Minnesota Wild (12-11-4) 28pts 6th in the Central
2.89 Goals For Per Game (19th in the NHL)
3.19 Goals Against Per Game (21st in the NHL)
20.6% Power Play (10th in the NHL)
81% Penalty Kill (18th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #12 Eric Staal ~ 8G 11A = 19pts
2. #16 Jason Zucker ~ 9G 8A = 17pts
3. #11 Zach Parise ~ 12G 4A = 16pts
4. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 3G 13A = 16pts
5. #46 Jared Spurgeon ~ 3G 13A = 16pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #38 Ryan Hartman ~ 35 PIM’s
2. #24 Matt Dumba ~ 25 PIM’s
3. #19 Luke Kunin ~ 21 PIM’s
1. #32 Alex Stalock (7-3-2) 2.67GAA .912%SP 1SO
2. #31 Kaapo Kahkonen (1-0-0) 2.00GAA .941%SP
Florida Panthers (13-8-5) 31pts 2nd in the Atlantic
3.50 Goals For Per Game (5th in the NHL)
3.46 Goals Against Per Game (28th in the NHL)
22.5% Power Play (8th in the NHL)
84.6% Penalty Kill (6th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #11 Jonathan Huberdeau ~ 10G 21A = 31pts
2. #16 Aleksander Barkov ~ 8G 23A = 31pts
3. #63 Evgenii Dadonov ~ 10G 11A = 21pts
4. #3 Keith Yandle ~ 2G 19A = 21pts
5. #10 Brett Connolly ~ 12G 7A = 19pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #52 Mackenzie Weegar ~ 15 PIM’s
2. #16 Aleksander Barkov ~ 14 PIM’s
3. #11 Jonathan Huberdeau ~ 14 PIM’s
1. #72 Sergei Bobrovsky (9-6-4) 3.48GAA .884%SP 1SO
2. #60 Chris Driedger (1-0-0) .00GAA 1.00%SP 1SO
Well by now, you have most likely finished up your Thanksgiving leftovers. I don’t know about the rest of you, but Thanksgiving is probably the best holiday meal of the year and the leftovers don’t let you down. However, there comes a point where you can’t look at turkey and mashed potatoes any longer. Although, I have to admit, I did make another pumpkin pie today. I had an extra pre-made pie crust in the fridge, and I didn’t want it to go to waste, so pumpkin pie it is. It’s one of the leftovers that I don’t get sick of, and truly, it is the easiest pie to make. With that in mind, I’m revisiting the recent holiday video made by NHL super-fan, Jillian Fisher. Now when she made this video, her assessment of the Minnesota Wild was completely true. And I would think, for some fans out there (myself included) were excited that the team was not doing well. If it would only continue that way, as a way to get a good draft pick. However, there are fans out there who are excited for the turn in fortune.
That turn in fortune has turned a down-and-out Minnesota Wild, into a team that has earned at least one point in their last nine games. There was a time earlier this season that many of us thought we’d never see such an accomplishment. On Sunday afternoon, the Wild won their first game that wasn’t settled during regulation. They still have yet to win a game in the five minute overtime session, but Sunday was won in a shootout. When the game went to a shootout, I didn’t think it was possible. I thought it would be another one-point loss for Minnesota. Yet perhaps none of us should have been surprised. It was game number 1000 for Wild captain, Mikko Koivu. Not only was it a milestone game for the captain, but he also tallied his 700th NHL point, with an assist on the game’s first goal by Kevin Fiala. The Wild don’t often get the chance to have special event games that honor great teams from the past like the Montreal Canadiens or the Toronto Maple Leafs. They rarely win their division. And of course there are no Stanley Cups to honor. So the small individual honors are what we occasionally see, and Sunday was all about Koivu.
Tonight’s opponent makes for an interesting one. The Florida Panthers are currently sitting in second place in the Atlantic Division, a division which is weak beyond belief (with the exception of the Boston Bruins). The Panthers are one of those teams where their goals per game and goals against per game don’t really jive with each other. This is a team that scores 3.5 goals per game, which has them sitting near the top of the league. One you see that kind of stat, you would think that they would have more than 31 points in the standings. But again, their downfall is their struggles with preventing goals. Right now, they’re allowing 3.46 goals per game. While they can score goals, they also have plenty of games where their opponents have scored 4, 5, 6, or even 7 goals, hence the 3.46 goals per game. And the numbers for starting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky aren’t much better, with a 3.48GAA. Makes one kind of wonder if he picked the wrong team to hitch his wagon to.
Speaking of goaltenders, we should probably talk about our own. With Devan Dubnyk still on a personal leave, it will leave the goaltending duties to Alex Stalock and Kaapo Kahkonen. In this upcoming roadtrip, we should see Kahkonen at some point. I would like to think this time, the Minnesota Wild finds a way to actually develop a goaltender. On Sunday, we saw former Wild goaltender, Anton Khudobin, a goaltender we let go to Boston for pretty much nothing. We also lost Josh Harding to muscular sclerosis and Matt Hackett in a trade to Buffalo as part of the package to acquire Jason Pominville. Hackett is now playing the English Ice Hockey League, but the point it, Minnesota hasn’t really found a way to acquire decent goaltending talent and then hold on to it and develop it. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I’m not a big fan of goaltenders, but I’m still enough of a realist to know the importance of having a solid, dependable one between the pipes. It’s hard to go far when you can’t truly depend on the guy between the pipes. Of course, he also needs to trust the team in front of him, and none of our goaltenders over the years have been able to fully depend on his teammates.
Now that we’ve gotten through the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s time to start looking at Christmas and the New Year. I enjoy the occasional win, but this is not the season to suddenly turn things around. For Christmas, I would like a patient front office and ownership, that allows some contracts to expire, young players to develop, and quality draft picks to acquire. That is what everyone should want. Because that my friends is how we get a brighter future.