2018 NHL Playoffs Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Winnipeg Jets Game #4 4/17/18 @ 7:00PM CST at Xcel Energy Center

2018 NHL Playoffs Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Winnipeg Jets Game #4 4/17/18 @ 7:00PM CST at Xcel Energy Center

Wild

2018 NHL Playoffs Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Winnipeg Jets Game #4 4/17/18 @ 7:00PM CST at Xcel Energy Center

Jets lead series at 2-1

Minnesota Wild

3.00 Goals For Per Game (7th in the NHL Playoffs)

3.00 Goals Against Per Game (7th in the NHL Playoffs)

37.5% Power Play (5th in the NHL)

80% Penalty Kill (6th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 0G 4A = 4pts

2. #11 Zach Parise ~ 3G 0A = 3pts

3. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 1G 2A = 3pts

4. #12 Eric Staal ~ 1G 1A = 2pts

5. #18 Jordan Greenway ~ 1G 1A = 2pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #39 Nate Prosser ~ 14 PIM’s

2. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 14 PIM’s

3. #36 Nick Seeler ~ 7 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (1-2)  3.04GAA  .922%SP

2. #32 Alex Stalock N/A

 

 

Vs.

 

 

Winnipeg Jets

3.00 Goals For Per Game (6th in the NHL Playoffs)

3.00 Goals Against Per Game (6th in the NHL Playoffs)

20% Power Play (11th in the NHL Playoffs)

62.5% Penalty Kill (12th in the NHL Playoffs)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #29 Patrik Laine ~ 2G 2A = 4pts

2. #33 Dustin Byfuglien ~ 0G 3A = 3pts

3. #25 Paul Stastny ~ 1G 1A = 2pts

4. #26 Blake Wheeler ~ 1G 1A = 2pts

5. #27 Nikolaj Ehlers ~ 0G 2A = 2pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #33 Dustin Byfuglien ~ 14 PIM’s

2. #70 Joe Morrow ~ 12 PIM’s

3. #7 Ben Chiarot ~ 9 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #37 Connor Hellebuyck (2-1)  3.39GAA  .847%SP

2. #35 Steve Mason (0-0)  0.00GAA  1.00%SP

Lines:

Winnipeg Jets

Connor~Scheifele~Wheeler

Ehlers~Stastny~Laine

Roslovic~Little~Armia

Copp~Lowry~Tanev

Morrissey~Trouba

Morrow~Byfuglien

Chiarot~Poolman?

Hellebuyck

Mason

Minnesota Wild

Zucker~Staal~Granlund

Parise~Koivu~Niederreiter

Greenway~Cullen~Coyle

Foligno~Eriksson Ek~Winnik

Brodin~Dumba

Soucy~Spurgeon

Seeler~Prosser

Dubnyk

Stalock

Confidence can be a good thing.  It can help you perform in a high pressure situation to deliver what is needed, let’s say you’re on a breakaway in a tie game with less than 2 minutes left in the game.  You have the calm to make the right move and score the goal to give your team the lead.  Or confidence can erode a person’s readiness to adapt to adjustments from an opponent and that lack of focus can be disastrous.  That will be the challenge for tonight’s game between the Minnesota Wild in Game #4 against the Winnipeg Jets after their 6-2 victory in Game #3.

Minnesota used a 4-goal 2nd period to bury Winnipeg.  Can Minnesota replicate that result again?  According to Winnipeg Jets’ Head Coach Paul Maurice he felt his team wasn’t ready to get moving which is why the Wild were able to put his club on its heels.  Was that due to the oddball travel woes due to the poor weather in the Twin Cities or were they overconfident after their 4-1 win last week Friday?  Perhaps a bit of both.

Patrik Laine is still the Jets’ most dangerous goal scoring threat and no doubt he’ll be on the hunt tonight.  Nikolaj Ehlers has been somewhat muted this series thus far.  One player who has had a big impact has been Tyler Myers who has 2 goals and an assist in this series including a goal on Sunday.  But after receiving a controversial hit by Marcus Foligno he has returned to Winnipeg for medical treatment to what is being called an aggravated muscular injury by TSN’s Darren Dreger.

While Foligno and Wild Head Coach Bruce Boudreau were dismissive of the hit and were adamant it was not intentional, but the Jets may not think it was an accident.  Will that mean the Wild should expect to see Dustin Byfuglien, Adam Lowry, Ben Chiarot and others attempting to take extra liberties to Wild players looking for retribution?  Its certainly a possibility but the Wild can’t spend time and energy worrying and waiting for that to happen.  I would expect former East Grand Forks star Tucker Poolman to take Myers place in the Jets lineup.

Let’s face it, the Jets are a bigger, heavier team and trying to match Winnipeg hit for hit is a fool’s errand.  Still, expect the Jets to try to raise their physicality level this evening as an attempt to play to their strength as well as slowing the Wild down.

In game 3, the Wild’s line of Jason Zucker, Eric Staal were reunited with Mikael Granlund and finally caught fire offensively which can only be a good thing for Minnesota.  The 3rd line of Matt Cullen, Charlie Coyle and Jordan Greenway continue to provide good energy and some offensive spark.  Zach Parise has led the way in goals and Mikko Koivu has been a key set up man on the power play.  An understated stat that hasn’t been widely reported is Minnesota’s overall dominance in faceoffs where Staal is sporting an impressive 70.3% win percentage, Cullen 54.2%.  Koivu is actually losing more draws at 48.3%.

I think the team’s defense will likely be facing the brunt of an increased level of physical intensity from the Jets.  Jared Spurgeon seems to be shaking off the rust more and more with each game and Nick Seeler has been a revelation as a shot blocking machine.  Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba continue to look decent logging bigger minutes.

Devan Dubnyk had a decent game on Sunday, but he did give up 2 soft goals which is a bit of a cause for concern but nevertheless I expect him to get the start tonight.  Connor Hellebuyck will be given the opportunity to redeem himself after giving up 6 goals on Sunday.

Tonight is an opportunity to even the series and Minnesota must play with the same level of intensity they had on Sunday.  What else must the Wild do in order to be victorious this evening?

  1. Weather the storm ~ The Jets are going to be a bit ornery and I think they’ll be looking to start the game fast and very physical.  The Wild must be calm and not get caught up in the shenanigans that the Jets will try to insight early as they attempt to intimidate them.  Good puck movement between the defenseman will be key to mitigating their physical forecheck.  If the Jets want to play stupid the Wild should let Winnipeg have its parade to the penalty box by not giving into retaliation.
  2. Rinse & Repeat ~ the Wild had success by working pucks closer to the Winnipeg crease and into the middle of the ice in the offensive zone and suddenly Connor Hellebuyck didn’t look so air tight.  Generating traffic and scoring chances from in close is a must for any team wanting to win in the playoffs.
  3. Make them pay ~ Minnesota’s power play has been a source of strength so far in this series and it helps counteract some of the indiscretions the Jets take when you make them pay on the man advantage.  The officials were more penalty happy in Game 3 compared to the first two games, and that worked in the Wild’s favor.

What do you think will be important things for the Wild to do in order to even this series tonight?  Tell us on Twitter @CreaseAndAssist or in the comment section below!

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