Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Edmonton Oilers 3/10/18 @ 8:00PM CST at Rogers Place

Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Edmonton Oilers 3/10/18 @ 8:00PM CST at Rogers Place

Wild

Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Edmonton Oilers 3/10/18 @ 8:00PM CST at Rogers Place

Minnesota Wild (39-22-7)  85pts  3rd in the Central

3.12 Goals For Per Game (10th in the NHL)

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

21.7% Power Play (6th in the NHL)

80.6% Penalty Kill (16th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #12 Eric Staal ~ 37G 31A = 68pts

2. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 19G 38A = 57pts

3. #16 Jason Zucker ~ 28G 26A = 54pts

4. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 6G 41A = 47pts

5. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 12G 26A = 38pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 64 PIM’s

2. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 42 PIM’s

3. #16 Jason Zucker ~ 40 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (30-12-5)  2.59GAA  .918%SP  4SO

2. #32 Alex Stalock (9-10-2)  2.83%SP  .912%SP  1SO

 

 

Vs.

 

 

Edmonton Oilers (29-34-4)  62pts  6th in the Pacific

2.76 Goals For Per Game (21st in the NHL)

3.27 Goals Against Per Game (29th in the NHL)

14.2% Power Play (31st in the NHL)

74% Penalty Kill (31st in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #97 Connor McDavid ~ 31G 50A = 81pts

2. #29 Leon Draisaitl ~ 21G 39A = 60pts

3. #93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins ~ 17G 16A = 33pts

4. #27 Milan Lucic ~ 10G 22A = 32pts

5. #18 Ryan Strome ~ 12G 19A = 31pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #27 Milan Lucic ~ 63 PIM’s

2. #25 Darnell Nurse ~ 54 PIM’s

3. #83 Matt Benning ~ 45 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #33 Cam Talbot (24-26-2)  3.07GAA  .905%SP  1SO

2. #35 Al Montoya (2-1-0)  3.15GAA  .894%SP

Lines:

Edmonton Oilers

Lucic~McDavid~Draisaitl

Cammalleri~Nugent-Hopkins~Aberg

Puljujarvi~Strome~Slepyhshev

Caggiula~Khaira~Pakarainen

Nurse~Larsson

Klefbom~Russell

Sekera~Benning

Talbot

Montoya

Minnesota Wild

Zucker~Staal~Granlund

Parise~Koivu~Coyle

Niederreiter~Eriksson Ek~Ennis

Winnik~Cullen~Foligno

Suter~Spurgeon

Brodin~Dumba

Olofsson~Prosser

Dubnyk

Stalock

 

I’m positive if you’re reading this, you either are a fan of or know a fan of the hit series (and/or the comic books) The Walking Dead. I have to admit, I was a bit late to the game, mostly because when the series started, I was usually working during it. However, while I currently work on Sundays, I am off early enough (plus I work from home) that I can usually catch the episode live. Of course if there’s a hockey game, we’ll catch the latest episode on the DVR later. One of the more recent characters on the show is Enid. Her backstory and how she copes with the rest of the characters can be summed up by her personal mantra of “just survive somehow.” Her interaction with the popular character Carl was shaped by those words. And now that Carl has died (sorry if you’re not caught up), one has to wonder how her story will progress, and if she will be able to “just survive somehow.” I think their words though that just about any of us can live by. Sure, we’re not going to walk around just stabbing people in the head for no reason (or really any reason at all), but we all have days where just making it through to the end of the day is a challenge. When you reach the end of the day, or end of the week, or end of the month and you’re still here, well you’ve survived.

Lately, I think this is a mantra that the Minnesota Wild need to adopt and apply to themselves. If you managed to stay away for the entirety of last nights tilt in Vancouver, there were moments where I wasn’t really sure if they were trying to “just survive somehow.” Now for the Minnesota Wild, “just survive somehow” should not mean you constantly give up the first goal and then have to work to tie the game and then hopefully get the go ahead goal. It also shouldn’t mean to get up a goal and then just hope and pray that the opposition won’t score again. Another thing it shouldn’t mean is if the game is tied in the last five minutes to play for the overtime to get at least one point. Or in the waning moments of overtime, playing for the shootout. Trust me, we see these very behaviors from the Wild far more than we should or want to see. What it “just survive somehow” should mean is that they play their collective asses off and try to annihilate the opposition. You should be playing for the opening goal. When you do get that first goal (or the go ahead goal), you should keep looking to further extend that lead. Don’t look to sit back and try to keep the opposition to the perimeter. You need to push and keep pushing.

One thing I did like in last night’s game, is a bit of a reappearance of Nino Niederreiter. He had a shift, where he demonstrated some moves in the offensive zone that we haven’t seen from him since his injury. For a while, we’ve been convinced that he’s been playing injured, but no one on the team was willing to sit him. Bruce Boudreau kept putting him out on the ice, often at critical moments (like the power play), and it looked like he could barely move. Or worse yet, like he wasn’t sure what he should be doing. Now I have to admit, he’s still not quite 100%, but last night he was looking a bit more like the Niederreiter we need him to be. And of course, that couldn’t come at a better time. As we get closer to the post-season, we need everyone healthy. It’s taken Zach Parise a bit of time to find his scoring touch, so hopefully this means that it’s Niederreiter’s time now as well. He’s been surviving, but now it’s time to flourish. Another guy who could use a little scoring again is Jason Zucker. Sometimes I wonder if he tries too hard. I mean when you’re on a line with Eric Staal and Mikael Granlund and they keep scoring on a regular basis and you’re the odd man out, sometimes you try to force things. Sure, he’s a talented and speedy player, but sometimes you just have to let things happen naturally. While I’d like to see Zucker get back on the goal scoring side of things on a more regular basis, I’m not overly concerned. He’ll figure it out, and then I’m sure the goals will come.

Tonight is another game against a flailing franchise. Sure they have McJesus, aka Connor McDavid, who is #3 in points and #11 in goals amongst all players in the NHL, but doesn’t help a team to prevent goals. You know what rhymes with Oilers? Spoilers. And that’s a role that the Edmonton Oilers have been playing for years now and have pretty much perfected. I’m more afraid of that than McDavid and his 31 goals (although Staal has 37 goals, take that McJesus). Although looking at the points, McDavid’s 50 assists are telling. Clearly he’s sniffing around the offensive zone and either looking to score himself or set up one of his teammates, which probably explains why Leon Draisaitl and Milan Lucic are 2nd and 4th in scoring respectively for the Oilers. Looking at the goaltending numbers, Cam Talbot’s aren’t exactly horrible. Sure they’re not what you need in a top goaltender if you want any chance of a win, but considering what his skaters are most likely not doing to support him, they could be far, far worse than what they are. The trick to this game is going to be getting in Talbot’s (or Al Montoya’s) face early, pepper him with shots, and get goals past him early and frequently. This is not the time to play an overly cautious game. This is the time to take a stand and say “we’re going to the playoffs and we’re going to look like a playoff team.” Especially since the Wild will never have to face the Blackhawks in the post season this year.

So I want to change Enid’s motto. Instead of “just survive somehow” I want it to be “just succeed somehow.”

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