GDB LXIV: A blender against the Wild

It’s Friday night; the Oilers are out of the playoffs already and the game in on PPV. That doesn’t seem like a lot of incentive to watch, but many of you will watch because: you bought the PPV package so it’s already paid for, you’ll be at the Pint tipping back a few and the game will be on, or mostly because you want to see the New Guys.

Ryan Whitney will wear #6, Aaron Johnson is #2 and in case you missed Wednesday’s game Ryan Jones has #28.

The defence pairings didn’t look set during practice, but it looks like Whitney will play with Tom Gilbert, while Johnson will play with Theo Peckham and Jason Strudwick was paired up with Taylor Chorney.

Up front Ethan Moreau didn’t skate this morning, and he is doubtful with a sore neck. Pat Quinn fired up the blender this morning for his forward lines.

Penner — Horcoff — Nilsson
Pouliot — Gagner — Jones
Cogliano — Comrie — O’Sullivan
Brule — Potulny — Pisani/Stortini

Whitney is smooth as ice. He skates great, moves the puck well and his lateral movement is exceptional for a big man. No one questions his skill set, but I’m still skeptical about the soft factor. Johnson is on his fifth team since 2004, and you wonder if he is a journeyman or a guy who was on the wrong teams.

He wasn’t going to play much in Chicago with their top-five, and the same can be said about the Flames. These final 19 games he will be given the most ice-time of his career I’d bet, and we’ll see if he can take advantage of it and be a guy they think could be a decent 3rd pairing D-man next season.

Wild on roll

The Wild didn’t make any moves this week, other than shipping Belanger to Washington, but the acquisition of Cam Barker and Guillaume Latendresse earlier this year have panned out. Barker has only played two games, but he has two points, is +5 and is averaging just over 21 minutes a night. Latendresse has 18 goals in 37 games with the Wild and has given them a decent first line threat with Martin Havlat.

The Wild needed a centre to play with those two, but didn’t get one at the deadline. Kyle Brodziak was playing with them, and for the past two games Andrew Ebbett has been in the middle. Neither guy is a first line centre, but Todd Richards has found a way to get production from all of his lines.

The Wild have scored the first goal in nine of their past eleven games and they are 19-6-1 when scoring first. The Wild have played the 2nd most one-goal games in the NHL at 19-11-4, so expect a close affair tonight.