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The Sports Daily > Crease and Assist
Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Nashville Predators 4/1/2017 @ 1:00PM CST at Bridgestone Arena

Minnesota Wild (45-24-8)  98pts  2nd in the Central

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

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

20.4% Power Play (9th in the NHL)

82.4% Penalty Kill (10th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 25G 42A = 67pts

2. #12 Eric Staal ~ 27G 33A = 60pts

3. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 18G 37A = 55pts

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

5. #3 Charlie Coyle ~ 17G 34A = 51pts

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 (37-19-5)  2.23GAA  .924%SP  5SO

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

3. #32 Alex Stalock (1-0-0)  1.00GAA  .947%SP

 

 

Vs.

 

 

Nashville Predators (39-27-11)  89pts  4th in the Central

2.92 Goals For Per Game (9th in the NHL)

2.71 Goals Against Per Game (15th in the NHL)

19.6% Power Play (14th in the NHL)

80.1% Penalty Kill (21st in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #92 Ryan Johansen ~ 13G 46A = 59pts

2. #38 Viktor Arvidsson ~ 29G 28A = 57pts

3. #9 Filip Forsberg ~ 30G 26A = 56pts

4. #59 Roman Josi ~ 11G 36A = 47pts

5. #12 Mike Fisher ~ 17G 24A = 41pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #55 Cody McLeod ~ 141 PIM’s

2. #51 Austin Watson ~ 99 PIM’s

3. #92 Ryan Johansen ~ 60 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #35 Pekka Rinne (30-18-8)  2.48GAA  .916%SP  2SO

2. #74 Juuse Saros (9-7-3)  2.22GAA  .928%SP  1SO

Lines:

Nashville Predators

Forsberg~Johansen~Arvidsson

Fiala~Jarnkrok~Neal

Wilson~Sissons~Smith

McLeod~Fiddler~Watson

Josi~Ellis

Ekholm~Subban

Irwin~Y. Weber

Rinne

Saros

Minnesota Wild

Stewart~Staal~Coyle

Zucker~Koivu~Granlund

Haula~Hanzal~Pominville

Niederreiter~Eriksson Ek~White

Suter~Spurgeon

Scandella~Dumba

Brodin~Folin / Prosser

Dubnyk

Stalock

 

So, that’s what winning feels like. I’ll admit, it felt good. It felt even better that it came against Ottawa, a team Minnesota struggles with, for whatever reason. And the best part was the fact that the Wild dressed and started a new goaltender. I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure if Alex Stalock was going to get the defensive support he needed. Heck, neither Devan Dubnyk nor Darcy Kuemper were either. But shock of shocks, everyone came through Thursday night. It definitely felt more like earlier in the season when everyone was firing on all cylinders. However that move has created some drama, drama not needed at this time of the year. If you listened to today’s “Beyond the Pond” on KFAN radio, it sounds like Dubnyk’s feelings were a bit hurt by the decision to start Stalock. Well let’s see. If you were playing better, Stalock never would have been needed to play. It sounds like management made the point they wanted to. While most of us thought the move was to make a point to Kuemper, but it sounds like it was Dubnyk they wanted to make the point with.

But that was Thursday and now we have a new game and team with which to contend. I never look forward to playing Nashville, but playing them now is not exactly a good thing. Of the eight Western Conference playoff spots, there is one wild card spot still up for grabs. Right now, the Nashville Predators are in possession of that final playoff spot, however, it’s not concrete yet. The Calgary Flames clinched their spot, and while they’re in the first wild card spot, they potentially could move up in the Pacific Division standings. Calgary is one point behind San Jose, so they have the ability to move up. Nashville has that ability as well, as they’re just one point behind Saint Louis, who is currently in the third place spot in the Central Division. With a win today, Nashville still doesn’t clinch a playoff spot. However with that in mind, one should expect the Predators to come out hard. They need every win and every point. While it would take quite a bit for the Los Angeles Kings to overtake Nashville, it’s mathematically not impossible. So needless to say, today is a dangerous game.

With today being April Fool’s Day, anything is possible. I could see Minnesota coming out strong and saying “no, we’re not going back into the abyss” and try to prevent Nashville from getting one step closer to a playoff spot. But I can also see Nashville coming out and pretty much pranking them with a spanking (rhyme not intended). With the exception of Thursday night, it’s kind of felt like the Wild just don’t care and are uninterested in playing the rest of the regular season. I’ll admit, I’m king of at that point as well. The NHL season feels like it drags on and on at this point of the year. At least it’s not the Major League Baseball season. Now that one does drag on and on. I would love it if once that last wild card spot was clinched, we could just move to the playoffs. Of course, we’d still be waiting for the Eastern Conference to catch up. They’re still slugging it out over there. The final two spots in the Atlantic haven’t been determined and they still have the final wild card spot up for grabs as well.

So here we go. Another early game in a back-to-back scenario. Instead of feeling like April Fool’s Day, it’s starting to feel more like Groundhog Day, and we’re reliving the day over and over again.