Minnesota Wild (23-12-2) 48pts 3rd in Honda West
2.89 Goals For Per Game (15th in the NHL)
2.51 Goals Against Per Game (8th in the NHL)
12% Power Play (30th in the NHL)
85.7% Penalty Kill (3rd in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #97 Kirill Kaprizov ~ 14G 17A = 31pts
2. #18 Jordan Greenway ~ 5G 18A = 23pts
3. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 11G 10A = 21pts
4. #14 Joel Eriksson Ek ~ 12G 7A = 19pts
5. #25 Jonas Brodin ~ 5G 11A = 16pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #21 Carson Soucy ~ 41 PIM’s
2. #18 Jordan Greenway ~ 40 PIM’s
3. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 35 PIM’s
1. #34 Kaapo Kahkonen (12-6-0) 2.34GAA .920%SP 2SO
2. #33 Cam Talbot (11-6-2) 2.41GAA .924%SP 2SO
Colorado Avalanche (25-8-4) 54pts 1st in Honda West
3.61 Goals For Per Game (1st in the NHL)
2.26 Goals Against Per Game (2nd in the NHL)
23.6% Power Play (10th in the NHL)
86.1% Penalty Kill (2nd in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #29 Nathan MacKinnon ~ 14G 31A = 45pts
2. #96 Mikko Rantanen ~ 21G 23A = 44pts
3. #92 Gabriel Landeskog ~ 15G 22A = 37pts
4. #49 Samuel Girard ~ 5G 25A = 30pts
5. #72 Joonas Donskoi ~ 15G 13A = 28pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #91 Nazem Kadri ~ 28 PIM’s
2. #27 Ryan Graves ~ 26 PIM’s
3. #29 Nathan MacKinnon ~ 24 PIM’s
1. #31 Philipp Grubauer (24-7-1) 1.83GAA .926%SP 5SO
2. #35 Joonas Johansson (1-0-1) 2.89GAA .898%SP
I wonder if when Robert Louis Stevenson published his classic novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1886, if he realized how its themes would continue to be a part of everyday culture. Yet when you think about it, at the heart of the story, is the concept of the dual nature of man. It centers on how a person can appear to be good to the world, yet at the heart, be an evil person. Stevenson had started exploring this theme as a teenager, but what we know as the final product possibly came from a combination of places. He wrote a play as a teenager, then a short story for the Christmas serials in 1884, and then there was the true crime story of a teacher in Edinburgh that killed his wife. In modern usage, we use the concept of Jekyll and Hyde in many ways. Yes, we use it to describe the good and evil tendencies of humans. However, I would say we also use the idea to describe drastic opposites in general. Today, it’s going to be the drastic opposites.
If ever there was a season that could be described as Jekyll and Hyde, it would be this season. Of course last season too, as it started off completely normal, but didn’t end that way. This season, didn’t start as normal and very little feels like what we know of the NHL season. However the Minnesota Wild are the classic Jekyll and Hyde team. We never quite know what we’re going to get. This season is a classic case of this. The Wild will string along a nice group of wins, and then there will come a game where it’s like “did they even show up?” Even the series overall against tonight’s opponent is completely up and down. Now, while I didn’t expect the series against Colorado in general to go in the Wild’s favor, there have been nights where “we need to bottle this up for a rainy day.” Right now, the series sits at 2-5. Yet there was that 6-2 win on February 24th, that still has me thinking that the Wild has it in them to be successful. They just have to realize it and bring it to fruition. They simply cannot play like they did in the second period on Monday. Yet when they can put Colorado on their heels, good things happen.
The absolute key to this game, is shutting down Colorado’s top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog. When the Wild allow two of the three of them to score, like on Monday, they pretty much sign their own death certificate. Sure, the Avalanche got scoring from all corners of their team, but if those three are allowed any room, they will take full advantage of it. If Minnesota can somehow find a way to limit their chances, they stand half a chance. In the two wins against Colorado, those three have been absent in the goal scoring column. Yet, while they were limited, they weren’t completely off the boxscore. MacKinnon and Rantanen were still able to set up their teammates. The only Colorado victory where one of the usual suspects didn’t score, was game on February 2nd. However, even if they’re able to neutralize those three players, you still have to worry about players like Cale Makar and J.T. Compher. Oh lucky us.
One player who seems to really be putting it all on the line for Minnesota, is taxi squad member Luke Johnson. If there’s any player who deserves a goal for all the work he puts in, it’s him. He’s your classic hardworking, blue collar guy. The former University of North Dakota star, is winning his draws at 53%. That alone should get him more ice time, as centers winning draws is a rare commodity for this team. And when he’s not busy winning his draws, he’s using his speed to pester the opposition on the forecheck. Again, another thing this team is lacking. Yet the reward he received from the front office, was being placed on waivers so the team can save some money because they’re so close to the salary cap ceiling. With Zach Parise off the Covid-19 protocol list, that forces this team is jack around the young, cheap guys who give their all, so that the country club guys who can’t be touched are comfortable.
If the Wild hopes to stand any kind of chance against the Avalanche, they need to hone into their Jekyll and Hyde tendencies. No, we don’t want the polite Jekyll of the second period. No, we need to see the chippy Mr. Hyde from the end of the game. That chippiness needs to be there from the first puck drop to the final buzzer. Let’s take into account, that Minnesota scored two power play goals in the third period. If the Wild can get under the skin of the Avalanche, they just might be able to take advantage of those kinds of mistakes. Minnesota has the ability to score on the power play, they just need to play with all hands on deck and make it happen. The chippy play also sent a message that hopefully this is a team that isn’t going to just roll over and let the Avalanche have an easy win. With the play in the second period, it was starting to feel that way. When Minnesota opted for more physical play, they almost tied up a game that seemed like a tie was unattainable.
So here’s hoping we get the “evil” Minnesota Wild. This is not the time for manners of being “Minnesota Nice.”