Minnesota Wild (37-35-9) 83pts 7th in the Central
2.59 Goals For Per Game (27th in the NHL)
2.84 Goals Against Per Game (12th in the NHL)
20.5% Power Play (13th in the NHL)
81.8% Penalty Kill (8th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #12 Eric Staal ~ 22G 30A = 52pts
2. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 7G 40A = 47pts
3. #46 Jared Spurgeon ~ 14G 29A = 43pts
4. #16 Jason Zucker ~ 21G 21A = 42pts
5. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 13G 26A = 39pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #36 Nick Seeler ~ 57 PIM’s
2. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 55 PIM’s
3. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 41 PIM’s
1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (31-28-6) 2.54GAA .913%SP 2SO
2. #32 Alex Stalock (6-7-3) 2.98GAA .896%SP
Dallas Stars (42-32-7) 91pts 4th in the Central
2.54 Goals For Per Game (29th in the NHL)
2.47 Goals Against Per Game (2nd in the NHL)
20.8% Power Play (11th in the NHL)
82.6% Penalty Kill (5th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #91 Tyler Seguin ~ 31G 47A = 78pts
2. #47 Alexander Radulov ~ 29G 42A = 71pts
3. #14 Jamie Benn ~ 27G 25A = 52pts
4. #3 John Klingberg ~ 10G 34A = 44pts
5. #36 Mats Zuccarello ~ 12G 28A = 40pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #45 Roman Polak ~ 69 PIM’s
2. #14 Jamie Benn ~ 56 PIM’s
3. #47 Alexander Radulov ~ 52 PIM’s
1. #35 Anton Khudobin (16-17-5) 2.57GAA .923%SP 2SO
2. #41 Landon Bow N/A
One of my favorite all-time movies is Steve Martin’s leading man debut in The Jerk from 1979. It has quite the cast including Bernadette Peters and Carl Reiner. If you haven’t seen it, you really should. It definitely has a quirky feel to it. In my family, if you’re going to quote a line from a movie, it’s this one. Oh, and there are a lot of memorable lines from this one. Martin’s character Navin Johnson leads quite the interesting life, trying to “find himself.” I could have picked a number of scenes from this movie for today’s preview, but considering where the Minnesota Wild are right now, this one seems most appropriate. “Step right up and win some crap.” Yep, that feels like the motto of this team.
So now that the Wild are out of the playoff picture for the first time in what feels like forever, what is next. Well, obviously it’s the Entry Draft. For once, we have a chance at a great draft pick. We won’t be picking in the last third of picks for once. That right there feels like a win. However, if we have a repeat of the 2018 Entry Draft, I think there could be some serious mutiny by the fans. Not only did the Wild pick Filip Johansson completely out of left field as far as the NHL world goes, but it seems like if you talk to Swedes as well, you’ll get a “who?” kind of reaction. Recently, Michael Russo of The Athletic had a chance to speak with Johan Garpenlöv who is the General Manager for the Swedish men’s national team. Garpenlöv was recently in Florida and was probably in North America to most likely scout non-playoff teams for the Swedish national team. Russo asked hime about Johansson. Mind you, this is a guy who is the flippin’ general manager of the Swedish team and pretty much knows everyone within his own country. He had to look up Johansson, and clearly had no idea who he was. Let’s face it, when you’re not only playing in the second tier of the Swedish system but you’re not exactly lighting the lamp, it’s pretty easy to find yourself invisible and forgotten. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jonas Brodin or Joel Eriksson Ek have no idea who this guy is either, and let’s face it they have hockey buddies back home as well. That pick by Paul Fenton felt a bit like the return of Doug Risebrough and his ridiculous picks. Yep, definitely a “step right up and win some crap” kind of pick. Don’t mess this pick up Paul.
Looking at the stats for tonight’s opponent, at first glance, you might find yourself scratching your head in disbelief. Here are the Dallas Stars, who are 29th in the league for goals per game. Yes, you read that correctly, 29th in the league. Even strength, they just don’t (or can’t) score. Now, their power play is a respectable 11th in the league. Where they take their opponents down is their team defense. When you have the 2nd best goals against per game and the 5th best penalty kill, that’s where the Stars are lethal. But that team defense is going to be absolutely critical heading into the post-season. Why you ask? Well first off, their number one goaltender, Ben Bishop, is injured. So now the goaltending now rests firmly on the shoulders of former Wild goaltender, Anton Khudobin. Right now, Landon Bow is the backup. As you can tell, we have no NHL status for him this season. So the Stars will need to rely completely on team defense and Khudobin. How long that keeps the Stars in the playoffs is yet to be determined. These playoffs should certainly be interesting.
This is also going to be another off-season of injury healing. We learned that Zach Parise had been playing with a sprained MCL and a broken foot. Yes, he scored two goals with a broken foot. That’s some dedication there, but I also don’t like when (especially expensive) players play with injuries. That can lead to long-term pain in the future if broken bones aren’t given time to properly heal. Although, I will say, I’m happier with a broken foot than a back injury. I think there are a lot more injuries on this team than we really know of. I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear that players like Jason Zucker and Eric Staal were dealing with some serious bumps and bruises. One less month of play by those two can only be a good thing for this team and next season. Even Devan Dubnyk needs some time off. And lord knows we as fans need the time off. This has been a mentally draining season for everyone.
With tonight being the last game, all I ask is that we come out with no injuries. It’s not worth playing tough at this point. Let’s walk out as safely as possible. Let’s just head into the off-season as healthy as we can, and take the full time to rest up and heal. And let’s just hope this poor showing this season doesn’t become “win some crap” in the Entry Draft and Free Agency.