Minnesota Wild (37-22-7) 81pts 3rd in the Central
3.05 Goals For Per Game (11th in the NHL)
2.85 Goals Against Per game (14th in the NHL)
21.1% Power Play (8th in the NHL)
80.7% Penalty Kill (15th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #12 Eric Staal ~ 34G 31A = 65pts
2. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 19G 36A = 55pts
3. #16 Jason Zucker ~ 28G 25A = 53pts
4. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 6G 39A = 45pts
5. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 12G 24A = 36pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 64 PIM’s
2. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 40 PIM’s
3. #24 Matt Dumba ~ 39 PIM’s
1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (28-12-5) 2.61GAA .917%SP 4SO
2. #32 Alex Stalock (9-10-2) 2.83GAA .912%SP 1SO
Carolina Hurricanes (29-26-11) 69pts 6th in the Metropolitan
2.62 Goals For Per Game (26th in the NHL)
2.95 Goals Against Per Game (20th in the NHL)
18.7% Power Play (22nd in the NHL)
79% Penalty Kill (21st in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #86 Teuvo Teravainen ~ 19G 33A = 52pts
2. #20 Sebastian Aho ~ 23G 28A = 51pts
3. #14 Justin Williams ~ 13G 29A = 42pts
4. #53 Jeff Skinner ~ 20G 19A = 39pts
5. #11 Jordan Staal ~ 15G 22A = 37pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #14 Justin Williams ~ 48 PIM’s
2. #27 Justin Faulk ~ 44 PIM’s
3. #53 Jeff Skinner ~ 32 PIM’s
1. #33 Scott Darling (10-16-7) 3.08GAA .889%SP
2. #30 Cam Ward (19-10-4) 2.62GAA .909%SP 2SO
Raise your hand. Trust me, you can raise your hand without knowing what exactly you’re raising your hand for. I’m not committing you to anything embarrassing or dangerous to your own well-being. What you’re raising your hand for is to willingly admitting to the fact that on Sunday after Detroit went up 1-0 if you were tempted to turn off the game and do something else. Heck, it was Oscars night and there was The Walking Dead to watch. Plus, I woke up on Friday with a nasty pain in my neck which then caused a headache that wouldn’t go away. By the time Sunday rolled around, even the thought of turning head made me want to shoot myself it was that painful.
When the Wild were behind and having issues getting shots on goal, I really just wanted to go lay down and apply more ice packs to my neck and probably fall asleep. And after the outings in both Arizona and Colorado, had I turned in early, I felt like I would have been justified in leaving early. Yet, I decided to tough out the pain, both in my neck and on my television screen. To a degree I’m glad I stuck it out, but there were still issues with that game that I was not happy about.
Okay, time to raise your hand yet again. Are you still ticked off at the amount of time Mikko Koivu is getting on the ice? I know I am. Again it feels like Bruce Boudreau is putting Koivu as well as Zach Parise and Nino Niederreiter on the ice for prime minutes. It’s like he’s putting them out there in the hope that one of them will score. Now to a degree it’s worked, but like I said, to a degree. In both Arizona and Colorado Koivu and Parise have scored goals, but they were in losing efforts, and against the Avalanche, I don’t care who scores in a game where you only score one goal in a lopsided loss. Now against Detroit, we got three goals out of the top line, the tying goal by Eric Staal and two more by Jason Zucker. Now they, along with Mikael Granlund were a bit absent in the two previous games, but again it felt like there was more focus on Koivu, Parise, and Niederreiter. At least with what feels like the extra focus on Koivu and Parise, they’re at least showing up. Then there’s Niederreiter. I suggest you watch him very closely tonight. Do you see him standing there and seemingly lacking in jump? I know I do. Now, he appears to be able to handle skating forwards and backwards okay, but look at his lateral skating. That is where he is definitely lacking. If you can’t quickly skate side to side, you might as well not even be on the ice. Either he came back to early or he has a tweaked groin and no one has sidelined him for. And of course now with Luke Kunin out for the season with a torn ACL, I highly doubt we’ll see less of Niederreiter. Now, I didn’t expect to see Niederreiter up in the pressbox for Kunin or Marcus Foligno, but being down another forward, we’re just going to continue to see Niederreiter. I wish I knew when this team would decide he’s more of a liability than a benefit.
And here we go, against another less than spectacular opponent. With the Wild’s 3.05 goals per game, we generally feel okay heading into a game. But I’ll admit, when I see an opponent like the Carolina Hurricanes with their 2.62 goals per game (which puts them in 26th place in the league), I begin to worry. I mean even against Detroit, we saw Minnesota just hang around for a long time. They let the Red Wings score first, and even when Parise scored the go ahead goal, they looked like a team just willing to preserve the lead instead of build on the lead. Tonight’s opponent makes me feel like we’re repeating the past three games. That is worrisome. I need to see a Minnesota Wild team that jumps on the Hurricanes from the very first puck drop instead of waiting. We need to see this team give a darn. And to do that, they need to take this opponent seriously. Treat them (and other non-playoff teams) like they are the Tampa Bay Lightning, Vegas Golden Knights, Winnipeg Jets, or Washington Capitals. Why can they take the big dogs seriously and then fail to deliver with the easy pickings?
So here we go. I’m hoping all of us can finally put our hands down. I’m tired of having to point out the obvious. I’m tired of having to point out the ridiculous. I’m hoping that some day comes and I get to point out the truly amazing.