Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Colorado Avalanche 2/24/21 @ 8:00PM CST at Ball Center

Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Colorado Avalanche 2/24/21 @ 8:00PM CST at Ball Center

Wild

Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Colorado Avalanche 2/24/21 @ 8:00PM CST at Ball Center

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Minnesota Wild (9-6-0)  18pts  6th in Honda West

2.93 Goals For Per Game (18th in the NHL)

2.53 Goals Against Per Game (6th in the NHL)

9.1% Power Play (29th in the NHL)

87.3% Penalty Kill (3rd in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #97 Kirill Kaprizov ~ 4G 9A = 13pts

2. #18 Jordan Greenway ~ 2G 9A = 11pts

3. #14 Joel Eriksson Ek ~ 6G 4A = 10pts

4. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 6G 1A = 7pts

5. #49 Victor Rask ~ 5G 2A = 7pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 27 PIM’s

2. #18 Jordan Greenway ~ 22 PIM’s

3. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 16 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #34 Kaapo Kahkonen (6-4-0)  2.41GAA  .915%SP

2. #33 Cam Talbot (3-2-0)  2.40GAA  .920%SP

 

Vs.

 

Colorado Avalanche (9-5-1)  19pts  3rd in Honda West

2.93 Goals For Per Game (19th in the NHL)

2.13 Goals Against Per Game (2nd in the NHL)

23% Power Play (13th in the NHL)

88.2% Penalty Kill (1st in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #29 Nathan MacKinnon ~ 4G 14A = 18pts

2. #96 Mikko Rantanen ~ 7G 6A = 13pts

3. #8 Cale Makar ~ 1G 11A = 12pts

4. #20 Brandon Saad ~ 6G 4A = 10pts

5. #72 Joonas Donskoi ~ 5G 5A = 10pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #27 Ryan Graves ~ 18 PIM’s

2. #37 J.T. Compher ~ 15 PIM’s

3. #91 Nazem Kadri ~ 10 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #31 Philipp Grubauer (9-4-0)  1.78GAA  .932%SP  2SO

2. #30 Adam Werner N/A

Lines:

Colorado Avalanche

Burakovsky~MacKinnon~Rantanen

Saad~Kadri~Donskoi

Landeskog~Jost~Compher

Nichushkin~Bellemare~Calvert

D. Toews~Makar

Graves~Girard

Byram~Timmins

Grubauer

Werner

Minnesota Wild

Greenway~Eriksson Ek~Fiala

Kaprizov~Rask~Zuccarello

Parise~Hartman~Foligno

Sturm~Bonino~Bjugstad

Suter~Spurgeon

Brodin~Dumba

Soucy~Cole

Kahkonen

Talbot

 

Are We There Yet?: Freedom – Green Valley Church

 

Truly, this is how I feel about this season. It’s sad, but I don’t feel emotionally vested this year. After how 2020 went (and 2021 isn’t much better), I just want things to be over. Every shift at work is like, “am I done yet?” Cooking dinner, feels like an absolute chore. The monotony of everything is hitting hard. Monday night, we were both exhausted. Derek had fallen asleep before the game even started. Because he was sleeping, I didn’t bother turning on the game. When I got the notification on my phone that Brent Burns had scored for the Sharks in under a minute in, I’m like “nope, not going to bother.” It was definitely a moment of “are we there yet?” In the case of most games, “there” is the end of the game. In regards to the season “there” is the end of it where we’re not in the playoffs.

Now, I have to temper some of these feelings. Even though Burns scored in under a minute in, Minnesota clearly wasn’t about to let that stand. It’s not an every day happening, that the Minnesota Wild bounce back, nor is it an every day happening that they manage to score two goals in eleven seconds. When you have nights and they can’t score a single goal, Monday was a bit of an anomaly with six goals. Even better is where the scoring is coming from. It feels like Mats Zucarello has finally decided to really come and play for Minnesota. He’s been quite effective since his return from injury. If we’re all honest, we hadn’t seen this level of play from Zucarello ever, since he joined the team. I felt like last season, we were kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting for him to show up, and he never really did. The question however, is can he continue this level of play. I think a lot of that will depend on if his linemates Kirill Kaprizov and Victor Rask continue with their elevated player as well. The three of them were all multi-point players in San Jose, and we’re not talking about multiple second assists. They each had a goal and at least one assist. Of the three, Zucarello wins in points, as he had a goal and three assists. And for a little icing on the cake, Marcus Foligno tallied the Gordie Howe hattrick as well. We also, don’t get many of those on this team, because in the past, the fighters rarely scored and now the scorers don’t really like to fight.

Tonight should be a definite challenge. Colorado continues to play well. They played Vegas on Monday, but lost. One thing is beyond evident, both of those teams have skill matched with speed. Neither of those areas, do the Minnesota Wild really compare. I suppose if there’s one thing in the Wild’s favor, they’re only one point behind the Avalanche in the standings. Crazy, right? And for obvious reason, Minnesota has games in hand on every team in the division. But that really doesn’t matter. What does matter is what happens during the game. Remember the six goals Monday night? Well having a repeat is going to be very, very difficult. Colorado barely gives up two goals a game. Let’s face it, we’re not a scoring powerhouse. You can score six goals against a team like San Jose. Doing so against Colorado is almost unheard of. What Colorado isn’t doing, it lighting up the opposition. Minnesota and Colorado are almost even when it comes to goals for per game. This is going to be a game of whose overall team defense and goaltenders is better. What, Colorado playing a defensive game? Someone, please alert Adrian Dater, because he really, really hates defensive games.

Speaking of goaltending, between the upcoming schedule and Cam Talbot back from Covid-19 protocol (but not having played yet), there is a possibility that Kaapo Kahkonen could get the start tonight. You’re probably thinking “why not start Talbot” in Denver. Well just go along with me for now. Considering the great game Kahkonen had in San Jose (he even got props from the Sharks’ coaching staff), it makes sense going with the hot hand. Also, with the upcoming back-to-back series at home against Los Angeles, it makes more sense for him to start in one of those games than to make his return for tonight’s game. Also, I know I want to see if his confidence boost with his 3-game winning streak, would help him in any way against a more talented team like Colorado. Especially since he started this road trip with a 4-0 loss in Los Angeles. Yes, it’s time to see if Kahkonen actually has the makings to eventually become a number one goaltender for this team.

The recent wins have been nice, but in the grand scheme of things, they really haven’t helped. Minnesota hasn’t gained any points on either Los Angeles or Arizona. When Minnesota wins, they win. The Kings have been improving. So much so, they swept the Blues in Saint Louis.  But then, like we all asked as kids, “are we there yet?”, we have to honestly take this season one game at a time. Considering the limitations of this team, one cannot look too far ahead or ride too high on a winning streak. Be patient needs to be the mantra.

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