The Sports Daily > Crease and Assist
Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. New York Rangers 2/23/18 @ 6:00PM CST at Madison Square Garden

Minnesota Wild (33-20-7)  73pts  4th in the Central

2.97 Goals For Per Game (12th in the NHL)

2.82 Goals Against Per Game (14th in the NHL)

20.7% Power Play (13th in the NHL)

80.8% Penalty Kill (15th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #12 Eric Staal ~ 27G 27A = 54pts

2. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 15G 30A = 45pts

3. #16 Jason Zucker ~ 25G 18A = 43pts

4. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 6G 32A = 38pts

5. #24 Matt Dumba ~ 10G 24A = 34pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 62 PIM’s

2. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 38 PIM’s

3. #24 Matt Dumba ~ 37 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (24-11-5)  2.61GAA  .919%SP  4SO

2. #32 Alex Stalock (9-9-2)  2.73GAA  .916%SP  1SO






New York Rangers (27-29-5)  59pts  8th in the Metropolitan

2.79 Goals For Per Game (20th in the NHL)

3.11 Goals Against Per Game (24th in the NHL)

20.8% Power Play (12th in the NHL)

82.8% Penalty Kill (6th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #36 Mats Zuccarello ~ 10G 33A = 43pts

2 .#10 J.T. Miller ~ 12G 26A = 38pts

3. #89 Pavel Buchnevich ~ 13G 21A = 34pts

4. #93 Mika Zibanejad ~ 17G 14A = 31pts

5. #13  Kevin Hayes ~ 15G 13A = 28pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #36 Mats Zuccarello ~ 30 PIM’s

2. #76 Brady Skjei ~ 29 PIM’s

3. #10 J.T. Miller ~ 28 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #30 Henrik Lundqvist (23-21-4)  2.89GAA  .914%SP  2SO

2. #90 Alexandar Georgiev (0-1-0)  2.05GAA  .950%SP


New York Rangers






Ma. Staal~DeAngelo




Minnesota Wild




Stewart~Eriksson Ek~Winnik






SNL YouTube (Do that Hockey)

With my new work schedule, I have Wednesdays and Thursdays off. While it stinks to not have a weekend day off, there are also advantages to having weekdays off. I can do things like go to the bank and not have to stand in line. I can also easily schedule a doctor’s appointment. Even better, I can go get shopping done and not have to deal with long lines and crowded aisles. I will say I am completely worn out from my two days off, and somewhat look forward to returning to work because I can sit at my computer and not run around all day. This feeling of tiredness is a bit compounded as I left work early on Monday and was out Tuesday as well, due to feeling under the weather. Thursday was a very busy day. I spent my day getting some much needed shopping for the household done and some overdue housework done. Knowing what I do on my days off, I often wonder what professional athletes do, especially the Minnesota Wild. For a team that historically plays poorly when they’ve had multiple days off, you have to wonder what wears them out.

I mean I don’t really see hockey players working on their “honey-do” lists between games. Most likely, their lists are saved for the off-season. I don’t see them running to the supermarket to get the food for the week, or to a 24-hour store in the middle of the night to buy toilet paper. I don’t see them scrubbing the floors or doing laundry. Well at least I don’t see the married players doing these kinds of things. The single guys, well they have no choice. And for this Metropolitan Division road trip, they haven’t had to even switch hotels. For these three games, they have a home base. There’s no packing. No flight. They’re in one place, so what is it that had the Wild come out and look like absolute crap in the first period? You have to wonder if they didn’t fill their time between playing the Islanders and the Devils with a bunch of touristy kind of sightseeing. Because they sure weren’t playing like they rested in their hotel rooms and possibly played cards against teammates.

Last night in Newark was not a pretty game by any stretch of the imagination. Like I said, the first period was ugly. It usually doesn’t bode well when you go down two goals by the early part of the second period. We’ve seen this team on the road, and considering how they’ve played on the road this season, going down two goals is pretty much the proverbial nail in the coffin. Yet I’m the first to admit, I didn’t expect this team to come up with four unanswered goals. Sure one was an empty net goal by Eric Staal, but even that goal wasn’t a complete gift. He definitely had to fight for possession before he got the shot on goal. But even better was the hard work by the Wild’s 4th line of Daniel Winnik, Joel Eriksson Ek, and Chris Stewart. If you’re going to remind this team (and its coaching staff) that you’re on the roster when you’ve been scratched more often than not, Stewart came up big. Sure, Stewart isn’t here to be a scoring machine, but the fact that he can chip in a goal from time to time is much appreciated. And considering he has the same number of goals of a very much overpaid Mikko Koivu is more telling of the captain than Stewart. Probably the best reward (other than the win), is that the Minnesota Wild slipped into third place in the Central Division. How long they remain there is up to the Los Angeles Kings who were battling the Dallas Stars. Now while the Stars are a tough opponent for most teams, the Kings have a lot to lose. Los Angeles needs the win in order to overtake the Saint Louis Blues in the standings. A Kings win lets them slip into the second wild card spot. (If you’re reading this, please know that I wrote this after the Wild-Devils game, so don’t know what the standings will up being and I’ll be sound asleep when the Stars at Kings game is over.)

Now the Wild head into Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Rangers (again not having to switch hotels). While the Wild were playing in Newark, the Rangers were playing in Montreal. If there’s one thing you need to know about the Rangers, it’s this. The front office pretty much told their fans to not be surprised if players are no longer there in preparation for what many expect to be the forthcoming fire sale. If you needed proof of this, all you need to know is that Rick Nash and Michael Grabner (Update: Grabner got dealt to New Jersey late last night) were healthy scratches tonight in Montreal. Being this close to the trade deadline, when big name players like Nash and Grabner are scratched, it’s usually an indication that a trade is in the works or at the very least complete and awaiting league approval and announcement. So don’t be shocked if you wake up tomorrow and see that there’s a big trade announced. Or at the very least, you read about it during your lunch break. Yet teams like a flailing Rangers are dangerous for the Minnesota Wild. They have a hard time playing teams that play for nothing but pride. If you need a reminder on that fact, just look back at the recent Wild game against the Arizona Coyotes (who by the way got former Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper in a trade with the Kings and then signed him to a 2-year extension).

While it would be nice for the Wild to sweep the Rangers and this road trip, I’m not going to hold my breath. Minnesota definitely needs the points if they want to continue to hold on a playoff spot, and at this point it could either be a divisional spot or a wild card spot. I would like to say that this road trip might be the chance to say they’ve solved their road woes, but a road trip against the Islanders, Devils, and Rangers, is much different than a West Coast road trip. Let’s just hope we’re not left disappointed.