Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. New York Rangers 1/28/22 @ 7:00PM CST at Madison Square Garden

Minnesota Wild (25-10-3)  53pts  4th in the Central

3.82 Goals For Per Game (3rd in the NHL)
2.95 Goals Against Per Game (16th in the NHL)
17.7% Power Play (21st in the NHL)
80.0% Penalty Kill (17th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #97 Kirill Kaprizov ~ 17G 32A = 49pts
2. #36 Mats Zuccarello ~ 12G 26A = 38pts
3. #38 Ryan Hartman ~ 18G 14A = 32pts
4. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 11G 18A = 29pts
5. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 17G 10A = 27pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 75 PIM’s
2. #21 Brandon Duhaime ~ 56 PIM’s
3. #38 Ryan Hartman ~ 42 PIM’s
Top Goaltenders:
1. #33 Cam Talbot (16-8-1)  2.96GAA  .910%SP
2. #34 Kaapo Kahkonen (9-2-2)  2.50GAA  .921%SP
New York Rangers ( 28-12-4)  60pts  3rd in the Metropolitan
3.00 Goals For Per Game (15th in the NHL)
2.59 Goals Against Per Game (4th in the NHL)
24.8% Power Play (10th in the NHL)
83.6% Penalty Kill (5th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #10 Artemi Panarin ~ 12G 36A = 48pts
2. #23 Adam Fox ~ 7G 40A = 47pts
3. #20 Chris Kreider ~ 30G 13A = 43pts
4. #93 Mika Zibanejad ~ 16G 27A = 43pts
5. #16 Ryan Strome ~ 9G 23A = 32pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #8 Jacob Trouba ~ 63 PIM’s
2. #16 Ryan Strome ~ 44 PIM’s
3. #29 Dryden Hunt ~ 33 PIM’s
Top Goaltenders:
1. #31 Igor Shesterkin (20-4-2)  2.07GAA  .937%SP  3SO
2. #40 Alexandar Georgiev (7-7-2)  2.98GAA  .898%SP
New York Rangers
LaFreniere~R. Strome~Goodrow
Minnesota Wild
M.Foligno~Eriksson Ek~Greenway
Jo. Benn~Dumba


If you need a bit of a pick me up to start your weekend, please check out the most recent parody music offering by our friend Kari Wahlen. When we heard she was coming out with a new musical gem, I honestly couldn’t figure out what angle she was going take. Normally when she releases a new gem, it’s about some bad habit of the Minnesota Wild. This time, she picked a positive, using the classic tune by the one and only Dolly Parton as her inspiration.

However, is this trend really a positive? I’m not sure if we should be happy about the fact that Minnesota leads the National Hockey League in 6-on-5 goals. When we look back at these games, we need to pause and ask “why did we have to pull the goaltender at the end of regulation?” We all know that regardless of the current standings, we are still seeing too many games where there’s too many passes, or trying to make fancy passes, or not doing any number of things they need to be doing. Sadly, this is a team that still goes down a goal or two early, and has to continually dig themselves out of the hole they dug for themselves.

Now don’t get me wrong, it makes for some exciting hockey. It’s one thing to do so against a cellar dwelling team, but it’s a completely different story against a team like tonight’s opponent. Sure, the New York Rangers are middle of the league when it comes to goals for per game, but defensively they’re going to be a tough nut to crack. If we look at both goals against per game and penalty kill, both of those stats are in the top five in the NHL. Yes, if it was just about scoring without any thought to team defense, Minnesota has the clear upper hand. However, hockey is not just offense.

To clarify matters even more, the Wild’s power play isn’t getting the job done. Yes, every once in a while we’ll get a game where they tally one, or maybe two, power play goals. However, those kinds of game are few and far between. And then to add insult to injury, there are plenty of games where the officials often turn a blind eye on the opponent’s infractions. Then when they do manage to get a power play, they often just waste the two minutes, or worse, take an even up call during the power play.

So, what do the Wild need to do tonight? Looking at the individual Rangers’ stats, I would say the first step would be to keep an eye on Chris Kreider. First off, he’s tallied 30 goals this season. Secondly, he’s on the top line with Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin. In fact, that entire top line is concerning with a total of 58 goals between them. Compared to Minnesota’s top line with their 47 goals, I know I’d take New York’s hands down. Of course, there are probably teams around the league that would take our top line in a heartbeat.

However, we need to start talking about goaltending. I don’t know about you, but I would be highly surprised if the Rangers don’t start Igor Shesterkin tonight. When playing a team that is scoring just shy of four goals a game, they’re going to put out their best guy. Another reason for playing their main goaltender tonight, will be a way to honor their previous main guy, Henrik Lundqvist. Tonight, the Rangers will be retiring his number, with his best friend Mats Zuccarello in attendance. On the other hand, Minnesota will be starting Kaapo Kahkonen as Cam Talbot is dealing with a strained groin.

So here we go, a possible goaltending battle on a night honoring a goaltender. So here we go, with a battle of offense vs defense. And here we go, heading into the last week or so before an unneeded All-Star break. Hopefully, things stay healthy, because who remembers the 2016-17 season with its mumps outbreak?