Minnesota Wild (16-13-5) 37pts 5th in the Central
3.06 Goals For Per Game (14th in the NHL)
3.26 Goals Against Per Game (28th in the NHL)
18% Power Play (18th in the NHL)
77.7% Penalty Kill (24th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #12 Eric Staal ~ 12G 14A = 26pts
2. #16 Jason Zucker ~ 12G 12A = 24pts
3. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 3G 19A = 22pts
4. #11 Zach Parise ~ 13G 6A = 19pts
5. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 8G 11A = 19pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #38 Ryan Hartman ~ 42 PIM’s
2. #24 Matt Dumba ~ 31 PIM’s
3. #18 Jordan Greenway ~ 25 PIM’s
1. #32 Alex Stalock (9-4-2) 2.79GAA .908%SP 1SO
2. #40 Devan Dubnyk (4-8-2) 3.35GAA .893%SP
Vegas Golden Knights (18-13-5) 41pts 3rd in the Pacific
2.94 Goals For Per Game (19th in the NHL)
2.86 Goals Against Per Game (12th in the NHL)
22.5% Power Play (8th in the NHL)
83.3% Penalty Kill (9th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #67 Max Pacioretty ~ 15G 19A = 34pts
2. #61 Mark Stone ~ 12G 18A = 30pts
3. #71 William Karlsson ~ 10G 18A = 28pts
4. #19 Reilly Smith ~ 13G 13A = 26pts
5. #81 Jonathan Marchessault ~ 9G 15A = 24pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #3 Brayden McNabb ~ 32 PIM’s
2. #75 Ryan Reaves ~ 26 PIM’s
3. #28 William Carrier ~ 23 PIM’s
1. #29 Marc-Andre Fleury (13-7-2) 2.56GAA .918%SP 2SO
2. #30 Malcolm Subban (5-5-3) 2.96GAA .903%SP
Vegas Golden Knights
Since Christmas and Hanukkah are but around the corner, many of us are in our annual last minute race to get the gifts we need to purchase. Some of us prefer hitting the shopping malls while the rest of us prefer online shopping. I’ll admit, I absolutely loathe going out into shopping center this time of year, so instead I keep the folks at UPS, FedEx, and USPS busy. As if doing the actual shopping isn’t hard enough, actually finding appropriate gifts for our friends and family is even that much more difficult. Do we get them something that they need or something that they want? I know for myself, that as I get older, I frequently put things on my Christmas list that I need. For example, my mom is getting me a new screen/storm door because the one that needs replacing was already kind of falling apart when we bought our house in 2016. In general, for our family members, we try to get a couple of gifts for each person, something practical and something fun.
Hockey is very much like holiday shopping as well. Amongst the fan base, we see both the “I want” and the “I need” mentalities. There’s a significant portion (and I put myself in this group) who have been around this team since the beginning. We are of the “I need” variety. We know the bare cupboard days of Doug Risebrough. We remember the days when he would pick up a player like Chris Simon and simply wished we had passed and been even worse. Because even in those days, we were still just good enough that our draft picks for the most part were either middle of the pack or just slightly better than middle of the pack. And in those rare years where the draft pick was slightly better, the scouts and Risebrough would mess it up. Although perhaps he lucked out with Marian Gaborik. Sadly, it’s not just Risebrough who messed up draft picks as Chuck Fletcher and Paul Fenton weren’t much better in drafting better picks.
Then there is the “I want” variety of fans. They may be newer fans. Or they’re just the fans who want the team to succeed without any bit of dreary days to contend with. They also may be more of the casual sort of fan, and don’t follow the National Hockey League in a more in-depth way. They may know of some of the more successful teams in recent history, but they don’t know what it took for them to be successful, meaning they needed to stink for a bunch of seasons. Chicago and Pittsburgh stunk it up for many seasons, and were rewarded in both excellent draft picks and eventual Stanley Cup Championships. Don’t get me wrong, I love to watch winning hockey. It’s certainly more entertaining than watching loss after loss, and also better for coming up with material to write about. But the “win now” mentality that a portion of fans have will do nothing for the future of this team.
Sunday’s game in Chicago went about as I thought it would. Nothing like playing a team that is doing worse than Minnesota, so show the Wild’s weaknesses. It also doesn’t help that no matter how poorly the Blackhawks are doing, Patrick Kane will always put in a scoring clinic against the Wild. I would say his hattrick proves that he still has the ability to score, or at the very least, can still score easily against Minnesota. Another thing that game showed, is just how lost Matt Dumba is right now. You know things aren’t right for the Minnesota defenseman when he’s been bumped down to the third pair with Brad Hunt. Do you know who got bumped up to the top pair later in the game with Ryan Suter? It was Brennan Menell, who was recently called up from Iowa. You have to hand it to players like Menell and Gerald Mayhew for taking advantage of their recent callups in the face of injuries to Jared Spurgeon and Mikko Koivu. Another two Iowa players have been called up, those two being Luke Johnson and Nico Sturm. The player being sent back to Iowa is goaltender Kaapo Kakhonen now that Devan Dubnyk has returned from personal leave. Most likely Alex Stalock will start tonight in Las Vegas, as Dubnyk needs to get a few more practices before he get the start again.
For the Wild to bounce back tonight, their best bet is to avoid special teams as much as possible. The Golden Knights have both a decent power play and a decent penalty kill. They’re also okay when it comes to their goals for per game and their goals against per game. They’re going to be a bit of a tough nut to crack. It also doesn’t hurt that of their Top Five Scorers, all of them have 10 or more goals except Jonathan Marchessault, who has nine goals. Also, all five of those players all have more than 20 points each. That’s not a bad problem to have. Minnesota can only wish that all five of their Top Five Scorers had more than twenty points. That alone should stand as proof that this is the team that needs to desperately restock their cupboards via the draft, but with quality picks. And to do that, it’s going to take more losses than wins. I don’t know if that’s something that a segment of the fan base can handle.
While you’re finishing up your holiday shopping, I hope you manage to stay relatively calm. Trust me, it’s not worth getting all worked up over. Just like it’s not worth getting all worked up over Minnesota Wild losses. It’s better they lose now and make something of those losses than win and have nothing to really show for it.