Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Columbus Blue Jackets 1/30/18 @ 6:00PM CST at Nationwide Arena

Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Columbus Blue Jackets 1/30/18 @ 6:00PM CST at Nationwide Arena

Wild

Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Columbus Blue Jackets 1/30/18 @ 6:00PM CST at Nationwide Arena

Minnesota Wild (26-18-5)  57pts  6th in the Central

2.90 Goals For Per Game (16th in the NHL)

2.84 Goals Against Per Game (17th in the NHL)

19.9% Power Play (16th in the NHL)

82.3% Penalty Kill (10th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #12 Eric Staal ~ 20G 23A = 43pts

2. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 15G 24A = 39pts

3. #16 Jason Zucker ~ 19G 17A = 36pts

4. #20 Ryan Zucker ~ 6G 26A = 32pts

5. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 6G 20A = 26pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 51 PIM’s

2. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 34 PIM’s

3. #24 Mathew Dumba ~ 28 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (18-10-3)  2.68GAA  .916%SP  3SO

2. #32 Alex Stalock (8-8-2)  2.66GAA  .917%SP  1SO

 

 

Vs.

 

 

Columbus Blue Jackets (27-19-3)  57pts  2nd in the Metro

2.55 Goals For Per Game (29th in the NHL)

2.73 Goals Against Per Game (12th in the NHL)

13.7% Power Play (31st in the NHL)

77.5% Penalty Kill (26th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #9 Artemi Panarin ~ 12G 27A = 39pts

2. #3 Seth Jones ~ 8G 24A = 32pts

3. #28 Oliver Bjorkstrand ~ 8G 18A = 26pts

4. #77 Josh Anderson ~ 15G 10A = 25pts

5. #8 Zach Werenski ~ 11G 11A = 22pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #71 Nick Foligno ~ 34 PIM’s

2. #38 Boone Jenner ~ 33 PIM’s

3. #77 Josh Anderson ~ 29 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #72 Sergei Bobrovsky (22-15-3)  2.46GAA  .922%SP  4SO

2. #70 Joonas Korpisalo (5-4-0)  2.85GAA  .912%SP

Lines:

Columbus Blue Jackets

Panarin~Dubois~Anderson

Foligno~Wennberg~Atkinson

Calvert~Jenner~Bjorkstrand

Jokinen~Sedlak~Schroeder

Werenski~Jones

Johnson~Savard

Kukan~Nutivaara

Bobrovsky

Korpisalo

Minnesota Wild

Zucker~Koivu~Granlund

Winnik~Staal~Parise

Rau~Eriksson Ek~Coyle

Foligno~Cullen~Ennis

Suter~Spurgeon

Brodin~Dumba

Olofsson~Prosser

Dubnyk

Stalock

 

Well, welcome back….again. I feel like I’ve had to say that quite a few times lately. First we had the extended Christmas holiday. Then it was the Wild’s 5-day mandatory break. And now, we just completed the All-Star Game weekend. I feel like all of these little breaks are just a continuation to how this season started. Remember how it took forever for the Wild to really get this season started? Where other teams had eight games in, and the Wild had something like only two or three games played? This is the season we’ve had. Between the stutter starts and stops of the season, combined with injuries, and the less than desired results, it’s been a hard season to be a Wild fan. Oh, and then there are the standings. The number of points that have Minnesota in 6th place in the Central Division would have them in 4th place in the Atlantic Division and in the Metropolitan Division, the Wild would be in a three-way tie with the Columbus Blue Jackets (tonight’s opponent) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (the last opponent prior to the All-Star Break). It appears that it’s the Central Division that’s the division to beat this year.

So what is there to know about the Columbus Blue Jackets? Well, they’re currently sitting in second place in their division. In some recent season, that is an amazing feat coming out of the Metropolitan Division. Being sandwiched between the Washington Capitals in first place and Pittsburg in third, I’m sure they’re quite pleased to be where they are. Especially considering that New Jersey, Philadelphia, and the New York Rangers aren’t far behind. Considering the log jam in the Metropolitan, it will be interesting to see how things will pan out there. Just like it will be interesting how the Central pans out. It certainly helps that they’re getting decent numbers out of number one goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky. Considering that the Wild and the Blue Jackets have the same number of points, it shouldn’t come as too much of a shock that Bobrovsky and Devan Dubnyk’s stats are comparable. I know there are times where as Wild fans we just shake our heads at what feels like a lack of scoring. However, we should at least be glad we’re not Blue Jackets fans. They are currently sitting in 29th place when it comes to goals per game. It gets even worse when it comes to power play, as Columbus has the worst power play in the league. The Wild’s “powerless” play is still more powerful than anything than Columbus has. Their penalty kill isn’t much better.

So here we are, faced with our hockey Doppelgänger. They’re our expansion brethren. They have the same number of points. They have almost the same record. And the goaltenders aren’t that much different. While I should feel somewhat comfortable by playing the Wild’s equal, it’s the kind of matchup where I get beyond nervous. The Blue Jackets are a beatable team. And that is where the problems arise. After beating teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning, many of us were feeling pretty good. And then we continued that positive feeling by taking on and beating the Ottawa Senators. It finally started to feel like the Minnesota Wild were on the upswing. But then it was time to play the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Wild didn’t seem either ready or interested in playing. And the final score proved that. Yes, they finally scored three goals of their own, but it certainly was an embarrassing game before those three goals. Heck, I almost wish they hadn’t scored those three goals. I think they needed a healthy dose of embarrassment, and these three goals only lessened it but a few notches. I don’t trust the Wild with teams of equal or lesser success. These are the game, where they stumble and they stumble badly. The game against Pittsburgh is proof of that. Sure, the Penguins are the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, but their record isn’t exactly that of a champion. The Wild had almost the same number of points as the Penguins, and Minnesota fell flat on their face. So this is where the Wild need to face their demons and decide what team they’re going to be. Are they going to be the team that wants to climb in the Central Division and Western Conference standings or are they going to allow equal or lesser teams make them look like the not-so-great team that they most likely are?

I really don’t know how much of this game I’m be able to watch. Pretty much when the Wild went down 2-0 to Pittsburgh, I pretty much tuned out. I figured if they weren’t going to show up to play, I didn’t need to show up as a fan. I said it. It’s harsh, but it’s true. And I know I’m not alone in this feeling.

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