Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Los Angeles Kings 1/16/2021 @8:00pm at Staples Center

Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Los Angeles Kings 1/16/2021 @8:00pm at Staples Center

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Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Los Angeles Kings 1/16/2021 @8:00pm at Staples Center

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Minnesota Wild (1-0-0)  2pts  3rd Honda West

4.00 Goals For per game (8th in the NHL)

3.00 Goals Against per game (11th in the NHL)

0% Power Play (20th in the NHL)

75% Penalty Kill (11th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #97 Kirill Kaprizov ~ 1G 2A = 3pts

2. #49 Victor Rask ~ 1G 0A = 1pt

3. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 1G 0A = 1pt

4. #25 Jonas Brodin ~ 1G 0A = 1pt

5. #29 Greg Pateryn ~ 0G 1A = 1pt

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #90 Marcus Johansson ~ 2 PIM’s

2. #25 Jonas Brodin ~ 2 PIM’s

3. #24 Matthew Dumba ~ 2 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #33 Cam Talbot (1-0-0)  2.82GAA  .912%SP

2. #34 Kaapo Kahkonen N/A

 

Vs.

 

Los Angeles Kings (0-0-1)  1pt  6th Honda West

3.00 Goals For per game (16th in the NHL)

4.00 Goals Against per game (17th in the NHL)

25% Power Play (8th in the NHL)

100% Penalty Kill (3rd in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #77 Jeff Carter ~ 1G 1A = 2pts

2. #11 Anze Kopitar ~ 0G 2A = 2pts

3. #22 Andreas Athanasiou ~ 1G 0A = 1pt

4. #23 Dustin Brown ~ 1G 0A = 1pt

5. #3 Matt Roy ~ 0G 1A = 1pt

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #34 Kale Clague ~ 2 PIM’s

2. #46 Blake Lizotte ~ 2 PIM’s

3. #23 Dustin Brown ~ 2 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #32 Jonathan Quick (0-0-1)  3.76GAA  .852%SP

2. #40 Cal Petersen N/A

Lines:

Los Angeles Kings

Iafallo~Kopitar~Brown

Athanasiou~Lizotte~Carter

Kempe~Vilardi~Wagner

Moore~Amadio~Luff

Maatta~Doughty

Anderson~Roy

Clague~Alt

Quick

Petersen

Minnesota Wild

Parise~Rask~Kaprizov

Johansson~Bonino~Fiala

Greenway~Eriksson Ek~Foligno

Sturm~Bjugstad~Hartman

Suter~Dumba

Spurgeon~Brodin

Pateryn~Soucy

Talbot

Kahkonen

 

The Flying Pie: Here Comes The Clown Car

 

Who doesn’t love a good parade? Now I know it’s mid-January, and not exactly parade weather in the Upper Midwest, but they can be fun. Now for those of your with coulrophobia, the above image is probably not your cup of tea, but just hang in there, okay. There are reasons I’m talking about parades and clowns. It seems that some people are getting ahead of themselves, and we’re just one game into this season. I get it people, you’re excited that hockey is back, but seriously, some of you need to temper your delusional expectations. For the more even keeled of you reading this, this warning is not for you, but because you are even keeled, you already know that. For the more delusional of you, I suppose there’s nothing I can really say that will get you to dial things back a bit. I’m going to try a bit though. Really, put your plans away for the parade, they won’t be needed.

Now, let’s dig into this a bit. Thursday night’s game was against Los Angeles. It was a pretty boring game. I can’t tell you how many times I almost turned in for the night because I was that exhausted (being sick will do that to you). I am well aware that Kirill Kaprizov scored a goal and two assists in his NHL debut. It was great to see, especially considering how long we’ve waited to see him. However, he is but one person. He cannot carry this team all by himself. And again, we were playing the Kings. The Wild struggled against the Kings. Last night, Colorado beat Saint Louis 8-0. Trust me, Kaprizov alone cannot do it by himself. As much as he appears to have youthful exuberance on the ice, it’s just not possible. Some of the comments spotted on Twitter in regards to Kaprizov remind me a lot of when former Wild forward Mikael Granlund was making his debut. There’s a reason some of us sarcastically called him “Finnish Baby Jesus”. And some of you may remember this gem created by my partner in crime:

Minnesota Wild 2016-17 Season Summary With Some Magic, the Gathering Levity  | The Sports Daily

Or the even better, “I was on a postage stamp.” (That quip coming from our friend Tim, but yes, Granlund was on a postage stamp.)

Mikael Granlund (@FinnishBBJesus) | Twitter

Take a deep breath people. We do not need a repeat of that idolization. Granlund was a decent enough player, but trust me, he never reached the deity status of a hockey player. Sure, it’s early in Kaprizov’s career, but let’s let the guy get settled on his new team before putting that kind of pressure on him. Will he be a good player? Yes. Will he be a great player? Time will tell. I know I saw on Twitter a Karizov as Jesus picture, but I’m too tired to go find it.

For the first game of the season, the Wild did tally a mildly respectable 27 shots on goal. Not great, but with this team, we’ve definitely seen worse. The one stat though that every Wild fan should be concerned about is faceoff percentage. Love ’em or hate ’em, it was beyond obvious the holes left with the departures of Mikko Koivu and Eric Staal, as we have no real centers left. Sure, we have centers, but none of them strong at the faceoff. Thursday night, Minnesota only won 38.7% of their faceoffs. That is very, very bad friends. It’s really hard to win, let alone control possession if you can’t win that draw. I’m sure the analytics people out there can somehow spin the numbers to make things not seem so dire, but really they shouldn’t. It would be nice if those analytics people were truly honest about this team, but I’m not going to hold my breath on that one.

I mentioned this in my preview for Thursday night’s game, but I had serious goaltending concerns. I worried that Cam Talbot was going to be Devan Dubnyk, version 2.0. Sure, it was only the first game, but I was definitely having some Dubnyk flashbacks. That is something I’d prefer to not have. Another friend of ours, Chris, developed what he called the (Darcy) Kuemper Scale. That scale “measured” the clenching of one’s posterior when Kuemper was in goal. I’m beginning to think he needs to re-vamp that for Talbot. I was not excited, even slightly, when the Wild acquired Talbot. I had to remind myself of the other teams he played for, and of course Edmonton being the major one. I giggled a bit when I saw he had a brief stopover with Philadelphia, which of course if the team known to eat up their own goaltenders. So yeah, his pedigree isn’t exactly anything to write home about. And of course Dubnyk spent time in Edmonton as well, so the version 2.0 quip is appropriate.

So here we go again. Another match up, with the same, low expectation team. Again, I’m not excited. I’ll watch it, but I probably won’t be amused. Tonight, is going to be all about who wants it more. Or who makes fewer mistakes. With teams like the Wild and Kings, there will be a lot of mistakes, and it will be up to whoever takes advantage of those mistakes. I have a feeling that tonight, it will be Los Angeles that comes out the victors.

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