Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Dallas Stars 3/6/22 @ 3:00PM CST at Xcel Energy Center

Minnesota Wild (32-18-3)  67pts  3rd in the Central

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

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

19.8% Power Play (19th in the NHL)

77% Penalty Kill (22nd in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #97 Kirill Kaprizov ~ 26G 42A = 68pts

2. #36 Mats Zuccarello ~ 17G 37A = 54pts

3. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 18G 30A = 48pts

4. #38 Ryan Hartman ~ 22G 18A = 40pts

5. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 18G 10A = 28pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 91 PIM’s

2. #21 Brandon Duhaime ~ 73 PIM’s

3. #38 Ryan Hartman ~ 61 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #33 Cam Talbot (20-12-1)  3.02GAA  .907%  1SO

2. #34 Kaapo Kahkonen (12-6-2)  2.74GAA  .915%

 

Vs.

 

Dallas Stars (31-20-3)  65pts  5th in the Central

2.89 Goals For Per Game (21st in the NHL)

2.87 Goals Against Per Game (14th in the NHL)

22.9% Power Play (10th in the NHL)

78.3% Penalty Kill (19th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #16 Joe Pavelski ~ 21G 36A = 57pts

2. #21 Jason Robertson ~ 26G 25A = 51pts

3. #24 Roope Hintz ~ 23G 22A = 45pts

4. #14 Jamie Benn ~ 13G 16A = 29pts

5. #3 John Klingberg ~ 1G 25A = 26pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #14 Jamie Benn ~ 66 PIM’s

2. #2 Jani Hakanpaa ~ 39 PIM’s

3. #12 Radek Faksa ~ 38 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #29 Jake Oettinger (18-6-1)  2.28GAA  .922%  1SO

2. #70 Braden Holtby (10-10-1)  2.78GAA  .913%

Lines:

Dallas Stars

J.Robertson~Hintz~Pavelski

Tufte~Ja.Benn~Gurianov

Raffl~Faksa~Glendening

Kiviranta~Peterson~Radulov

Lindell~Klingberg

R. Suter~Hakanpaa

Harley~Hanley

Oettinger

Holtby

Minnesota Wild

Kaprizov~Hartman~M.Foligno

Fiala~F.Gaudreau~Boldy

Duhaime~Eriksson Ek~Dewar

M.Shaw~Sturm~Bjugstad

Goligoski~Spurgeon

Brodin~Kulikov

Merrill~Addison

Talbot

Kahkonen

 

Today, we need to talk about some uncomfortable truths about the Minnesota Wild. I don’t know how your annual performance reviews happen at your workplace, but that’s about how this is going to be. Although, I’m not sure if there are going to be a lot of positives discussed today. Most employers like to discuss some positive, as to not completely beat down their employee. Well, at least not too much. However, I’m not going to be the benevolent kind of employer. No, this is going to be more of the evil dictator kind of employer, the kind you read about on Reddit. So buckle up my friends.

While Twitter can often be a bit of a toxic place, finding useful information frequently happens. It’s unfortunate that you sometimes have to dig through piles of excrement to find it. Anyway, Sound the Foghorn podcast host Brett Marshall posted this interesting and telling stat the other day.

Looking at those numbers, I think it’s imperative that we break them down. If you’re one of the “this team can do no wrong” kind of fans, I suggest you look away. Normally, I’m not a fan of the “in the last x number of games” stats. The exception to that is the record for the last ten games. But today, this kind of stat is important and telling. The penalty kill has not been kind to the Minnesota Wild, and in fact it was not kind last season either. In the last nine games, the Wild have the dubious honor of boasting a 59% penalty kill. I don’t know about you, but that right there tells you pretty much everything. In fact, it’s a decent correlation between the record for the last ten games.

If we the fans are seeing these kinds of numbers, you can pretty much bet the opponents are aware of them as well. So, what does that mean for everyone? If you’re an opponent, regardless of your power play success rate, you know the importance of getting the Wild to take a penalty. This can be done by getting under a player’s skin, and goading them into taking some sort of stupid retaliation penalty. This can also be accomplished by simply icing a faster team, so that Minnesota gets called for hooking, tripping, or interference. With the way things have been going lately, it doesn’t seem that difficult to do either.

Also, in those last nine games, the Minnesota Wild have spent almost 44 minutes on the penalty kill. I wonder when I see stats like that, if the team sees that as well. I think that if I were the coach, I’d have tweets like that printed up on large posters, and then hang them in the locker room. When teams check out mentally like the Wild have, they need the shocking truth in front of them. But back to the amount of time spent on the penalty kill. When you spend that much time down a man, it becomes harder and harder generating offense of your own. Per game, that’s almost 5 minutes spent having to work extra hard preventing a goal. Sadly, they’re not doing much preventing.

Friday night in Buffalo, the Sabres’ first two goals were power play goals. And then Thursday night in Philadelphia, Minnesota gave up one power play goal. But if that wasn’t bad enough, let’s take a look at the home-and-home against Calgary. In those two games, Minnesota gave up five power play goals. Things looked slight better in Toronto, as they managed to not give up any power play goals. However, the same couldn’t be said about the previous game in Ottawa. Even in a win, such as the one in Edmonton, they still gave up a power play goal. I could go further back and look at the two other games, but I think you get the bleak picture.

Now don’t get me wrong, as I am well aware that preventing all power play goals is possible. While that is true for every team, the issues lies with the fact that it’s hard to win when you give up this many power play goals. When they keep going to box, and keep giving up these goals, they have to continually play catch up. And it’s much, much harder to play catch up when it feels like you’re in the penalty box more often than not. There are times such as these, where I wish we had a defense first kind of coach like Jacques Lemaire, as this kind of penalty kill would simply not be allowed to happen. However, I can see the rage rolling off of Dean Evason these days.

If you weren’t feeling bad enough about the Wild’s penalty kill, I’m about to make you feel even worse. When you look at stats like penalty kill, you have to look at your opponents’ power play numbers. Today’s opponent, the Dallas Stars, is the perfect storm. Right now, the Stars are boasting a 22.9% power play, which means it’s the ninth best one in the league. While that places them in the top third of the league, it’s not perfect. During other seasons, I wouldn’t have sweated that kind of stat, but this season isn’t other seasons. And if the penalty kill isn’t bad enough, just combine that with the fact that we are playing Dallas. Regardless of what kind of season the Stars are having, they have the ability to look like true contenders against Minnesota. I may be moving into a blanket fort by the first intermission.

I wish I had better news to share with you, but at the same time I’m not going to sugar coat things either. If you’ve been with us long enough, you also know that even when things are going great, we’ll still find areas of concern with this team. When the Wild were sitting in first or second place in the Central Division, there were still problems bubbling below the surface. Those problems are no longer below the surface, and are visible to all across the league. It is up to the team now to figure things out.