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Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Dallas Stars 2/16/2017 @ 7:00PM CST at Xcel Energy Center

Minnesota Wild (37-13-6)  80pts  1st in the Central

3.29 Goals For Per Game (4th in the NHL)

2.29 Goals Against Per Game (2nd in the NHL)

21.3% Power Play (8th in the NHL)

82.4% Penalty Kill (10th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 16G 34A = 50pts

2. #12 Eric Staal ~ 16G 28A = 44pts

3. #3 Charlie Coyle ~ 14G 30A = 44pts

4. #22 Nino Niederreiter ~ 19G 23A = 42pts

5. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 16G 24A = 40pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #7 Chris Stewart ~ 60 PIM’s

2. #3 Charlie Coyle ~ 32 PIM’s

3. #16 Jason Zucker ~ 26 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (31-10-3)  1.97GAA  .933%SP  5SO

2. #35 Darcy Kuemper (6-3-3)  3.22GAA  .904%SP

 

 

Vs.

 

 

Dallas Stars (22-26-10)  54pts  6th in the Central

2.76 Goals For Per Game (14th in the NHL)

3.21 Goals Against Per Game (29th in the NHL)

18.4% Power Play (18th in the NHL)

74.1% Penalty Kill (30th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #91 Tyler Seguin ~ 21G 35A = 56pts

2. #14 Jamie Benn ~ 19G 34A = 53pts

3. #18 Patrick Eaves ~ 21G 14A = 35pts

4. #3 John Klingberg ~ 8G 24A = 32pts

5. #90 Jason Spezza ~ 8G 24A = 32pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #21 Antoine Roussel ~ 113 PIM’s

2. #11 Curtis McKenzie ~ 58 PIM’s

3. #14 Jamie Benn ~ 48 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #32 Kari Lehtonen (12-17-6)  2.88GAA  .902%SP  1SO

2. #31 Antti Niemi (10-9-4)  3.19GAA  .899%SP

Lines:

Dallas Stars

Ja. Benn~Eakin~Eaves

Roussel~Seguin~B. Ritchie

Shore~Faksa~Sharp

Korpikoski~Cracknell~Hudler

LIndell~Klingberg

Jo. Benn~Hamhuis

Nemeth~Johns

Lehtonen

Niemi

Minnesota Wild

Niederreiter~Staal~Tuch

Zucker~Koivu~Granlund

Parise~Coyle~Pominville

Stewart~Haula~Schroeder

Suter~Spurgeon

Scandella~Folin

Olofsson~Prosser

Dubnyk

Kuemper

 

Considering that February is the month of love, this week has been the week of exes. Sunday’s game against Detroit featured former Wild interim head coach, John Torchetti. Although as far as exes go, Torchetti has been nothing but kind when he talks of his former team, and he’s been quoted that he’s been following the Wild and is nothing but pleased with their success. Then there was Tuesday’s game against Anaheim. Now this has been a team that Minnesota has a history with, especially in the early days when it came to the playoffs. However, the ex factor comes from the fact that current Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau didn’t exactly have the best break up with his former team. This season, Boudreau was able to coach Minnesota to a 2-1 record in that particular series. However, when it comes to nasty, emotional breakups tonight’s opponent takes the cake. For Minnesota Wild fans 40 and older, there’s a bitterness when it comes to the Dallas Stars, aka the Minnesota North Stars. When that move was announced, it was if Norm Green himself reached into the chest of every North Stars fan and ripped out their heart, like we saw in the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. One of the best fan videos out there that demonstrates that bitterness and overall sadness of the breakup, is this one:

This season has lessened that blow a bit with a current series record of 3-0-1. If the Wild can make it 4-0-1 tonight, it will continue to help the team remain in its top place in the Central Division and Western Conference. However, if they want that to happen, there cannot be a repeat of Tuesday’s game. Sure, Devan Dubnyk only gave up one goal, but for the Ducks, that’s sometimes all they need. They proved that if you can keep a team to the perimeter for a majority of the game, you stand a pretty good chance of winning. For future opponents in the regular season, and especially in the post-season, they should realize this is the downfall of the Wild. If you want to get Minnesota off their game, that’s the key. Minnesota is not a team that is willing to go fight in the front of the net for a puck, get roughed up while doing so, on a nightly basis. Yes, Minnesota has some bigger forwards like Charlie Coyle, but there aren’t enough of them who can play that style of game. Do you really expect to see Mikael Granlund and Jason Zucker get manhandled all game? Yet, we’re going to need that as the season goes forward. Everyone, forward and defenseman alike, is going to need to work on their physical game for when they play more physical opponents like Anaheim.

Tonight, we should see how Minnesota bounces back. If there’s one thing we’ve experienced this season as opposed to other seasons, is that they don’t let the mistakes and problems of a loss dog them. They shake it off and get back to business and often get back to wins. That is what is expected of a playoff bound team. However, we need some slumping players to get out of their respective slumps. Number one that needs to get back to his earlier season form is Eric Staal. I’m not quite sure what his problem is, but I have a suspicion that he was able to shine when everyone else was still trying to figure out their spot on the team with the new coach. For Staal, he wasn’t carrying the same baggage that his teammates who have been with this team for some time and was able to find his spot easily. Now that his teammates are playing as they need to, Staal is stuck playing second fiddle. While I’m glad players like Granlund have finally broken free of whatever was holding him back under Mike Yeo, Staal needs to pick things up again. As much as fans like to dog him, Jason Pominville has come forth. In his past 13 games, he has 17 points. And if Nino Niederreiter can find a way to score goal number 20 for the season, it would certainly help matters. Heck, I don’t really care who scores for the Wild, we just need them to score. Although I have to say a hat trick by an unlikely character, say a Nate Prosser, would be a hilarious thing to behold.

Considering the opponents this week and Valentine’s Day was on Tuesday, this song by the one and only George Strait seems appropriate:

 

***On a quick note, due to schedules here at Crease and Assist, there will be no post-game report.