Minnesota Wild (20-10-2) 42pts 4th in the Central
3.63 Goals For Per Game (3rd in the NHL)
3.06 Goals Against Per Game (19th in the NHL)
17.4% Power Play (23rd in the NHL)
79.8% Penalty Kill (17th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #38 Ryan Hartman ~ 15G 13A = 28pts
2. #36 Mats Zuccarello ~ 8G 18A = 26pts
3. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 7G 15A = 22pts
4. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 13G 8A = 21pts
5. #25 Jonas Brodin ~ 3G 13A = 16pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 55 PIM’s
2. #21 Brandon Duhaime ~ 44 PIM’s
3. #38 Ryan Hartman ~ 29 PIM’s
1. #34 Kaapo Kahkonen (4-2-1) 2.67GAA .906%SP
2. #35 Andrew Hammond
Washington Capitals (20-7-8) 48pts 3rd in the Metropolitan
3.37 Goals For Per Game (8th in the NHL)
2.66 Goals Against Per Game (8th in the NHL)
14.6% Power Play (30th in the NHL)
83.2% Penalty Kill (8th in the NHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #8 Alexander Ovechkin ~ 24G 26A = 50pts
2. #92 Evgeni Kuznetzov ~ 11G 22A = 33pts
3. #74 John Carlson ~ 8G 24A = 32pts
4. #43 Tom Wilson ~ 9G 15A = 24pts
5. #9 Dmitry Orlov ~ 4G 13A = 17pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #43 Tom Wilson ~ 54 PIM’s
2. #9 Dmitry Orlov ~ 30 PIM’s
3. #21 Garnet Hathaway ~ 18 PIM’s
1. #30 Ilya Samsonov (13-2-3) 2.64GAA .908SV%
2. #41 Vitek Vanecek (6-4-5) 2.51GAA .910SV%
Tr. Van Riemsdyk~Schultz
M. Foligno~F. Gaudreau~Fiala
Winning feels good. Except when it doesn’t. Victories are supposed to feel good, especially when you haven’t had one in a while. It’s been a rough month or so for the Minnesota Wild. Between losses and games loss to illness on the opposition, the Wild simply haven’t had the ability to get things back on track. It also doesn’t help with a division foe has postponed games, simply because they’re not allowed to have fans in their arena, even though the team is healthy. Yes, I’m looking at you Winnipeg. Even as a fan, I find myself caught between “yes, let’s play” and “oh, we were supposed to have a game tonight?” And even after tonight’s game, we have another two games that have already been postponed. Oh yippie.
Thursday night’s game in Boston didn’t help matters either. Yes, we game out of that game with a much-needed regulation win, but at what cost? Minnesota now is without Kirill Kaprizov after a hard hit. Jonas Brodin is also listed as day-to-day. Then on top of all the hard hits, there was so much interference and holding by the Bruins that went uncalled, I wondered if we were transported back to 2002. But hey, we got an NHL debut goal out of Matt Boldy, in his hometown no less.
I’m not looking forward to tonight. Sure, we’re back home, but that might not be a good thing either (and I’ll get to that in a bit). If you thought some of the hits were questionable Thursday night, tonight might not be much better. Why you ask? Let us not forget that Washington has Tom Wilson on their roster. Yes, the same Tom Wilson, that somehow avoids the repeat offender rules by Player Safety. But then, you can never tag a guy for repeat offender if he never gets in trouble in the first place. Of course when you put George Parros in charge of that department, are you really surprised? Remember, the NHL has also had Chris Pronger in that role as well. The Minnesota Wild needs to keep their heads on a swivel.
It goes without saying, that the Minnesota Wild need to keep one player in particular in their collective sights all night. I don’t know how it happens, but so many teams give Alexander Ovechkin the time and space he needs to make things happen. He has his favorite spot on the ice (you know exactly what I’m talking about), and so many teams continually give him free reign in that spot. But I swear, Minnesota tends to give him even more time and space, which is the last thing they need to do.
Between callups from the Iowa Wild and using the “taxi squad”, Minnesota is going to have to focus even more on the little things. Tonight is definitely not the night to look for the fancy pass or the highlight reel shot on goal. Simple hockey is the way to go, and if they can keep things simple, they just might come out on top. Plus, they need to find a way to safely push back on some of the questionable physical elements of Washington’s game.
Regardless of how tonight goes, there’s one thing that Minnesota needs to take advantage of. Knowing that the games in Winnipeg and Edmonton have already been postponed and the next game is a home game against Anaheim, they need to use that time for practice. In the past, we’ve heard coaches and players say that XYZ isn’t working because they haven’t had a chance to practice. Well, here’s your chance. Yes, players do need some time off, but when you have this much available time at home, you need to take advantage of it. Especially once the league figures out how to reschedule all of these postponed games, there will be time to even practice. We all know Minnesota is a team that doesn’t usually play well after a long break in action. Let’s change that.
I can’t say I feel good heading into tonight’s game. If Minnesota had played regular games and gotten back in the win column earlier, I might have a more optimistic feeling. But that’s not the case. Yet at the same time, we’ve also seen this team overcome other such roster and schedule hardships when we didn’t think they could or would. Let’s see that team tonight.