Minnesota Wild (42-15-6) 90pts 1st in the Central
3.32 Goals For Per Game (2nd in the NHL)
2.33 Goals Against Per Game (4th in the NHL)
22.1% Power Play (5th in the NHL)
84.3% Penalty Kill (7th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 21G 38A = 59pts
2. #12 Eric Staal ~ 19G 29A = 48pts
3. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 17G 31A = 48pts
4. #22 Nino Niederreiter ~ 20G 26A = 46pts
5. #3 Charlie Coyle ~ 14G 30A = 44pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #7 Chris Stewart ~ 79 PIM’s
2. #21 Ryan White ~ 70 PIM’s
3. #24 Mathew Dumba ~ 49 PIM’s
1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (35-12-3) 2.01GAA .933%SP 5SO
2. #35 Darcy Kuemper (7-3-3) 3.22GAA .905%SP
St. Louis Blues (32-27-5) 69pts 4th in the Central
2.73 Goals For Per Game (15th in the NHL)
2.83 Goals Against Per Game (20th in the NHL)
22.2% Power Play (4th in the NHL)
84% Penalty Kill (8th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #91 Vladimir Tarasenko ~ 28G 28A = 56pts
2. #17 Jaden Schwartz ~ 14G 25A = 39pts
3. #20 Alexander Steen ~ 12G 27A = 39pts
4. #26 Paul Stastny ~ 17G 20A = 37pts
5. #57 David Perron ~ 12G 21A = 33pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #75 Ryan Reaves ~ 80 PIM’s
2. #6 Joel Edmundson ~ 50 PIM’s
3. #57 David Perron ~ 48 PIM’s
1. #34 Jake Allen (23-18-3) 2.60GAA .907%SP 3SO
2. #40 Carter Hutton (9-8-2) 2.44GAA .911%SP 4SO
St. Louis Blues
Well, there are going to be two stories surrounding tonight’s game. One more official than the other, but they will be there nonetheless. However, neither of the stories I’m thinking about are really that important to this game. But as we all know, people love sound bites and stories that aren’t really stories. They’d rather stick their heads in the sand and ignore the real issues. Sadly, this happens in real life as well as in sports. I suppose it’s human nature. We like to create strife when there’s already enough to go around. And I suppose lately with the ideas of “alternative facts” and “fake news” being thrown at us daily (at least here in the United States), we’re especially more likely to look for drama. While it can be stressful, and often times demoralizing, to focus on the real issue, in the long run, it’s for the best. Focusing on the real issue will bring about real results. Trust me, I work in tech support. Finding the real issue a customer is experiencing can sometimes be a challenge, but if you find the true root of the problem, getting to resolution is much quicker. You have to filter out the extra information a customer throws at you. And in sports, we frequently get distracting information thrown at us at a regular rate. So let’s filter through what we’re going to hear.
Well folks, be prepared. We’re going to get numerous Mike Yeo stories shoved down our throats tonight. Remember, the guy who couldn’t control this team? Yeah, that guy. The guy whose teams would hit a mid-season slump and then would pretty require their fellow wild card contenders to fail more than the Wild just to get in the playoffs. Or the guy who needed a goalie acquisition named Devan Dubnyk to bail the team out. You remember, the guy who let Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, and Mikko Koivu pretty much run the locker room and the bench. That combination of issues is what pretty much stamped his pink slip last season. He joined the Blues during the off-season, slated to become the head coach next season. However, his head coaching timeframe was pushed forward when the Blues fired Ken Hitchcock last month. I know I’m really curious as to how the Blues will ultimately fare under Yeo, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it either. So be prepared, because you know we’re going to hear every feel good story from the Mike Yeo era from Anthony LaPanta and Mike Greenlay tonight. Oh and to add to it, not only do we get to re-hash his years in Minnesota, we’ll get the feel-good fluff of hearing about Yeo’s son playing in the semi-finals of the Boys State Hockey Tournament. I know, you just can’t wait.
The other story, will be more of an unofficial one. Mostly confined to the Wild West of Twitter, in 140 character rants. With the injury to Christian Folin in Sunday’s game against San Jose, an injury which looks like will have him sidelined for at least three weeks, it means that someone else will be in that spot in the blue line. The most likely candidate will be Nate Prosser. There is a vocal corner on Twitter that absolutely hates Prosser. It’s of the variety where you wonder if he either stole a guy’s girlfriend back in the day or scored a big goal for Elk River, and these armchair quarterbacks have it out for the guy. Seriously though, Prosser is not my first choice for a defenseman. But not many teams can raise their hand and say that they have a player of Prosser’s character. He signed a contract knowing that he’s really only there as a fill in for when a teammate is sick or injured. He shows up to every practice. He’s ready to play when asked. Sure, he’s going to pull Suter minutes or show up on the score sheet on a regular basis, but what he does give you is a reliable player, who knows his role, and has a team-first mentality. You don’t find those very often in professional sports. And with Folin sidelined for the next three weeks, you should be counting your lucky stars that Minnesota signed Prosser instead of razzing him every chance you get.
So while the FSN crew and the Twitter world have their things they want to focus on or complain about, they’re missing the real story. I suppose it’s easy to overlook or stick your head in the sand because the stat sheet sometimes tells a much different story. Take a look at last month. There were five games last month where the opponent scored three or more goals. Of those five game, Minnesota one three of them, one of them (Los Angeles) taking overtime to decide. I don’t know about you, but when I see the opposition scoring three or more goals in a night, I start to get nervous. Sure, the Wild are scoring a lot more than they have in seasons past, I’m not comfortable with the fact that then Minnesota has to score more than three goals in order to win. The two losses to Chicago last month could very well be a forecast of the post-season. I’m not quite sure where to place the blame for the high scoring opposition. There have clearly been nights were goaltending has been suspect. But more often than not, I feel it’s more of a breakdown in team defense. Someone gets out of position or caught flatfooted, and it’s a goal. Yet when your team has the fourth best goals against per game, it’s easy to hide that failing. That is the story I wish more people were breaking down. Instead they pat themselves on the back saying “well we have the fourth best goals against per game, so everything is just fine.” No it’s not. There are issues lurking there. And trust me, come the playoffs, the opposition will do everything they can to expose it.
The media in all its forms, often goes for the puff piece (Yeo) or “fake news” (Prosser). It would be nice if more people would take a step back and look for and cover the real issues.