Minnesota Wild (35-33-9) 79pts 6th in the Central
2.62 Goals For Per Game (27th in the NHL)
2.86 Goals Against Per Game (12th in the NHL)
20.5% Power Play (13th in the NHL)
81.1% Penalty Kill (10th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #12 Eric Staal ~ 21G 29A = 50pts
2. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 7G 39A = 46pts
3. #46 Jared Spurgeon ~ 14G 28A = 42pts
4. #16 Jason Zucker ~ 21G 18A = 39pts
5. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 12G 26A = 38pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #36 Nick Seeler ~ 57 PIM’s
2. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 55 PIM’s
3. #29 Greg Pateryn ~ 39 PIM’s
1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (29-27-6) 2.58GAA .912%SP 2SO
2. #32 Alex Stalock (6-6-3) 3.05GAA .893%SP
Vegas Golden Knights (42-29-6) 90pts 3rd in the Pacific
3.05 Goals For Per Game (13th in the NHL)
2.74 Goals Against Per Game (10th in the NHL)
17.5% Power Play (20th in the NHL)
81.5% Penalty Kill (9th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #61 Mark Stone ~ 32G 39A = 71pts
2. #81 Jonathan Marchessault ~ 24G 32A = 56pts
3. #71 William Karlsson ~ 23G 30A = 53pts
4. #19 Reilly Smith ~ 19G 33A = 52pts
5. #89 Alex Tuch ~ 20G 31A = 51pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #75 Ryan Reaves ~ 62 PIM’s
2. #15 Jon Merril ~ 51 PIM’s
3. #3 Brayden McNabb ~ 48 PIM’s
1. #30 Malcolm Subban (7-9-1) 2.98GAA .901%SP 1SO
2. #33 Maxime Legace (0-1-0) 4.03GAA .871%SP
Vegas Golden Knights
If you’re of a certain age, meaning 40 and older, you are well aware of Atari. Long before Nintendo, Sega, Playstation, and XBox, there was Atari (and for some, Colecovision), and it was everything. By today’s standards, the games look incredibly simple. Of course that’s by looks. Even with their simplicity, they were a challenge. In my house, the game that wanted you to cause damage was Kaboom! The simple premise of the game was deceptively difficult, and those are the games that would hook you for hours. You kept saying to yourself “I know I can do better.” However, the classic game that almost everyone remembers, is Pong. It was first created in 1972 as a training exercise, but got its home release in 1976. If you want to set a movie or TV series in the early 1980s, you include Pong. But here’s the thing about these simple, early video games. To make games like Pong and Kaboom! difficult, they got faster and faster through the levels. Yet what most people remember are the slow, early levels.
And there my friends is what we have with the Minnesota Wild. Sure, we’ll see the occasional burst of speed from Jason Zucker or Ryan Donato, but two players do not make a speedy team. Instead, with the plodding players we have, it feels much more like those first few levels of Pong. Slow, deliberate, and incredibly boring. Hell, Pong itself is probably faster and more interesting than the Wild’s power play. Slowly skate up the ice, dump the puck, and if you get repossession of the puck, pass, pass, pass, think about taking a shot, and pass some more only to get the occasional shot the perimeter which is easily stopped if it even makes it to the goaltender. For those of you of the Nintendo generation, you probably played Ice Hockey. If the Wild were a team from Ice Hockey, we’d be a team of four fat guys (you know what I’m talking about).
Looking at the standings, in particular the wild card standings, I am really enjoying the Wild’s position. Right now, the Dallas Stars have the first wild card spot and the Colorado Avalanche have the second one. Between Colorado and Minnesota are the Arizona Coyotes. With the way Minnesota is playing these days, I believe it it pretty much impossible to get back into that second wild card spot. The days where that was a possibility are long gone. The Wild had their chance to make the playoffs, by they frittered it away with uninspired play and laziness. If either Colorado or Arizona somehow manage to not make the playoffs in favor of Minnesota, I’m going to be ticked. Why should I be proud of a team that would once again make the post-season because of someone else’s mistakes.
So here we are, facing the Vegas Golden Knights. The Golden Knights are sitting in third place in the Pacific Division, and will make the playoffs for the second year. What’s harder to stomach when playing Las Vegas, is that we look at what could have been. If you have a subscription to The Athletic, I highly suggest you read the recent piece by Michael Russo. He pretty much lays out what Minnesota gave up in the expansion draft to build what is now the Golden Knights. Minnesota of course had to protect the no-movement guys which then of course left little room for the Wild to protect anyone else. The wanted to protect forwards Jason Zucker, Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, and Charlie Coyle. In order to do that, the Wild traded Alex Tuch to Vegas and then as Russo said “persuaded” them to take Erik Haula in the expansion draft. If you haven’t looked at the stats, Tuch is currently fifth for the Golden Knights in points. Again, like Russo said, wouldn’t it be nice to have a guy with over 50 points on the Wild roster. And of course Haula was looking to have another great year, but was unfortunately his season was cut short by a knee injury. However, I don’t know if Tuch was on this roster, if he’d have the same kind of points, as we know how young guys who show any kind of scoring talent are treated.
Another thing about video games, is that you sometimes found yourself staying up very late, because you just want to finish that level or score more than you did on the round before. When games, like tonight’s, start at 9:00pm, it feels like those late night binge sessions of video games. The only problem is that the Las Vegas Golden Knights will look like the most advanced gaming system (pick your personal favorite) while the Minnesota Wild will look like the Atari 2600, and maybe the Atari 5200 on a good day. Nothing fancy, nothing special, and unbelievably slow and antiquated.