Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Edmonton Oilers 4/12/22 @ 7:00PM CST at Xcel Energy Center

Minnesota Wild (44-21-6)  94pts  2nd in the Central

3.63 Goals For Per Game (5th in the NHL)

3.07 Goals Against Per Game (18th in the NHL)

20.5% Power Play (18th in the NHL)

75.3% Penalty Kill (24th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #97 Kirill Kaprizov ~ 42G 47A = 89pts

2. #36 Mats Zuccarello ~ 22G 50A = 72pts

3. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 24G 39A = 63pts

4. #38 Ryan Hartman ~ 27G 27A = 54pts

5. #14 Joel Eriksson Ek ~ 21G 20A = 41pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 112 PIM’s

2. #44 Nic Deslauriers ~ 105 PIM’s*

3. #21 Brandon Duhaime ~ 96 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #33 Cam Talbot (28-12-3)  2.81GAA  .911%  2SO

2. #29 Marc-Andre Fleury (22-22-5)  2.89GAA  .910%  4SO*

 

Vs.

 

Edmonton Oilers (42-25-6)  90pts  2nd in the Pacific

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

3.14 Goals Against Per Game (20th in the NHL)

25.5% Power Play (4th in the NHL)

77.7% Penalty Kill (21st in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #97 Connor McDavid ~ 42G 66A = 108pts

2. #29 Leon Draisaitl ~ 50G 51A = 101pts

3. #18 Zach Hyman ~ 24G 24A = 48pts

4. #93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins ~ 10G 34A = 44pts

5. #75 Evan Bouchard ~ 10G 28A = 38pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #25 Darnell Nurse ~ 52 PIM’s

2. #44 Zack Kassian ~ 47 PIM’s

3. #97 Connor McDavid ~ 41 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #19 Mikko Koskinen (25-10-4)  3.04GAA  .904%  1SO

2. #41 Mike Smith (11-9-2)  3.19GAA  .903%

*- Denotes statistics from a previous team.

Lines:

Edmonton Oilers

E. Kane~McDavid~Puljujarvi

Hyman~Draisaitl~Yamamoto

Brassard~Nugent-Hopkins~Kassian

Foegele~R. McLeod~Ryan

Nurse~Ceci

Keith~Bouchard

Kulak~Barrie

Smith

Koskinen

Minnesota Wild

Kaprizov~Hartman~Zuccarello

Fiala~F. Gaudreau~Boldy

Greenway~Eriksson Ek~M. Foligno

Duhaime~Jost~Bjugstad

Middleton~Spurgeon

Brodin~Kulikov

Goligoski~Jo. Benn

Talbot

Fleury

 

Tuesday mornings are always busy in our house, but I would much prefer to sleep in. One of the major tasks that need to be completed is getting the weekly trash out to the curb. While this is usually gathered throughout the week, and it’s just a matter of rolling the trash can out to the curb, it’s still one added thing to the day. Our trash is usually picked up some time between 10am and noon, but of course the one day that you don’t have it out there before 7am, is the day they come at 7am. Trust me, I’ve had that happen, and I will never make that mistake again.

But once I get the trash out, I then need to sit down and write a preview. It’s a rare day, that the Minnesota Wild don’t play on a Tuesday, so of course it’s an added task to the day. With how Sunday’s game started out, I can tell you I wasn’t looking forward to today’s endeavor. But even when it was 3-2, I was still dreading today’s writing experience. While the Minnesota Wild have shown many times this season that they can rally back, I just didn’t think they had it in them. How wrong I was, but can you blame me for my pessimism?

Honestly, I’m still amazed at Sunday’s result. Those three goals by the Kings pretty much covered the full gamut of goals. They had a shorthanded goal, and unassisted goal, and a power play goal, however I think it was the shorthanded one that annoyed me the most. The Wild’s power play isn’t that great to begin with, but then allowing the Kings to score shorthanded was brutal. I don’t know about you, but I almost got up to go do housework. By no stretch of the imagination would I be considered a domestic goddess, but I would rather clean the refrigerator at that point than continue watching the game. I’m still surprised that I watched the entire thing and the comeback that happened.

I suppose we need to turn to the standings. While Sunday’s win got Minnesota back into the 2nd spot in the Central Division, it’s tenuous at best. Saint Louis is still on the Wild’s heels. Yes, the Wild have a game in hand, but eventually that game in hand will evaporate. Currently, Minnesota along with San Jose and the New York Islands have the fewest games played at 71. As of now, the most games played is 74, and that’s a pretty decent list of teams. For a while, there was a huge discrepancy in games played across the league due to Covid shutdowns. It appears that things have evened up quite a bit.

Things are not quite as tight in the Pacific Division. Sure they’re close, but not crazy. In the Central Division, things are clogged up at spots 2 and 3, and we’ll see those spots continually flip between Minnesota and Saint L0uis. It will take a little more work in the Pacific for spots 2 and 3 to change. Right now, the Edmonton Oilers are four points ahead  of the Los Angeles Kings. Obviously, the Oilers are going to look to make that 6 points. Minnesota needs help from the Bruins who are playing the Blues and Edmonton needs help from the Blackhawks who are playing the Kings.

While Kirill Kaprizov finally broke the Wild record of regular season goals scored by a single player, I honestly hope he just keeps pushing. Yet, at the same time he’s not what I would call a selfish player. He has this unbelievable ability to see the ice for both himself and his teammates at the same time. And he’s not alone in that ability. His line mate, Mats Zuccarello also has that uncanny ability to see things on the ice that no one else can see. Their teammates have had to learn to always be ready for a pass and to shoot, because they will see something.

Sunday, I was also beginning to worry about goaltending again. When Marc-Andre Fleury gave up those three Los Angeles Kings’ goals, I had a feeling we’d see Cam Talbot to start the third period. However the late first period goals by Kaprizov and Matt Boldy kept Fleury in goal. While that was great to see happen, it’s not a game plan this team can afford to repeat too many times. I don’t know about you, but it’s one thing to do against the Kings and another thing to do against teams that have players like Connor McDavid, who also has 42 goals.

With the exception of power play, playing the Oilers will feel a bit like playing the Wild. At least on paper. While the three other major team stats are very similar between the two teams, it is the power play that has me worried. Minnesota’s penalty kill often struggles against abysmal power plays, so facing the 4th best power play in the league isn’t exactly a recipe for success. When it comes to even strength play, the teams have similar Goals for Per Game and Goals Against Per Game. So this game could ultimately come down to goaltending, with the edge going to Minnesota..

After Sunday’s rally, I can’t say I’m feeling exactly comfortable heading into this one. Considering that they also have almost identical records in the last ten games, this is truly anyone’s game. It should come down to simply who wants it more. Hopefully Sunday’s game served as some sort of wakeup call for Minnesota. Because if it didn’t, Edmonton can make them pay for it.