Minnesota Wild (9-11-3) 21pts 7th in the Central
2.78 Goals For Per Game (23rd in the NHL)
3.35 Goals Against Per Game (25th in the NHL)
18.8% Power Play (18th in the NHL)
82.6% Penalty Kill (14th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #12 Eric Staal ~ 7G 10A = 17pts
2. #16 Jason Zucker ~ 8G 8A = 16pts
3. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 2G 12A = 14pts
4. #11 Zach Parise ~ 8G 3A = 11pts
5. #77 Brad Hunt ~ 5G 6A = 11pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #38 Ryan Hartman ~ 33 PIM’s
2. #19 Luke Kunin ~ 21 PIM’s
3. #24 Matt Dumba ~ 21 PIM’s
1. #32 Alex Stalock (5-3-1) 2.79GAA .908%SP 1SO
2. #31 Kaapo Kahkonen N/A
New York Rangers (10-9-2) 22pts 6th in the Metropolitan
3.38 Goals For Per Game (9th in the NHL)
3.57 Goals Against Per Game (29th in the NHL)
20.5% Power Play (10th in the NHL)
73.5% Penalty Kill (28th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #10 Artemi Panarin ~ 12G 15A = 27pts
2. #16 Ryan Strome ~ 6G 15A = 21pts
3. #89 Pavel Buchnevich ~ 4G 14A = 18pts
4. #77 Tony DeAngelo ~ 6G 9A = 15pts
5. #20 Chris Kreider ~ 5G 7A = 12pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #48 Brendan Lemieux ~ 52 PIM’s
2. #42 Brendan Smith ~ 17 PIM’s
3. #77 Tony DeAngelo ~ 17 PIM’s
1. #30 Henrik Lundqvist (5-5-1) 3.37GAA .909%SP
2. #40 Alexandar Georgiev (5-4-1) 3.42GAA .903%SP
New York Rangers
Remember how I said I’d felt like it was a “win” if the Wild came out of Boston by only losing by one goal? I almost feel like I made a prediction of sorts. I have to admit, I didn’t think we’d come out of that game with the one point. Even stranger, is that it felt for a while that Minnesota just might come out with both points. That alone was an achievement. Sure, it’s not enough to turn the season around, so get that thought out of your mind. Because here’s the thing, for much of the game, it belonged to the Wild. It was a bit of a shock for a lowly Minnesota against a loaded Boston. But like in many other games, the Wild just couldn’t hold on. As soon as David Krejci pulled the game within one late in the third period, I knew things weren’t going to bode well for Minnesota. I knew it was really doing downhill when Luke Kunin was called for tripping less than 20 seconds after Krejci’s first goal. And of course, just about another 20 seconds later, Krejci then tied up the game. The game was over about halfway through overtime, with Torey Krug getting the game winner. While a disappointing result, I’m still surprised with the overall result.
At least tonight, we don’t have to face the same level of opponent. Tonight, we get the New York Rangers, a team with a very similar record. But that 10-9-2 record doesn’t really tell the entire story. You would look at those numbers, and see that they’re in 6th place in the Metropolitan Division, and think to yourself well this shouldn’t be so hard. But please, take a pause in that belief. You need to dig much further. The Rangers are a team that is able to score, both even strength and on the power play. Right now, they’re scoring 3.38 goals per game. When you compare that to Minnesota’s 2.78 goals per game, you should begin to worry. Now both teams have similar power plays, so we’ll set that aside. While New York can score, where their record is coming from is the inability to prevent teams from scoring. Again, both teams have similar goals against per game, with Minnesota being slightly better at 3.35 compared to New York’s 3.57. The only real difference is the penalty kill. Minnesota is “winning” with a 82.6% penalty kill compared to their 73.5%.
Since both teams aren’t exactly stellar in team defense, this game is going to come down to who scores and when. There are some players on the Rangers’ roster that should have you concerned. Let’s start with the obvious, Artemi Panarin. His 27 points break down into 12 goals and 15 assists. That is five more goals and five more assists than Minnesota’s Eric Staal. While those aren’t huge differences, they can tell a story. I mean, just think all it would have taken was one more goal on Saturday night. And if each of Minnesota’s skaters would just score one more (or two more) on a regular basis, this would have been a much different season. But we’re not getting those additional goals. Just like we’re not getting the one more goal, I would say the Rangers’ issues is not preventing that one more goal. They can score, and the stats show that, but as it goes in just about every sport, you also have to prevent the opposition from scoring. The Rangers were definitely smart in acquiring Panarin in free agency, but they have more pieces to put together.
And since goals against per game is a major piece of the puzzle, we should probably talk about the ultimate last line of defense for both teams. With Devan Dubnyk out of the lineup dealing with a family issue, it has definitely given Alex Stalock a chance to show what he can do. Honestly, I can’t complain too much about his results in his last few outings. He is definitely proving that he’s a decent backup goaltender that can step in when needed to. Serving as Stalock’s backup (and one that we will most likely see tonight or tomorrow night against New Jersey) is Kaapo Kahkonen. In his season with the Iowa Wild, he is 7-2-1 with a 2.47GAA and a .920 SV%. Not too shabby. For the Rangers, neither Henrik Lundqvist or his backup Alexandar Georgiev can boast great numbers when it comes to goals against average or save percentage. Neither have been able to tally a shutout yet this season. Not having watched much of the Rangers this season, I’m not sure if their problem is with their goaltending or the skaters in front of him.
This is one of those games that either team could shine and either team can absolutely tank. That’s the kind of game that makes it hard for any fan. Hopefully the Wild are able to build off of what they gained in Boston and learn from the mistakes they ultimately made in that loss.