Minnesota Wild (2-0-0) 4pts 2nd in Honda West
4.00 Goals For Per Game (8th in the NHL)
3.00 Goals Against Per Game (19th in the NHL)
0% Power Play (22nd in the NHL)
88.9% Penalty Kill (11th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #97 Kirill Kaprizov ~ 1G 3A = 4pts
2. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 1G 2A = 3pts
3. #18 Jordan Greenway ~ 0G 2A = 2pts
4. #29 Greg Pateryn ~ 0G 2A = 2pts
5. #25 Jonas Brodin ~ 1G 1A = 2pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 6 PIM’s
2. #90 Marcus Johansson ~ 4 PIM’s
3. #27 Nick Bjugstad ~ 2 PIM’s
1. #33 Cam Talbot (2-0-0) 2.85GAA .910%SP
2. #34 Kaapo Kahkonen N/A
Anaheim Ducks (0-1-1) 1pt 8th in Honda West
1.50 Goals For Per Game (28th in the NHL)
3.50 Goals Against Per Game (20th in the NHL)
0% Power Play (25th in the NHL)
100% Penalty Kill (5th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #53 Max Comtois ~ 3G 0A = 3pts
2. #23 Sam Steel ~ 0G 2A = 2pts
3. #32 Jacob Larsson ~ 0G 1A = 1pt
4. #15 Ryan Getzlaf ~ 0G 1A = 1pt
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #28 Jani Haakanpaa ~ 2 PIM’s
2. #33 Jakob Silfverberg ~ 2 PIM’s
1. #36 John Gibson (0-1-1) 3.06GAA .902%SP
2. #30 Ryan Miller N/A
Well, well, well. Two overtime games. Two overtime wins. I don’t think any of us could have predicted this start to the season. Again, I’m going to remain extremely cautious when it comes to excitement, but it is kind of fun to watch. Mind you the game play to get to those wins, hasn’t been particularly exciting. But when you were a fan of this team during the “boring” neutral-zone trap, Jacques Lemaire days, I’ve always said, I’ll take a boring win or an exciting loss any day. Yet, I will still call out the issues this team has, that makes those wins a challenge to come by. And trust me, there are issues with this team, issues that there are fans are choosing to ignore over the excitement of the wins. So let’s take a look at what is hampering this team.
So I talked about this in Saturday’s preview, but it continues to be an issue. Again, faceoff wins continue to be a problem. Now don’t get me wrong, Saturday was better than Thursday, but it’s still nothing to be proud of. Yes, Minnesota was better than Los Angeles on Saturday, but not by much. This glaring problem again should point towards team management that they have failed to address the lack of true centers. Between not re-signing Mikko Koivu (no, I’m not advocating that we should have extended his contract) and trading Eric Staal, we now lack people who can win at the faceoff dot. The only player who has been successful at faceoffs, has been Nick Bonino. While he’s doing his part, he’s not being awarded with the first line center job. That role currently belongs to Victor Rask. Whoever thought you would read those words? Seriously, Rask? Yep. That right there should be an indicator of just how shallow the Wild’s center pool is. Rask has become the Wild player that fans love to hate. While Bonino is the center winning the majority of the draws, I have to wonder if the positions of Bonino and Rask have to do with chemistry. Sometimes it gets down to other factors to determine who is on which line. But then, it’s still early in the season, so no one’s role is set in stone yet. More like wet cement.
With the lack of depth of center, it really begs the following question. When will we see Marco Rossi? The Wild’s first round pick in 2020 had a very lackluster World Junior Championship showing. Sure, he plays for Austria, which is not exactly a powerhouse, but he felt like a complete no-show. While he went through the Covid-19 quarantine protocol to join Minnesota, he’s currently on Injured Reserve. He’s listed with an upper body injury. We watched the WJC, and don’t remember Rossi taking any serious hits that removed him from the ice. However, what we need to remember, is that he did contract Covid-19 back in November while playing in the Swiss league prior to the WJC. Per reports, Rossi suffered from back pain as well as loss of taste and smell from the virus. It seems he wasn’t sidelined for very long with actual symptoms, but he did go through various quarantines and testing since. But here’s the thing. As someone who has contracted Covid-19, everyone’s symptoms are different as is the recovery. For me, my symptoms started with severe headache, soar throat, and a low grade fever. I am still dealing with a wheezy cough and laryngitis issues. I too quarantined, but the symptoms linger. With Rossi being listed as “upper body injury” we have no idea if there’s an actual injury or, like me, lingering Covid issues. He may not be contagious any more, but people have ended up with long-term lung, heart, and/or neurological issues. I don’t know about you, but I would rather he messed up a shoulder or knee than a long-term post-Covid issue.
The other position that leaves many of us with questions is goaltender. Again, I felt like Cam Talbot was kidnapped by aliens prior to the game and replaced with Devan Dubnyk disguised as Talbot. Now I get that whoever is in the Minnesota’s net isn’t going to get a lot of offensive or defensive support from his skaters, but it just doesn’t feel much better. I’ve seen the first draft of our friend Chris’ “Talbot Scale”, and trust me, it feels about right.
There are probably some tweaks that need to be made. For example, I asked him where Niklas Backstrom is among his list of “safe mitts”, meaning long term, primary goaltenders. I just realized he was missing this morning, so I don’t have an update quite yet. Also, I’m not quite sure how we’re charting Talbot on this scale, but I’ll get those details at some point. All jokes aside though, we just need things to solidify in goal, and I don’t know if Talbot is that solution.
I honestly have no idea how tonight is going to go. Anaheim is another team trying to rebuild things. They have nothing really to lose (but the game) by playing their younger guys. The Ducks seem to have a nice mix of veteran and young players. Sure, they have yet to win a game, but I feel like tonight could be their night. Anaheim is not exactly an opponent I look forward to playing. Even in their down years, they often find a way to make Minnesota look bad. Also, I would argue that comparing Minnesota’s stats with Anaheim’s would be unfair. While Minnesota has two wins, they have been two wins against another team in a rebuild. Anaheim on the other hand, has two losses (one of them an overtime loss) against the Vegas Golden Knights. So while they’ve been battling a Cup contender, we’ve been battling a 1st overall pick contender. Apples to oranges my friends.
Now, I do have some good news for Wild fans. If you’re like me, and you get your television through one of the many cable, satellite, or online services that is currently in a dispute with the Sinclair Broadcasting Group it appears that there’s another viewing option for tonight. It appears that if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you should be able to watch tonight’s game on Amazon Video. I can’t tell you what a relief this is for those of us who simply cannot watch the games because Sinclair’s grip on the Regional Sports Networks, of which Fox Sports North/Fox Sports Wisconsin are a part of. We are Dish Network subscriber, and have been for what seems like forever. Cable and satellite companies are frequently in dispute with various networks. We tend to wait things out, as the disputes eventually settle. But this time it’s different. It’s gotten to the point that unless you’re a Comcast or Direct TV customer, you’re pretty much out of luck. During last season’s playoffs, we added YouTube TV to our subscriptions so we could watch the games. Well Sinclair decided to add YouTube TV to its list of providers to lock out. I just hope there isn’t some sort of bizarre blackout rule that will prevent me from watching on Amazon Video because I live in the Fox Sports North and Fox Sports Wisconsin viewing areas. If you have Twitter and are one of the effected customers, I suggest you regularly Tweet your disgust at Sinclair (@WeAreSinclair).