Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Detroit Red Wings 1/12/19 @ 7:00PM CST at Xcel Energy Center

Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Detroit Red Wings 1/12/19 @ 7:00PM CST at Xcel Energy Center

NHL

Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Detroit Red Wings 1/12/19 @ 7:00PM CST at Xcel Energy Center

Minnesota Wild (22-18-3)  47pts  5th in the Central

2.84 Goals For Per Game (20th in the NHL)

2.77 Goals Against Per Game (7th in the NHL)

21.8% Power Play (11th in the NHL)

84.3% Penalty Kill (5th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #11 Zach Parise ~ 19G 20A = 39pts

2. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 12G 27A = 39pts

3. #12 Eric Staal ~ 13G 14A = 27pts

4. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 4G 23A = 27pts

5. #46 Jared Spurgeon ~ 7G 19A = 27pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #36 Nick Seeler ~ 39 PIM’s

2. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 29 PIM’s

3. #29 Greg Pateryn ~ 25 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (17-14-3)  2.54GAA  .915%SP  1SO

2. #32 Alex Stalock (5-4-0)  2.75GAA  .898%SP

 

Vs.

 

Detroit Red Wings (16-23-7)  39pts  8th in the Atlantic

2.74 Goals For Per Game (24th in the NHL)

3.33 Goals Against Per Game (25th in the NHL)

17.3% Power Play (20th in the NHL)

78.9% Penalty Kill (19th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #71 Dylan Larkin ~ 18G 23A = 41pts

2. #14 Gustav Nyquist ~ 10G 27A = 37pts

3. #72 Andreas Athanasiou ~ 17G 10A – 27pts

4. #51 Frans Nielsen ~ 7G 18A = 25pts

5. #59 Tyler Bertuzzi ~ 10G 12A = 22pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #71 Dylan Larkin ~ 41PIMs

2. #8 Justin Abdelkader ~ 28PIMs

3. #59 Tyler Bertuzzi ~ 28PIMs

Top Goaltenders:

1. #35 Jimmy Howard ~ (11-12-5)   2.79GAA   .916SV%

2. #45 Jonathan Bernier ~ (5-11-2)   3.54GAA   .892SV%

Lines:

Detroit Red Wings

Bertuzzi~Larkin~Nyquist

Vanek~Nielsen~Mantha

Helm~Glendening~Athanasiou

Abdelkader~De La Rose~Ehn

Kronwall~Jensen

Ericsson~Hronek

Cholowski~Witkowski

Howard

Bernier

Minnesota Wild

Zucker~Koivu~Granlund

Greenway~Staal~Niederreiter

Parise~Coyle~Kunin

Brown~Eriksson Ek~Foligno

Suter~Spurgeon

Brodin~Pateryn

Seeler~Prosser

Dubnyk

Stalock

 

For those of us who live in the “real world” are used to our bosses (or at least direct supervisors) checking in with us from time to time when it comes to job performance. Since I work from home, I have more of these virtual meetings (thank you video conferencing) than those who probably work in an office setting. During the month, I have a one hour meeting where goals and performance are discussed and a couple times of month I get quick 15 minute check ins. I also have quarterly development meetings along with the annual performance review. I see these meetings with management as encouragement to keeping my performance at a high level. Plus, I enjoy them as it gives me some time to get to know my manager better. When you don’t work in the traditional office environment, management has to put in more effort to keep tabs on their employees. I remember when I did work in a more traditional office. I didn’t have as many regular meetings with my managers. Now you had more face to face time, but much of that was more the “hi, how are you” variety than actually talking about how you’re doing in your job. Since I have worked from home for as long as I have, I would not want to go back to the traditional office environment. Besides, I can work in my pajamas if I so choose.

So professional sports aren’t exactly a traditional work environment, but it’s traditional in the sense that you do see your bosses face-to-face on a far more regular basis. You see your boss (the head coach) at practice. You see him on games. You see him on the plane. You see him in your hotel. Heck, it probably feels like you see him everywhere. And if you are in your coach’s doghouse, you probably see him in your nightmares as well. Minnesota Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau definitely has his thoughts on how to address players who are struggling. With my boss, as soon as my manager sees stats for myself or co-workers that make you think we’re having issues with our job, she meets with us right away. Boudreau on the other hand has decided that he wants to give the player time to figure things out for themselves. If things continue for too long, they get pulled into his office for a one-on-one chat. The latest player to have a discussion with Boudreau is Jason Zucker. It was decided that after a 4-game road trip that was successful for the team but no points were tallied by Zucker, the time to figure things out on his own was over. Boudreau pretty much said it was time for Zucker to start having fun again. That discussion came before the Winnipeg game, and it looks like it was well-timed and meaningful, since Zucker scored two goals, including the game-winner. I’m sure the breakaway goal after Zucker exited the penalty box is the kind of goal to inspire joy in the game again. Of course this makes you wonder what the coach’s conversations with Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter have been like and what was discussed.

So here’s what we most likely will expect tonight. First off, unless there’s a sudden pre-game illness, Deven Dubnyk will get the start. It would be nice if in the busy week we have coming up, he can find a way to get his second shutout of the season. But hey, even if that doesn’t happen, more wins than losses would be much appreciated. With the back-to-back on Monday and Tuesday, at some point we’ll see Alex Stalock, but I doubt that will be tonight. However, when you’re playing a struggling Detroit Red Wings, it might not be a bad idea to toss Stalock in goal, but based on how this team works, we can pretty much expect Dubnyk to start. The other thing we can almost count on is goaltending on the other side of the ice. Since Jonathan Bernier got the start last night in a 4-2 loss in Winnipeg, it will be Jimmy Howard starting tonight in Saint Paul. While the Wild aren’t the threat that the Jets are, Detroit figures they might as well start their better goal against the team they have a better chance of beating. It seems though that Detroit hasn’t figured out that Minnesota has a talent for making backup and/or rookie goaltenders look like future Hall of Fame goaltenders.

But here’s my worry for tonight. The Wild can and do show up against teams like Toronto and Winnipeg, but when they then face teams like Detroit, they forget they’re in a fight for their own playoff lives. Not only are the Red Wings a team in decline (as demonstrated by their being in 8th place in the Atlantic Division), but they’re also a storied team. I worry when facing teams that have 11 Stanley Cups, but especially those that won the Cup during the Wild’s history. The Wild have a bad habit of letting the mystique of some of these teams get into their heads. Don’t believe me, look at this season’s games against Chicago. Ever since Minnesota’s 4-3 OT win against the Blackhawks, they’ve dropped the next two games. Chicago is not the Chicago of their recent Stanley Cup seasons. Yet we still play them like they are. And that’s the danger of playing Detroit. If we let those star laden, Stanley Cup teams of Detroit’s recent past get into the Wild’s head, we’ll play them like they’re the better team and we simply won’t compete. If Minnesota plays them like the lesser team that they are, gets the offensive jump on them early, and then shut the Red Wings down, they should be able to easily beat them. But that may be too much to ask for. This is still a Minnesota Wild team that I cannot trust on a nightly basis. Heck, I can’t even trust them on a period-to-period basis.

Perhaps there need to be more performance reviews done by the Minnesota Wild. For some of those that are struggling, the only thing that might wake them up is a trade. But then there are those players who need a wake up call, but the possibility of a trade simply isn’t possible. And we as the fans are stuck watching some of these dead weight players night after night, simply because their jobs are secure.

 

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