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The Sports Daily > Crease and Assist
Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Carolina Hurricanes 3/16/17 @ 6:00PM CST at PNC Arena

Minnesota Wild (43-19-6)  92pts  2nd in the Central

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

2.43 Goals Against Per Game (4th in the NHL)

20.8% Power Play (9th in the NHL)

83.9% Penalty Kill (8th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 23G 41A = 64pts

2. #12 Eric Staal ~ 23G 30A = 53pts

3. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 18G 33A = 51pts

4. #22 Nino Niederreiter ~ 20G 28A = 48pts

5. #3 Charlie Coyle ~ 15G 31A = 46pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #7 Chris Stewart ~ 79 PIM’s

2. #21 Ryan White ~ 75 PIM’s

3. #24 Mathew Dumba ~ 55 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (36-15-3)  2.11GAA  .930%SP  5SO

2. #35 Darcy Kuemper (7-4-3)  3.21GAA  .904%SP

 

 

Vs.

 

 

Carolina Hurricanes (28-27-12)  68pts  7th in the Metropolitan

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

2.85 Goals Against Per Game (19th in the NHL)

17.3% Power Play (23rd in the NHL)

84.3% Penalty Kill (5th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #53 Jeff Skinner ~ 23G 22A = 45pts

2. #14 Victor Rask ~ 15G 25A = 40pts

3. #20 Sebastian Aho ~ 20G 18A = 38pts

4. #11 Jordan Staal ~ 13G 25A = 38pts

5. #16 Elias Lindholm ~ 7G 28A = 35pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #11 Jordan Staal ~ 32 PIM’s

2. #21 Lee Stempniak ~ 32 PIM’s

3. #53 Jeff Skinner ~ 26 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #30 Cam Ward (23-20-10)  2.69GAA  .904%SP  2SO

2. #31 Eddie Lack (3-5-2)  2.97GAA  .886%SP  1SO

Lines:

Carolina Hurricanes

Ah0~Jo. Staal~Teravainen

Skinner~Rask~Lindholm

McClement~Ryan~Brown

Nordstrom~Wallmark~Stempniak

Slavin~Faulk

Hanifin~Pesce

Dahlbeck~Tennyson

Ward

Lack

Minnesota Wild

Zucker~Koivu~Granlund

Niederreiter~Staal~Coyle

Parise~Haula~Pominville

Schroeder~Graovac~Stewart

Suter~Spurgeon

Scandella~Dumba

Brodin~Prosser

Dubnyk

Kuemper

 

So which story will the media focus on today? Will they drone on an on about Eric Staal’s return to Carolina or will it be about the important story, you know, the one about how disorganized and uninspired the Minnesota Wild have been this month? Looking at Twitter this morning, what I see mostly is the focus on Staal. Not only is his making his second return to Carolina, but he’s nearing his 1000th NHL game. The Staal story feels more like a distraction, almost as if the team and those that cover the team don’t want us to say “Hey, timeout. Why aren’t we talking about the real problems?” I don’t know about you, but I feel like the season slump has landed. Not only has it landed, but it has landed at what is possibly the worst time of the season. Don’t get me wrong, I am very glad that Staal signed with the Minnesota Wild, but now is not the time to talk about him and his career. Now is the time to talk about the problems the team is facing and get back in the win column.

First, let’s talk about the power play. Remember when the power play felt solid and successful? To me, it was a pleasant change of pace compared to previous seasons when we called it the powerless play. Ineffective was probably the best word for it. For the opposition, the two minutes they skated down a man was really two minutes where they could let down their guard a bit because Minnesota had no chance (or little chance) of scoring. This season has been much, much different. It has been extremely effective. But right now, it’s inability to do much of anything brings back memories of the powerless play. I don’t know if it’s the personnel being used on the power play or if it’s a lack of focus, but it’s not working. Last month, Jason Pominville seemed to be getting out of his funk. However it feels like we’re back to the Pominville who is stuck in a rut. I can’t say I’m thrilled when I see him on the power play every night. I wish Bruce Boudreau would try something different. Yet at the same time, the team hasn’t seemed to be getting many chances at the man advantage. In fact some of the calls on the opposition almost seem to be reluctantly called by the officials. Now I’m not going to blame the officiating, because Minnesota rarely does anything with the power play. Although, perhaps this is a preview of playoff officiating and we should get used to it.

Now, I’ve been a bit pessimistic today. I’d like to take some time to talk about things that I have been pleased with lately. I have been happy with the team attacking the net. For a long, long time, I’ve been complaining about how this team refuses to carry the puck into the zone. They usually rely on dumping the puck into the zone and then have to chase after it, usually losing possession. It’s hard to generate any kind of serious pressure when you’re just dumping the puck into the zone. However, in both the Chicago and Washington games, I’ve seen them skate with the puck into the zone and then cycle the puck. Even better, they’re getting shots in close on the opposition’s goaltender. Now that hasn’t fully created wins either though. There needs to be a better mix of pressure in close and from the perimeter. The trick though to the perimeter shots, is you have to have someone brave enough to park out near the crease and fight for the deflections or rebounds. I don’t know if anyone is truly feeling brave enough, because it can be a rough and tumble place to earn your paycheck. With the playoffs about a month away, no one wants to risk an injury.

I keep hoping each night will create a turn of fortune. Lately, I’ve been disappointed. However, it only takes one night. Minnesota needs to wake up and take a stand. They need to put it all on the ice. Until they stand up and say “no, this is our season” it’s going to be a rough end to the regular season.