Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Toronto Maple Leafs @ 7:00PM CST at Xcel Energy Center

Minnesota Wild (2-1-0)  4pts  2nd in the Central

4.00 Goals For (4th in the NHL)

3.00 Goals Against (16th in the NHL)

15.4% Power Play (19th in the NHL)

100% Penalty Kill (3rd in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 1G 3A = 4pts

2. #3 Charlie Coyle ~ 2G 1A = 3pts

3. #7 Chris Stewart ~ 1G 2A = 3pts

4. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 1G 1A = 2pts

5. #56 Erik Haula ~ 1G 1A = 2pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #7 Chris Stewart ~ 19 PIM’s

2. #11 Zach Parise ~ 6 PIM’s

3. #3 Charlie Coyle ~ 4 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #40 Devan Dubnyk (1-1-0)  3.05GAA  .875%SP

2. #35 Darcy Kuemper (1-0-0)  3.00GAA  .900%SP

 

 

Vs.

 

 

Toronto Maple Leafs (1-0-2)  4pts  6th in the Atlantic

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

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

20% Power Play (14th in the NHL)

77.8% Penalty Kill (19th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #34 Auston Matthews ~ 4G 1A = 5pts

2. #29 William Nylander ~ 1G 3A = 4pts

3. #44 Morgan Reilly ~ 0G 3A = 3pts

4. #43 Nazem Kadri ~ 2G 0A = 2pts

5. #18 Milan Michalek ~ 1G 1A = 2pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #15 Matt Martin ~ 12 PIM’s

2. #43 Nazem Kadri ~ 5 PIM’s

3. #12 Connor Brown ~ 4 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #31 Frederik Andersen (1-0-2)  3.60GAA  .876%SP

2. #35 Jhonas Enroth N/A

I’m going to go out on a limb, albeit in a cautiously optimistic way, and say I’m liking the changes on this team. Sure, there are things that can still be addressed, but in these early days we can tell that we again have a coach who is in charge. Not only is Bruce Boudreau in charge, he’s making intelligent changes. Moving Mikael Granlund to the wing has been brilliant, and it makes you wonder why no one bothered to do this sooner. Heck, even Mikko Koivu, aka “Captain Clydesdale” is looking like a new player. Now mind you, he’s never going to be a speedy player, but even he has a new spring in his step. In these early games, it appears that Koivu has found a new gear. But like I’ve said, it’s still early in the season and there’s a long way yet to go. It’s going to take some time to see if Boudreau can really keep some of the egos in line and be the coach instead of the friend or annoying older brother.

Let’s talk about some other changes from last season. The power play and the penalty kill last season were cringe-worthy for good portions. So far, the power play is improving. While it’s near that bottom third of the league, at least they’re not sitting at a 0% power play. That first game in Saint Louis, we didn’t see any power play goals. However in the next two games, we’ve seen power play goals. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take just about any improvement on the power play we can get. And with its counterpart, the penalty kill, I’m quite pleased. There’s nothing I hate more than giving up goals while short a player. Sure, it’s not unusual to be scored on while on the penalty kill, as that is the point of taking a penalty. Yet, I do expect defensive responsibility on the penalty kill. So far, I feel like we’ve seen that as well.

So tonight is one of those teams that usually cause problems for Minnesota. The Toronto Maple Leafs should not cause the Wild fits. They’ve been a head case team for Minnesota from the beginning. I don’t know if it’s the mystique based on their long history in the league or what it is. However, that trio of teams from eastern Canada have always been problematic. And now to make things even worse, Toronto has the added benefit of Auston Matthews. I’m sure we’re going to here Anthony LaPanta and Mike Greenlay go on and on and on tonight about Matthews debut game where he scored four goals. But let’s take a step back people. Since opening night, he hasn’t done much of anything. Of course the Maple Leafs haven’t done much of anything since that night either. Let’s just hope they don’t pull themselves together enough to get their second win of the season.