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The Sports Daily > Crease and Assist
Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. New York Rangers 3/18/17 @ 6:00PM CST at Xcel Energy Center

Minnesota Wild (43-20-6)  92pts  2nd in the Central

3.23 Goals For Per Game (2nd in the NHL)

2.43 Goals Against Per Game (5th in the NHL)

20.7% Power Play (10th in the NHL)

83.7% Penalty Kill (8th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 24G 41A = 65pts

2. #12 Eric Staal ~ 23G 30A = 53pts

3. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 18G 34A = 52pts

4. #22 Nino Niederreiter ~ 20G 28A = 48pts

5. #3 Charlie Coyle ~ 15G 31A = 46pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #7 Chris Stewart ~ 79 PIM’s

2. #21 Ryan White ~ 77 PIM’s

3. #24 Mathew Dumba ~ 57 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (36-16-3)  2.11GAA  .930%SP  5SO

2. #35 Darcy Kuemper (7-4-3)  3.21GAA  .904%SP

 

 

Vs.

 

 

New York Rangers (44-24-3)  91pts  4th in the Metropolitan

3.17 Goals For Per Game (5th in the NHL)

2.59 Goals Against Per Game (11th in the NHL)

18.8% Power Play (16th in the NHL)

80.3% Penalty Kill (19th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #10 J.T. Miller ~ 20G 31A = 51pts

2. #36 Mats Zuccarello ~ 14G 36A = 50pts

3. #20 Chris Kreider ~ 26G 23A = 49pts

4. #21 Derek Stepan ~ 13G 35A = 48pts

5. #13 Kevin Hayes ~ 17G 29A = 46pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #20 Chris Kreider ~ 46 PIM’s

2. #76 Brady Skjei ~ 42 PIM’s

3. #27 Ryan McDonagh ~ 35 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #32 Antti Raanta (30-17-2)  2.65GAA  .913%SP  2SO

2. #45 Magnus Hellberg N/A

Lines:

New York Rangers

Kreider~Stepan~Zuccarello

Miller~Zibanejad~Nash

Grabner~K. Hayes~Fast

Vesey~Lindberg~Glass

Staal~McDonagh

Smith~Holden

Skjei~Kampfer

Raanta

Hellberg

Minnesota Wild

Zucker~Koivu~Granlund

Niederreiter~Staal~Coyle

Parise~Haula~Pominville

Schroeder~White~Stewart

Suter~Spurgeon

Scandella~Dumba

Brodin~Prosser

Dubnyk

Kuemper

As you can see, we’ve had to bring back my favorite slump song. Like the lyrics say, “sometime’s life’s gonna get ya down.” Well folks, right now, the Minnesota Wild have us “down.” March is a tough month of the year, for both hockey and life in general. For those of us in the northern parts of North America that experience a real winter, it’s a month of transition. You can either be sitting at 50 degrees and sunshine or an all out blizzard. It’s a month that can rarely make up its mind. I find it to be a pretty depressing month. If I had to describe the month in terms of color, I would say it’s a brown month. There aren’t enough warm, rainy days to start turning the grass and trees green again.  Everything just looks sad and dead. But March eventually becomes April, which is the true herald of Spring. In hockey, March is a critical month for teams. This is where teams on the cusp have to claw their way into the playoffs and teams that are pretty much in playoff positions have to fight for their positions. In the past, March was the former for the Minnesota Wild. This season though, we’re experiencing the latter. Lately though, it feels more like some weird version of both. The three consecutive losses are a serious blow to everyone.

I do not like this feeling. But more importantly, I do not trust this team right now. Thursday night, they couldn’t beat Eddie Lack, aka the cheap Ikea side table. Tonight, they will face either the Rangers backup, Antti Raanta or the backup to the backup, Magnus Hellberg because of the injury to Henrik Lundqvist. This is the kind of head game that messes with this team. I’m sure the Rangers and their faithful are desperately missing Lundqvist, but I don’t think they have anything to worry about tonight. Heck, they could almost safely start Hellberg. The other thing working in the Rangers’ favor, is that they’ve had to duke out in the division of death. Remember when the Central Division was the toughest division to be in? Well that dubious honor has shifted east, and it’s now the Metropolitan Division. Right now, the Rangers are in possession of the first wild card spot with Toronto in the second one. However, if you look at the number nine spot in the Eastern Conference, it’s the New York Islanders. If the Islanders overtake the Maple Leafs, that would mean there were five Metropolitan Division teams in the playoffs. And I’m sure it chaps the hide of many a Rangers fans that they have more points than any team in the Atlantic Division.

And since we’re feeling a bit down in the dumps these days, we might as well throw in another video. This one is by friend of the blog, Kari Wahlen. She has this amazing ability to take songs many of us know (and sometimes) love and make them about the Wild. I would say today’s offering pretty much sums up what we’re all feeling. Minnesota fans are an odd bunch. We’ll support the team, even though we rarely expect anything good to happen. I mean, look at how the Minnesota Vikings season started. They won five straight games, and people were starting to think “oh my, is this going to be the season?” Then look what happened. Yet, they will show up again next season hoping that things will be better. Same for Wild fans. We haven’t made it past the second round since 2003. Yet each time they make it to the playoffs, we think that this has to be the year that we can get out of the second round. But before we can even get to that, we have to break out of current funk they’re in. Get out of the pits of despair. Get back to the Minnesota Wild that have gotten them into the amazing position they currently find themselves in. I want to overtake Chicago, to wipe that smarmy, smug look of their faces. I’m tired of Chicago. I want to get back to speedy, positionally sound hockey that Minnesota is known for. Hopefully getting a speedy player like Jordan Schroeder back in the lineup is what it takes. It’s hard bringing new players like Ryan White and Martin Hanzal into the lineup at the trade deadline. It can mess up team chemistry while the new guys figure out where they need to be and how their new teammates operate during a game. But I refuse to place all the blame on White and Hanzal. Everyone is in a funk right now, and they need to figure out what they’re doing sooner rather than later.

 

Also a quick note. We won’t have a post-game article for tonight’s game. Derek and I are participating in a trivia night for a local fundraiser. So while the Wild hopefully work to come out on top, our trivia team, the reigning local champs, will be testing our minds to retain our title.