Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Tampa Bay Lightning 11/20/18 @ 7:00PM at Xcel Energy Center

Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Tampa Bay Lightning 11/20/18 @ 7:00PM at Xcel Energy Center

NHL

Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Tampa Bay Lightning 11/20/18 @ 7:00PM at Xcel Energy Center

Minnesota Wild (3-2-2)  8pts  5th in the Central

2.4 Goals For Per Game

2.7 Goals Against Per Game

15% Power Play

82.8% Penalty Kill

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #11 Zach Parise ~ 2G 7A = 9pts

2. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 2G 5A = 7pts

2. #16 Jason Zucker ~ 3G 3A = 6pts

4. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 2G 3A = 5pts

5. #12 Eric Staal ~ 2G 3A = 4pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 7 PIM’s

2. #15 Matt Hendricks ~ 7 PIM’s

3. #12 Eric Staal ~ 6 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (3-1-2)  2.11GAA  .944%SP

2. #32 Alex Stalock (0-1-0)  3.10GAA  .889%SP

 

 

Vs.

 

 

Tampa Bay Lightning (4-1-0)  8pts  4th in the Atlantic

3.4 Goals For Per Game

2.0 Goals Against Per Game

25% Power Play

100% Penalty Kill

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #9 Tyler Johnson ~ 3G 2A = 5pts

2. #21 Brayden Point ~ 4G 1A = 5pts

3. #37 Yanni Gourde ~ 2G 3A = 5pts

4. #10 J.T. Miller ~ 1G 3A = 4pts

5. #86 Nikita Kucherov ~ 1G 3A = 4pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #10 J.T. Miller ~ 8 PIM’s

2. #13 Cedric Paquette ~ 6 PIM’s

3. #77 Victor Hedman ~ 6 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #88 Andrei Vasilevskiy (3-1-0)  1.48GAA  .954%SP

2. #70 Louis Domingue (1-0-0)  2.00GAA  .950%SP

Lines:

Tampa Bay Lightning

Gourde~Point~Stamkos

Palat~Johnson~Kucherov

Killorn~Cirelli~Joseph

Erne~Paquette~Miller

Hedman~Girardi

McDonagh~Stralman

Coburn~Sergachev

Vasilevskiy

Domingue

Minnesota Wild

Zucker~Staal~Coyle

Parise~Koivu~Granlund

Foligno~Fehr~Niederreiter

Greenway~Hendricks~Brown

Suter~Dumba

Brodin~Spurgeon

Seeler~Pateryn

Dubnyk

Stalock

 

I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting last night’s result. Sure, at this point in the season we don’t know if Dallas is a true Cup contender yet. But with the Wild’s history when playing in Dallas, I had set the bar pretty low. This is going to be a season of tempered expectations. And I highly suggest you check your expectations for this Minnesota Wild now, as it’s what’s going to keep you sane. If they make the playoffs, fine. But if they don’t, you’re not going to be heartbroken either. There’s still so much this team has to done before anyone is really knows what they’re capable of doing. I mean on occasion, you’ll see a brief glimmer of what they can really do. However, in order to see more of those glimmers, we need to see a team that manages to play closer to a full sixty minutes of hockey. Last night was the first time this season we’ve seen that basic accomplishment.

Now we have to see if the Wild can continue to build on this. Tonight is the second of a back-to-back, in fact the second back-to-back series this week. This is where we should start to see the character of this team. Can they overcome the fatigue of back-to-back games? I hope so, but I don’t know about you, but I would rather see a bunch of back-to-back games now instead of March. I mean, the team is pretty much on the road during the month of March due to all the tournaments being held at Xcel Energy Cetner. If you get a bunch of games played in back-to-back situations now, it might spare the team some of the wear and tear later in the season. And speaking of being spared road trips, it seems that Tampa Bay has been definitely enjoying playing all their games at home. This will be their first test on the road. I would expect them to come out hard simply because they know they’re facing an opponent who is not only on the second half of a back-to-back, but a team that also had to travel. Tampa was able to take their time getting to Saint Paul and wait for tonight. They’re also riding a 3-game winning streak.

One thing I liked last night, is that it felt like the Wild weren’t looking for highlight reel worthy plays. That right there is so important when you’re struggling to find what is going to work. Keeping things simple when nothing seems to be working is about the only way you’re going to find success. We saw that last night. In fact last night when Jason Spezza opened up the scoring in the third period, I felt I wasn’t going to be as let down if the Wild had lost. Many things looked and felt improved. Another thing I enjoyed seeing was the almost “children at Christmas” kind of excitement when Matt Dumba tied the game. There was a team-level kind of excitement, that we really haven’t see yet this season. And that right there was a very welcome sight. Even Jared Spurgeon acknowledged the fact that simplifying everything was key to last night’s success. Of course having Devan Dubnyk having to come up big several times last night should also serve as inspiration. It also might get him the start tonight instead of Alex Stalock.

Yes, we saw some small, yet important steps last night. But still, I’m going to temper my response. I’m going to enjoy the signs of improvement but not hold onto them as anything more. There are many more of those important improvements needed before anyone will really breathe freely.

 

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