Minnesota Wild (9-4-0) 18pts 2nd in the Central
3.31 Goals For Per Game (7th in the NHL)
3.15 Goals Against Per Game (24th in the NHL)
18.6% Power Play (18th in the NHL)
78.3% Penalty Kill (23rd in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #97 Kirill Kaprizov ~ 3G 8A = 11pts
2. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 5G 4A = 9pts
3. #36 Mats Zuccarello ~ 3G 6A = 9pts
4. #24 Matthew Dumba ~ 2G 7A = 9pts
5. #38 Ryan Hartman ~ 7G 1A = 8pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 32 PIM’s
2. #21 Brandon Duhaime ~ 24 PIM’s
3. #24 Matthew Dumba ~ 8 PIM’s
1. #33 Cam Talbot (7-3-0) 2.88GAA .905%SP
2. #34 Kaapo Kahkonen (2-1-0) 3.08GAA .882%SP
Seattle Kraken (4-9-1) 9pts 8th in the Pacific
2.86 Goals For Per Game (17th in the NHL)
3.64 Goals Against Per Game (31st in the NHL)
9.3% Power Play (32nd in the NHL)
80.0% Penalty Kill (20th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #7 Jordan Eberle ~ 8G 3A = 11pts
2. #17 Jaden Schwartz ~ 3G 7A = 10pts
3. #16 Jared McCann ~ 5G 4A = 9pts
4. #21 Alex Wennberg ~ 1G 8A = 9pts
5. #13 Brandon Tanev ~ 6G 2A = 8pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #55 Jeremy Lauzon ~ 30 PIM’s
2. #24 Jamie Oleksiak ~ 24 PIM’s
3. #9 Ryan Donato ~ 17 PIM’s
1. #31 Philipp Grubauer (4-6-1) 3.17GAA .882%SP
2. #35 Joey Daccord (0-2-0) 4.06GAA .855%SP
3. #60 Chris Drieger (0-1-0) 3.43GAA .833%SP
M. Foligno~Eriksson Ek~Fiala
I’m hoping if you’re reading this, you have watched (several times) the 1971 version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. This version, the one starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka is the only version of this movie that ever should have been made. The Johnny Depp version just cannot compete. The classic book written by Roald Dahl definitely breaks down what different styles of bad parentings and societal influences can do in the nurture side of child development. The scary thing is, we continue to breed this same kind of bad behavior every generation. Anyway, we’re going to focus on the character of Veruca Salt, a child who has been spoiled much to her detriment. She was given everything and anything, and expects the world outside of her immediate family to do so as well. When these children grow up, they find that the world isn’t as accommodating as their parents were. When they grow up, they become the “Karens” in the r/entitledpeople stories on Reddit.
Well it seems we have a bit of a Veruca Salt in the National Hockey League. See, when the Seattle Kraken joined the NHL, I think their fans looked at what happened with the entire expansion process surrounding the Vegas Golden Knights and thought “hey, this will happen for us too.” However, the other 30 teams in the league weren’t about to let that level of pillaging happen again. They were wiser in their contracts and who they made available. So instead of Minnesota losing players like Alec Tuch, we made Carson Soucy available. They are not a stacked team, and the Seattle fans are losing their minds a bit at the “unfairness” of it all. However, I can guarantee that the expansion teams prior to Vegas are all saying “this is what being an expansion team is supposed to look like.” I would even argue that the Seattle roster is still infinitely better than what Minnesota, Columbus, Nashville, Ottawa, and San Jose had for their expansion team rosters. Get over yourselves Seattle, the world wasn’t going to be handed to you on a silver platter.
In the last five games, the Kraken have gone 1-4 and 3-7 in their last 10. They are sitting at the bottom of the Pacific Division. Welcome to the world of being an expansion team. However, even with this record, this is a team that the Minnesota Wild lost to, and to be honest, embarrassed itself with how poorly and uninspired Minnesota’s effort was. During the expansion draft, it was obvious that they were not going to be blessed with a lot of scoring power in its forward group. They were going to be a team predicated on solid team defense and a blue-collar forechecking style that made them tough to play against. They were going to be the poor-man’s New York Islanders. And Minnesota lost to them.
