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The Sports Daily > Crease and Assist
Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Tampa Bay Lightning 3/9/2017 @ 6:30PM CST at Amalie Arena

Minnesota Wild (42-16-6)  90pts  1st in the Central

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

2.33 Goals Against Per Game (4th in the NHL)

22% Power Play (6th in the NHL)

84.4% Penalty Kill (7th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 21G 39A = 60pts

2. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 18G 31A = 49pts

3. #12 Eric Staal ~ 19G 29A = 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

Top Goaltenders:

1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (35-13-3)  2.01GAA  .933%SP  5SO

2. #35 Darcy Kuemper (7-3-3)  3.22GAA  .905%SP

 

 

Vs.

 

 

Tampa Bay Lightning (30-26-9)  69pts  5th in the Atlantic

2.69 Goals For Per Game (17th in the NHL)

2.74 Goals Against Per Game (15th in the NHL)

22.1% Power Play (4th in the NHL)

80% Penalty Kill (22nd in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #86 Nikita Kucherov ~ 28G 35A = 63pts

2. #77 Victor Hedman ~ 12G 43A = 55pts

3. #9 Tyler Johnson ~ 19G 24A = 43pts

4. #27 Jonathan Drouin ~ 17G 23A = 40pts

5. #51 Valterri Filppula ~ 7G 27A = 34pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #13 Cedric Paquette ~ 80 PIM’s

2. #23 J.T. Brown ~ 59 PIM’s

3. #17 Alex Killorn ~ 58 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #88 Andrei Vasilevskiy (14-13-6)  2.64GAA  .915%SP  2SO

2. #31 Peter Budaj (27-21-3)  2.16GAA  .916%SP  7SO

Lines:

Tampa Bay Lightning

Palat~Johnson~Kucherov

Killorn~Point~Drouin

Erne~Namestnikov~Gourde

Dumont~Paquette~Brown

Hedman~Dotchin

Garrison~Stralman

Coburn~Sustr

Vasilevskiy

Budaj

Minnesota Wild

Parise~Staal~Stewart

Zucker~Koivu~Granlund

Niederreiter~Hanzal~Coyle

White~Haula~Pominville

Suter~Spurgeon

Brodin~Dumba

Scandella~Prosser

Dubnyk

Kuemper

 

Have you ever had a morning where you wake up in the middle of a dream so bizarre, that you wonder where those thought ever came from? Or you wake up with an idea or concept that is just as out of left field as the strange dream? Well for me, today was one of those days. It wasn’t the bizarre dream, but the weird thought. Today’s strange thought was the Marshall Plan. Now I’m sure many of you are thinking “what is the Marshall Plan, it sounds vaguely familiar?” Well folks, hop aboard the wayback machine, we’re going to back to your high school (or possibly college) American history class. The Marshall Plan was a post-World War II economic bailout by the United States of war ravaged Europe. It’s goal was to rebuild the infrastructure and the economies of Western Europe. Aid was offered to the Soviet Union and other Communist nations, but that assistance was declined by Moscow. With that in mind, the Marshall Plan and the somewhat related Truman Doctrine also worked to curb the further spread of communism. See, I told you this was a completely random thought. I have absolutely no idea where these thoughts came from. Perhaps it’s because the new season of the show The Americans just started this week. I honestly don’t know.

I suppose I feel kind of the same way about the Minnesota Wild these days. My views and concepts of the team are pretty random these days. With the current work schedule I have, most games, I catch the last ten to twenty minutes of the game (if the game is played in Saint Paul, Chicago, Saint Louis, or Dallas). Then I have to rely on the post-game highlights to get a feel for what happened. There are thirteen games (including tonight) remaining in the month of March. Of those thirteen, five of those games will be played in the Eastern Time Zone. That means with the exception of tomorrow’s game, I will miss all of those games played out east. When you’re catching the team in snippets, you don’t get a true feel for the game or the team as a whole. Something tells me at some point, I’m going to start waking up with having had really strange dreams about the Wild. Of course, I’m hoping that when those dreams come they’re of a team that goes on an absolute tear from now until the end of the season, leaving fear and destruction in their wake. That would be a bit of a dream come true, considering what is on the remaining schedule.

But like the Marshall Plan and Truman Doctrine, there was a plan. The Minnesota Wild need to create a plan (and I’m sure Bruce Boudreau has one) and follow it. In the snippets I saw of Tuesday’s game, it felt like Minnesota was being kept to the perimeter again. I know it’s hard to get in close on the goaltender, especially against a team like the Blues, but it’s a sacrifice and a risk you have to take. Yes, I can understand being this close to the playoffs that you don’t want to risk injury, but it’s not going to get any easier in the post-season. I’ve said this many times, but the Wild are their most dangerous when they skate with the puck and they get in on the goaltender. When there are skaters in front of that goaltender, looking for a rebound or a tip-in. If you’re just getting shots from the blueline, or low-percentage shots from strange angles along the boards, it’s going to make for a long night. Playing a team like Tampa Bay tonight, is a way for the Wild to attempt to get their groove back. Their goals against per game isn’t great, but it’s not horrible either. Combine that with the fact that they have players that can score, this will be a nice challenge for Minnesota. Sure, the Lightning are  out of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, but they’re not at the absolute bottom either. Had Steven Stamkos not gotten injured back in November, I think we’d be looking at a far different Tampa Bay team.

With weird dreams and such, I might as well share one that I had a few years ago as it pertains to tonight’s opponent. I dreamt that I was taking a summer college course. When I arrived on campus, there was a mixup in student housing, and my roommate for the summer term was Stamkos. The mind does strange things to us when we sleep, and someday I’d like to know how these strange thoughts enter our minds when we sleep.