Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Vegas Golden Knights 2/2/18 @ 7:00PM CST at Xcel Energy Center

Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Vegas Golden Knights 2/2/18 @ 7:00PM CST at Xcel Energy Center

Wild

Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Vegas Golden Knights 2/2/18 @ 7:00PM CST at Xcel Energy Center

Minnesota Wild (27-18-5)  59pts  6th in the Central

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

2.82 Goals Against Per Game (16th in the NHL)

20.3% Power Play (13th in the NHL)

82.1% Penalty Kill (13th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

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

2. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 15G 25A = 40pts

3. #16 Jason Zucker ~ 20G 17A = 37pts

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

5. #24 Matt Dumba ~ 9G 17A = 26pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 51 PIM’s

2. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 34 PIM’s

3. #16 Jason Zucker ~ 30 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (19-10-3)  2.65GAA  .917%SP  3SO

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

 

 

Vs.

 

 

Vegas Golden Knights (34-12-4)  72pts  1st in the Pacific

3.38 Goals For Per Game (2nd in the NHL)

2.60 Goals Against Per Game (6th in the NHL)

19.5% Power Play (18th in the NHL)

82.9% Penalty Kill (7th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #81 Jonathan Marchessault ~ 18G 30A = 48pts

2. #71 William Karlsson ~ 27G 17A = 44pts

3. #57 David Perron ~ 13G 31A = 44pts

4. #19 Reilly Smith ~ 14G 25A = 39pts

5. #56 Erik Haula ~ 19G 18A = 37pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #57 David Perron ~ 36 PIM’s

2. #6 Colin Miller ~ 32 PIM’s

3. #81 Jonathan Marchessault ~ 24 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #29 Marc-Andre Fleury (14-4-2)  1.79GAA  .942%SP  2SO

2. #30 Malcolm Subban (11-2-1)  2.49GAA  .914%SP

Lines:

Vegas Golden Knights

Smith~Karlsson~Marchessault

Perron~Haula~Neal

Leipsic~Eakin~Tuch

Lindberg~Bellemare~Carrier

Engelland~Theodore

Garrison~Schmidt

Miller~Hunt

Fleury

Subban

Minnesota Wild

Zucker~Koivu~Granlund

Parise~Staal~Coyle

Winnik~Eriksson Ek~Stewart

Foligno~Cullen~Ennis

Suter~Spurgeon

Brodin~Dumba

Olofsson~Prosser

Dubnyk

Stalock

 

Before I even start, I feel the need to apologize. I’ll chalk it up to the fact that I’m a Minnesotan, and on occasion we feel bad when we have to talk bad about other people. Yet I don’t know if I’ll manage to do it in the true passive-aggressive Minnesotan way. The three years I lived in Connecticut tempered that a bit. So yes, today is going to be a rant-filled game preview. And for once, Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter are exempt from my vitriol. They should enjoy it while it lasts. So here we go.

Last night, I went to a high school girls’ hockey game. Now mind you, we live in Wisconsin, and the level of girls’ hockey here isn’t exactly something to write home about. So after we got home from the game, I see this “lovely” notification from the NHL on my phone, letting me know that the Vegas Golden Knights have set the new NHL record for wins by an expansion team. Excuse me? But I am sick and tired of the giddy excitement of the league’s talking heads when they express their “surprise” that the Golden Knights have had in their inaugural season. Sure, it’s their first year, but let’s drop the “expansion” title, because they are not a true expansion team. Las Vegas bought their way into the league and then everyone has cow-towed to them to make things easy for them using the excuse “well they paid $500 million for expansion rights so we had to make it easy on them.” There are few things that Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets fans agree on, but they would definitely agree that they (and the previous expansion teams of the 1990s) got hosed when it came to expansion drafts when compared to the Golden Knights. If you’re new to hockey, you don’t really know how bad the past expansion drafts were. So let’s hop aboard the Wayback Machine and see who the Minnesota Wild got in the 2000 NHL Expansion Draft…and then we’ll compare it to the bonanza that Vegas received.