Yet, the Kraken are a middle of the road team in goals for. They have a reasonable top-3 in Jordan Eberle, Jared McCann, and Jaden Schwartz. Between those three, they have tallied 16 goals. Not too shabby. However, after that it pretty much falls off. They don’t get a lot of secondary scoring, where no one beyond a quick start from Brandon Tanev has really stood out to chip in offense every 2-3 games. What they need to have happen is for Yanni Gourde to step up now that he’s back. He’s looked decent in his return, and might just be that secondary scoring option the club desperately needs. However, they need more of their players to step up if this team is going to reverse their fortunes. Players like Joonas Donskoi.
Where they’re getting some of that secondary scoring however, is from their blueline. Team captain Mark Giordano leads the team in scoring amongst defensemen. They’ve also gotten some scoring from Haydn Fleury (remember the two goals he tallied on Minnesota in the last meeting?), Vince Dunn, and former Wild defenseman Carson Soucy. Yet their job, besides being actual defensemen and defending against goals, is to keep games close so they don’t need to win by scoring three or more goals. Yet with the lack of scoring from the forwards, they’re having to chip in more goals while keeping the opposition from scoring. This is where things break down for a team and why you end up in the bottom of your division.
Minnesota had a fairly pathetic showing in Vegas on Thursday. It was uninspired and unfocused hockey. Minnesota was essentially playing the Henderson Silver Knights of the American Hockey League. But then as a longtime Minnesota Wild fan, I know this team’s history of playing “lesser” opponents, or at least those pretty much playing a roster of many minor league callups. Two of Vegas’ goal scorers tallied their first NHL goals. Minnesota only managed five shots on goal in the opening period and no goals, where Vegas had 16 shots and two goals. While I can’t say Cam Talbot had a great showing, I would imagine he gets the start tonight. As a friend of mine said on Twitter, “a team that has Cam Talbot as their #1 will never win the cup.” Very true, but there are some other elements of the team that need work as well. It would be nice if Matt Dumba would figure out his sh*t and actually play like a veteran NHL defenseman for once this season. And for the love of all that is good in hockey, don’t come at me with some analytics BS to tell me how good he is. Actually watch the game and get your nose out of some bogus stats sheet.
I want to again speak to the “why aren’t we near the top of the division” fans in Seattle. You need to realize what a real expansion team looks like and the realities of the situation. Hop aboard the Wayback Machine with me. During Minnesota’s inaugural season, our top scorer was Scott Pellerin who tallied just 39 points and top goal scorer was rookie Marian Gaborik with 18 goals. And yes, that was a full 82-game season. Those of us who lived through that season, remember that if somehow the Wild managed to score 3 goals, you thought they were playing firewagon hockey. Well at least a Jacques Lemaire version of firewagon hockey. Yet, 3 goals just didn’t happen very often that first season. Our first off-season, you have no idea how excited we were that they signed Andrew Brunette via free agency, simply because he had a really good season with the Atlanta Thrashers (that’s the Winnipeg Jets for you whippersnappers). If you’re still confused by that team name, we’ll explain that some other day. Yet, the current Seattle Kraken inaugural roster looks more like the roster when the Wild had been around for 5-6 years. You’re still miles ahead of Minnesota and Columbus, so quit your bitchin’.
I can’t say I’m excited about this game. In fact, it’s another trap game that could go poorly for the Minnesota Wild. Again, while we’ve had success, we haven’t really played a true Cup contender this season. We’ll really see what this team has when we’re regularly playing Colorado and St. Louis, or when we play some of the Beasts from the East. This season has felt “okay” so far, but there’s a long way to go. Just promise me that you too don’t become another Veruca Salt.