Minnesota Wild (27-13-3) 57pts 3rd in Honda West
3.05 Goals For Per Game (12th in the NHL)
2.65 Goals Against Per Game (10th in the NHL)
16.9% Power Play (25th in the NHL)
84.1% Penalty Kill (5th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #97 Kirill Kaprizov ~ 17G 19A = 36pts
2. #36 Mats Zuccarello ~ 10G 17A = 27pts
3. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 14G 12A = 26pts
4. #18 Jordan Greenway ~ 5G 20A = 25pts
5. #14 Joel Eriksson Ek ~ 14G 7A = 21pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #21 Carson Soucy ~ 47 PIM’s
2. #18 Jordan Greenway ~ 44 PIM’s
3. #24 Matt Dumba ~ 40 PIM’s
1. #33 Cam Talbot (14-6-3) 2.42GAA .922%SP 2SO
2. #34 Kaapo Kahkonen (13-7-0) 2.66GAA .910%SP 2SO
Arizona Coyotes (20-20-5) 45pts 4th in Honda West
2.62 Goals For Per Game (23rd in the NHL)
3.09 Goals Against Per Game (21st in the NHL)
20.0% Power Play (17th in the NHL)
79.7% Penalty Kill (15th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #81 Phil Kessel ~ 16G 18A = 34pts
2. #83 Conor Garland ~ 10G 22A = 32pts
3. #9 Clayton Keller ~ 13G 18A = 31pts
4. #6 Jakob Chychrun ~ 13G 18A = 31pts
5. #8 Nick Schmaltz ~ 10G 18A = 28pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #67 Lawson Crouse ~ 42 PIM’s
2. #6 Jakob Chychrun ~ 34 PIM’s
3. #83 Conor Garland ~ 24 PIM’s
1. #35 Darcy Kuemper (8-7-2) 2.39GAA .914%SP 1SO
2. #32 Antti Raanta (5-5-2) 3.36GAA .905%SP
3. #31 Adin Hill (7-7-1) 2.89GAA .908%SP 1SO
4. #50 Ivan Prosvetov (0-0-0) 5.00GAA .813%SP
When I was a kid, I always thought it would be awesome to build a doghouse for our beloved dog Julianna. Of course, all I knew about doghouses was what I had seen on television. I mean, how cool was it when Snoopy’s doghouse became a WWI airplane taking on the Red Baron? I never knew a dog that actually had one. I had never seen one in person. I just wanted one for our dog. Looking back at my childhood idea with adult eyes, makes me realize that it was probably a good idea that we never built one. First off, Julianna was a decided house dog. Yes, like every dog, she loved going outside. And of course she needed to go outside several times of day, because um, nature calls. Sometimes, if we were working outside, we would put her on her extended leash so she could hang out with us. However, she didn’t really like people outside of our family unit, so being outside wasn’t always relaxing for her (or us). And honestly, her favorite spot was in the house. The house I grew up in, was built in 1907. It had several large picture windows. Julianna’s favorite spot was one of those picture windows that had a window seat. Even better, it was on the south side of the house. So she would hop up on the window seat and take lengthy naps in her sunny spot. She could also supervise the neighborhood from her favorite spot. So obviously, she would not have enjoyed a doghouse.
In fact, poor Julianna may have viewed spending time in a doghouse as a punishment. Let’s face it, dogs in particular love being with their humans. Being separated from them is a punishment. So that is probably why the saying “sent to the doghouse” is taken as a form of punishment. That you have done something bad or not lived up to expectations, and need to be shown some discipline. That discipline shown in the form of isolation or a time out. Over the years, the fans of this team have witnessed players in the doghouse of whoever is head coach at the time. There have been times over the years that the people who have been in the doghouse were not the ones who deserved to be there. Remember when Erik Haula, Jason Zucker, and Jordan Schroeder were on the team, and created a line of speed this team had never seen? Well for whatever reason, one or more of them would end up in then head coach Mike Yeo’s doghouse, while the likes of Ryan Suter and Mikko Koivu could take their flippin’ time to make a line change, usually at the detriment to the team.