Jamie McLennan (G)

Mike Vernon (G)

Chris Tereri (G)

Sean O’Donnell (D)

Curtis Leschyshyn (D)

Ladislav Benysek (D)

Chris Armstrong (D)

Filip Kuba (D)

Oleg Orekhovsky (D)

Ian Herbers (D)

Artem Anisimov (D)

Stacy Roest (C)

Darryl Laplante (C)

Scott Pellerin (LW)

Jim Dowd (C)

Sergei Krivokrasov (RW)

Jeff Nielsen (RW)

Jeff Odgers (RW)

Steve McKenna (F)

Michal Bros (F)

Joe Juneau (C)

Darby Hendrickson (C)

Jeff Daw (C)

Stefan Nilsson (F)

Zac Bierk (G)

Cam Stewart (LW)

 

Sure, there are a bunch of names on that list that had decent careers in the NHL and with the Wild. Heck, some players now have coaching and front office jobs with the team. But seriously, that’s how bleak it was. And the players that stuck around with the team for multiple seasons, only did so because it was the only job they were going to get and then General Manager (and resident cheap skate) Doug Risebrough wasn’t really interested in making the team truly competitive. He was content to go with guys like Ladislav Benysek as long as he could. I’m not going to post Columbus’ picks, but they’re not much better. Combine that with their coaching woes in their early seasons, it also kept them from being a better team for many seasons. So yes, let’s now compare that to the BOUGHT AND PAID team that Vegas got out of their expansion draft. And it’s also not comparable because there wasn’t the same level of strategy, as they weren’t competing with another expansion team.

Calvin Pickard (G)

Luca Sbisa (D)

Teemu Pulkkinen (LW)

Jon Merrill (D)

William Carrier (LW)

Cody Eakin (C)

Tomas Nosek (LW)

Johnathan Marchessault (C)

Brayden McNabb (D)

Connor Brickley (C)

Chris Thorburn (RW)

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (RW)

Jason Garrison (D)

Jean-Francois Berube (G)

James Neal (LW)

Deryk Engelland (D)

Brendan Leipsic (LW)

Colin Miller (D)

Marc Methot (D)

David Schlemko (D)

David Perron (LW)

Oscar Lindberg (C)

Griffin Reinhard (D)

Alexei Emelin (D)

Clayton Stoner (D)

Eric Haula (C)

William Karlsson (C)

Trevor van Riemsdyk (D)

Marc-Andre Fleury (G)

Nate Schmidt (D)

 

Yes, please tell me how these two expansion drafts are comparable. They’re not even close. And that’s what bothers me most. I have yet to hear one of the talking heads give an honest discussion about how Vegas was given a truly golden (pun may or may not be intentional) expansion draft. I bet even longtime fans of San Jose, Nashville, and Ottawa are sitting here thinking “how come Vegas doesn’t have to go through the expansion woes like we did?” And that my dear readers is the issue. The league is patting themselves on the back about what a good thing they did for hockey. And if I hear one of the talking heads use the term “Cinderella story” when Vegas makes the playoffs (which they probably will), I will probably throw something at the television. Sorry, but Cinderella teams are ones like the Minnesota Wild who made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals in their third season with quite a few of those expansion draft players and other league castoffs. It is not a Cinderella story when you make the playoffs with a team you bought from the league, off of the hard work of other teams. I for one wish we didn’t part ways with Erik Haula. And I’m pretty sure that the Wild television talking heads of Anthony LaPanta and Mike Greenlay will simply join the mindless minions who are “surprised” at the success in Vegas.

What I would like to see tonight, is for the Minnesota Wild to come out and remind the Vegas Golden Knights (and their fans) who the expansion team is. They haven’t earned their stripes. They haven’t had to truly go through the building process like the rest of us. I’d like to see a little humility from the Knights. I worry though, as they’re playing their backup goaltender, Malcolm Subban tonight. I know it makes sense as they played last night, with Marc-Andre Fleury getting the overtime win in Winnipeg. With that in mind, Wild starting goaltender Devan Dubnyk is going to need to play at his best. And that’s what I worry about. This season, we haven’t always been able to depend on him or his skaters. Hopefully having Nino Niederreiter back in the lineup will help. I don’t want the Minnesota Wild to be one of the teams that helps pad the Golden Knights record breaking season. The Wild have beaten them once this season, and I’d like to win the next two games (including tonight’s) against the upstarts.

Okay, enough venting.

 

 

 

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