Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. New Jersey Devils 2/15/19 @ 7:30PM CST at Xcel Energy Center

Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. New Jersey Devils 2/15/19 @ 7:30PM CST at Xcel Energy Center

NHL

Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. New Jersey Devils 2/15/19 @ 7:30PM CST at Xcel Energy Center

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Minnesota Wild (27-25-5)  59pts  5th in the Central

2.79 Goals For Per Game (25th in the NHL)

2.89 Goals Against Per Game (12th in the NHL)

21.1% Power Play (12th in the NHL)

81.7% Penalty Kill (10th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #11 Zach Parise ~ 23G 26A = 49pts

2. #64 Mikael Granlund ~ 13G 33A = 46pts

3. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 6G 32A = 38pts

4. #12 Eric Staal ~ 17G 20A = 37pts

5. #46 Jared Spurgeon ~ 11G 24A = 35pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #36 Nick Seeler ~ 45 PIM’s

2. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 40 PIM’s

3. #29 Greg Pateryn ~ 35 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (21-20-4)  2.63GAA  .911%SP  1SO

2. #32 Alex Stalock (6-5-1)  3.00GAA  .892%SP

 

Vs.

 

New Jersey Devils (21-28-8)  50pts  8th in the Metropolitan

2.86 Goals For Per Game (21st in the NHL)

3.44 Goals Against Per Game (29th in the NHL)

19% Power Play (17th in the NHL)

84.2% Penalty Kill (4th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #21 Kyle Palmieri ~ 24G 18A = 42pts

2. #13 Nico Hischier ~ 16G 24A = 40pts

3. #19 Travis Zajac ~ 13G 19A = 32pts

4. #20 Blake Coleman ~ 18G 11A = 29pts

5. #28 Damon Severson ~ 8G 19A = 27pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #28 Damon Severson ~ 42 PIM’s

2. #20 Blake Coleman ~ 38 PIM’s

3. #21 Kyle Palmieri ~ 38 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #1 Keith Kincaid (15-17-6)  3.28GAA  .894%SP  3SO

2. #35 Corey Schneider (0-7-2)  4.22GAA  .867%SP

Lines:

New Jersey Devils

Johansson~Zajac~Palmieri

Anderson~Hischier~Bratt

Agostino~Zacha~Lappin

Seney~Rooney~Stafford

Greene~Severson

Butcher~Lovejoy

Mueller~Santini

Kincaid

Schneider

Minnesota Wild

Parise~Granlund~Coyle

Greenway~Staal~Zucker

Foligno~Eriksson Ek~Kunin

Rau~Fehr~Hunt?

Suter~Spurgeon

Brodin~Bitetto

Seeler~Pateryn

Dubnyk

Stalock

 

Well it’s the day after Valentine’s Day, aka greeting card day for you cynics out there. In all of my years on this planet, I guess I never really knew how Valentine’s Day came about, who Saint Valentine was, and how he got associated with the day of love. Turns out at one point the Roman Empire banned all marriage. Valentine (a priest who ministered to the persecuted Christian minority) was marrying people even though it was illegal, so he was imprisoned and later executed. Part of the Saint Valentine story, which is probably why we exchange cards, is that supposedly before his execution is that he sent a note to the judge’s daughter and signed it “from your Valentine.” Whether that last part is true or not, you have to laugh at the fact that we celebrate love on a story based on a third century priest who was decapitated for marrying people.

So I thought with yesterday being the holiday of love, it would be nice to share some Valentine’s Day greetings from the Minnesota Wild. First off, we should probably start with Kaptain Klydesdale, Mikko Koivu.

I know we have frequently razz Koivu here at Crease and Assist, but with his injury we are definitely missing his presence. I’ve talked about this already, but since he got so much power play team, those who have taken his spot are a bit rusty from lack of practice. Even though he tends to get tossed from faceoffs during games, the players that remain on the team are struggling from his long-term absence.

And next, we have a love note from a struggling Eric Staal.

