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The Sports Daily > Crease and Assist
Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Washington Capitals 11/18/17 @ 6:30PM CST at Verizon Center

Minnesota Wild (9-7-2)  20pts  4th in the Central

3.06 Goals For Per Game (13th in the NHL)

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

17.5% Power Play (19th in the NHL)

85.7% Penalty Kill (3rd in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #12 Eric Staal ~ 7G 10A = 17pts

2. #16 Jason Zucker ~ 11G 5A = 16pts

3. #46 Jared Spurgeon ~ 3G 11A = 14pts

4. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 3G 8A = 11pts

5. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 4G 5A = 9pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 16 PIM’s

2. #22 Nino Niederreiter ~ 12 PIM’s

3. #19 Luke Kunin ~ 11 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (8-6-0-1)  2.48GAA  .922%SP  3SO

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

 

 

Vs.

 

 

Washington Capitals (10-9-1)  21pts  5th in the Metropolitan

2.80 Goals For Per Game (21st in the NHL)

3.25 Goals Against Per Game (24th in the NHL)

19.4% Power Play (15th in the NHL)

77.8% Penalty Kill (27th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #92 Evgeni Kuznetsov ~ 4G 17A = 21pts

2. #8 Alexander Ovechkin ~ 13G 6A = 19pts

3. #74 John Carlson ~ 2G 14A = 16pts

4. #77 T.J. Oshie ~ 9G 6A = 15pts

5. #19 Nicklas Backstrom ~ 3G 11A = 14pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #43 Tom Wilson ~ 55 PIM’s

2. #44 Brooks Orpik ~ 22 PIM’s

3. #20 Lars Eller ~ 18 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #70 Brayden Holtby (10-4-0-0)  2.68GAA  .918%SP

2. #31 Philipp Grubauer (0-5-0-1)  3.86GAA  .876%SP

Lines:

Washington Capitals

Ovechkin~Kuznetsov~Smith-Pelly

Stephenson~Backstrom~Oshie

Connolly~Eller~Wilson

Walker~Beagle~Chiasson

Orpik~Carlson

Orlov~Niskanen

Chorney~Bowey

Holtby

Grubauer

Minnesota Wild

Foligno~Staal~Niederreiter

Zucker~Granlund~Koivu

Winnik~Eriksson Ek~Kunin

Stewart~Cullen~Ennis

Suter~Spurgeon

Brodin~Dumba

Quincey~Reilly

Dubnyk

Stalock

 

If you watch just about any movie that either revolves around a casino or has a few scenes inside a casino, you often see the classic roulette wheel. Especially if said movie takes place in Monaco or any of the other high-class casinos of Europe. There’s something glamorous about this particular game of chance. Americans (I think) tend to prefer poker or twenty-one. There’s still chance involved, but it takes some skill as well. But with roulette it is a game of pure chance, well pure if the house isn’t fixing the wheel. I love watching that wheel spin. It’s a bit hypnotic, watching both the wheel and ball spin in opposite directions. And in the movies, you generally see the high rollers wearing tuxes and evening gowns. However, there is another form of roulette, one that is not so glamorous. That version is Russian roulette. It too has also been used in movies, the most famous example in the 1978 movie The Deer Hunter. This nihilistic “game” involves taking a revolver, loading one round into the chamber, and then spinning the chamber. You then take said loaded revolver, place it against your temple, and pull the trigger. Now if the revolver is in prime condition and well maintained, the first couple of shots should be low danger ones as the weight of the bullet and gravity should get the full chamber at the bottom. However, with each subsequent shot, as the gun is passed back and forth between the “contestants”, the chances of fatality grow. Needless to say, this is not a game you want to play. The stakes are too high, you either live or shoot yourself in the head.

The Washington Capitals have essentially been playing Russian roulette all season. They either live and come out the winner or they shoot themselves in the head (or foot). On a nightly basis, you never know what you’re going to see from the Capitals. The month of October was not kind to Washington, as they went 5-7-0. So far, November has been a little bit better for the Capitals, but they have suffered losses to teams like Buffalo and Colorado, and had to go to overtime to beat Arizona earlier this month. Currently, Washington is on a two game losing streak. They lost 6-3 at Nashville as well as suffered a 6-2 loss at Colorado. If you visit the Capitals team website, the headline article is “Caps Look to Get Right vs. Wild.” That’s not exactly a huge vote of confidence in their team if you ask me. However, if they get a win tonight, it would certainly help them get their heads back into the game. It also doesn’t hurt that over the next 10 games, Washington is playing 9 of those at home at Verizon Center. If you want to know just how bad things are (possibly mentally and emotionally) for the Capitals right now, look at the stats for their game in Nashville. Washington didn’t register their first shot on goal of the game until the 17:09 mark of the first period. Oh and by that point, the Predators were already up 2-0 with 16 shots of their own. They also took four minor penalties in that first period. Things didn’t go much better for the Capitals in Washington either, since it’s only took Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog 17 seconds to score the first goal of the game. Oh, and that goal was the first of three for one of the most hated players for Wild fans. It seems that in both games, players weren’t where they were supposed to be, even in simple matters like faceoffs. Washington head coach Barry Trotz isn’t happy with the starts his team is getting, and considering that in a recent game the Wild got out to a 1-0 lead just 12 seconds in by Nino Niederreiter, they know it’s possible for that to happen.

The Wild have also had a bit of a Russian roulette kind of season as well. From night to night, we don’t know what we’re going to get. Of course it didn’t help that the start of the season was so sporadic when it came to the number of games. It took 16 days for the Wild to play their first four games, where they went an abysmal 1-2-2. Compare that to Washington. They played their first 6 games in 10 days. If that isn’t proof that the leagues needs to look at scheduling, I don’t know what is. However, the Wild are heading into our nation’s capital with a four-game winning streak, with the first three being shut-outs. I’m not quite ready to breathe freely just yet. Thursday night’s game is proof of that. I can’t tell you how tempted I was after the Wild were down 2-0 to pack things up for the night. Doing dishes, laundry, or balancing the checkbook would have been more entertaining at that point. While I was ultimately glad I sat through the entire game, there’s still a lot that needs to be accomplished. I believe in the post-game press conference Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau said something to the effect that they can’t all be (Pablo) Picasso’s, a win is still a win. However, I think Boudreau picked the wrong artist. Thursday night’s game was very Picasso like. It was ugly and unsettling, much like his famous painting Guernica. Heck, it was also much like Salvador Dali as well (check out his famous painting Persistence of Memory). If Boudreau wanted to compare that game to the more standard definition of beauty in art, he probably should have picked one of the Renaissance or Impressionist artistes.

So here we go. Two teams that have continually shot themselves in the foot this season. Both teams have found themselves trailing early in games. Both are teams that have players that can score. Both are teams that have goaltenders that many teams would greatly appreciate. Las Vegas would love to have either Devan Dubnyk or Brayden Holtby. Heck, they probably would salivate at the chance of getting either backup Alex Stalock or Philipp Grubauer. And let’s face it, if Minnesota’s history with Washington tell you anything, the Russian factor of Russian roulette will come into play. Either Alexander Ovechkin or Evgeni Kuznetsov will find a way to make Minnesota look bad. Especially if the Wild continue to let Ovechkin hang out on the left circle all by himself. Let’s just hope that Jason Zucker took advantage of some sleep on the plane and in the hotel away from a crying newborn and will be able to contribute to a winning effort.