Minnesota Wild (20-17-5) 45pts 5th in the Central
3.05 Goals For Per Game (17th in the NHL)
3.29 Goals Against Per Game (25th in the NHL)
17.9% Power Play (21st in the NHL)
77% Penalty Kill (24th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #12 Eric Staal ~ 16G 17A = 33pts
2. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 6G 22A = 28pts
3. #11 Zach Parise ~ 14G 11A = 25pts
4. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 8G 16A = 24pts
5. #36 Mats Zuccarello ~ 10G 13A = 23pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #38 Ryan Hartman ~ 50 PIM’s
2. #24 Matt Dumba ~ 33 PIM’s
3. #19 Luke Kunin ~ 32 PIM’s
1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (8-10-2) 3.16GAA .898%SP 1SO
2. #32 Alex Stalock (9-6-2) 3.02GAA .901%SP 1SO
Calgary Flames (21-17-5) 47pts 5th in the Pacific
2.67 Goals For Per Game (25th in the NHL)
3.02 Goals Against Per Game (14th in the NHL)
18.1% Power Play (18th in the NHL)
82.7% Penalty Kill (7th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #19 Matthew Tkachuk ~ 15G 21 = 36pts
2. #23 Sean Monahan ~ 14G 20A = 34pts
3. #13 Johnny Gaudreau ~ 11G 22A = 33pts
4. #28 Elias Lindholm ~ 16G 15A = 31pts
5. #10 Derek Ryan ~ 7G 14A = 21pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #17 Milan Lucic ~ 36 PIM’s
2. #19 Matthew Tkachuk ~ 34 PIM’s
3. #4 Rasmus Andersson ~ 33 PIM’s
1. #33 David Rittich (17-10-5) 2.78GAA .912%SP 2SO
2. #39 Cam Talbot (4-7-0) 2.75GAA .913%SP
The new year, for many of us feels the same as the previous year. About the only real struggle I think most of us have, is having to enter “2020” when we have to fill out forms or checks that require a date. For myself, the new year also comes with a new schedule at work. And it’s going to be a shock to the system. For the past six months, I’ve started work at 8:30am. This is a nice, normal time to start. Starting tomorrow, I start at 1:30pm. I have a feeling it’s going to take a good, couple of weeks before I acclimate to the new schedule. Part of me won’t mind being able to sleep a bit later into the morning, but that’s about it. The downside to this schedule is harsh though. Having worked this late schedule before, I know that it’s going to feel like I never see Derek, as when I get off at 10:30pm, he’s thinking about going to bed. The other downside, is that I’m not going to see a Wild game for the rest of the season, unless they’re playing on my days off, which are Friday and Saturday. Considering how this season is going, that might not be a bad thing, but it will make writing game previews a bit more difficult. Oh well, I guess if my New Year’s Resolution was to never watch a Wild game again, I might be able to keep it.
Sometimes though, the new year brings some surprises. Like yesterday’s afternoon game against the Winnipeg Jets. I was positive it was going to be yet again, another loss to our divisional foe. They’re a team that’s only one spot ahead in the divisional standings, so it’s not like we’re facing the best of the best. No, this was a team that was pretty much our equal. Yet it’s a team, that no matter how good we are, we struggle against. The only real failure in yesterday’s game, was the fact that Minnesota still gave up a point, to the team in front of them that they’re trying to catch. If you’re a team truly trying to turn things around, giving away points within the division, is not really the way to go about things. Yet at the same time, I feel a need that I shouldn’t lambast them too much. It was nice to finally see an overtime win. It feels like such a long time since we’ve seen such a fete, that I’ll take it. I will even admit, it was nice to see that the overtime win came from Eric Staal.
But there’s one thing I wish this team would do here in the new year. During the break before overtime started, the broadcasters were talking about how Bruce Boudreau had been talking about making changes in the overtime personnel. I don’t know about you, but it certainly felt like the same line combinations that we’re used to. Not only are we used to these line combinations, but they’re also line combinations that tend to do more bad than good, with slow line changes (since they often refuse to leave the ice) or poor passing decisions or their lack of speed. I was joking with my fellow Wild fans, that my new Roomba could get down the ice faster than Mikko Koivu. Trust me, that’s saying something, because if you’ve ever watched a Roomba, they don’t always take the most direct route whilst vacuuming your floor. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard that Boudreau is going to make line changes, yet we never really see them. If we do see them, they rarely last very long, even if the changes are successful. Truly, this team is worse at making New Year’s Resolutions than I am.
Tonight is another perfect opponent for the Minnesota Wild. Another team that is about the same as far as success rate in the league. Calgary only has two more points in the standings. The only real place the the Flames are truly better than the Wild is in the team defense game, both in goals against per game and penalty kill. There are nights though, where with this team, that is not a bother at all. Honestly, I can’t remember too many other seasons where we see the Wild score 4-6 goals per night. It’s mind-boggling. The downfall though is that Minnesota just can’t seem to keep pucks out of their own goal. The responsibility for that is equally shared between the skaters and the goaltender, which on most nights is Devan Dubnyk. Having not watched many Flames games this season, I’ll be curious to see that kinds of goals they actually let up, both even strength and on the penalty kill. Looking at the stats for both David Rittich and Cam Talbot, I have a hunch they’re not seeing quite as many soft goals as Wild fans have been subjected to on a regular basis.
As this season continues on, most likely much like it has already, we in general know what to expect on a nightly basis. Just because we’ve moved into a new year and a new decade, don’t expect things to drastically change for the better. This isn’t that kind of team. They may tell you that they’re going to improve, but that’s like saying “yes, I’m going to finally use that gym membership that I’ve said I’m going to use for the past 10 years but never have.” While some of us are still struggling to write “2020” on the occasional check that we have to write, expect to see the Wild continue to struggle to do much with this season.