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The Sports Daily > Crease and Assist
Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Carolina Hurricanes 4/4/2017 @ 7:00PM CST at Xcel Energy Center

Minnesota Wild (46-25-8)  100pts  2nd in the Central

3.18 Goals For Per Game (3rd in the NHL)

2.52 Goals Against Per Game (8th in the NHL)

20.5% Power Play (10th in the NHL)

82.8% Penalty Kill (10th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 25G 43A = 68pts

2. #12 Eric Staal ~ 27G 34A = 61pts

3. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 18G 39A = 57pts

4. #22 Nino Niederreiter ~ 22G 30A = 52pts

5. #3 Charlie Coyle ~ 17G 35A = 52pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #7 Chris Stewart ~ 94 PIM’s

2. #21 Ryan White ~ 77 PIM’s

3. #24 Mathew Dumba ~ 57 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (38-19-5)  2.23GAA  .924%SP  5SO

2. #35 Darcy Kuemper (7-5-3)  3.26GAA  .900%SP

3. #32 Alex Stalock (1-1-0)  1.51GAA  .944%SP

 

 

Vs.

 

 

Carolina Hurricanes (35-29-14)  84pts  6th in the Metropolitan

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

2.76 Goals Against Per Game (17th in the NHL)

18% Power Play (20th in the NHL)

84.4% Penalty Kill (5th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #53 Jeff Skinner ~ 33G 25A = 58pts

2. #20 Sebastian Aho ~ 23G 25A = 48pts

3. #14 Elias Lindholm ~ 11G 34A = 45pts

4. #49 Viktor Rask ~ 16G 27A = 43pts

5. #11 Jordan Staal ~ 16G 27A = 43pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #11 Jordan Staal ~ 34 PIM’s

2. #21 Lee Stempniak ~ 32 PIM’s

3. #27 Justin Faulk ~ 30 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #30 Cam Ward (26-21-11)  2.63GAA  .906%SP  2SO

2. #31 Eddie Lack (7-6-3)  2.61GAA  .901%SP  1SO

Lines:

Carolina Hurricanes

Aho~J. Staal~Lindholm

Nordstrom~Rask~Teravainen

Skinner~Ryan~Stempniak

McGinn~Wallmark~DiGiuseppe

Hanifin~Faulk

Slavin~Pesce

Dahlbeck~Tennyson

Ward

Lack

Minnesota Wild

Stewart~Staal~Coyle

Zucker~Koivu~Granlund

Haula~Hanzal~Pominville

Niederreiter~Eriksson Ek~White

Suter~Spurgeon

Scandella~Dumba

Brodin~Folin / Prosser

Dubnyk

Stalock

 

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I will be very happy when the regular season is over. Don’t get me wrong, I love hockey, but the season does seem to drag on. I’m ready for the off-season, but the Minnesota Wild have to get their first. And considering that this season has been one of the best in team history, we don’t know when that last game will come at this point. If the Wild make it past the first round, a round against the Saint Louis Blues, it means yet another meeting with the Chicago Blackhawks in the playoffs. Lucky us. It’s like getting a much wanted and needed promotion at work, but you get the worst possible schedule that doesn’t work with your family life. I’ve had that experience at work, and I almost want to say to my manager, “hey, can I be demoted?” Once you’ve been promoted though, it’s hard to go back, because the extra pay is nice. Same thing with hockey. You love to see your team advance, but you almost want to say, thanks but no thanks if it means a date with Chicago. Of course, Nashville could always do us a favor and eliminate Chicago, but I’m not going to hold my breath. But of course, it still means that we have to get past the Mike Yeo coached Blues.

Sunday night against the Avalanche felt good. Mostly, because it feels great to stick it to Colorado. With how they’ve fared this season, it makes you wonder if they’re going to take a page out of the Edmonton Oilers playbook. Meaning, they stink it up for a bunch of seasons in a row in order to accumulate numerous first overall draft picks and then make a push to return to greatness. If any team could pull off greatness after mediocrity it would be the Colorado Avalanche. I don’t know a lot about their management structure, but they can’t possibly be worse than Edmonton. But then of course, former head coach Patrick Roy wanted to have a little more say when it came to personnel, and when the front office said ‘no’, Roy packed up his toys and walked away. So it’s apparent that the management doesn’t want to have a coach questioning their decisions, which is crazy, because coaches usually have the best grasp of the team’s collective pulse. Now, we don’t know for sure yet if this season’s version of the Edmonton Oilers is the real deal or just a flash in the pan.

Tonight’s opponent, like Sunday’s, has the chance to come in and play spoiler. Now it’s not the true spoiler, because the Wild are already in the playoffs. The kind of spoiler that they can play, is to further chip away at Minnesota’s fragile self-confidence right now. Between snake-bit players like Charlie Coyle and a a shaky version of Devan Dubnyk the Hurricanes could shake this team as they head into the playoffs. Even though March was rough for the Wild, there is a bit of a silver lining. We’ve seen some minor injuries to players like Zach Parise and currently, Jason Zucker. Parise’s eye injury, which looked far more devastating at the time, was thankfully short-lived. Zucker is out right now, listed as day to day, with a lower body injury. Like our friends on the Wild podcast 3 In the Box wondered, it’s possible that Zucker is just being rested for the playoffs. Because as they said, if Zucker doesn’t have his lower body, he doesn’t have a game. His linemates Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund depend on his speed to move the puck. But even with his injury, we saw another player step up. Making for an all-Finnish line, Erik Haula made an offensive impact in the Wild 5-2 against Colorado. He has speed like Zucker, but I would argue that Haula has the better hands.

Tonight is going to be tough. While Carolina is out of the playoff picture, they were in the picture for parts of the season. Colorado wasn’t even close. Carolina is going to be the tougher opponent. Just remember, Minnesota lost 3-1 in Carolina. I expect the Hurricanes to come out and play for pride.