Minnesota Wild (6-6-0) 12pts 8th in Honda West
2.50 Goals For Per Game (24th in the NHL)
2.83 Goals Against Per Game (16th in the NHL)
6.7% Power Play (31st in the NHL)
85.1% Penalty Kill (6th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #18 Jordan Greenway ~ 2G 8A = 10pts
2. #14 Joel Eriksson Ek ~ 5G 4A = 9pts
3. #97 Kirill Kaprizov ~ 3G 6A = 9pts
4. #25 Jonas Brodin ~ 2G 4A = 6pts
5. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 0G 6A = 6pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 23 PIM’s
2. #18 Jordan Greenway ~ 16 PIM’s
3. #27 Nick Bjugstad ~ 10 PIM’s
1. #34 Kaapo Kahkonen (3-4-0) 2.90GAA .902%SP
2. #33 Cam Talblot (3-2-0) 2.40GAA .920%SP
3. #35 Andrew Hammond N/A
Anaheim Ducks (6-7-3) 16pts 5th in Honda West
1.94 Goals For Per Game (31st in the NHL)
2.56 Goals Against Per Game (7th in the NHL)
8.6% Power Play (29th in the NHL)
85.4% Penalty Kill (5th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #53 Max Comtois ~ 7G 2A = 9pts
2. #67 Rickard Rakell ~ 1G 6A = 7pts
3. #33 Jakob Sifverberg ~ 3G 3A = 6pts
4. #47 Hampus Lindholm ~ 2G 4A = 6pts
5. #15 Ryan Getzlaf ~ 1G 5A = 6pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #22 Kevin Shattenkirk ~ 14 PIM’s
2. #47 Hampus Lindholm ~ 12 PIM’s
3. #20 Nicolas Desalauriers ~ 10 PIM’s
1. #36 John Gibson (5-5-3) 2.33GAA .921%SP 3SO
2. #30 Ryan Miller (1-2-0) 3.03GAA .895%SP
Well folks, the Minnesota Wild have a new supply that they’ve had to the bench. Okay, well maybe that’s a bit of a joke, but based on what I’ve heard and read about Tuesday night’s game, maybe it should be. I’ll admit, I was too tired to watch the game, but everything I’ve heard, the team looked extremely tired and entirely gassed throughout the game. When you consider that they hadn’t been able to practice during the team’s shutdown due to Covid-19 protocol, endurance and stamina were clearly an issue. You mix that with lots of new faces, and you’re bound to have a letdown of a game. And seriously folks, I think it’s going to take longer than many of you think for this team get back on their feet. You have to remember that this is a respiratory infection. I received my positive Covid-19 results on December 18th. I’m still dealing with a cough and sore throat, and sometimes that cough takes my breath away. Yes, these are well-trained professional athletes, with access to the best in fitness and nutrition. But they are still mere mortals, and this illness hits everyone differently. Also, let us not forget that we’re still without Marco Rossi after he got Covid-19 in November.
Tonight, we’re getting a quartet of players back in the lineup. Returning are Nick Bonino, Ian Cole, Jared Spurgeon, and Nico Sturm. With their return, Louis Belpedio and Matt Bartkowski will return to the taxi squad. Off the Covid-19 protocol is Brad Hunt but he’s still in Minnesota and will fly out possibly later. But again, as people return, they still have to find their legs again. That seems to almost be the hardest part. It felt like prior to the shutdown of the team, they were finding a bit of a flow. It was far from perfect, but there times that we would see a flash of “wow, this is the team we’ve been looking for.” Yet getting Minnesota’s blueline almost back in place will make a huge difference. Tuesday night, four out of the six defensemen were taxi squad players. From what I’ve heard, that was definitely a weak spot for the team. I’m sure everyone felt like they were playing shorthanded all night, even though there were enough players on the bench. Yes, the taxi squad players are great players in the American Hockey League, but the AHL is not the National Hockey League. Plus, the original players on the taxi squad had not seen game action until they were activated to play. So they along with the remaining Minnesota Wild players were simply playing behind the proverbial eight ball.
One of the stories about Covid-19 and the NHL, is that the team returning from protocol have generally played well in their first game. However, why anyone thought Minnesota would play well is beyond me. This is the team, when they’ve returned from a 4-5 day break in the schedule, generally come out and play looking exhausted and uninspired. Well at least in this case, they had an excuse for being exhausted, because so many of them had been sick. Like I said earlier, even if they think they’re healthy, their body may disagree with their mind and medical diagnosis. But of course, with the re-shuffle of the Wild’s schedule, we should see no long breaks in this schedule. At least we’ll be spared and letdowns after a break. We’ll just have to endure normal letdowns, but considering the power play, we’re already experts at dealing with disappointment.
It’s hard to come up with any kind of game plan for tonight. We don’t have our full, normal roster. We don’t have a team that’s at their healthiest. I’ll admit, I never look forward to games against Anaheim, especially played in Anaheim. They’re not a team we really match up well against. The only thing working in the Wild’s favor, is that Ducks have the worst goals for per game in the league. We went from a team that was sitting in the top half of the West Division to now being at the very bottom of the division. It’s not a division you want to be sitting at the bottom in, as it might be a challenge to crawl back up. Again, remember we have to play Saint Louis or Vegas. Minnesota had an okay showing against Colorado though. At least, the Wild get to find their legs again against Los Angeles and Anaheim. Although, so far this return hasn’t exactly been like a Phoenix rising from the ashes.
This is going to be a long haul folks. Sit back and don’t get too stressed about it. We most likely weren’t going to be a great team this season in general and with this added roadblock, it’s forced us to remember that. If anything, this roadblock should serve as a reminder for you to wear your mask, wash your hands, get vaccinated when eligible, maintain social distancing, and in general be smart. Yes, you can still get sick if you do all of that, I’m proof of that. But the fewer of us that do get sick is better for everyone. It’s like when the meteorologist announces bad winter storms are coming. You know it’s coming, so you prepare by getting groceries ahead of time. Then when it hits, you stay home and only go out in emergency situations.