Minnesota Wild (9-7-2) 20pts 4th in the Central
2.56 Goals For Per Game (16th in the NHL)
1.94 Goals Against Per Game (1st in the NHL)
14.8% Power Play (20th in the NHL)
87% 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. #22 Nino Niederreiter ~ 5G 5A = 10pts
5. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 4G 6A = 10pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #7 Chris Stewart ~ 29PIMs
2. #3 Charlie Coyle ~ 18PIMs
3. #5 Christian Folin ~ 16PIMs
1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (7-6-1) 1.59GAA .949SV% 4SOs
2. #35 Darcy Kuemper (2-1-1) 2.94GAA .908SV%
Winnipeg Jets (9-10-2) 20pts 5th in the Central
2.71 Goals For Per Game (11th in the NHL)
2.95 Goals Against Per Game (23rd in the NHL)
14.7% Power Play (22nd in the NHL)
81.3% Penalty Kill (20th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #55 Mark Scheifele ~ 11G 12A = 23pts
2. #29 Patrik Laine ~ 12G 6A = 18pts
3. #27 Nikolaj Ehlers ~ 4G 14A = 18pts
4. #26 Blake Wheeler ~ 6G 8A = 14pts
5. #33 Dustin Byfuglien ~ 1G 9A = 10pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #22 Chris Thorburn ~ 34 PIM’s
2. #33 Dustin Byfuglien ~ 25 PIM’s
3. #55 Mark Scheifele ~ 20 PIM’s
1. #37 Connor Hellebuyck (7-6-0) 2.62GAA .911SV% 1SO
2. #34 Michael Hutchinson (2-4-2) 3.26GAA .896SV% 1SO
First, let me beg your forgiveness. While it’s still somewhat early in the season, I feel a need to complain about game start times. It’s one of those things in hockey that drive me crazy. It bugs me to no end when a team starts the game at 7:30pm local time. On a weeknight, when people have to go to work or school in the morning, starting the game 30 minutes later than normal, can make that alarm that much more brutal. It’s not as bad as when time zones get involved, but I really don’t appreciate having to stay up even longer. It’s even worse when West Coast teams start at 7:30pm local time. It’s already rough when a game starts at what is 9:00pm Central Time for me, but when it starts at 9:30pm, I might as well say “screw it, I’m going to bed.” I rarely feel bad for any team in the Eastern Conference, but I can fee some sympathy for them when their team is in Los Angeles. I’m sure that 7:30pm local time start has something to do with traffic in their area, but every metropolitan area has to deal with traffic. Last night in Dallas, the game started at 7:30pm. I can’t say I’m familiar at all with Texas, but I can’t imagine that traffic in Dallas is anything comparable to Los Angeles or New York. And of course those start times are more of an ETA, because as we all know, the puck doesn’t actually drop at 7 or 7:30.
Tonight’s game is also starting at a strange time. Last I looked at the map, Winnipeg is in the Central Time zone along with Saint Paul. Now instead of starting at 7 or 7:30, for some bizarro-world reason, the game is starting at 6:00pm CST. This is not a normal start time for a weeknight game for a team in the Central. I haven’t seen any sort of justification for bumping up the start time, but my guess is it’s one of two things. With Thanksgiving on Thursday here in the States, we have this small window that temporarily freezes all trades, and there are no games of Thursday. I wonder if the game is starting early, so that all players can be back in their homes ahead of the trade freeze. However the other reason is more likely. My guess is that either CBC or Rogers is having some sort of double header night. My guess is the Wild at Jets game is the “early” game with a western Canada game makes up the second half of the night. In order to make the Jets game fit into that plan, they have to move the Jets game up an hour. And just like I rarely feel any kind of sympathy for Eastern Conference fans, I usually feel even less for Jets fans. However, I do feel kind of bad for them. They don’t have the benefit of a national holiday this week. Many of their fans will have to try and duck out of work early if they want to change from their work clothes, grab a bite of dinner, and find parking before 6pm. I’ve been to Winnipeg since MTS Centre was built. Based on my fuzzy memory, I don’t remember a lot of public parking around the arena and the streets right around MTS seem rather narrow and congested. I can’t imagine it will be fun for fans who are rushing there right after work.
And here’s something else about tonight’s game that is a bit strange. Last night in Dallas, the Wild were facing a team in a standings position that was not familiar. The Stars were sitting in fifth place in the Central Division, behind Minnesota. Tonight, we’re facing a Winnipeg Jets team in a new position in the standings. Since the return of the National Hockey League to Winnipeg, they’ve often floundered in a strong Central Division. Last season, it was tossup between them and Colorado as to who would bring up the rear of the division. That’s not to say the Jets haven’t been without playoff appearances, as they went to the post-season in the 2014-15 season. Right now, they’re in one of the coveted divisional spots. What I mean by this, is that if the playoffs started today, they would be in third place, which at the very least would give them a good shot at home ice at some point during the post-season. I’m sure it’s a nice feeling for the players and fans. And with that feeling, one should expect the Jets to try and do everything possible to maintain that position at the very least. However, I would like to expect that the Jets will do everything and anything possible to try and improve those standings. Of course that means doing everything they can against the Wild. They Jets always play tough when Minnesota is the opponent and I would expect that trend to continue.
The Wild did get a little good news in the meantime as Marco Scandella comes off Long-Term Injury Reserve to join the team this evening. Even though I feel Mike Reilly and Christian Folin have done a decent job, Scandella should help add a little more grit and make Minnesota’s defense that much tighter. It will be interesting to see how much rust he has on his game after battling a leg injury for the last month or so.
So yes, crazy start times combined with teams in unusual divisional standings could make for a very interesting game. Hopefully, it doesn’t come back to cause bigger problems than one would expect.