Minnesota Wild (4-2-0) 8pts 2nd in Honda West
3.00 Goals For Per Game (17th in the NHL)
2.50 Goals Against Per Game (9th in the NHL)
7.4% Power Play (29th in the NHL)
90.0% Penalty Kill (1st in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #97 Kirill Kaprizov ~ 1G 5A = 6pts
2. #14 Joel Ericksson Ek ~ 3G 2A = 5pts
3. #18 Jordan Greenway ~ 1G 4A = 5pts
4. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 0G 5A = 5pts
5. #11 Zach Parise ~ 2G 1A = 3pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #18 Jordan Greenway ~ 12 PIMs
2. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 8 PIMs
3. #24 Matt Dumba ~ 6 PIMs
1. #33 Cam Talbot ~ (2-1-0) 2.34GAA .925SV%
2. #34 Kaapo Kahkonen ~ (2-1-0) 2.27GAA .921SV%
3. #31? Andrew Hammond
Los Angeles Kings (2-2-2) 6pts 5th in Honda West
3.33 Goals For Per Game (7th in the NHL)
3.33 Goals Against Per Game (23rd in the NHL)
23.1% Power Play (16th in the NHL)
84.0% Penalty Kill (12th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #11 Anze Kopitar ~ 1G 9A = 10pts
2. #9 Adrian Kempe ~ 3G 2A = 5pts
3. #77 Jeff Carter ~ 1G 4A = 5pts
4. #22 Andreas Anthanasiou ~ 3G 1 A = 4pts
5. #23 Dustin Brown ~ 2G 2A = 4pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #24 Lias Andersson ~ 6 PIMs
2. #23 Dustin Brown ~ 6 PIMs
3. #46 Blake Lizotte ~ 4 PIMs
1. #32 Jonathan Quick ~ (2-0-2) 3.15GAA .898SV%
2. #40 Cal Petersen ~ (0-2-0) 3.09GAA .887SV%
Los Angeles Kings
Kempe – Kopitar – Iafallo
Athanasiou – Lizotte – Carter
Andersson – Vilardi – Brown
Grundstrom – Amadio – Moore
Anderson – Doughty
Clague – Roy
MacDermid – Walker
Parise – Bjugstad – Kaprizov
Johansson – Bonino – Fiala
Greenway – Erickson Ek – Foligno
Hunt – Rask – Hartman
Suter – Spurgeon
Brodin – Dumba
Cole – Soucy
Ah, snails. Or sloths. Or molasses in January. Or the start of Minnesota Wild games. Here is a list of four things that are very, very slow. Now, some things that are slow are intriguing. Watching snails move can be a bit mesmerizing. Think about it, how has such a small, slow creature survived as long as they have? You would think being as slow as they are, they would easily be wiped out. Yet they’re still here. Same goes for the sloth. However, where snails often gross people out, the sloth is pretty darn cute. Their slowness just adds to their charm. Again though, you have to wonder how they’ve survived as they have. Then there’s the concept of molasses in January. Now, that is but a figure of speech, and really only makes sense to those of us who live in areas with truly frigid January’s. But yes, the sweet, sticky molasses and cold temperatures really don’t get along. And then there’s the way the Minnesota Wild start their games. They’re slow, painful, and not fun to watch. Let that sink in. Even a snail is more interesting to watch than the slow start of a Minnesota Wild game. And they’re not cute like a sloth. Honestly, they’re kind of the embodiment of the “molasses in January” quip, and it’s actually January.
On Saturday night against San Jose, it was Minnesota that looked sluggish and lethargic. While we clearly have some more speed this season, we’re still the team that looks perpetually tired. And this season, the travel argument is pretty much moot, as every team is facing crazy travel schedules. Of course the West and North are probably feeling the travel more than the East or Central, but I really don’t want to hear the Wild’s excuses about travel. Everyone is experiencing it, not just them. Even though they got the early goal, they just weren’t in it mentally and they got outworked. This is something we continue to see from this team way too often. I’m beginning to wonder how much time they spend on conditioning. Sure, you can do shooting drills and power play drills all day along, but some days you begin to wonder if they’re doing enough skating drills and cardio. Minnesota has a great place in the standings, but if they can’t figure out how to start hard and fast at the opening puck drop and play a solid 60 minutes of hockey, then they’re going to see that position go away.
One bright spot in this first series with the Sharks, is that it seems to have created a sense of confidence for both Kevin Fiala and Zach Parise. We need that to continue in this second series against Los Angeles. We need them to score and score regularly. My hope is that their new-found confidence inspires their teammates. Especially since there are some missing pieces. We’re currently without Nico Sturm, which has kind of slowed down the fourth line. And while we’re still excited about Kirill Kaprizov, there are still plenty of people wanting to see 2020 Entry Draft first round pick Marco Rossi. As I mentioned in a previous article, he had a less than spectacular World Junior Championship showing. Still not sure if it’s because he plays for Austria or if he had an injury or some kind of lingering side effects of having Covid-19. With the questions out of on Rossi, the Wild will either need to continue rotating Nick Bonino, Nick Bjugstad, and Victor Rask or look at making a trade to acquire a center.
If there’s one thing the Wild need to do, it is this. They need to simplify their game. Again, they’re guilty of too much passing, especially on the power play. Not only do they pass too much, but they’re always looking for the perfect highlight reel pass or shot. It feels like they only want to make the perfect back door pass instead of a solid, utilitarian pass that gets the job done.
This team continues to remind of the scene in the movie Hoosiers when the coach played by Gene Hackman yells “how many times do we pass?” The answer received is “four. Because of this, the team’s slow starts, and the question at center, it sounds like head coach Dean Evason is ready to shake things up on the forward lines.
Remember how I said it feels like people are missing? Well I give you another example:
Jared Spurgeon has definitely been missing in action this season. I feel like I rarely hear his name called during the game. That’s about the last thing we need to happen. As one of the Wild’s best defenseman and the team captain, we need to hear and see his presence. He needs to be making things happen. I also feel like I’m in some weird sort of Twilight Zone alternate universe, because as of now, I have no real complaints about Ryan Suter. How can this be happening?
And of course now with the injury to Cam Talbot, I think my friend Chris Frost (aka @MNFrostyBoy) may need to re-calibrate his Talbot Table:
With Kaapo Kahkonen most likely to make a few starts now, my friend might need to even re-name it. I’m thinking the Kahkonen “Coffee” Table. With coffee being an entire culture in the Nordic nations and neighboring Sweden being the home of Ikea, it seems appropriate. Don’t forget there once was a goaltender in recent history named Eddie Lack, his last name also the name of a very popular and cheap table series at Ikea.
Just think how good both goaltender tables would look perched upon that utilitarian table. As long as the Darcy ‘Kuemper Scale’ is included in the collection, life will be grand.
I honestly have no idea how tonight is going to go. With everything I’ve discussed so far, I don’t have a good feeling. The Los Angeles Kings would like to get those opening losses back, especially since they’re not at the bottom of the standings either. I cannot stress enough how important it is to earn as many points as you can early in the season. The Wild also need to remember that this is a much shorter season. They don’t have the same amount of time later in the season to make up for earlier mistakes.