Minnesota Wild (35-15-5) 75pts 3rd in Honda West
3.22 Goals For Per Game (8th in the NHL)
2.76 Goals Against Per Game (13th in the NHL)
17.8% Power Play (23rd in the NHL)
82.2% Penalty Kill (11th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #97 Kirill Kaprizov ~ 27G 24A = 51pts
2. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 20G 20A = 40pts
3. #36 Mats Zuccarello ~ 11G 24A = 35pts
4. #18 Jordan Greenway ~ 6G 25A = 31pts
5. #14 Joel Eriksson Ek ~ 19G 11A = 30pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #21 Carson Soucy ~ 51 PIM’s
2. #18 Jordan Greenway ~ 49 PIM’s
3. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 49 PIM’s
1. #33 Cam Talbot (19-8-5) 2.63GAA .915%SP 2SO
2. #34 Kaapo Kahkonen (16-7-0) 2.70GAA .908%SP 2SO
St. Louis Blues (25-20-9) 59pts 4th in Honda West
2.91 Goals For Per Game (14th in the NHL)
2.98 Goals Against Per Game (19th in the NHL)
21.9% Power Play (10th in the NHL)
77.5% Penalty Kill (26th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #57 David Perron ~ 17G 38A = 55pts
2. #90 Ryan O’Reilly ~ 24G 29A = 53pts
3. #10 Brayden Schenn ~ 14G 20A = 34pts
4. #68 Mike Hoffman ~ 17G 16A = 33pts
5. #25 Jordan Kyrou ~ 12G 21A = 33pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #41 Robert Bortuzzo ~ 47 PIM’s
2. #10 Brayden Schenn ~ 35 PIM’s
3. #72 Justin Faulk ~ 33 PIM’s
1. #50 Jordan Binnington (16-14-8) 2.68GAA .910%SP
2. #35 Ville Husso (9-6-1) 3.21GAA .893%SP 1SO
St. Louis Blues
The Hockey News‘ playoff issue rated the Minnesota Wild 13th. Spoiler alert, it didn’t speak too highly of Minnesota’s defense and seemed to think the Wild didn’t stand much of a chance. But that’s hardly new. The Minnesota Wild are lucky if they can get NHL Network whether on TV or radio to spend more than 5 minutes to talk about the team. Most people didn’t give the team much of a chance, myself included.
Wild fans recently got upset over the fact team wunderkind Kirill Kaprizov was only rated the league’s 2nd star for the week. I wonder if they’ll be upset that Kaprizov only garnered 3 out of a possible 5 star rating according to this Hockey News issue. Minnesota fans have a tendency to take things a bit personally when they feel its players are being slighted by any league. Perhaps its because the fanbase has waited so long for a star (dare I say superstar) so they are a tad bit sensitive when they feel he isn’t getting his due credit. Yet honestly, the Oilers’ Connor McDavid just put up 100 points in 56 games. He has to be the star of the week if not the Hart Trophy winner as the MVP.
Minnesota got a bitter reality check against the Blues last night, as St. Louis showed more ‘want to’ near the crease to bang home some early goals. The Wild have been notorious in the playoffs for not being completely willing to pay the price in the tough areas of the ice. One may argue that they’re saving that for the playoffs, but we’ve heard that story before only to watch the flybys and guys easily tied up and unable to reach rebounds.
Give some credit to Ville Husso for shutting the door on a few chances from in close but Minnesota seemed unwilling to defend with much ferocity either which gave Blues’ forwards a chance to pounce on pucks near the paint and they did just that. It can’t just come from the Wild’s line of Joel Eriksson Ek, Jordan Greenway and Marcus Foligno. All of their lines have to prove they are willing to pay and dish out that physical price to win those kinds of battles in and around the crease.
Wild fans can complain all they want about being disrespected, but until they play with that kind of inspired effort in those tough areas its going to continue to be disappointed against quality clubs like St. Louis and in the post-season. The hard truth is, until the Wild prove otherwise they will continue to be seen as pretenders no matter how much success they have in the regular season. Regular season success is fun for the fans, but if you want to really give something or the people in the State of Hockey to cheer about is to do something substantial in the post-season.
Normally I’d toss out some keys to a victory. I’m tired of that. I’m tired of seeing this team wait to get after it and play with a sense of urgency. Maybe they wanted to stay healthy, but until we see this team show they can play like they want it more than their opponent in the post-season everything that has happened up to this point doesn’t mean a damn thing. Sadly I’m expecting the Wild to again go through the motions tonight.
As a friend of mine has said, ‘you’re only as good as your last show’ the Wild had something to play for last night but they chose not to. They chose not to battle, they chose to play soft. What does that mean for the playoffs if they choose to play like they did last night again this evening? Its tough to say, but it certainly doesn’t make me expect anything different from this team even before the attempts to ‘change the culture’ of this team.
What do you think will be a key to a Wild victory tonight? Tell us on Twitter at @CreaseAndAssist!