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Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Boston Bruins 1/6/22 @ 6:00PM CST at TD BankNorth Garden

Minnesota Wild (19-10-2)  40pts  4th in the Central

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

3.10 Goals Against Per Game (19th in the NHL)

16.8% Power Play (25th in the NHL)

80.7% Penalty Kill (15th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

  1. #97 Kirill Kaprizov ~ 13G 26A = 39pts
  2. #38 Ryan Hartman ~ 15G 13A = 28pts
  3. #36 Mats Zuccarello ~ 8G 17A = 25pts
  4. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 7G 14A = 21pts
  5. #47 Alex Goligoski ~ 2G 19A = 21pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 50 PIM’s

2. #21 Brandon Duhaime ~ 44 PIM’s

3. #38 Ryan Hartman ~ 29 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #33 Cam Talbot (15-8-1)  3.00GAA  .909%SP

2. #34 Kaapo Kahkonen (4-2-1)  2.67GAA  .906%SP

 

Vs.

 

Boston Bruins (17-10-2)  36pts  4th in the Atlantic
2.90 Goals For Per Game (18th in the NHL)
2.59 Goals Against Per Game (6th in the NHL)
21.4% Power Play (11th in the NHL)
81.8% Penalty Kill (11th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #63 Brad Marchand ~ 11G 19A = 30pts
2. #37 Patrice Bergeron ~ 11G 13A = 24pts
3. #88 David Pastrnak ~ 9G 13A = 22pts
4. #73 Charlie McAvoy ~ 5G 15A = 20pts
5. #71 Taylor Hall ~ 6G 11A = 17pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #63 Brad Marchand ~ 45 PIM’s
2. #17 Nick Foligno ~ 26 PIM’s
3. #73 Charlie McAvoy ~ 23 PIM’s
Top Goaltenders:
1. #35 Linus Ullmark (9-5-0)  2.58GAA  .917%SP
2. #1 Jeremy Swayman (8-5-2)  2.20GAA  .920%SP  1SO

Lines:

Boston Bruins

Marchand~Bergeron~C. Smith

Hall~Haula~Pastrnak

DeBrusk~Coyle~N. Foligno

Frederic~Nosek~Lazar

Grzelcyk~McAvoy

Mi. Reilly~Carlo

Forbort~Clifton

Ullmark

Swayman

Minnesota Wild

Kaprizov-Hartman-Zuccarello

Foligno-Rossi-Fiala

Boldy-Gaudreau-Duhaime

Pitlick-Sturm-Dewar?

Brodin-Dumba

Merrill-Goligoski

Kulikov-Benn

Kahkonen
Hammond

 

If you feel as though you have a headache or are still feeling a bit emotionally exhausted from the 2022 NHL Winter Classic, you might be a Minnesota Wild fan.  Sorry to go Jeff Foxworthy on you there, but let’s face it, what was supposed to be a celebration of the state’s proud hockey heritage only added to a feeling of dread that the team’s current 5-game losing streak was only going to get worse.

Besides getting blitzed by the St. Louis Blues on national television, the Minnesota Wild also lost Cam Talbot to a ‘lower body injury’ that could keep him out a while.  Toss in the injuries to Jared SpurgeonJoel Eriksson EkNick Bjugstad and possibly Jordan Greenway, you can see why there is reason to be concerned.  Jonas Brodin might be back, and that offers some important relief.
Let’s face it, the Minnesota Wild were not playing all well BEFORE those injuries.  Due to postponements made by other teams, they have played very few games the last half of December and they looked rusty out there at Target Field.
Then the team received news that its scheduled game on Monday against the Ottawa Senators was being postponed, giving the team yet more time off before it travels east to play the Boston Bruins.  Yay, more time for the rust to accumulate!
The Bruins are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games and currently riding a 3-game winning streak.  Boston has played 2 games less than the Minnesota Wild due to their own postponements last month.  They played Tuesday night against New Jersey in a back and forth game and prevailed 5-3.
Boston is carried by its top line, one of the best 1-2 punches in the NHL with jack-of-all-trades center Patrice Bergeron, grinding winger Craig Smith and agitating finisher Brad Marchand.  Veterans, 33-year old Marchand and 36-year old Bergeron are scoring at their normal point-per-game pace.  These guys not only score in the clutch, but they also are defensively responsible.
You might want to call the Bruins’ 2nd line, ‘the Struggle Bus line’ as Taylor HallErik Haula and David Pastrnak are all battling through a slow start to the season.  Pastrnak has been especially snake-bit, but obviously there is a lot of potential to score if this speedy line can catch fire offensively.
Minnesota fans will recognize Charlie Coyle, who anchors the 3rd line and continues to only demonstrate flashes of dominance just as he did when he was playing for the Wild.  Nick Foligno, a player the Wild spent lots of time trying to make a deal with during the opening of free agency has been terribly disappointing for the Bruins.  I am glad we missed out on that deal.
On defense, the Bruins look to 24-year old Charlie McAvoy as their workhorse who likes to shoot and throw his body around in his own end.  Matt Grzylcyk may not have a name that’s easy to pronounce, but he’s even more of a pain in the ass to play against.  He compliments McAvoy well and is an underrated puck mover.
Brandon Carlo brings size and mobility and former Golden Gopher and Wild defenseman Mike Reilly has fit in well on the 2nd pairing.  Former Duluth East Greyhound Derek Forbort and the always physical Connor Clifton round out the Bruins’ blueline.
Between the pipes, the Boston Bruins have moved on rather nicely from Tuukka Rask, deploying a rotation of Linus Ullmark and 23-year old Jeremy Swayman that has proven to be effective.  Boston utilized Ullmark on Tuesday against New Jersey so it will be interesting to see if they rotate or give the Swedish goalie another start.
With Talbot out, the Minnesota Wild called up Andrew Hammond (aka. the Hamburglar) from Iowa.  He will likely ride shotgun to Kaapo Kahkonen unless the 25-year old looks shaky.  Either way, expect the Bruins to want to test Kahkonen early and often tonight.  The Wild also signed Thief River Falls-native, Zane McIntyre to a two-way contract for the remainder of the 2021-22 season.
The other major call up was the promotion of blue chip prospects Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi, the team’s 1st round selections in 2019 and 2020 respectively.  For Boldy, the Milford, Massachusetts-native having his NHL debut in Boston is an added treat and will also probably be mentioned ad-nauseum by the ESPN broadcast.
The news of their call up received predictably giddy praise from an impatient (and anxious) Wild fan base.  Rossi was leading the Iowa Wild in scoring, and Boldy was playing at a point-per-game pace.  However it should be noted that most of their points in Iowa have come on the power play.
It will be interesting to see how they handle this transition as expectations for these players are perhaps a little too high in this writer’s opinion.  The adjustment in speed from the AHL and NHL could be a place where these two players struggle.
Connor Dewar also probably moves into the Wild lineup after a practice-injury sustained by Nick Bjugstad.  Dewar brings more speed than the former Blaine Bengal, but he’ll probably be on the 4th line.  The team also put embattled center Victor Rask on waivers, so there should be plenty of players who are eager to please out on the ice at TD Banknorth Garden.
Brodin’s return should help balance Minnesota’s blueline a bit.  No doubt, he and Matthew Dumba will get a lot of work tonight as they hope to shut down the Bruins’ attack.  Alex Goligoski needs to have a good game.  It will be interesting to see if the team keeps Calen Addison in the lineup.
Minnesota certainly made some moves, obviously the front office recognized there needed to be changes especially in the wake of so many injuries.  Whether those moves pay off and the team can end its 5-game losing streak remains to be seen.
What are the keys to a Wild victory?
1.  Keep it simple – I said this during the Winter Classic game, the Wild need to keep it simple.  With so much time between games and the fact the team has shown rust, it would be prudent to simplify their approach.  The east-west game isn’t there right now.  The focus should be on working their way in close and crashing the net as much as they can.
2.  Stay out of the penalty box – With so many new faces in the lineup, it is important the team do what it can to stay out of the penalty box.  Jared Spurgeon, Joel Eriksson Ek and to a lesser extent Jordan Greenway were used a lot on the penalty kill.  There’s also no Cam Talbot.  So it would be smart to allow Kahkonen to get settled without having to be on the penalty kill for significant stretches of the game.
3.  Play your game – This is mainly for the new faces in the lineup.  The team needs you and it wants you to play your game and bring the talents, skills you have to help stop the free fall.  It doesn’t mean Rossi, Dewar, Addison and Boldy have to try to win the game all by themselves, but they also must bring their talents which is what (in part) gave them the opportunity to be called up in the first place.  Try to relax, enjoy the moment and be the talented players they are.  The rest of the game will take care of itself.
What do you think will be important for the Minnesota Wild to do in order to get a victory in Boston?  Tell us on Twitter at @CreaseAndAssist!
About Theresa Ferries

Minnesota hockey fan trapped in Wisconsin

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