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The Sports Daily > Crease and Assist
Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Toronto Maple Leafs 11/8/17 @ 6:30PM CST at Air Canada Center

Minnesota Wild (5-6-2)  12pts  7th in the Central

3.08 Goals For Per Game (15th in the NHL)

3.00 Goals Against Per Game (18th in the NHL)

17.1% Power Play (19th in the NHL)

82% Penalty Kill (10th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #46 Jared Spurgeon ~ 2G 8A = 10pts

2. #12 Eric Staal ~ 5G 4A = 9pts

3. #10 Chris Stewart ~ 6G 2A = 8pts

4. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 4G 4A = 8pts

5. #16 Jason Zucker ~ 3G 5A = 8pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 14 PIM’s

2. #19 Luke Kunin ~ 11 PIM’s

3. #12 Eric Staal ~ 10 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (4-5-0-1)  3.03GAA  .907%SP

2. #32 Alex Stalock (1-1-0-1)  2.40GAA  .925%SP

 

 

Vs.

 

 

Toronto Maple Leafs (9-7-0)  18pts  2nd in the Atlantic

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

3.63 Goals Against Per Game (26th in the NHL)

24.1% Power Play (7th in the NHL)

80% Penalty Kill (19th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #34 Auston Matthews ~ 10G 9A = 19pts

2. #43 Nazem Kadri ~ 8G 5A = 13pts

3. #29 William Nylander ~ 3G 9A = 12pts

4. #44 Morgan Reilly ~ 2G 10A = 12pts

5. #21 James van Reimsdyk ~ 6G 5A = 11pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #15 Matt Martin ~ 14 PIM’s

2. #22 Nikita Zaitsev ~ 12 PIM’s

3. #11 Zach Hyman ~ 12 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #31 Frederik Andersen (8-6-0-0)  3.43GAA  .894%SP  1SO

2. #35 Curtis McElhinney (1-1-0-0)  4.10GAA  .869%SP

Lines:

Toronto Maple Leafs

Hyman~Matthews~Nylander

van Riemsdyk~Marleau~Brown

Komarov~Kadri~Kapanen

Martin~Bozak~Marner

Reilly~Hainsey

Gardiner~Carrick

Borgman~Zaitsev

Andersen

McElhinney

Minnesota Wild

Zucker~Staal~Stewart

Niederreiter~Koivu~Granlund

Winnik~Eriksson Ek~Ennis

Foligno~Cullen~Kunin

Suter~Spurgeon

Brodin~Dumba

Quincey~Reilly

Stalock

Dubnyk

 

There are days when your work life and your free time don’t feel much different. Same happens in real life and fiction. Not to go too political here, but there are some people in this world that are beginning to wonder of George Orwell’s classic bit of dystopian literature 1984 is coming to life. You’re almost not sure where fiction ends and reality begins…and vice versa. However, in my life, I’m definitely feeling the intersection of my work life and my free time getting into a bit of a traffic jam. I know we’ve mentioned before in our articles, that I’m currently working a much hated evening shift at my job. If this shift were to last for say the entire hockey season, the only Wild games I would see, would be the ones on my days off or those that were played on the West Coast. The crazy part, is even those West Coast games, I still wouldn’t see in their entirety. The good news is that today and tomorrow are the last days of this much dreaded shift. I will be moving to the starting shift, and the only games I will miss would be like a Sunday games that starts at something like noon or 1pm. I’m somewhat looking forward to seeing more games than what I currently do. Please notice that I said ‘somewhat’ in the previous sentence. Considering what we’ve seen from the Minnesota Wild, I don’t know if I want to see much more. Of course the one benefit to seeing the games, is I will be able to provide more specifics in my previews. Right now, you’re left with vague impressions. And just like my real life and my free life are intersecting, and I just want to see to my employer “I don’t feel like working these last two days of this shift I hate” I almost wish we could pack this current NHL season up and start all over.

Right now instead of the old cliche “when life gives you lemons make lemonade” I feel like we have more of a “when life gives you lemons, rub sliced lemons on cuts on your skin and then sprinkle some salt on said open cuts” kind of situation. Minnesota just hasn’t been any to make any steps in the right direction. It hasn’t seemed to help much to get Nino Niederreiter or Mikael Granlund back from injury. Heck, I don’t even know if the Wild could beat either Arizona or Florida right now. Even worse, the Wild are barely above the two worst teams in the league. And this road trip to the Eastern Conference isn’t helping matters. When you lose 5-3 to Boston, who is one of the teams in the bottom of the Eastern Conference, how do you expect to fare against some of the best teams in the conference? Looking at the Eastern Conference standings, I feel like giggling. Tonight’s opponent, the Toronto Maple Leafs, while they are in 2nd place in the Atlantic Division, they’re in sixth place in the conference. If you’re bored, I dare you to look at the current NHL standings. Tampa Bay is sitting at the top of the East as well as the Atlantic Division. Then before you see Toronto, you see Pittsburgh, New Jersey (welcome back to success), Columbus, and the New York Islanders. It’s going to be another knock down, claw-fest in the Metropolitan. Although I did notice something very interesting in the Eastern Conference standings. The two teams with the current best winning streaks are in the bottom third, the New York Rangers with four wins (most recent win again Columbus) and the Montreal Canadiens with three wins (most recent against Las Vegas).

While I’m not looking forward to tonight’s opponent, both Minnesota and Toronto fans were just greeted with the news that the Leafs top player Auston Matthews will be sitting tonight out. He’s being listed as day to day with an upper body injury he received against the Saint Louis Blues on Saturday. He played on Monday night against Vegas, but it seems he was not at his best due to what happened two nights before. I suppose the coaching (and medical) staff thought they needed him against Vegas, but can clearly afford to rest him when the lowly Minnesota Wild come to town. Although I have to call out the NHL’s writers here. In the article that just came across my notifications on my phone, they act almost like he’s a seasoned vet with several seasons under his belt when all he has is one season. This is only his second year in the NHL. Let me show you, and I quote:

“It will be the first time in Matthews’ NHL career that he has missed a game. He played all 82 games last season and won the Calder Trophy…”

See what I mean? Yes, I get that it’s a big loss to their offense and the excitement back in Toronto, but don’t make it seem like it’s the end of the world. A lot of young players will miss a game here and there in their early seasons, whether it’s due to a minor injury, illness, the coach needing to send a message to a young player. Sure, it’s rarer when it’s a player of Matthews’ calibre, but let’s not put him in the Iron Player (you know, the guys with several seasons in a row without a missed game) category just yet.

If Alex Stalock plays the game of career against the team that didn’t want him and his skaters support him both offensively and defensively, then the Wild just might come out ahead. However, I’m not holding my breath. I think Stalock will keep the game competitive, but I just don’t know if the other members of this team have what it takes.