Minnesota Wild (17-15-2) 36pts 5th in the Central
3.00 Goals For Per Game (14th in the NHL)
2.82 Goals Against Per Game (10th in the NHL)
23.8% Power Play (9th in the NHL)
86.1% Penalty Kill (2nd in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 11G 22A = 33pts
2. #11 Zach Parise ~ 15G 14A = 29pts
3. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 4G 22A = 26pts
4. #12 Eric Staal ~ 12G 10A = 22pts
5. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 4G 17A = 21pts
1. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 23 PIM’s
2. #23 J.T. Brown ~ 22 PIM’s
3. #21 Eric Fehr ~ 22 PIM’s
1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (12-12-2) 2.62GAA .913%SP
2. #32 Alex Stalock (5-3-0) 2.65GAA .904%SP
Dallas Stars (17-15-3) 37pts 4th in the Central
2.74 Goals For Per Game (26th in the NHL)
2.80 Goals Against Per Game (8th in the NHL)
20.9% Power Play (15th in the NHL)
82.2% Penalty Kill (10th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #91 Tyler Seguin ~ 11G 21A = 32pts
2. #14 Jamie Benn ~ 14G 15A = 29pts
3. #47 Alexander Radulov ~ 10G 17A = 27pts
4. #90 Jason Spezza ~ 5G 13A = 18pts
5. #4 Miro Heiskanen ~ 7G 10A = 17pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #14 Jamie Benn ~ 30 PIM’s
2. #12 Radek Faksa ~ 23 PIM’s
3. #45 Roman Polak ~ 22 PIM’s
1. #30 Ben Bishop (11-9-1) 2.38GAA .921%SP 2SO
2. #35 Anton Khudobin (6-6-2) 2.87GAA .911%SP
Disclaimer: Due to the fact that we’re celebrating one of our family Christmases tonight, we will not have a post-game article. We hope you all have a wonder and safe Christmas.
It’s Christmas time. Among the hustle and bustle and spending time with family and friends, some of us will pause and think of those who have passed before us. For myself, it’s my dad, who passed away from pancreatic cancer when I was 16 years old. In those 16 years that I got to spend with him, we watched very interesting things on television (compared to what my classmates were watching), but I suppose it had a lot to do with his job and his age. First off, my dad worked for Wisconsin Public Radio and Television. Because of this, I told my kindergarten class that my dad got paid for watching Sesame Street. Sure, it wasn’t really what he did, but in my 5-6 year old mind, that’s what he did. Also, since he was born in 1932, the kinds of things we watched together were different. We watched a lot of The Three Stooges and Little Rascals. Pretty much, if it was in black and white, we were watching it. And Christmas was no different. When I was a kid, there weren’t 24-hour showings of A Christmas Story. But what we always watched together was It’s A Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. I still prefer the original 1947 version with Maureen O’Hara and a young Natalie Wood over the 1994 re-make. Those two movies definitely helped define the meaning of Christmas for me, both when I was a child and even now as an adult.
Now, if you’re a Wild fan, you’re probably feeling about as cynical about the team as Wood’s character Susan and her mother (played by O’Hara) in the 1947 version felt about Santa Claus. We have the broadcasters talking up this team, trying to make us believe. We hear the players say that they need to do this and that to turn things around, but they never do. And then there are the eternal rose-tinted-glasses wearing fans on places like Twitter who will tell you that you’re wrong, and that things are really so bad and that you need to lighten up. In general, I try to be optimistic and upbeat, which can go a long way when dealing with an irate customer (the joys of working in tech support at Christmas time), but I don’t consider myself an optimist. I’m sure there are those in the above mentioned groups of eternal Wild optimists who would say I’m nothing but a pessimist, but that’s not true either. If I had to categorize myself, I would say I’m a realist, especially when it comes to this team. Yes, I love this team. I watch almost all the games, which I go into trying to enjoy. But I’m also not going to let them get away with garbage and will call them on the carpet when I see it happen. Such is the life of a realist.
So let’s talk about Thursday night’s game. It was great to see Jordan Greenway step up and open the scoring in Pittsburgh. He’s one of the players on this roster, who you can see determination on his face every night. He’s still young enough to this team, that he’s going to feel a need to prove himself. Remember when he was struggling early in the season and was reassigned to Iowa? Instead of sulking, he scored a hat-trick, which quickly got him recalled and hasn’t been sent down since. Sure, he hasn’t fully figured out his place on an NHL roster yet, but with a little time and that same determination, he’s going to hopefully be the player we’ve been waiting for Charlie Coyle to become. We’ll see occasional glimpses of the Coyle we want, but they’re few and far between, so who knows if we’ll even get a buyer for him. Then there’s Eric : and Jason Zucker who are the definition of snake-bitten. They’re definitely trying, but they have little to show for their efforts. And let’s not even talk about Devan Dubnyk insisting on overplaying the puck.
So now we find ourselves, back home for Christmas. And tonight’s guest, it feels like you’re having to host your ex and their family members. You’re not exactly pleased to have to host them and it makes for uncomfortable situations. Thinking of seasons past in my head, I feel like Minnesota frequently plays the Dallas Stars right around Thanksgiving and Christmas. The last thing you want to deal with, the emotions surrounding your former team on top of the fact that your current team is down in the dumps right now. I’d like to say that this is a winnable game, but how many winnable games have we had recently but fallen short? Dallas is another one of those teams that is struggling with scoring. Only scoring 2.74 goals per game, it puts them near the bottom of the league. It’s things like that, which can produce a small glimmer of holiday hope and cheer. But when you’re the Wild and you’re struggling scoring goals of your own, the last thing you want to do, is face a team that only allows 2.80 goals per game, which puts them in the top third of the National Hockey League. The Stars’ special teams aren’t horrible either, so we can’t exactly depend on the Wild’s special teams of their own. Even worse, it doesn’t really matter whether we face Ben Bishop or Anton Khudobin in goal either, as they’re both having better seasons that Dubnyk or Alex Stalock. Oh, lucky us.
Yes, it’s Christmas, and I want to believe in this team. I think I’m going to need to channel my inner-Susan: