Minnesota Wild (10-5-0) 20pts 2nd in the Central
3.20 Goals For Per Game (10th in the NHL)
3.13 Goals Against Per Game (23rd in the NHL)
17.4% Power Play (21st in the NHL)
78.9% Penalty Kill (23rd in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #38 Ryan Hartman ~ 7G 4A = 11pts
2. #97 Kirill Kaprizov ~ 3G 8A = 11pts
3. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 5G 5A = 10pts
4. #36 Mats Zuccarello ~ 3G 6A = 9pts
5. #24 Matthew Dumba ~ 2G 7A = 9pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 39 PIM’s
2. #21 Brandon Duhaime ~ 24 PIM’s
3. #18 Jordan Greenway ~ 11 PIM’s
1. #33 Cam Talbot (8-4-0) 2.91GAA .902%SP
2. #34 Kaapo Kahkonen (2-1-0) 3.08GAA .882%SP
Dallas Stars (6-6-2) 14pts 6th in the Central
2.57 Goals For Per Game (25th in the NHL)
3.00 Goals Against Per Game (19th in the NHL)
28.6% Power Play (3rd in the NHL)
73.3% Penalty Kill (28th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #4 Miro Heiskanen ~ 3G 10A = 13pts
2. #16 Joe Pavelski ~ 4G 5A = 9pts
3. #21 Jason Robertson ~ 3G 6A = 9pts
4. #91 Tyler Seguin ~ 5G 3A = 8pts
5. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 2G 6A = 8pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #14 Jamie Benn ~ 15 PIM’s
2. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 10 PIM’s
3. #16 Joe Pavelski ~ 6 PIM’s
1. #35 Anton Khudobin (3-2-1) 3.03GAA .897%SP
2. #70 Brayden Holtby (2-4-1) 2.54GAA .918%SP
2. #29 Jake Oettinger (1-0-0) 2.00GAA .933%SP
M. Foligno~Eriksson Ek~Fiala
I’m going to keep things relatively short and sweet today. Sleep was somewhat elusive last night, I have a headache, and for those of you who had Covid you probably understand the brain fog side of things. The lack of sleep and headache were already a bad enough combo, but add in the fact that sometimes it’s just hard to think and/or concentrate on things, it’s just that much worse. Hopefully this endeavor or writing this preview will get me mentally prepared for the work day ahead, otherwise it’s going to be a very, very long day.
Anyway, the day has come. The day that we have to welcome Ryan Suter back to Xcel Energy Center. Now, I know there are people out there that still love him and love what they believe he did for the Minnesota Wild. I am not in that camp however. While I do not like the price tag that came with the parting of the ways, I’m glad he’s no longer on the team. The environment or culture he along with Zach Parise (and to a degree Mikko Koivu) created in the locker room was not beneficial to the team’s development. Suter and Parise were brought to Minnesota to bring the Stanley Cup to Minnesota. Not only did that not happen, the Wild never got close. It was evident to many of us, that Suter and Parise were “in charge” and the coaching staff had no say. While I consider his tenure with the team detrimental, this team will still celebrate him time with Minnesota with some lame video tribute. Again, I don’t understand why you honor a player you had to BUY OUT because they refused to waive their no-trade/no-movement clauses. Honestly, for as much as it annoyed me, I think we need to take a lesson from Nashville fans. That of course makes me wonder if they’ll still boo Suter when the Stars visit Nashville.
The Dallas Stars are an odd team. They should be (and need to be) embracing a youth movement. Instead though, they have locked in some older players instead, as they hope to go on a Stanley Cup run. That’s all well and good, but when they get out-hustled by younger legs on opposing teams, they will most likely realize their folly. Up front, the Stars have talented center Tyler Seguin back, to go along with talented second year winger Jason Robertson, who finished second in Calder Trophy voting a season ago. Joe Pavelski, the Plover, Wisconsin native is still clutch. That helps, since promising younger center Roope Hintz is off to a slow start this season. Jamie Benn may not be the explosive player he used to be, but he always seems to haunt the Wild. Alexander Radulov, Alex Gurianov, and Blake Comeau (another gritty Wild-killer) round out their forward group.
On defense, it’s a decent enough group for Dallas. The Stars’ best defenseman is a young Miro Heiskanen, who is coming into his prime. Dallas brought in Suter to provide stability (and hopefully slow line changes and self-extended power play ice time) and will probably be more than a little motivated tonight after being blindsided by the buyout by Minnesota this offseason. The true Wild-killer would be John Klingberg, and he has definitely had his share of goals against Minnesota over his career. While he doesn’t put up a lot of points, Esa Lindell is a decent puck mover.
The spot where Dallas is going to either succeed or go down in flaming glory is goaltending. Right now, there is a literal merry-go-round between in the pipes. On any given night, you don’t know if you’ll see former Minnesota Wild goaltender Anton Khudobin, former longtime Washington Capitols goaltender Brayden Holtby, or Lakeville, MN native Jake Oettinger. Remember, this is a team that should be looking toward the future with youth, but is clinging more to the past with older players. It would serve the Stars well to assert Oettinger as the main man in the crease, but Stars General Manager Jim Nill has made sure there are two veterans in Khudobin and Holtby ready to step in if he struggles at all. With the Minnesota connection, it wouldn’t be a shock for Oettinger to get the start tonight.
Honestly, every night is a night that the Minnesota Wild need to stay out of the penalty box. However tonight, that is even more important. The Stars have a very potent power play. with plenty of dangerous options along the wall and at the point. Again, staying out of the penalty box will be key. On the flip side, if the Stars have any glaring weakness, it is their penalty kill as well. It would be nice to see if Minnesota could use that Dallas weakness to their benefit and draw some penalties. If they wish to do that though, they’re going to have to show a lot better effort tonight than they did against San Jose. In fact, they need to show all around better effort, and not just special teams.
I don’t know why, but I feel like tonight should be a late start, but it’s not. In fact, it wouldn’t be a late start even if this game was on the road. Perhaps because I’m working when it gets dark out, that when I do come out of my home office, I see that it’s pitch black outside and automatically I think it’s later than it is. Who knows. But at least I got this written early enough that I can try to take a quick nap before work.