Last season, Staal was the story on the Minnesota Wild. It felt like in just about any game you could count on a goal from the Thunder Bay, Ontario native. It was exciting to watch, and I’m sure there were many people who were wondering if finally we had a player that would break the record for regular season goals in a single season set by Marian Gaborik in the 2007-08 season. Instead of breaking that record, Staal tied it. Needless to say, unless Staal goes on some epic tear, that isn’t going to happen this season. In fact, Staal has been involved in trade rumors, so if he does get moved, he won’t even come close to last season’s totals.

And if we’re going to talk about a struggling Staal, we absolutely have to talk about his frequent linemate, Jason Zucker. He too has a greeting for us Wild fans.

I can’t tell you how many times during a game, where Zucker will get the puck on his stick and start to head of the ice, and then we hear the overly-excited voices of Anthony LaPanta and Mike Greenlay only to be disappointed. This season, Zucker either never reaches full speed, so the opposition catches up to him, or he mishandles the puck or chooses to pass unwisely, or he completely misses the net when he does shoot.

And with all these struggles come the completely resigned post-game interviews with head coach Bruce Boudreau. He too wishes to spread some Valentine’s Day love.

When things were going well for the Minnesota Wild, they were really going well. And then a travesty happened. That travesty being the pectoral injury to defenseman Matt Dumba. He didn’t want to be left out of the festivities, so he has sent this greeting from the pressbox.

Yes, if you can’t tell already, I’m not feeling great things about this team. I mean it felt like Tuesday night things were going to turn around. Yes, the Wild were again scored on first and early in the game, but they got that one back and several more. Yet they took their foot off the gas and let the Flyers back into the game and ultimately let Philadelphia win the game. In both games against the Flyers the season, the Wild gave up a 2-goal lead and end up losing both games. That is something that a team who wants to make the playoffs and get out of the first round does let happen.

So tonight, we get another matchup with the New Jersey Devils. We last played the Devils last Saturday, and came out of Newark with the 4-2 win. It was a nice, but short-lived feeling. We hadn’t seen many wins before that game, nor have we seen wins since that win. So perhaps the key is playing no one but New Jersey. However, that just isn’t possible, nor would it be very interesting. The Devils were in Chicago last night, and lost 5-2. Since Corey Schneider got the start in Chicago, it will (unfortunately) be Keith Kincaid getting the start in Saint Paul tonight. While Kincaid’s stats like goals against average and save percentage might not look that great, I beg you to look at his shutouts. He has three. Now while Devan Dubnyk has better goals against average and save percentage, he only has one shutout. So clearly, there are obviously nights where Kincaid is absolutely lights out, and I worry that tonight could very well be one of those. Minnesota isn’t exactly racking up the goals left and right, so Tuesday’s 4-goal night felt a bit out of the ordinary. Sure, New Jersey’s team defense is sub-par in general, and the Wild could tap in a goal or two even strength, I highly doubt it will happen on the power play. That is one of the few stats where the Devils are killer, with the number four penalty kill in the league. Tonight would be a good night for Staal, Zucker, Mikael Granlund, heck anyone to score a bunch of goals. There have also been no callups for tonight’s game. With all the injuries to forwards (Viktor Rask, Pontus Aberg, and Matt Hendricks), one of the Wild more offensively minded defensmen, most likely Brad Hunt, will be moved to wing. I’m going to try to feel positive heading into this game, but truly it’s nothing more than a facade. Much like when you’ve been set up on a blind date by a co-worker and when you meet the person you’re like how can I get out of this.

So while Boudrea has publicly stated that the Wild are going to make the playoffs this season, we’re now hearing that Wild owner Craig Leipold has officially given new General Manager Paul Fenton the “green light” on any and all deals that can be made. It’s kind of odd to get these mixed messages from coaching staff and management as we head into the trade deadline. It will be interesting to see what comes of those messages. And speaking of management, it looks like we got some Valentine’s cards from former management as well.

 

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