Minnesota Wild (38-13-6) 82pts 1st in the Central
3.28 Goals For Per Game (4th in the NHL)
2.26 Goals Against Per Game (2nd in the NHL)
21.8% Power Play (7th in the NHL)
82.7% Penalty Kill (10th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 16G 35A = 51pts
2. #12 Eric Staal ~ 16G 28A = 44pts
3. #3 Charlie Coyle ~ 14G 30A = 44pts
4. #22 Nino Niederreiter ~ 19G 23A = 42pts
5. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 16G 26A= 42pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #7 Chris Stewart ~ 60 PIM’s
2. #22 Nino Niederreiter ~ 37 PIM’s
3. #3 Charlie Coyle ~ 34 PIM’s
1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (31-10-3) 1.97GAA .933%SP 5SO
2. #35 Darcy Kuemper (7-3-3) 3.05GAA .910%SP
Nashville Predators (27-21-8) 62pts 4th in the Central
2.79 Goals For Per Goal (13th in the NHL)
2.64 Goals Against Per Game (13th in the NHL)
19% Power Play (17th in the NHL)
82% Penalty Kill (13th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #92 Ryan Johansen ~ 9G 31A = 40pts
2. #38 Viktor Arvidsson ~ 18G 21A = 39pts
3. #9 Filip Forsberg ~ 16G 19A = 35pts
4. #12 Mike Fisher ~ 14G 19A = 33pts
5. #59 Roman Josi ~ 9G 19A = 28pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #55 Cody McLeod ~ 82 PIM’s
2. #51 Auston Watson ~ 69 PIM’s
3. #92 Ryan Johansen ~ 47 PIM’s
1. #35 Pekka Rinne (22-14-6) 2.39GAA .920%SP 2SO
2. #74 Jusse Saros (5-5-2) 2.09GAA .933%SP 1SO
For most of us, we desperately look forward to going on vacation. Before you do get to leave town for the peace and quiet of fishing on a lake (which is our usual choice) or the frenzied pace and bright lights of a major metropolis or some far off foreign location, you are working what feels like double-time. When you’re getting ready to leave, you have to get both your work and personal lives organized. You have to set the out of office message on your work email, hand off projects to co-workers, and tidy up your desk. At home, you’re doing laundry, cleaning out the fridge, and having the post office hold your mail. Then you actually have to pack. I find I have to make lists just to make sure I have everything I need. We go to the Canadian side of Rainy Lake every year. We bring games to play when we’re not fishing and even movies to watch when it’s raining. Plus, you have to make sure you’ve grabbed your passports. And then when you’re finally on vacation, it feels like it flies by and before you know it, you’re back home getting ready to get back to real life which means work. I’ve always said that I need a vacation for my vacation. Meaning I need more than a day or two after vacation to get ready for returning to reality. You know all that laundry you washed like a mad person to take with you? Well now it’s all dirty and you have what feels like only a few hours to get it done. And it’s that mad dash of coming back from vacation that is probably the most stressful.
Well, that’s kind of what NHL teams are experiencing this season. As part of negotiations with the NHL Players Association, every team is getting a five day break after the All-Star Break. When the league asked for 3-on-3 All-Star Game to create a more competitive game, the NHLPA asked for time off. This year, the season is even more compact because of the annoying World Cup of Hockey that no one wanted or needed (except for those who rake in the money from said tournament), these bye weeks are coming at the worst possible time. And the records are showing how detrimental these breaks are to teams. Don’t believe me? In their first game back from their bye weeks, teams are 3-9-2. And the win column is a bit deceptive, as Chuck Fletcher just pointed out on Beyond the Pond that one of those wins came about from a game between two teams playing each other, both fresh off their bye week. One of them had to win. During those five days off, teams aren’t practicing. Management has to kind of home that some of their players find some ice during the break to at least skate or to visit a weight room.
Tonight’s opponent, the Nashville Predators, are just coming off their bye week. They’re going to be coming in cold, which as we all know is often not a good way to play. Like I said, they’re going to have little practice time and playing a team that is leading the division. Nashville needs to play hard, like they often do when playing Minnesota. Right now, the Predators are in possession of the first wild card spot in the Western Conference. While that’s impressive to still be in that spot when you’ve been out of action for five days, the teams behind them are just behind them. They’re ahead of Calgary by one point. Then there’s Los Angeles, who are currently on the outside looking in. They’re just one point behind Calgary. Those three teams are going to be fighting it out, and if the Kings can get Jonathan Quick back soon, it could help propel them into a playoff spot. However, the Kings can’t score and have quite a few under-performers on their roster. The Predators on the other hand usually find a way to score against Minnesota, but if they can after five days off, that is yet to be seen. Or least score enough to get the win.
The Wild are getting some relief of their own. There is a good chance that defenseman Jonas Brodin will be making his return tonight. He has been out of the lineup since January 17th with a broken finger. Getting Brodin back will be much appreciated. Also Matt Dumba was skating this morning, who has been listed as day-to-day since February 11th with a lower-body injury. While Dumba hasn’t exactly had the season we’ve needed from him, it certainly is reassuring to be getting him back, especially heading into the final playoff push. If both can come back and play prior to the Wild’s bye week that starts on February 22nd after a home game against Chicago would be good for their own rehab. They’re clearly itching to get back into the action. Thankfully the Wild’s bye week is bookended by home games, which should make things a bit easier for the team, especially when resting the weary bodies.
Minnesota will need to get the jump quickly on Nashville tonight. If they can do that, and keep the pressure on the Predators all night, the Wild can continue to build on their lead on the Blackhawks.