Saturday, October 11, 2008

Game & Rough stuff preview, 10/11 @ Wild

Quick hit preview for tonight's tilt at the Excel Energy Center. Story lines abound on the B's side for this one. The most obvious one being the return of Manny Fernandez, facing his old team for the first time since his uncle traded him (wonder how Christmas dinner was last year at the Fernandez household?). Manny is expected to get the start tonight, and we're all waiting to see if he'll be Manny being Manny of his glory days in Minny, or the Manny being Manny of his brief Boston tenure. My guess is somewhere in between. I don't expect a dazzling performance, but I doubt he'll be terrible either (if only because the D will most certainly be better tonight than in Colorado). The other "major" home-comings tonight are of course former Minnesota collegians Phil Kessell & Blake Wheeler. Look for both to have repeats of game one, as they play in front of friends and family.

The challenge for the bruins tonight is finding a way to throw a blanket over Marion Gaborik. His speed and skill, frankly, are too much for the Boston D. This will be a team effort to keep him under control. Look for Bruins forwards to hound him in the Wild end and through the neutral zone. They can't afford to let him get cranked up through center ice and hit the Boston zone at full speed. that's a mismatch against just about every defender in the NHL. But, Julien's system should allow Boston to limit the damage Gaborik does.

when it comes to the rough stuff, Minnesota can compete with anyone. Led by the huge Derek Boogard (6'7", 270lbs), the Wild can throw 'em with the best. Boogard is one of those guys, that I honestly have no desire to see a Bruin tangle with. Lucic is over matched against a brawler like Boogard. Thornton is willing, and would probably hold his own. But Boogard poses an injury threat every time he drops the gloves. He hits hard, and throws an awful lot of punches for a big man. He also switches hands effectively, and uses body shots well to open opponents up for lethal upper cuts. Unless it's unavoidable, I'd prefer to leave Mr. Boogard alone, thank you very much. In case you need to know anything more about how much Boogard enjoys the fight game, he and his brother Aaron (also a big time tough guy) host a "hockey fight camp" for kids aged 12-18 in their hometown in Saskatchewan. I don't think that's part of the Alex Kovalev hockey skills DVD set, is it?
One fairly surprising scrapper they had during camp this year was Marc-Andre Bergeron. The 5'10'', 190lb Bergeron had three fights during pre-season play. I guess having Big Derek Boogard around makes everyone a little braver. Bergeron won't be taking on Thornton or Lucic, but again is a candidate to match up with a Ference or Hnidy.

Assuming the B's get off to a better start tonight (although they have to sit through another round of Home Opener ceremonies), they should be fine tonight. Maybe I'm getting wrapped up in the five goal outburst Thursday, but I say Boston wins tonight, 4-2. Patrice Bergeron gets his first as well. Go B's-Kynch

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