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The Sports Daily > Crease and Assist
Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Phoenix Coyotes 4/8/17 @ 8:00PM CST at Gila River Arena

Minnesota Wild (48-25-8)  104pts  2nd in the Central

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

2.53 Goals Against Per Game (7th in the NHL)

20.3% Power Play (10th in the NHL)

82.9% Penalty Kill (8th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 26G 43A = 69pts

2. #12 Eric Staal ~ 27G 37A = 64pts

3. #22 Nino Niederreiter ~ 25G 32A = 57pts

4. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 18G 39A = 57pts

5. #3 Charlie Coyle ~ 18G 37A = 55pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #7 Chris Stewart ~ 94 PIM’s

2. #21 Ryan White ~ 84 PIM’s

3. #24 Mathew Dumba ~ 59 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (40-19-5)  2.25GAA  .923%SP  5SO

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

 

 

Vs.

 

 

Arizona Coyotes (30-41-10)  70pts  6th in the Pacific

2.35 Goals For Per Game (27th in the NHL)

3.15 Goals Against Per Game (28th in the NHL)

16.2% Power Play (26th in the NHL)

77.9% Penalty Kill (25th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #17 Radim Vrbata ~ 20G 35A = 55pts

2. #23 Oliver Ekman-Larsson ~ 12G 27A = 39pts

3. #16 Max Domi ~ 9G 29A = 38pts

4. #33 Alex Goligoski ~ 6G 29A = 36pts

5. #8 Tobias Rieder ~ 16G 18A = 34pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. # Luke Schenn ~ 85 PIM’s

2. #19 Shane Doan ~ 48 PIM’s

3. #67 Lawson Crouse ~ 48 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #41 Mike Smith (19-25-9)  2.92GAA  .914%SP  3SO

2. #35 Louis Domingue (11-15-1)  3.08GAA  .908%SP

Lines:

Arizona Coyotes

Domi~Burmistrov~Duclair

Keller~Dvorak~Doan

Perlini~Jooris~

Crouse~Martinook~Rieder

Chychrun~Lu. Schenn

Goligoski~Murphy

~DeAngelo

Smith

Domingue

Minnesota Wild

Niederreiter~Staal~Parise

Haula~Granlund~Zucker

Coyle~Hanzal~Pominville

Schroeder~Eriksson Ek~White

Suter~Brodin

Scandella~Dumba

Prosser~Folin

Dubnyk

Kuemper

 

Finally. The end of the regular season road is here. Also, I’d like to point out with tonight being the Wild’s last game of the regular season, it is putting an end to the Saturday-Sunday back-to-back scenario that they been facing for over a month. I have to laugh, that of all 30 teams in the league, the Minnesota Wild aren’t being forced to play another back-to-back to finish out the season. I would say the Wild have earned finally getting a night off. Although, it’s not really a night off when you simply don’t have more games to play. Plus, as a fan I’m really liking the thought of sleeping in tomorrow instead of getting up to right another game preview. Looking at today’s NHL schedule, all but 2 teams are playing tonight. Looking ahead to tomorrow, there are 20 teams in action. If you haven’t gotten your hockey fix by now, you have plenty of chances to do so between the NHL and the NCAA this weekend. With the Wild already in possession of home ice for the first round, and playing lowly Arizona, don’t expect much in coverage of tonight’s game by the league. The eyes of the league will be in Toronto tonight, as the Maple Leafs can lock up the second wild card spot by beating the league’s other crush, the Pittsburgh Penguins

Wild captain, Mikko Koivu got the night off against Colorado Thursday night. It also sounds like Chris Stewart is over the strep throat bug that caught him, so he’ll most likely be back in the lineup. This allows Bruce Boudreau to give two skaters the night off. I haven’t seen anything yet as to their identity, but according to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, it really could be anyone, from a young guy to a veteran. Considering what Boudreau has accomplished with this team, I trust him to gauge which guys need the night off. With players like Jared Spurgeon who could return tonight, it will be a possibility that they keep him off the ice just to make sure he’s ready to go for the playoffs. Of course there’s also the chance that they need “Father Time” aka Ryan Suter to rest up as well. Russo seems to think there could also be a chance that Mikael Granlund could get the night off as well. Whoever the guys are that get the night off, I hope they have a good meal, settle in to watch the game from the press box, and enjoy the time away. I just wish the game was earlier. Sure the game starts at 6:00pm Pacific Time, which is an “odd” time to start a game, however it’s a “late” start for a Central Time zone team. Instead of the game getting over around 9:30pm, it’s going to feel more like 10:30pm. And of course that could be even later if the Coyotes do some sort of tribute for former Coyotes forward, Martin Hanzal. Considering the amount of time Hanzal spent with that organization, it wouldn’t shock me one bit.

So while some guys will get the night off, there’s one guy whose start tonight could indicate his future with the team. In goal will be Darcy Kuemper, who has had anything but a stellar season this year. Where Devan Dubnyk got his 40th win Thursday night in Denver, and set a franchise record for goaltender wins, Kuemper is looking for his 8th win this season. Sure, Dubnyk has played the overwhelming majority of games this season, but he’s had to. Kuemper in his few games has been shaky at best. Had the Wild played Kuemper more, it’s hard to say if the Wild would have home ice in the first round. Heck, they may have had to back into the playoffs, hoping for a wild card spot. Yet at the same time, I don’t want to play the revisionist history game either. It sounds like Dubnyk has been talking Kuemper through his struggles between the pipes this season. And considering Dubnyk’s road to where he is today, there probably isn’t a better mentor he could have at this moment. So here’s to hoping that Kuemper can find his game again.

So I was perusing the Coyote’s Twitter feed just now. Not only are they looking at the return of Hanzal, there’s also some other possibilities coming. There’s the question of will this be the last game for Shane Doan, who along with Jaromir Jagr, are the elder statesmen of the NHL. Doan is a Wild-killer, so this would be an excellent game for him to hang up his skates afterwards. There’s another Coyotes player who could be playing his last NHL game tonight, and this one too is fitting. While he went undrafted, Coyotes defenseman Zybnek Michalek was signed by the Minnesota Wild in 2001 as a free agent. He was traded to Arizona in 2005. After five seasons with the Coyotes, he was signed by the Pittsburgh Penguins as a free agent, spending two seasons in that organization, who then traded him back to the Coyotes. The 2015 trade deadline saw him then dealt to Saint Louis, but then re-signed as a free agent that summer again with the Coyotes. So it is only fitting that a guy who got his NHL start with the Minnesota Wild, could finish his career playing against the team where it all started. I know I, and some other long-time fans were a bit annoyed when then General Manager Doug Risebrough traded Michalek, but I’m glad to see he’s had a good career and that the Coyotes valued him. While I wish him the best in his retirement, I just hope he doesn’t have that great a game tonight.

This will be a game of emotions for many. Hanzal, Kuemper, and Michalek. Let’s just hope that the Wild can keep their emotions in check and come out strong.