Minnesota Wild (8-7-2) 18pts 6th in the Central
2.88 Goals For Per Game (17th in the NHL)
2.53 Goals Against Per Game (4th in the NHL)
15.4% Power Play (26th in the NHL)
85% Penalty Kill (5th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #16 Jason Zucker ~ 10G 5A = 15pts
2. #12 Eric Staal ~ 8G 6A = 14pts
3. #46 Jared Spurgeon ~ 2G 9A = 11pts
4. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 2G 8A = 10pts
5. #10 Chris Stewart ~ 6G 2A = 8pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 16 PIM’s
2. #19 Luke Kunin ~ 11 PIM’s
3. #22 Nino Niederreiter ~ 10 PIM’s
1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (7-6-0-1) 2.36GAA .926%SP 3SO
2. #32 Alex Stalock (1-1-0-1) 2.40GAA .925%SP
Nashville Predators (10-5-2) 22pts 3rd in the Central
2.94 Goals For Per Game (14th in the NHL)
2.82 Goals Against Per Game (13th in the NHL)
21.9% Power Play (9th in the NHL)
83.8% Penalty Kill (10th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #9 Filip Forsberg ~ 9G 8A = 17pts
2. #76 P.K. Subban ~ 4G 8A = 12pts
3, #8 Kyle Turris ~ 4G 8A = 12pts
4. #33 Viktor Arvidsson ~ 6G 4A = 10pts
5. #59 Roman Josi ~ 4G 5A = 9pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #55 Cody McLeod ~ 62 PIM’s
2. #17 Scott Hartnell ~ 20 PIM’s
3. #92 Ryan Johansen ~ 19 PIM’s
1. #35 Pekka Rinne (9-2-0-2) 2.29GAA .926%SP 1SO
2. #74 Juuse Saros (1-3-0-0) 3.94GAA .855%SP
So how are you feeling these days? If you’re honest, you’ve had a good past three games. I know I’ve certainly been enjoying the wins, especially since they’ve been three consecutive shut outs. The wins have been great, but also if you’re honest, these games have been really boring. There were moments Tuesday night, where I just wanted to say, “be over already.” Those moments often had to do with the fact that Minnesota often struggle to create anything meaningful when it came to offense. Seeing Devan Dubnyk look like the Dubnyk of old. One of my fellow Wild fans on the Wild.com message boards wondered if Dubnyk has gotten new contact lenses, because it just seems like he’s seeing the puck much better. I know as a person who wears contacts or glasses (depending on the day), a new prescription can make a huge difference.
I have to sit in front of a computer all day for my job, and when I need a new prescription, I start getting headaches. I try to minimize that by wearing Gunnar glasses on days I wear my contacts, which helps block some of the bright, blue computer lights that are known to strain your eyes. But a new prescription is like seeing the world with fresh eyes.
And man, are we going to need Dubnyk and his skaters see the game with clear eyes. The Wild’s recent opponents haven’t exactly been the toughest ones around. Tonight, is a vastly different game. Nashville is going to be much, much harder. This is Minnesota’s first meeting with last season’s Western Conference Champions. Now looking at their record, at least on paper, the Predators aren’t as scary. They’re only four points ahead, so a regulation win tonight could be somewhat monumental. Prior to the Wild’s current shut out winning streak, I think many people (myself included) were ready to write the Wild off. Between injuries, penalties, and lack of wins there wasn’t much to celebrate. The recent wins should have all of us, including those who aren’t Wild fans, reconsidering how this season is going to go down.
Yet for all the recent improvement by Minnesota, I do not look forward to playing Nashville. Minnesota just does not stack up well against Nashville. It never seems to matter how the Wild are doing or how powerful the offense is, they just always seems to crumble before our very eyes. You would hope that a home game (like tonight will be) would give you a better chance for a victory. Yet for whatever reason, the Predators seems to always bring their A game to Saint Paul. I mean I guess they have to, because they don’t have their fans with them. They don’t get to hear the echo of boos their fans rain down of Ryan Suter. I wonder when Predators fans will figure out how foolish they are for booing Suter. One of these days they should start cheering, because they’re not the team stuck with a ridiculous contract combined with a weak wrist shot from the blue line. Let us boo him, we’re the ones saddled with him now. You should be thanking us. You most likely wouldn’t have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals if he was on your roster.
And since we’ve talked about the differential in the standings between the Wild and Predators, it’s time to talk about something that should bring about a warm feeling in the hears of Wild fans everywhere. With Tuesday night’s win, the Wild passed Chicago in the standings. While that is usually a happy moment, this time it was even more enjoyable. Considering how bad the Wild have been this season, if the Wild pass any team in the standings, it means that team is also having a not so hot season. I don’t know about you, but a bad season couldn’t happen to a “better” team. I know it put a smile on my face. I’ll admit, I’m really writing this Wednesday night as I have to get up early for work. By the time you read this, Chicago will surpass the Wild again in the standings. But the fact that the Wild and Blackhawks are essentially fighting over fifth place puts a smile on my face. I wasn’t expecting big things from this season, even though Craig Leipold seemed to think this was going to be Minnesota’s season (not sure where he got that idea). However, Chicago really doesn’t know how to handle fifth and sixth place in the division. Blackhawks fans should have a little chat with Red Wings fans on how to handle not making the playoffs after many years of success.
It’s going to take a lot for Minnesota to take back possession of fifth place. Nashville would like to take possession of second place in the division from Winnipeg. Honestly, this is a crazy season in the division. You have Saint Louis leading the pack with Chicago and Minnesota duking it out in the middle and of course Colorado bringing up the rear. The surprises to me are Winnipeg and Chicago. But of course the biggest surprise could be if Minnesota digs themselves out of their self-imposed downfall. And if Dubnyk has more nights like the past three, they just might succeed.