Minnesota Wild (9-7-1) 19pts 4th in the Central
2.59 Goals For Per Game (16th in the NHL)
1.88 Goals Against Per Game (1st in the NHL)
13.7% Power Play (22nd in the NHL)
86.5% Penalty Kill (5th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #12 Eric Staal ~ 5G 8A = 13pts
2. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 4G 9A = 13pts
3. #3 Charlie Coyle ~ 5G 6A = 11pts
4. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 4G 5A = 9pts
5. #22 Nino Niederreiter ~ 4G 4A = 8pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #7 Chris Stewart ~ 24 PIM’s
2. #3 Charlie Coyle ~ 18 PIM’s
3. #5 Christian Folin ~ 16 PIM’s
1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (7-6-1) 1.59GAA .948%SP 4SO
2. #35 Darcy Kuemper (2-1-0) 2.94GAA .908%SP
Dallas Stars (7-7-5) 19pts 5th in the Central
2.63 Goals For Per Game (15th in the NHL)
3.37 Goals Against Per Game (29th in the NHL)
19.2% Power Play (12th in the NHL)
78.8% Penalty Kill (25th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #91 Tyler Seguin ~ 7G 14A = 21pts
2. #18 Patrick Eaves ~ 9G 6A = 15pts
3. #14 Jamie Benn ~ 5G 10A = 15pts
4. #21 Antoine Roussel ~ 4G 8A = 12pts
5. #3 John Klingberg ~ 2G 8A = 10pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #21 Antoine Roussel ~ 54 PIM’s
2. #14 Jamie Benn ~ 25 PIM’s
3. #11 Curtis McKenzie ~ 25 PIM’s
1. #31 Antti Niemi (3-2-2) 3.33GAA .900%SP
2. #32 Kari Lehtonen (4-5-3) 3.31GAA .889%SP
Well that was not the kind of game any of us was looking for. However, I can’t say it was all bad. Heck, the first two periods of the game were the intense kind of upbeat hockey that have been missing from this team for a while. I know I’ve been waiting to see a team with a nose for offense. For those first two periods, we saw a team that seemed to look to score first, and that alone was refreshing. Shots on goal were plentiful. But there was one problem. The Wild were allowing seemingly just as many shots. And that should have been the first key that after the first two periods, there was still one more to come. The Wild have long been a team that fails at the three period game. And man, did that history come back to bite them in the end. It’s embarrassing. It’s not the kind of thing that a serious contender can afford to do. But then here’s one more thing that the Wild are really good at doing. They excel at building up your hopes and then dashing them. So here we go again, and this time, I’m not going to allow the feel good sentiments of the holiday season to lull me into a sense of hope.
The next two games are against teams that will allow no quarter. Tonight’s opponent is going to be looking for revenge for the previous encounter. I certainly didn’t expect the result in the last meeting with the Dallas Stars. Now if I didn’t expect that result, you better believe that the Dallas Stars players, coaches, and fans didn’t expect it. Even more, they’re probably going to be playing with a more bitter edge considering their place in the standings. I doubt at the beginning of the season, if they had been asked, I bet no one thought the Dallas Stars would be sitting in 5th place in the Central Division at this point in the season. If they want to make a push in the standings, tonight would be the place to start. If anyone in the Stars organization watched the Wild’s game on Saturday, they know it’s very likely that they could suffer a meltdown. It’s up to the Stars to expose that trait and take advantage of it.
And if the Wild’s foibles aren’t enough to deal with on their own, the Stars are getting a boost to their personnel. Returning to the Dallas lineup is one Tyler Seguin. Not only is he a key part of their roster, but he just happens to have the third most points in the entire National Hockey League. Getting a player of that calibre back certainly helps. How amazing would it be for the Wild to have a player with 21 points? Instead, we have to count our blessings to have a player with 13 points. I can only imagine what it’s like to have a player that is in the top five when it comes to scoring. It’s one of those pipe dreams that will never seem to be part of the Wild game. Sure, we bring in the big name players from time to time, but the names we bring in never bring in the points like we’d hope they will. Perhaps instead of talking about what I’m thankful for, I need to start working on that list to Santa. However, I don’t think there’s anything that Father Christmas could possibly do with this team to improve it. I hate to say it, but I think the only way for this team to find true success would be to complete dismantle it from top to bottom, and I don’t see that happening. Just like I don’t see true team success coming any time soon.
The Minnesota Wild called up Christoph Bertschy from Iowa yesterday which means injuries or illness are starting to make its mark on the team. Iowa has been up and down as a team but still finds itself near the bottom of the AHL standings, but Bertschy has been ok in his last two call ups. While I am sure fans would rather see the team give a chance to players like Alex Tuch or Mario Lucia, it should be noted that Bertschy is far more polished at the professional level and no one in Iowa is tearing it up right now. Bertschy plays a straight forward game that Bruce Boudreau and his staff appreciate and I think you could consider his amount of opportunities to be a bit of a reward for his hard work.
The Wild will need all the effort they can muster to beat a talented and likely ornery Dallas squad after it was embarrassed on Saturday night by Edmonton. Dallas’ defense is young and a little suspect, but its goaltending is its biggest weakness. The Wild would be wise not to be too picky with their shot selection and if they can get the 1st goal it should be anyone’s game.