Minnesota Wild (9-4-4) 22pts 4th in the Central
2.65 Goals For (16th)
2.06 Goals Against (3rd)
25.4% Power Play (2nd)
77.3% Penalty Kill (26th)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #11 Zach Parise ~ 8G 7A = 15pts
2. #29 Jason Pominville ~ 10G 3A = 13pts
3. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 2G 10A = 12pts
4. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 2G 10A = 12pts
5. #22 Nino Niederreiter ~ 3G 7A = 10pts
Top 3 PIM's:
1. #28 Zenon Konopka ~ 32 PIM's
2. #4 Clayton Stoner ~ 20 PIM's
3. #39 Nate Prosser ~ 19 PIM's
1. #37 Josh Harding (8-2-2) 1.16GAA .949%SP 2SO
2. #32 Niklas Backstrom (1-1-2) 3.42GAA .871%SP
Carolina Hurricanes (6-7-3) 15pts 4th in the Metropolitan
1.88 Goals For (27th)
2.69 Goals Against (16th)
13.8% Power Play (22nd)
81% Penalty Kill (19th)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #12 Eric Staal ~ 3G 6A = 9pts
2. #53 Jeff Skinner ~ 3G 6A = 9pts
3. #14 Nathan Gerbe ~ 4G 3A = 7pts
4. #28 Alexander Semin ~ 3G 4A = 7pts
5. #4 Andrej Sekera ~ 2G 5A = 7pts
Top 3 PIM's:
1. #12 Eric Staal ~ 20 PIM's
2. #44 Jay Harrison ~ 17 PIM's
3. #14 Nathan Gerbe ~ 16 PIM's
1. #31 Anton Khudobin (2-0-0) 2.00GAA .929%SP
2. #35 Justin Peters (2-5-0) 2.61GAA .912%SP 1SO
3. #30 Cam Ward (2-2-3) 2.81GAA .912%SP
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Lucky us. Another night in the Metropolitan, aka the South(L)east Division. Trust me, this is one division I wish we could skip altogether. It's not because of their all out prowess on the ice or that they can dominate teams. It's because for whatever reason, Minnesota consistently fails to play to their full potential against these teams. It's as if they've looked at the stat sheets and think, "oh, this is going to be an easy night, so we don't have to work as hard," I'm sure they don't think this on a conscious level, but somewhere in the back of their minds, deep in their subconcious, this belief must exist. Thankfully, there are a few lessons that can be taken away from Thursday's game.
1. Never, ever, ever give a player like Alexander Ovechkin any amount of space on the ice. The fact that he's been able to score some unbelievable goals under circumstances that most people can't even get a shot off should tell you something. However, when he's give even just a few feet of open ice, he's absolutely lethal. One should not be surprised that Ovechkin's former teammate, Alexander Semin could be tonight's threat. He is often set up by his teammates like Ovechkin is by his. Semin, while not as dynamic as Ovechkin, still has a big shot and can get that shot off quickly. Simply this, do not give Semin an inch, or he'll take a mile. Of course, do this within reason. We do not want to me marching to the penalty box with our abominable penalty kill for obstruction, holding, interference, etc.
2. For the love of all things good in hockey, do not under any circumstances go to the shootout. I'm not comfortable with our skaters and our goaltenders for this one-on-one situation. And if the games does go to a shootout, I wish I could somehow send some subliminal messages to head coach Mike Yeo in order to influence his selections. It's time to shake things up. If it were me, here's who I would like in the first three skaters: Jason Pominville because he's the hot hand right now, and he kind of plays the sure-fire hand that we had in Matt Cullen last season. Next, Zach Parise, if he's fully healthy, because he's good in the one-on-one situation and he understands how to beat a goalie. Rounding out the top three, Nino Niederreiter. Call me crazy, but the reason we go there is first off, there's no "book" on what he does and secondly, because he'd probably do well in a breakaway situation, he has the dangle, creativity and has experience in the shootout from his junior and minor league days. If it goes to a fourth skater, here comes the true surprise, and it's not Mikko Koivu. That fourth guy being Justin Fontaine. Huh? Well like Niederreiter, there's no record on him, he's been successful on the shootout in the minors, and he'd be great on the one-on-one. God forbid it goes to a fifth skater, put Torrey Mitchell out there, for the simple reason that he's speedy and can change his speed easily to fake out a goaltender. But until Yeo changes things up, I'd rather not go this direction, because simply put, we have not scored yet on seven shootout shots.
3. And the final lesson, and this has been a concern all season long is this. Do not take stupid penalties. When you have one of the worst penalty kills of the league, it would be wise to keep track of your sticks, skates, how/when you go over the boards, be conscious of clearing the puck, etc. And just because Carolina's power play isn't that great, isn't reason to try and "practice" your penalty killing in a gametime situation. I would like to see Minnesota cut their penalties down to one or two a game, and figure out how to better clear the puck and get their sticks in the passing lanes. They also need to be a little more judicious when it comes to being aggressive and passive on the penalty kill. This season it just seems that when they should be passive, they're overly aggressive so either draw another penalty our find themselves out of position. And when they should be aggressive, they get caught just standing there. It's a delicate balance, which is often predicated by the opponent and who they have on the ice at that given time. Not easy to do, but something has to change.
Whether or not Minnesota learns from Thursday's game is yet to be seen. Truly, little changes such as these would/could make a big difference. But what do I know? I'm just a fan, and a female one at that. But hey, if they keep making mistakes, it gives me more to write about.