muster up something early and get the guys going. That was a frustrating, embarrassing one at home."

Defenseman Shea Weber had an assist to give him seven points in a five-game streak. He's got four assists in his last three games against Minnesota.

Minnesota defenseman Marco Scandella, meanwhile, is expected to return after missing four consecutive games because of a concussion.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33043 Followers:38
11/23/2011 03:18 PM

Preview: Kings (8-7) at Stars (9-8)

Date: November 23, 2011 8:30 PM EDT

One night after prevailing in a city where they rarely win, the Los Angeles Kings will go for another victory on a rink where they rarely lose.

Los Angeles looks to complete a perfect two-game road trip and improve to 3-0 in the season series with the Dallas Stars when the Pacific Division rivals face off Wednesday night.

The Kings (11-7-3) have dominated this series in recent years, going 15-3-2 versus Dallas (12-8-0) since the start of 2008-09. That includes the first two meetings of this season, a 1-0 Los Angeles home win Oct. 22 and a 5-3 victory five nights later that was the first home loss for the Stars.

Jonathan Quick was in net for both those victories, extending his personal winning streak over Dallas to six. He's 12-3-0 with a 1.99 lifetime goals-against average versus the Stars, the only opponent he's defeated more than eight times in his career.

Quick should be fresh for this contest after getting Tuesday night off. The Kings fared just fine without him, beating St. Louis 3-2 as backup Jonathan Bernier stopped 23 shots in only his fourth start of the season.

Willie Mitchell's first goal of the season proved the game-winner, while Mike Richards had a goal and an assist. Anze Kopitar added his team-leading 10th goal to round out the scoring for Los Angeles, which beat the Blues on the road for the third time in its last 11 tries.

Richards, acquired from Philadelphia over the summer, appears to finally be getting acclimated to his new club. He has seven goals in his last seven games after finding the net just twice in his first 14 contests with Los Angeles.

"It's nice to help the team have success,' Richards said. "I think I struggled earlier (in the season).

"I think trying to get adjusted to the new team and sometimes I think you try to make too many plays when things like that happen. But I'm just trying to get the puck in the net as much as possible and starting to feel a little more comfortable with linemates and just getting pucks to the net as much as possible is the biggest thing.'

The Stars had been 4-0-0 at home prior to last month's loss to the Kings, but had dropped two straight in Dallas and five in a row overall before bouncing back with a 4-1 victory over Edmonton on Monday.

Toby Petersen, Steve Ott, Michael Ryder and Radek Dvorak scored as the Stars put together a strong overall performance after being outscored 21-4 during the five-game skid.

"Hopefully now that will get our confidence back up and remove some of the doubt that creeps into your minds during those kinds of slides,' said Petersen, whose goal was his first point in 14 games this season.

"Those slides are going to happen every season, but hopefully we got it out of the way early and that will be it and we'll just move forward and get back on the right track.'

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs: