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Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Vegas Golden Knights 12/12/21 @ 8:00PM CST at T-Mobile Arena

Minnesota Wild (19-7-1)  39pts  1st in the Central

3.67 Goals For Per Game (3rd in the NHL)

2.78 Goals Against Per Game (17th in the NHL)

17.4% Power Play (21st in the NHL)

82.3% Penalty Kill (12th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #97 Kirill Kaprizov ~ 10G 22A = 32pts

2. #38 Ryan Hartman ~ 13G 9A = 22pts

3. #36 Mats Zuccarello ~ 7G 14A = 21pts

4. #14 Joel Eriksson Ek ~ 11G 8A = 19pts

5. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 12G 6A = 18pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 48 PIM’s

2. #21 Brandon Duhaime ~ 44 PIM’s

3. #38 Ryan Hartman ~ 23 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #33 Cam Talbot (15-5-0)  2.59GAA  .920%SP

2. #34 Kaapo Kahkonen (4-2-1)  2.75GAA  .905%SP

 

Vs.

 

Vegas Golden Knights (15-11-0)  30pts  5th in the Pacific

3.38 Goals For Per Game (7th in the NHL)

3.12 Goals Against Per Game (21st in the NHL)

13.9% Power Play (29th in the NHL)

78.4% Penalty Kill (23rd in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #19 Reilly Smith ~ 10G 10A = 20pts

2. #7 Alex Pietrangelo ~ 4G 14A = 18pts

3. #81 Jonathan Marchessault ~ 11G 6A = 17pts

4. #27 Shea Theodore ~ 3G 14A = 17pts

5. #61 Mark Stone ~ 3G 13A = 16pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #10 Nicholas Roy ~ 29 PIM’s

2. #55 Keegan Kolesar ~ 23 PIM’s

3. #14 Nicholas Hague ~ 22 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #90 Robin Lehner (10-9)  3.11GAA  .906%SP

2. #39 Laurent Brossoit (5-2)  2.66GAA  .911%SP

Lines:

Vegas Golden Knights

Pacioretty~Kolesar~Stone

Marchessault~W.Karlsson~R.Smith

Dadonov~Roy~Janmark

Carrier~Brooks~Amadio

Hague~Pietrangelo

McNabb~Whitecloud

Hutton~Theodore

Lehner

Brossoit

Minnesota Wild

Kaprizov~Hartman~Zuccarello

Greenway~Eriksson Ek~M.Foligno

Duhaime~Rask~Fiala

Shaw~Sturm~Bjugstad

Goligoski~Spurgeon

Merrill~Dumba

Jo.Benn~Kulikov

Talbot

Kahkonen

Shhh... Almost... Now you may speak Coffee Mug

Are you awake yet? Have you had your coffee yet? I know as I’m writing this, I am not feeling too wide awake. As soon as last night’s game was over, it was off to bed. I know I’ve complained about this before, but it will continue to be a bone of contention. There is no excuse for the league allowing teams to start a half hour later than the “normal” start time of 7:00pm local time. It would be okay, if those teams who insist on these later starts were playing another team within their time zone. But when there are two or more time zones difference, it is unpardonable. There is no reason why I should have to stay up until midnight to watch a game. I can’t imagine too many fans in the Eastern Conference watch too many games played in Los Angeles and San Jose, because if you thought a 9:30pm start time was bad, just imagine what a 10:30pm start time would feel like. It just makes me want to cry. After one of these late night games, it feels like it’s the Sunday where we’ve moved the clocks ahead for Daylight Savings Time.

Last night during the Minnesota Wild’s game against the Los Angeles Kings, the Bally Sport California broadcast made it sound like the Kings were just dominating the Wild at every single turn. Jonathan Quick played pretty well, but Minnesota wasn’t at its best, and still came within a second of perhaps an overtime game if Kirill Kaprizov’s shot managed to beat the buzzer. But it’s didn’t, and the Wild came up short. The 8-game winning stream is over. But when one winning streak is over, it simply means it’s time for another to begin. Still the homerism of the Kings’ broadcast was nauseating. It will be no different tonight against the Vegas Golden Knights, whose fans are showing their spoiled, entitled nature more often these days. More on that in a bit.

This is supposed to be Vegas’ “Golden” year. The team swung a deal for Jack Eichel and with the return of stars Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, and “Wild Bill” William Karlsson from injury they should be back on track, right? Yet somehow they are still sputtering with a 6-4 record in their last ten games. On Friday, they lost at home to a Mike Yeo coached Philadelphia Flyers team that was on a 10-game losing streak. Besides waiting for Eichel to be ready, the Golden Knights’ lone injury of note is to current leading scorer Chandler Stephenson. But they’ve demonstrated in their past that they are and can still be dangerous even with a depleted roster. However, the consistency and effort level that used to be the team’s hallmark isn’t quite there anymore, and that’s why they’ve had their share of struggles. Or as the rest of the league would say, normality.

Part of that is due to inconsistent play between the pipes. Robin Lehner hasn’t been as sharp with his goals against average being over three goals per game. The Minnesota Wild know all too well how a decline in the play of your goaltenders can cost you wins and even the playoffs. See Devan Dubnyk.

Another area where the Golden Knights have had some struggle, is on the power play. For all of the talent Vegas possesses, they are terrible with the man advantage. You don’t even have to see it to know it either if you’re at one on of Vegas’ home games. You can just listen to the crowd and hear the boo birds come out in full force as the team loses the zone when someone mishandles the puck, or an opposing penalty kill manages to send the puck the full length of the ice. The spoiled fanbase turning on their team is kind of hilarious to watch.

It doesn’t get much better on the penalty kill. Vegas is again in the bottom third of the league. Yet this isn’t as big of an issue as NHL referees seem to ignore the hooking, clutching, and grabbing by Vegas players. This gross oversight has made them one of the least penalized teams in the league. Must be nice. But then last night’s officiating crew in Los Angeles wasn’t much better. Of course, Minnesota would have had to have actually done something with those power plays.

Even though Kaapo Kahkonen had a pretty good outing against the Los Angeles Kings last night, the Wild will no doubt start Cam Talbot tonight. Since Vegas went with Laurent Brossoit in their recent loss to Philadelphia, one can pretty much expect Lehner to get the start. Here’s to hoping that Talbot can get the team back on the right page. Of course that may be harder without the steady presence of defenseman Jonas Brodin who is out with a non-Covid illness. There was a moment yesterday, that we were worried that the team would be without both Brodin and Matt Dumba, however that was not the case. But then neither Dumba or Jared Spurgeon were looking too sharp. Here’s to hoping that everyone, especially the defensemen look a lot sharper today than yesterday. They’re going to need it.

I need a drastic infusion of caffeine this morning. Although maybe not as much as a friend of ours. He discovered that he had enough coffee for one, sad, lone cup of coffee yesterday morning and then had to take care of two kids under the age of 4 all day. I’m surprised he didn’t find some sort of grocery delivery to bring him some. Even Folger’s, as desperate times call for desperate measures.

About Derek Felska

I am a hockey blogger originally from Elk River, MN. I have been blogging about Minnesota hockey for over 13 years and I like to cover it from the NHL on down to High School hockey. I try to provide honest, objective perspective from a 'non-homer' sort of fan. I hope my work reflects this approach.

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