Minnesota Wild (35-27-7) 77pts 6th in the Central
3.16 Goals For Per Game (12th in the NHL)
3.14 Goals Against Per Game (24th in the NHL)
21.3% Power Play (11th in the NHL)
77.2% Penalty Kill (25th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 23G 31A = 54pts
2. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 8G 40A = 48pts
3. #12 Eric Staal ~ 19G 28A = 47pts
4. #11 Zach Parise ~ 25G 21A = 46pts
5. #36 Mats Zuccarello ~ 15G 22A = 37pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #38 Ryan Hartman ~ 69 PIM’s
2. #19 Luke Kunin ~ 55 PIM’s
3. #18 Jordan Greenway ~ 54 PIM’s
1. #32 Alex Stalock (20-11-4) 2.67GAA .910%SP 4SO
2. #40 Devan Dubnyk (12-15-2) 3.35GAA .890%SP 1SO
Vegas Golden Knights (39-24-8) 86pts 1st in the Pacific
3.15 Goals For Per Game (13th in the NHL)
2.94 Goals Against Per Game (13th in the NHL)
22% Power Play (9th in the NHL)
76.6% Penalty Kill (27th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #67 Max Pacioretty ~ 32G 34A = 66pts
2. #19 Reilly Smith ~ 27G 27A = 54pts
3. #81 Jonathan Marchessault ~ 22G 25A = 47pts
4. #71 William Karlsson ~ 15G 31A = 46pts
5. #27 Shea Theodore ~ 13G 33A = 46pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #75 Ryan Reaves ~ 47 PIM’s
2. #67 Max Pacioretty ~ 44 PIM’s
3. #3 Brayden McNabb ~ 40 PIM’s
1. #29 Marc-Andre Fleury (27-16-5) 2.77GAA .905%SP 5SO
*2. #40 Robin Lehner (19-10-5) 2.59GAA .925%SP 1SO
*- denotes combined record from Chicago & Vegas
Vegas Golden Knights
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I actually dread turning on the evening news. I feel like this is a repeat of the paranoia that surrounded H1N1 in 2009 or ebola in 2014. Don’t get me wrong, COVID-19, aka coronavirus is a serious illness, but to me it seems like influenza is more of a risk to the average person than coronavirus. I say this as someone who contracted H1N1 in 2009. That particular strain of flu effected a lot of people, and not just the elderly or those with immune issues. Younger people were at risk, because of a bit of history. People of my parent’s generation were generally immune to H1N1 because they received antibodies from their parents “thanks” to the Spanish Flu outbreak in 1918. That bit of protection wasn’t passed to my generation, so many of us Gen X’ers and younger got sick. Coronavirus is a bit different. It seems to get people who congregate in confined spaces (think crowded cities and factories), aren’t taking proper hygiene steps (WASH YOUR HANDS PEOPLE!!!!), and have compromised immune systems or are elderly. The sense of fear and paranoia have escalated, since the Big Ten (NCAA) has decided to refuse entry to fans for their upcoming basketball tournament. Then to top things off, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has decided to suspend their season, after a player tested positive for the virus. It now seems that the National Hockey League along with the NHL Players’ Association are talking to decide to do with their own season. It’s a little easier for the NBA to suspend their season, as they receive more revenue from television than the NHL, which gets most of its revenue from ticket sales. I’m fortunate. I live in a small town. I kid you not, but there are people who have never even left our county or state. The thought of leaving their own country is completely foreign to them. But we’re not completely isolated either. We are a major stop for truck drivers, as we’re halfway between Minneapolis and Chicago on I-90/94. It’s days like these that I’m glad I work from home.
So while the world is freaking out about coronavirus (and in some areas, that is completely justified), let us turn to hockey. It’s time for some fun in this time of panic. Minnesota has definitely been having better results lately. I’ll admit, it’s been a little fun to watch the Wild crawl out of the cesspool of their own making. I still worry that the draft positioning is not what this team needs, but since they’ve already messed that up, time to make lemonade out of lemons. They still have the occasional stumble like they did against Los Angeles, but things have improved. Albeit, I still have concerns about the over team defensive stats like goals against per game and penalty kill. As the old saying goes, “defense wins championships” and let’s face it, if that’s the case, Minnesota either needs to figure that out or give up trying. Of course this will be a moot point if the league decides to suspend the season like the NBA. Until then, we just have to take things one game at a time.
The Wild have some advantages in tonight’s game. Now it has nothing to do with goals for or suddenly stellar goaltending by both Wild goaltenders. It has more to do with addition by subtraction. Tonight, Las Vegas will be without two of their key players. Both Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty are out with lower-body injuries. This takes their top scorer in Pacioretty out of the lineup, and is one less threat that Minnesota needs to worry about. However, that is but one player, and the Golden Knights definitely have other players that can and do step up. Reilly Smith only had five fewer goals and seven fewer assists than Pacioretty. That’s not something to turn one’s nose up against. Thankfully Minnesota’s Kevin Fiala is on par with Smith points-wise, so at least we don’t have to feel too inferior. And truth be told, when comparing the goals for per game team-wise, Minnesota and Vegas are equals.
Where the equality ends though is defensively. At least as far as goals against per game. The Golden Knights are in that middle of the pack, but that 13th in the NHL is vastly superior to Minnesota’s 24th in the league. When facing players like Smith, Jonathan Marchesseault and William Karlsson, the Wild are going to be tested. Interestingly, Vegas’ penalty kill is not as good as their overall goals against per game. It seems that like Minnesota, the penalty kill has struggled this season. I will admit I was a bit shocked to see that theirs (76.6%) was worse than ours (77.2%). Usually, it’s Minnesota that has the poorer of the penalty kill than the opposition. The only problem, is that Vegas’ power play is 9th in the NHL at 22%. When we see a decent power play like that, it’s almost guaranteed that the opponent will score on the power play. But then this could also be the game where Minnesota’s power play gets to shine as well, as the Wild are currently boasting the 11th best power play in the league, at 21.3%. It would be nice to see a win at home, as this will be the first game back in Minnesota after the Boys’ State Hockey Tournament.
Enjoy these games while they last my friends. We honestly don’t know how much longer the season will last. If a player in the NBA contacted coronavirus, it wouldn’t shock me that it happens in the NHL. Remember just a few years ago, when the league was battling an outbreak of the mumps? That outbreak which effected the Wild, seemed to get its start after a game against Anaheim. California is near the top when it comes to reported cases. Considering that the Wild just played games in California, who knows what will happen. And in the mean time, wash your damn hands and stop hoarding the toilet paper.