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The Sports Daily > Crease and Assist
Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Montreal Canadiens 1/12/17 @ 7:00PM CST at Xcel Energy Center

Minnesota Wild (25-9-5)  55pts  2nd in the Central

3.13 Goals For Per Game (4th in the NHL)

2.13 Goals Against Per Game (2nd in the NHL)

19.1% Power Play (14th in the NHL)

85.8% Penalty Kill (4th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #12 Eric Staal ~ 13G 22A = 35pts

2. #3 Charlie Coyle ~ 13G 19A = 32pts

3. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 10G 21A = 31pts

4. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 12G 16A = 28pts

5. #16 Jason Zucker ~ 9G 16A = 25pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #7 Chris Stewart ~ 47 PIM’s

2. #24 Mathew Dumba ~ 39 PIM’s

3. #3 Charlie Coyle ~ 22 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (21-7-3)  1.80GAA  .939%SP  5SO

2. #35 Darcy Kuemper (4-2-2)  3.21GAA  .902%SP

 

 

Vs.

 

 

Montreal Canadiens (26-10-6)  58pts  1st in the Atlantic

3.12 Goals For Per Game (5th in the NHL)

2.38 Goals Against Per Game (5th in the NHL)

21.6% Power Play (10th in the NHL)

79.3% Penalty Kill (23rd in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #67 Max Pacioretty ~ 19G 16A = 35pts

2. #47 Alexander Radulov ~ 10G 22A = 32pts

3. #6 Shea Weber ~ 10G 18A = 28pts

4. #41 Paul Byron ~ 12G 13A = 25pts

5. #24 Phillip Danault ~ 9G 12A = 21pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #74 Alexei Emelin ~ 39 PIM’s

2. #47 Alexander Radulov ~ 34 PIM’s

3. #17 Torrey Mitchell ~ 29 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #31 Carey Price (20-6-4)  2.06GAA  .928%SP  2SO

2. #35 Al Montoya (6-4-2)  2.86GAA  .907%SP  1SO

Lines:

Montreal Canadiens

Pacioretty~Danault~Radulov

Lehkonen~Plekanec~Andrighetto

Carr~T. Mitchell~Flynn

Farnham~McCarron~Scherbak

Emelin~Weber

Beaulieu~Petry

Barberio~Johnston

Price

Montoya

Minnesota Wild

Parise~Staal~Niederreiter

Zucker~Koivu~Granlund

Pominville~Haula~Coyle

Stewart~Graovac~Schroeder

Suter~Spurgeon

Brodin~Folin

Scandella~Dumba

Dubnyk

Kuemper

 

I don’t know about you, but this start-stop flow of the season right now is driving me crazy. This is the second week in a row where the games have been Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. For NHL players of any length of time, this kind of schedule should take them back to their college or junior hockey days. While it can’t be conducive for creating a good flow for the team, but as a fan, I’m finding it harder to keep track of when Minnesota is playing. We get so used to games every other night that when you keep having these long breaks, it makes it harder to remember the schedule. However, this start-stop flow is about to end. While it’s games are going to be on a more regular basis, the schedule coming up is going to be brutal. Between having four games in a week most weeks, the Wild have eight more back to backs, including this weekend. This is when illness and injury can take its toll on the players. This is when we’ll see what this team is really made of.

And part of that test came from coach, Bruce Boudreau. There are two things that irk Minnesota Wild fans to no end. One, they tend to play poorly after a long break. Two, we really hate the words “optional practice.” This week, Boudreau took both pet peeves and mashed them all together as a test. Sure, he has no control over the long break between games, but he does have control over what happens on those days off. According to all reports, Boudreau was really happy with Tuesday’s practice. Because of how packed the schedule is now through the end of the season (although there is the All-Star break coming up), Boudreau decided to run an experiment. For Wednesday’s practice, Boudreau gave every player over the age of 30 as well as lone under 30 player, Jared Spurgeon, the day off. This was done to give the high-minutes players a day off in order to spare them some extra wear and tear. All indications are if this experiment fails, we’ll never see this tried again. However, we’ve seen the failures after optional practices, so right now we’re all kind of waiting to see how this plays out. Even if this experiment falls flat, we should still see Boudreau give the occasional player the day off. If there’s anything we’ve noticed by now, is that Boudreau knows what’s going on with his players and knows who needs a practice off.

So far, all indications point to the fact that Minnesota will be facing Carey Price tonight. The Canadiens are on a back to back of their own, having played in Winnipeg last night. They had a decision to make, whether to play Al Montoya against his former team (Jets) or against the team he has never lost to (Wild). They ultimately made the decision to play Montoya last night, and since you rarely play your backup goaltender two nights in a row, that leaves us Price. For several seasons, it has seemed that Price has been the golden boy of goaltending, but this season (at least to me), he seems far more human. Of course, the Wild’s 4-2 win in Montreal helps that feeling. With that loss it’s the kind of thing a team like the storied Montreal Canadiens want to get back. However, the Canadiens are also have a solid hold on the first place spot in the Atlantic Division. Not just solid, but a nine-point lead on the second place team, the Boston Bruins. With that spot in their possession, they want and need to make a push within the Eastern Conference. Within the conference, they’re in third place behind Columbus and Washington, and only lead Pittsburgh by one point. Montreal’s 7-4 win in Winnipeg last night, just might be the push they need to take it to Minnesota tonight. Both Montreal and Minnesota need the points, and it should be interesting to see who wants them more.

Tonight, it will be the battle of Devan Dubnyk vs Price. It’s going to be discussed pretty much all night, just like it was last month in Montreal. However, that might be a more interesting battle than the forced story on Sunday that NBC Sports Network shoved down our throats in their so-called “Stars Sunday.” Didn’t you just “love” the Ryan Suter-Ryan Kesler nonsense? I was part of a group on Twitter during that game that was razzing NBC Sports Network for how ridiculous the time on ice/time on shift stat tracker was. We were all in agreement that we’d rather have the shots on goal stat always on the screen like Fox Sports Net always displays during games. And if NBCSN would rather show a stat other than shots on goal, there were certainly more meaningful stats that just tracking ice time of two players. Heck, we’d rather see the faceoff percentage of the respective teams. We have more NBCSN games coming up, but hopefully we’ll be spared their lame choice of stats in the future, but I doubt we’ll be that fortunate. And as long as Pierre McGuire is involved in some form, we’ll be subject to lameness.