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Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Pittsburgh Penguins 11/25/16 @ 3:00PM CST at Xcel Energy Center

Minnesota Wild (10-7-2)  22pts  3rd in the Central

2.58 Goals For Per Game (16th in the NHL)

1.89 Goals Against Per Game (1st in the NHL)

15.8% Power Play (19th in the NHL)

85.7% Penalty Kill (8th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #12 Eric Staal ~ 5G 9A = 14pts

2. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 4G 9A = 13pts

3. #3 Charlie Coyle ~ 5G 7A = 12pts

4. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 4G 8A = 12pts

5. #22 Nino Niederreiter ~ 5G 5A = 10pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #7 Chris Stewart ~ 29 PIM’s

2. #3 Charlie Coyle ~ 18 PIM’s

3. #5 Christian Folin ~ 16 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (8-6-1)  1.55GAA  .948%SP  4SO

2. #35 Darcy Kuemper (2-1-1)  2.94GAA  .908%SP

 

 

Vs.

 

 

Pittsburgh Penguins (12-5-3)  27pts  2nd in the Metropolitan

2.95 Goals For Per Game (8th in the NHL)

2.75 Goals Against Per Game (21st in the NHL)

22.4% Power Play (6th in the NHL)

80.8% Penalty Kill (19th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #81 Phil Kessel ~ 5G  15A = 20pts

2. #87 Sidney Crosby ~ 14G 5A = 19pts

3. #71 Evgeni Malkin ~ 8G 9A = 17pts

4. #72 Patric Hornqvist ~ 5G 8A = 13pts

5. #58 Kris Letang ~ 2G 10A = 12pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #71 Evgeni Malkin ~ 36 PIM’s

2. #25 Tom Sestito ~ 24 PIM’s

3. #14 Chris Kunitz ~ 18 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #30 Matt Murray(6-1-0)  1.58GAA  .945%SP  1SO

2. #29 Marc-Andre Fleury (6-4-3)  3.18GAA  .907%SP

 

Okay everyone. Raise your hand if you survived the Great Turkey Coma 2016. Yesterday is one of the few days of the year, where everyone eats a lot more than they normally do, but for many of us, we refuse to feel guilty about it. It’s not everyday where one cooks a 20-pound turkey, lots of carbohydrate laden foods, and then invites all of your extended family over for dinner. In fact, it’s probably one of the few meals during the year where we eat turkey beyond a sandwich with sliced deli turkey. Heck, we rarely even cook up a turkey breast for an everyday dinner. So yes, Thanksgiving is a special time of year. So while we’re chomping away at the main meal and then leftovers in the evening, we have to begin to wonder what our players are doing. Do they abandon their normal healthy meals and go all out for the holiday? Just about any episode of Becoming Wild we see Minnesota players often showing us things they eat. Everything from a lean grilled or poached chicken breast with some pasta for a pre-game meal to a high-protein shake or smoothie after an intense workout. My guess (and hope) is that they opt for more of the protein and less of the starchy carbs, as it’s the heavy hand we all use with the potatoes and stuffing which puts us seemingly comatose on the couch after dinner.

For the Minnesota Wild there are a few things that will be working against them today. For some, they may have overindulged in yesterdays’s feast, which will make them a little slow on the get-go. However, that’s not what has me the most concerned. First off, it’s a non-evening game time. For many players, playing games that regularly start at about the same time every night seems to help. This is especially true for the players that like to get in a pre-game nap. When games start at a much different time, that nap simply isn’t possible. Today’s game starting at 3:00pm on a Friday, is about as weird as it gets (although the 1:00pm Columbus Day games the New York Islanders have are even stranger). It’s a weekday, but the kids are off, your spouse most likely isn’t working, so it feels more like a weekend. I know for myself, when my own workweek is adjusted somehow, it does get you off your groove. Plus, I don’t think the Minnesota Wild typically perform well at matinee games. Some day, I’d like to go through the Wild’s history and see what their record is for game that start earlier than 5:00pm. I have a feeling it’s not a good one. When you want and need points, early games don’t come at a good time. However, I will admit I was pleasantly surprised with the result of Wednesday’s game, with an “early” start time of 6:00pm and against Winnipeg no less.

If playing a game after a major holiday and at an early start time wasn’t bad enough, today’s opponent isn’t going to help matters. There’s no way to avoid worrying about playing the Pittsburgh Penguins. They are a team that can pretty much score at will with the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Not only that, they’re getting great goaltending out of Matt Murray. He’s sporting numbers very much like the Wild’s own Devan Dubnyk, the only real difference, is that Dubnyk has more shutout wins. Today would be one of those days where Murray would like to add to that category. I also don’t think it helps that Pittsburgh might be looking for a little bit of payback. If you remember, the Wild took the first game in the two-game series in Pittsburgh with a 4-2 victory. The Penguins could definitely use a win in Saint Paul, as they would like to close the game on the New York Rangers, who lead the Metropolitan Division. Of course, a Pittsburgh win will most likely keep them in second place. However if the Rangers would happen to lose to Philadelphia in regulation, then Penguins most likely would go ahead as the Rangers have played one more game than Pittsburgh. Even if they don’t overtake New York, the two points would definitely help their cause.

So while we can safely sit back and safely revel in our post-Thanksgiving feast relaxation, the Minnesota Wild have no room for rest and relaxation. They need to come out with fire as the Penguins definitely will, just like they did earlier in the month. Someday, I’d like to be confident heading into a game, but again, today is not that day.