Well finally, with Dean Evason it appears we have a coach that puts the right people in the doghouse at the right time. Remember when Zach Parise was a healthy scratch? Never would have seen that with Yeo or even Bruce Boudreau. Mind you, Boudreau probably wanted to scratch some of those veterans, but didn’t have the power to do so. His general managers were either Chuck Fletcher or Paul Fenton, both of which seemed to protect the vets at all cost. Didn’t matter how much it hurt the team. With a new coach in Evason and a new general manager in Bill Guerin, I think we have a coach that actually has control of his bench. He’s also not afraid to call them out, much like Jacques Lemaire. Well, Kevin Fiala is in Evason’s doghouse right now, and rightfully so. Due to his recent play, he found himself benched during the third period in Saturday’s game. Evason continues to demonstrate accountability for the players on a game by game basis. This is something that has been missing for far too long with this organization. Now the question is, will we see a less careless version of Fiala who recently has been guilty of turning the puck over far too often. Or will we see the disengaged Fiala.
For the Arizona Coyotes (the Desert Dogs, mind you), I would expect them to play this game like it’s a Game 7. They will most likely come out and play like their playoff lives depend on it. And that’s not far off the mark. Sure, they’re not going to gain on 3rd place Minnesota, who is ahead of them by 12 points in the standings and has three games in hand. However, they have St. Louis behind them by one point. Heck, even San Jose is only behind them by five points. Right now, every game is essentially a 4-point swing. They need the win to essentially maintain the status quo. But a loss, that is essentially a dagger to the heart, especially is St. Louis and San Jose win their games. The Blues are off tonight, but San Jose is in Vegas. Trust me, the Sharks are playing with any thought of closing the distance on the Golden Knights. They’re just taking their game as a means to close distance with Arizona. Also, the Coyotes have the chance to build some steam, and St. Louis’ game against Colorado on Tuesday is postponed due to Covid-19 protocol, and who knows at this point if they’ll play on Thursday either. This is a time for Arizona to get some work done.
For Minnesota, I think the key is staying out of the penalty box. Sure, the penalty kill is one of the best in the league, but do you really want to risk that? Arizona’s power play, isn’t great, but as we all know, Minnesota has this uncanny (read that as frustrating) ability to make teams look better than they are. And when a team is hungry, like the Coyotes should be, it can be a dangerous combo. One player the Wild should watch out for, is defenseman Jakob Chychrun. This season, he has 13 goals. Now, only two of them are power play goals, but the fact that an Arizona defenseman has tallied 13 goals this season, tells me he had the ability to make things happen and be in the right place at the right time. While we should probably shadow him much of the game, I think it may be even more important during the Arizona power play. And of course, the Wild skaters will have to be aware of the location of Phil Kessel at all times, with his team leading 16 goals on the season.
Minnesota will most likely be facing one of their former goaltenders. Getting the likely start tonight is Darcy Kuemper, who is back from an lower body injury suffered in the March 8th game against Colorado. If the Coyotes can get solid goaltending from Kuemper the rest of the season, they may not feel as much pressure from the teams behind them. As we all know, get solid goaltending, the other pieces tend to fall into place. It’s going to be absolutely imperative that Minnesota tests Kuemper early, and continue to pepper him with shots. Even those low percentage shots, as rebounds can be a powerful form of offense when taken advantage of. Perhaps it will be Minnesota’s fourth line, as they along with Mats Zuccarello have been hot as of late. It also appears that Parise may have finally found his place alongside Nico Sturm, as both have been finding goals lately. The past three games have been impressive. And it’s things like this that make Evason say “I don’t have four lines, I just have lines.”
Hopefully none of Minnesota’s players end up in Evason’s doghouse tonight while playing in the NHL’s doghouse, the home of the Coyotes. In fact, it would be kind of nice if the entire Coyotes’ roster end up in their own coach’s doghouse, because that would mean that the Wild looked like the playoff team they could be.