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Home Cookin'

11/15/2011, 11:36am CST
By MHJ Staff

Minnesota returns to Xcel Energy Center for a six-game homestand after gutting out a 3-2 road trip

Second-Best in the West

It's still early, but your Minnesota Wild have opened some eyeballs with a 10-5-3 record, good for 23 points and the No. 2 slot in the Western Conference standings.

After a long and grueling road trip spanning Calgary, San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Columbus, the Wild return home for six-straight home contests through Nov. 28. The Wild notched three wins against Columbus, Anaheim and Calgary, battling through injuries, adversity and the seemingly endless travel that comes with the territory.

A come-from-behind 4-2 victory over Columbus on Tuesday has proven this team can find ways to win, even when the odds are stacked against them.

Men with the iron masks

The goaltending battle has been a top story for the team, with Niklas Backstrom carrying a 2.14 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage in 13 games. Josh Harding has been equally impressive netting a 1.78 GAA and .948 save rate.

Start me up

While wins are up, scoring is still down in the State of Hockey. Up front Dany Heatley leads the team in points with 11, including 5 goals. Matt Cullen’s 8 goals leads the team. Mikko Koivu is starting slow with 1 goal and 9 assists, prompting head coach Mike Yeo to start thinking about splitting up Koivu and Heatley on the top line.

While Yeo considered tinkering with his two horses, he's yet to separate the two. Chemistry with the Wild's second and third lines have been solid and fans will wait for their captain to break out of his offensive funk. While his numbers may be slim, his two-way play and responsibilities in the defensive zone continue to be stellar.

Blue-line shine

Also stepping up for the Wild is a group of young defensemen: Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella, Justin Falk, Clayton Stoner and Elk River's Nate Prosser. Together, they have logged heavy minutes, penalty-killing and shutdown responsibilties early in the season. With Greg Zanon, Mike Lundin and now Marek Zidlicky suffering injuries, they will be relied upon even more. Unfortunately for the Wild, Scandella is also injured and it's unclear when he will return.

Keep an eye on

The third line of Kyle Brodziak, Darroll Powe and Nick Johnson, who have played Yeo's system to perfection while creating offensive chances with a hard, physical and fast forecheck. These guys are playing great hockey.

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