Minnesota Wild (28-13-3) 59pts 3rd in Honda West
3.09 Goals For Per Game (12th in the NHL)
2.64 Goals Against Per Game (9th in the NHL)
18.0% Power Play (24th in the NHL)
84.2% Penalty Kill (5th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #97 Kirill Kaprizov ~ 18G 19A = 37pts
2. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 15G 13A = 28pts
3. #36 Mats Zuccarello ~ 10G 17A = 27pts
4. #18 Jordan Greenway ~ 6G 20A = 26pts
5. #14 Joel Eriksson Ek ~ 14G 8A = 22pts
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 (15-6-3) 2.40GAA .922%SP 2SO
2. #34 Kaapo Kahkonen (13-7-0) 2.66GAA .910%SP 2SO
Arizona Coyotes (20-21-5) 45pts 4th in Honda West
2.61 Goals For Per Game (23rd in the NHL)
3.13 Goals Against Per Game (22nd in the NHL)
19.9% Power Play (18th in the NHL)
78.7% Penalty Kill (20th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #81 Phil Kessel ~ 16G 18A = 34pts
2. #9 Clayton Keller ~ 13G 19A = 32pts
3. #6 Jakob Chychrun ~ 13G 19A = 32pts
4. #83 Conor Garland ~ 10G 22A = 32pts
5. #8 Nick Schmaltz ~ 10G 18A = 28pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #67 Lawson Crouse ~ 42 PIM’s
2. #6 Jakub Chychrun ~ 36 PIM’s
3. #15 John Hayden ~ 33 PIM’s
1. #35 Darcy Kuemper (8-8-2) 2.47GAA .910%SP 1SO
2. #32 Antti Rantta (5-4-2) 3.20GAA .913%SP
3. #31 Adin Hill (7-7-1) 2.89GAA .908%SP 1SO
4. #50 Ivan Prosvetov (0-0-0) 5.00GAA .813%SP
Do you ever have those days where you suddenly have a random bit of knowledge for a completely random topic? This kind of knowledge tends to pop up when you least expect it, hence the concept of random. Of course, then you have to decide whether you want or need to share it. Because of course if you choose to share said bit of knowledge, it can either cause giggles with those you are with, or those people give you blank stares, or those people might actually be impressed. Obviously you hope for either impressing people or you give them a good joke. It’s when you get the blank stares in response, where you’re made to feel like you’re some sort of weirdo, and why the heck would you know that. Now, my random knowledge tends to come in regards to random music facts or languages, in particular German. In school, I studied Spanish and German. With Spanish, I pretty much can only ask someone “where is the bathroom”, which is a phrase you should know in any language when you’re traveling. When it comes to German, while I am far from fluent, I can get my point across and understand the basics in return. Because English is a Germanic language and many of us have German surnames. And it’s there where the knowledge of the German language sometimes has me giggling. The ultimate hilarity and the German language comes from actor Christoph Waltz being interviewed by Jimmy Fallon,.
Now this weird bit of knowledge I have does pop up when it comes to hockey. Remember when I mentioned German surnames? Remember former Minnesota Winger Jason Zucker? Well “auf Deutsch”, his last name means “sugar.” And let’s face it, some of his goals were pretty sweet. When he would weave that magic for Minnesota, I would state “Zucker ist so süß” or in English “sugar is so sweet.” I thought it was a rather clever take on words. Well, that bit of funny does apply to the current series with the Arizona Coyotes. Today’s bit of random German language knowledge has to do with center Nick Schmaltz. Now Schmaltz’s last name has two different meanings. While it is a noun, in one case it is more of an informal noun explaining a sort of feeling while the other meaning is a more defined item. For the first meaning, it refers to excessive sentimentality, especially when it comes to music. However, my favorite meaning to the word “Schmaltz”, the one that makes me giggle, comes from German’s sister language, Yiddish. In Yiddish, “Schmaltz” is rendered chicken, duck, or goose fat. This is the preferred fat to make latkes, and other traditional Eastern European Jewish fried foods. Yep, you read that correctly. Considering that Schmaltz is one of Arizona’s top scorers, he must be a bit slippery on the ice.
Let’s face it, sports are full of random bits of knowledge. However, depending on who is delivering said sports knowledge will either impress you or make you roll your eyes. When you listen to a nationally broadcast game, you’re subjected to Pierre McGuire and his tales of where so-and-so played high school hockey. For Minnesota Wild fans, many of us are on our last nerve with Wes Walz and his hockey tales. His color analysis can drive a person to drink. His stories are so long winded and all about him, and of course there was his epic comparison between Phil Housley and Cale Makar. To make it worse, he rarely talks about what is actually happening on the ice. This is not a good example of good random knowledge. Because then on some nights, like Monday night, we are rewarded with the one and only Lou Nanne. His stories tend to be short and sweet, and have everything to do with what is happening on the ice. And even better, the stories are interesting. And when you laugh at a tale he’s told, it’s because it’s genuinely funny and not the uncomfortable embarrassment of a Walz story.
So let’s talk facts. Looking at the stats from Monday’s game, is anyone else concerned by Minnesota faceoff percentage? If you didn’t see it, the Wild “boasted” a 31.5% faceoff win. If you’re losing far more faceoffs than you’re winning, you’re making your job that much harder. Especially in the offensive zone. When you’re not controlling the puck after the faceoff, you then have to chase down the puck to get it back in your possession. Well with teams like Arizona, that’s not as big of a concern. But with teams like Colorado, you can’t afford to give them even more possession time. Looking at the faceoff stats from Monday’s game, the faceoff percentage is even more frustrating on the power play. If you can’t win the faceoff with the man advantage, it’s going to make it that much harder to score on the power play. No wonder the Wild’s power play was in the dumps for so long. While it’s improved lately, I’m still not feeling super comfortable with this power play heading into the playoffs. And of course, the issue at the heart of the power play and faceoffs in general, is the true lack of a #1 center. This of course reminds me of some nonsense I had seen on Twitter before the season started. We were told, well the wingers can just take the faceoffs. Yeah, look how that’s turned out.
Another bit of random, but important knowledge about the Minnesota Wild, is that every player is currently on this road trip. It is believed that Nick Bjugstad is close to returning from his upper-body injury. Of course this then means there will be some shifting that needs to happen to figure who plays and who sits. Of course I would rather have that problem than have to scramble to figure who is going to fill the multiple holes. I don’t think I remember another season where when you look at the injuries list at TSN.ca, you see so many players listed on the Injured Reserve list for so many teams. Heck, teams like Nashville are really feeling the pain, with six players including Filip Forsberg on IR. Also, looking at the injury list, at quick glance, it appears that there are only 8 players in the league currently on the Covid-19 protocol. That’s probably the lowest we’ve seen in a while, but with cases rising again in North America, I really hope the teams take things seriously. Especially the Wild. We got hit hard early, and it was a bit dicey when they returned to play. But right now, the Wild are a relatively healthy team. Let’s keep it that way.
I’m looking forward to the Wild getting out of the desert. The upcoming West Coast swing doesn’t inspire me with confidence. But again, it is unwise to look ahead and ignore what is behind you. And that is not random knowledge. That it a fact, and one that shouldn’t be ignored.