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The Sports Daily > Crease and Assist
Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Colorado Avalanche 4/6/2017 @ 8:00PM CST at Pepsi Center

Minnesota Wild (47-25-8)  102pts  2nd in the Central

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

2.53 Goals Against Per Game (7th in the NHL)

20.4% Power Play (9th in the NHL)

82.6% Penalty Kill (10th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

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

2. #12 Eric Staal ~ 27G 36A = 63pts

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

4. #22 Nino Niederreiter ~ 24G 31A = 55pts

5. #3 Charlie Coyle ~ 18G 35A = 53pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #7 Chris Stewart ~ 94 PIM’s

2. #21 Ryan White ~ 77 PIM’s

3. #24 Mathew Dumba ~ 59 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (39-19-5)  2.24GAA  .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.

 

 

Colorado Avalanche (22-54-3)  47pts  7th in the Central

1.99 Goals For Per Game (30th in the NHL)

3.37 Goals Against Per Game (30th in the NHL)

12.5% Power Play (30th in the NHL)

76.4% Penalty Kill (29th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #29 Nathan MacKinnon ~ 16G 35A = 51pts

2. #9 Matt Duchene ~ 18G 22A = 40pts

3. #98 Mikko Rantanen ~ 18G 18A = 36pts

4. #4 Tyson Barrie ~ 6G 30A = 36pts

5. #92 Gabriel Landeskog ~ 17G 14A = 31pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #92 Gabriel Landeskog ~ 60 PIM’s

2. #14 Blake Comeau ~ 58 PIM’s

3. #17 Rene Bourque ~ 56 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #31 Calvin Pickard (15-29-2)  2.95GAA  .905%SP  2SO

2. #30 Jeremy Smith (1-6-0)  3.64GAA  .880%SP

Lines:

Colorado Avalanche

Landeskog~Duchene~Jost

Andrighetto~MacKinnon~Rantanen

Comeau~Soderberg~Bourque

Grigorenko~Compher~Nieto

Johnson~Barberio

Tyutin~Barrie

Lindholm~Beauchemin

Pickard

Smith

Minnesota Wild

Niederreiter~Staal~Parise

Haula~Koivu~Granlund

Coyle~Hanzal~Pominville

Schroeder~Eriksson Ek~Stewart

Suter~Spurgeon

Scandella~Dumba

Brodin~Folin

Dubnyk

Kuemper

 

It’s April. Easter is around the corner. As is Tax Day. The days are getting longer. Where I live, I’ve seen plenty of April showers, so hopefully they result in May flowers. At the very least, the dreariness of March, which I consider a gray and brown month, has gone by the wayside. The grass is starting to turn green (thank you rain). Soon we should start to see buds on the trees which will eventually turn to green leaves. This is one of my favorites times of the year. It’s not depressing like late winter/early spring. Yes, spring is finally here. And with spring finally being here, it means that our collective minds have to switch gears to thinking of playoff hockey. I don’t know about you, but with hockey being considered a winter sport, it makes me shake my head some days that the highest stakes hockey are not played in winter. Sure, the teams had to work hard during the winter to get to the playoffs, but now for the 16 teams that are advancing, they will need to work even harder.

For the teams that are in, especially those that have guaranteed home ice, the thought turns to “do we rest players.” Now in the Western Conference, I don’t know if Calgary or Nashville will do that with their last two remaining games, because the two wild card teams will try to do everything they can to avoid Chicago in the first round. Bur for the Minnesota Wild, they have earned home ice for the first round. Now for a team led by Bruce Boudreau that’s nothing new. But it’s a rarity for the Wild. It’s not something we’re used to. With Jason Zucker most likely returning tonight and Jared Spurgeon close to coming back, Boudreau has to consider resting his veteran players. Personally, I’m torn on that. Yes, some of the older players could use a little time off, especially considering the schedule they’ve dealt with in March (games every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday for a month), they could use a little rest. However, as we also know, this is a team that does not react well to having time off. Now for obvious reasons, you can’t give the entire team these last two games off, but you could rest a few tonight and Saturday. Yet I do worry about resting them that they’re not ready for the first night of the playoffs. Because let’s face it, I’m also not looking forward to facing Saint Louis in the first round.

With the thought of getting players rested before the playoffs, I can’t say I’m thrilled with tonight’s opponent. The Colorado Avalanche have absolutely nothing to lose. That makes them extremely dangerous, both mentally and physically. When you look at Colorado’s record, one would think it would be an easy win. Two of their meager 22 wins have been against Minnesota. The first two games against Colorado were losses. They were hard to swallow as it’s felt like Minnesota has had their number for the past few season, especially since that first round playoff win. It had to feel a bit demoralizing to the Wild that as they seemed to play better and better, they couldn’t crack the Avalanche. That turned around mid-season, with the Wild getting the second two wins in the season series. Tonight’s game determines the winner of the series. For Colorado, it’s a matter a pride in a season where there’s been very little of it. On a physical lever, I worry about what could happen. It wouldn’t shock me if they tried to put a bit of hurt on the Wild, this close to the playoffs. The Wild should count their blessings at this point in the season that they shipped Cody McLeod to Saturday’s opponent at the trade deadline.

I’m not pleased with this matchup at this point in the season. I just hope they can come out with a win with everyone still healthy.