Playoff Preview Game #2: Minnesota Wild vs. Vegas Golden Knights 5/18/21 @ 9:00PM CST at T-Mobile Arena

Playoff Preview Game #2: Minnesota Wild vs. Vegas Golden Knights 5/18/21 @ 9:00PM CST at T-Mobile Arena

Wild

Playoff Preview Game #2: Minnesota Wild vs. Vegas Golden Knights 5/18/21 @ 9:00PM CST at T-Mobile Arena

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Series at 1-0 Minnesota Wild

#3 Minnesota Wild

1.00 Goals For Per Game (10th in the NHL)

0.00 Goals Against Per Game (1st in the NHL)

0% Power Play (8th in the NHL)

100% Penalty Kill (3rd in the NHL)

Top 3 Scorers:

1. #14 Joel Eriksson Ek ~ 1G 0A = 1pt

2. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 0G 1A = 1pt

3. #18 Jordan Greenway ~ 0G 1A = 1pt

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 2 PIM’s

2. #24 Matt Dumba ~ 2 PIM’s

3. #25 Jonas Brodin ~ 2 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #33 Cam Talbot (1-0)  0.00GAA  1.00%SP  1SO

 

Vs.

 

#2 Vegas Golden Knights

0.00 Goals For Per Game (12th in the NHL)

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

0% Power Play (9th in the NHL)

100% Penalty Kill (4th in the NHL)

Top 3 Shots:

1. #19 Reilly Smith ~ 4 SOG’s

2. #81 Jonathan Marchessault ~ 4 SOG’s

3. #7 Alex Pietrangelo ~ 4 SOG’s

Top 2 PIM’s:

1. #7 Alex Pietrangelo ~ 2 PIM’s

2. #81 Jonathan Marchessault ~ 2 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #29 Marc-Andre Fleury (0-1)  1.00GAA  .967%

Lines:

Vegas Golden Knights

Nosek~Stephenson~Stone

Marchessault~Karlsson~Smith

Janmark~Roy~Tuch

Carrier~Kolesar~Reaves

Martinez~Pietrangelo

McNabb~Theodore

Hague~Whitecloud

Fleury

Lehner

Minnesota Wild

Greenway~Eriksson Ek~Foligno

Kaprizov~Hartman~Zuccarello

Fiala~Rask~Bjugstad

Bonino~Sturm~Bjugstad

Suter~Spurgeon

Brodin~Dumba

Soucy~Cole

Talbot

Kahkonen

TV & Game Schedule: (all times Central Standard Time)

Game #2: Tue. May 18th @ 9:00PM – NBC Sports Network, AT&T Sports Network, Bally

Game #3: Thurs. May 20th @ 8:30PM – NBC Sports, AT&T Sports, Bally

Game #4: Sat. May 22nd @ 7:00PM – NBC

Game #5: Mon. May 24th @ TBD

Game #6: Wed. May 26th @ TBD

Game #7: Fri. May 28th @ TBD

When we were kids, birthdays were often things that we looked forward to. Whether it was a full on event at Chuck-E-Cheese or a more simple get together at home or a slumber party, they were usually good times. One of the things I looked forward to was picking out my birthday cake. We always got our cakes at Consumer’s Bakery in downtown La Crosse, WI. At one point, I had Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street on my birthday cake. They were just well made, nicely decorated sheet cakes. Not like the fancy cakes that “Karen” gets for her 2 year old, simply so she can one-up her frenemy on Instagram. Seriously, they’re getting these cakes from bakers who generally earn their bread and butter on exceptionally decorated wedding cakes. The gift giving was also different as well. Gifts were much simpler. From friends, you may get a book or a low cost board game. From family, you generally got something more involved, but not like the PS5s of today. Now, birthday parties are like an all-out block party and you invite people you barely now. Some parents even have what resembles a party from MTV’s My Super Sweet 16 but for a 5 year old. One thing that hasn’t changed though, is that you hope you don’t get that one gift that’s essentially an embarrassment.

This year’s playoffs feels a lot like that gift you get that you neither want or need or makes you want to cry. To a degree, the Minnesota Wild were gifted with the perfect first round opponent. Of all the teams in the National Hockey League, the Minnesota Wild probably have the best record against the Vegas Golden Knights. It’s a stat that on paper should make absolutely no sense at all. Minnesota shouldn’t be the team with the winning record in the (albeit, short) lifetime series against Vegas, but they do. There are teams far superior to the Wild, that continue to struggle against the Golden Knights. My guess those very teams are probably cheering for the Wild, simply so they have an easier way toward Lord Stanley than if Vegas hangs on. And while we’re all hoping to make it out of the first round for the first in what feels like forever, the reward is bad. Just think about this. If Minnesota is victorious in the first round, they get the dubious honor of playing either Colorado or St. Louis in the second round. Yippie.

The first period of Sunday’s game, was a bit like the birthday party where not many people showed up. Those parties are a bit lame, because if you had activities planned that involved lots of participation, you’re not going to have much fun. In that first period, the Wild were just passing to almost random areas as well as passes off the boards, they were unable to generate any kind of real offense. The later two periods, you saw Minnesota going to shorter, tape-to-tape passes, which allowed them to control the offense and the tempo of the game. You combine that with the team doing the little things, it allowed Minnesota to get the all important game winner in overtime. One of the little things we saw, was Minnesota being willing to play a physical game. For so long, we’ve had a Minnesota Wild that has been continually out-muscled. But on Sunday, Minnesota out-hit Vegas 71-57. Yet even with that success, they need to figure out their faceoff issues, ASAP. The team won on 38% of their draws. It could have been even worse had Ryan Hartman not won 56% of the draws he took. Oh, and I’m just not going to discuss the power play.

What are the keys to a Wild victory?

1. Weather the storm ~ No doubt after losing on Sunday and having outshot the Wild, the Golden Knights will be eager to jump out to an early lead and exercise their own doubts in this series.  Minnesota can expect the Golden Knights to really pour it on through the first 10 minutes of the game.  If Minnesota can hold off this onslaught, the Wild can continue to dictate the tempo of the game.  Vegas’ aggressive approach might open some opportunities to counter attack and they can compound their frustration by striking when the opportunities present themselves.

2. Continue to cover the details ~ Minnesota’s success was due large in part to their consistency in taking care of the details of the game.  Blocking shots and finishing their checks and playing with the right amount of urgency in and around their own crease.  That has to continue if the Wild want to be successful.

3. Keep it simple ~ Ryan Hartman appeared to be a snakebitten player, but on the positive side he was taking advantage of the shooting opportunities that were given to him.  Minnesota must continue to take that simple approach offensively against the Golden Knights.  Take your shot, follow it up and crash the net and no fly by’s.  They don’t have to worry about trading chance for chance against Vegas, quality matters more than quantity.

4. Stay out of the sideshow ~ Ryan Reaves will no doubt try to draw more attention to himself to try to get the Wild out of their game.  Minnesota would be wise to just play hard and stay out of the after the whistle shenanigans.  There is a difference between standing up for yourself and looking for scrums and retaliation.  Retaliation and being distraction is just playing into what Reaves and Vegas wants.  Play smart and don’t feed the tomfoolery.

What do you think are keys to a Wild victory?  Tell us on Twitter at @MNSOTA24 and @CreaseAndAssist!

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