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The Sports Daily > Crease and Assist
Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. New Jersey Devils 11/20/17 @ 7:00PM CST at Xcel Energy Center

Minnesota Wild (9-8-2)  20pts  7th in the Central

2.95 Goals For Per Game (15th in the NHL)

2.63 Goals Against Per Game (6th in the NHL)

18.0% Power Play (19th in the NHL)

83.8% Penalty Kill (8th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #12 Eric Staal ~ 7G 10A = 17pts

2. #16 Jason Zucker ~ 11G 5A = 16pts

3. #46 Jared Spurgeon ~ 3G 11A = 14pts

4. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 3G 8A = 11pts

5. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 4G 6A = 10pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 16 PIM’s

2. #22 Nino Niederreiter ~ 12 PIM’s

3. #19 Luke Kunin ~ 11 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (8-6-0-1)  2.48GAA  .922%SP  3SO

2. #32 Alex Stalock (1-2-0-1)  2.56GAA  .927%SP

 

 

Vs.

 

 

New Jersey Devils (11-5-3)  25pts  1st in the Metropolitan

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

3.11 Goals Against Per Game (20th in the NHL)

22.9% Power Play (3rd in the NHL)

80.8% Penalty Kill (16th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #9 Taylor Hall ~ 6G  14A = 20pts

2. #13 Nico Hischier ~ 3G 12A = 15pts

3. #8 Will Butcher ~ 1G 14A = 15pts

4. #63 Jesper Bratt ~ 5G 8A = 13pts

5. #39 Brian Gibbons ~ 9G 3A = 12pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #40 Blake Coleman ~ 26 PIM’s

2. #44 Miles Wood ~ 21 PIM’s

3. #23 Stefan Noesen ~ 19 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #35 Corey Schneider (7-4-0-2)  2.88GAA  .917%SP  1SO

2. #1 Keith Kincaid (4-1-0-1)  3.08GAA  .905%SP

Lines:

New Jersey Devils

Hall~Hischier~Palmieri

Bratt~Zajac~Stafford

Henrique~Boyle~Wood

Gibbons~Coleman~Noesen

Greene~Santini

Moore~Severson

Butcher~Lovejoy

Schnieder

Kincaid

Minnesota Wild

Foligno~Staal~Niederreiter

Zucker~Granlund~Koivu

Winnik~Eriksson Ek~Kunin

Stewart~Cullen~Ennis

Suter~Spurgeon

Brodin~Dumba

Quincey~Reilly

Dubnyk

Stalock

 

Once upon a time, there were a couple of teams that were blamed for great ills in the National Hockey League. At this time, message boards were the ways fans communicated (I mean trash talked) with each other. There was always great amounts of discord when either of these teams played one of the other 28 teams. And the wailing and gnashing of teeth was even greater than normal when one of these two teams had to play Vancouver. Then there were the two times during the regular season these two teams faced each other. If you were a member of a general hockey message board as opposed to an individual team board, you remember the groans and comments lobbed at these two teams. They ranged from everything from “you’re ruining hockey” to “I’d rather watch paint dry.” And of course these two teams are linked together by one man. In 1995, Jacques Lemaire led the New Jersey Devils to the Stanley Cup Championship. Then after Doug Risebrough was hired to be the General Manager of the expansion Minnesota Wild, he brought on his Montreal Canadiens teammates Lemaire and Mario Tremblay to coach. If fans of a certain age think “defense first hockey” or “neutral zone trap” the first two teams that will come to mind will be the New Jersey Devils and the Minnesota Wild. Even over the years, as Minnesota has tried to bring on more offense to the team, on occasion we still hear some of these echoes from the past, although not in the same medium. Sure, we still trash talk each other, but now we’re doing it by Twitter. I have to say, I much prefer the message board days, so I’m glad that the Minnesota Wild still have one.

Now of the two teams (as of right now), the team that least resembles those defense first teams of the past, it’s the New Jersey Devils. They’ve had some pretty bad teams in recent seasons, so looking at the stats now, you have to wonder what has caused the shift when it comes to their success. Let’s face it, the Devils can score and they’re not afraid to do it. It’s also what has them sitting at the top of the Metropolitan Division. Not the Pittsburgh Penguins. Not the Washington Capitals. Heck, not even the New York Rangers. Sure, it’s a tight three-way race for first place in the Metropolitan. Right now, New Jersey is sitting in first as they have a game in hand on the Columbus Blue Jackets. And both of these teams are keeping one eye on the Penguins, who are one point behind them. What’s working agains Pittsburgh, is that they’ve played three more games than New Jersey and two more games than Columbus. However, there is one major problem working against the Devils. While they can score goals, they’re having more issues stopping goals. Looking at New Jersey’s top line of Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, and Kyle Palmieri, they have are a combined -10. Your top line generally gets the most ice time, and they’re clearly out there for the bulk of the goals. Hall alone is a -5. Compare that to the Devils’ top goal scorer, Brian Gibbons. Not only does he have nine goals, but he’s also a +12. Heck, New Jersey’s fourth line (Gibbons, Blake Coleman, and Stefan Noesen) has 12 goals and is a combined +25. Only problem though, is that they have a combined 51 penalty minutes.

So now let’s take a look at Minnesota. When it comes to scoring, they’re not as powerful as New Jersey. But when it comes to goals against per game, the Wild are the clear winners. In fact, the two teams couldn’t be more opposites when it comes to goals for per game and goals against per game. The interesting part, is that the Wild are only five points behind the Devils, the leaders of the Metropolitan Division. Five points can be a large deficit. Heck, even in the Metropolitan, their last place team, the Philadelphia Flyers, also have the same number of points as Minnesota. But it’s the top of the division that has the Central and Metropolitan on different planes. To be on top of the Central like the Saint Louis Blues, you have six more points. And let’s look at the Wild’s current top line of Marcus Foligno, Eric Staal, and Nino Niederreiter. They’re a combined +10. Compared to the Devils’ top line, they’re more likely to be on the ice and not get scored on. But then you get to Minnesota’s second line, and poor Jason Zucker is having to pull not only his weight, but that of Mikael Granlund and Mikko Koivu as well. You almost have to wonder if when Zucker gets home and he vents to his wife about his Finnish linemates. It’s human nature to complain about co-workers who don’t seem to work as hard as you do.

I may have to watch Twitter a bit more carefully tomorrow night. I’m sure some bonehead who’s still stuck in 2002 will trot out the old “Minnesota and New Jersey” are ruining hockey cliches at some point. It’s amazing how 15 years still can’t erase those stereotypes.