Minnesota Wild (17-5-5) 39pts 6th in the Central
3.08 Goals For Per Game (15th in the NHL)
3.38 Goals Against Per Game (28th in the NHL)
17.3% Power Play (20th in the NHL)
76.8% Penalty Kill (24th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #12 Eric Staal ~ 13G 17A = 30pts
2. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 4G 20A = 24pts
3. #11 Zach Parise ~ 14G 8A = 22pts
4. #36 Mats Zuccarello ~ 9G 13A = 22pts
5. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 8G 12A = 20pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #38 Ryan Hartman ~ 44 PIM’s
2. #24 Matt Dumba ~ 33 PIM’s
3. #19 Luke Kunin ~ 26 PIM’s
1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (5-8-2) 3.42GAA .892%SP
2. #32 Alex Stalock (9-6-2) 3.01GAA .901%SP 1SO
Calgary Flames (18-14-5) 41pts 4th in the Pacific
2.59 Goals For Per Game (27th in the NHL)
3.03 Goals Against Per Game (16th in the NHL)
18% Power Play (19th in the NHL)
84.4% Penalty Kill (4th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #19 Matthew Tkachuk ~ 13G 16A = 29pts
2. #13 Johnny Gaudreau ~ 10G 19A = 29pts
3. #23 Sean Monahan ~ 10G 18A = 28pts
4. #26 Elias Lindholm ~ 15G 10A = 25pts
5. #10 Derek Ryan ~ 5G 12A = 17pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #17 Milan Lucic ~ 34 PIM’s
2. #19 Matthew Tkachuk ~ 30 PIM’s
3. #5 Mark Giordano ~ 24 PIM’s
1. #33 David Rittich (15-8-5) 2.77GAA .913%SP 2SO
2. #39 Cam Talbot (3-6-0) 2.94GAA .910%SP
In the classic Christmas song, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, we hear the famous line “He’s making a list and checking it twice.” The older I get, I realize that line doesn’t just apply to Santa. In order to get everywhere we need to be, or have everything we need when we host our family get-together, we’re constantly making lists and checking things off of them when they’re either purchased or in our shopping carts. If you have to travel for any or all of your Christmas events, you probably have to make even more lists. On those kinds of packing lists, you need to make sure you have enough clothes, you’ve packed your toothbrush, and your prescriptions. On my phone, I tend to have multiple lists going as I’m getting ready to travel. A car list, a gift list, and a packing list. Because trust me, if you forget something (and it doesn’t matter from which list it was forgotten), it can make for a long and potentially embarrassing oversight. One of the best thing about making the lists, is checking the items off of your list.
For the Minnesota Wild, they’re slowly checking things off of their various lists. In injury news, people are coming back from injury. Recently, we got both Marcus Foligno and Jared Spurgeon back. That was a nice bit of depth to get back. At least for Spurgeon, with a broken hand, he was at least able to keep skating during his healing process. Returning to play tonight, will be Joel Eriksson Ek, again another piece of the puzzle returning. Getting close to his return (and possibly a game-time decision), is Wild captain Mikko Koivu. Of course with players returning, it means that players like Luke Johnson and Nico Sturm will be making their returns to Des Moines eventually. It’s hard to say of the two, who will be returning first, as they both have their own upsides. For Johnson, he has speed that this team is lacking, especially with the injury to Jason Zucker. And in the case of Sturm, he brings in a bigger body with a slightly more defensive game.
Another list for the Minnesota Wild is their own household preparations. This includes having practices when they can. They did do that on Sunday, instead of getting the off. In that practice, former Gopher women’s player, Olympic gold medalist, former Minnesota Whitecap, and Roseau, Minnesota native Lee Stecklein joined the Wild for their practice. Other household preparations are things like getting the guestrooms and bathrooms ready. For the Wild, this means practicing the power play and penalty kill in all its different variations. In game play itself, this means not giving up a goal in the waning moments of a period or in regulation in general. Especially if you have the lead. I would also extend this to not giving up a goal in the first two minutes of the game. This is something I’ve seen way too many times this season, and it’s not something I’m comfortable with. This would be like setting a time for Christmas dinner, your guests show up maybe 30 minutes early, but you have yet to start cooking dinner. A dinner you should have started cooking maybe two hours ago.
With all the lists we make, there’s often one thing that we forget to do over the often stressful holiday season. That is to take the time to enjoy your time with your friends and family. The same can be said about the Minnesota Wild. There are nights, where it just feels like a vast a majority of the team is just going through the motions of playing hockey. And of course this is an easy rut to fall into when you’re trailing early in a game. However, if they could find a way to look like they’re enjoying playing and simply have fun and play a more relaxed game, I think things would improve. Now mind you, I don’t want them so relaxed that they forget they have to play on both ends of the ice (which when you look at the Wild’s goals against per game, it kind of looks that way). But yes, there are too many nights where they look stiff on the ice, and those are often the nights where the wheels fall off, and they get beat 6-0 by Winnipeg.
Tonight will be difficult. While Calgary isn’t really tearing things up when it comes to offense, they don’t give their opposition much room to score. With one of the better penalty kills and an average goals against per game in the league, it will not be easy for Minnesota to find offense. I worry that the Wild’s less than spectacular defensive stats will somehow make Calgary’s somewhat anemic offense look like it’s much better than what it is on paper. Minnesota has a habit of making bad teams look good. Let’s just hope we don’t see any sort of misguided attempts at revenge for last season’s injury to Matt Dumba. Sure, it came through a fight againt Matt Tkachuk, a fight that never even needed to happen. A fight that pretty much has kept any sort of fighting spirit out of Dumba this entire season. He is not the same player he was prior to that injury. And I don’t know if we’ll ever see the before-injury version of Dumba again, and that’s said. Perhaps on his Christmas packing lists, he needs to include a map, as he frequently looks lost on the ice.
Another line from the aforementioned Christmas song, is that Santa knows if you’ve been naughty or nice. I wonder if Santa made a list of good and bad boys on this hockey team, which of our players would end up on which list. I’m kind of thinking there are some players who wouldn’t like the list that they end up on. Of course, they only have themselves to blame for their placement.