Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Washington Capitals 4/3/22 @ 6:00PM CST at Verizon Center


Minnesota Wild (42-20-5)  89pts  2nd in the Central

3.61 Goals For Per Game (4th in the NHL)

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

20.9% Power Play (18th in the NHL)

76.5% Penalty Kill (22nd in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #97 Kirill Kaprizov ~ 39G 45A = 85pts

2. #36 Mats Zuccarello ~ 20G 49A = 69pts

3. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 23G 38A = 61pts

4. #38 Ryan Hartman ~ 27G 25A = 52pts

5. #14 Joel Eriksson Ek ~ 19G 18A = 37pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 105 PIM’s

2. #44 Nic Deslauriers ~ 95 PIM’s*

3. #21 Brandon Duhaime ~ 84 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #33 Cam Talbot (27-12-2)  2.83GAA  .911SV%  2SO

2. #29 Marc-Andre Fleury (22-21-5)  2.88GAA  .909SV%  4SO**




Washington Capitals (37-21-10)  84pts  4th in the Metropolitan

3.24 Goals For Per Game (12th in the NHL)

2.87 Goals Against Per Game (11th in the NHL)

19.5% Power Play (21st in the NHL)

80.8% Penalty Kill (12th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #8 Alexander Ovechkin ~ 42G 36A = 78pts

2. #92 Evgeny Kuznetsov ~ 22G 43A = 65pts

3. #74 John Carlson ~ 11G 44A = 55pts

4. #43 Tom Wilson ~ 21G 26A = 47pts

5. #43 Conor Sheary ~ 16G 18A = 34pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #43 Tom Wilson ~ 85 PIM’s

2. #21 Garnet Hathaway ~ 51 PIM’s

3. #9 Dmitry Orlov ~ 42 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #31 Ilya Samsonov (19-9-4)  2.95GAA  .899%  3SO

2. #41 Vitek Vanecek (17-10-5)  2.56GAA  .914%  3SO

*- Denotes combined stats for Deslauriers between Anaheim & Minnesota

**- Denotes combined stats for Fleury between Chicago & Minnesota


Washington Capitals










Minnesota Wild


Jost~F. Gaudreau~Fiala

Greenway~Eriksson Ek~M. Foligno








As you can see, today’s preview is getting to you a little later than normal. The first chapter in what I’m calling “Adventures in Plumbing” wore me out, so sleeping in was of great priority. Especially since I didn’t get the all important Saturday afternoon nap. I’m just glad that yesterday’s game had an early start time. While the Minnesota Wild are on the East Coast, the same cannot be said about the Iowa Wild, who played last night in San Diego. At the very least, I’m just pleased that Minnesota has no games in the Pacific or Mountain Time Zones. In fact, after tonight Minnesota only has to travel outside of the Central Time Zone once for the remainder of the regular season, and that is a quick jaunt up to Montreal. This should all help our sleep.

I don’t know about you, but I definitely was worried about last night’s game against Carolina. On paper, the Hurricanes are a force to be reckoned with. Plus they’re in a battle for the Eastern Conference title, so had something to fight for. However, their loss and an epic rally comeback win by the Florida Panthers now has the Hurricanes in second place in the East. I kind of feel bad for whoever Carolina’s next opponent is, because I would imagine they’re going to play an angry game.

Tonight’s opponent will most likely be another tough one for Minnesota. While they’re not sitting at the top of their division, that might make them even more dangerous. Right now, the Washington Capitals are fighting for a Wild Card spot. In fact, they’re currently in possession of the second Wild Card spot. With the way the points are looking in the Eastern Conference, it looks like Washington will finish in that second spot. Looking at the standings the Boston Bruins (first Wild Card) are seven points ahead and the Pittsburgh Penguins (3rd in Metropolitan) are eight points ahead. Also, don’t look for any teams to catch Washington either, as the New York Islanders trail Washington by 13 points.

So while they may be a bit miffed about being only in a Wild Card spot, that’s not the only concern. Right now, the Capitals are the hockey versions of a band getting back together. For a long time this season, Washington has been without Nicklas Backstrom. Well he’s back, and even with his long absence, he still is in 7th place on the Washington roster when it comes to points. Of course, most of those points are coming from assists, but that’s nothing new. He’s on the second line with Anthony Mantha and T. J. Oshie. Right now, center Nic Dowd is listed day-to-day, so I would imagine he’ll be back soon. While they’re currently listed on IR right now, I would imagine that Trevor van Riemsdyk will also make his return soon.

When looking at the last ten games for each team, clearly Minnesota has the lead with an 8-1-1 record in comparison with Washington’s 6-3-1. Minnesota’s record is clearly assisted by the extensive home win streak, but no one can claim that Washington’s record is due to them playing a grueling road schedule. No, they’ve had a nice mix of home and road, and none of those road games were outside of the Eastern Time Zone. However, they do have three road games remaining in the season that take them either to the Mountain or Pacific Time Zones. Even better, is that they’re in the penultimate week of the season. Personally, I love seeing Eastern Conference teams get hit with a grueling travel schedule like that late in the regular season. Welcome to the Western Conference.

Traditionally, back-to-back games have not fared well for the Minnesota Wild. However, this season it almost doesn’t matter. They’re finding ways to not let the fatigue set in, but are almost able to generate the energy needed out of no where. I almost wonder if there’s been an increase in stamina training or if the overall workout regimen has been improved. Even some of the slower players seem to have an extra step in their stride, and that’s certainly a good thing. But even late in the game, where in the past this team would look fatigued, they almost seem to have found a second wind. Whatever they’ve done, I’m not going to complain.

Another thing that has changed and improved is obviously goaltending. When Cam Talbot was the main goaltender, I’m not sure if felt a lot of pressure from Kaapo Kahkonen. When you’re the “big dog” you can get a bit complacent. Ever since Marc-Andre Fleury joined the team, whenever Talbot gets the start, his play seems far better and more focused. Even in the loss against Pittsburgh, with the exception of the first Penguins goal, Talbot has looked almost like a man on a mission. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take an improved Talbot by any means available. A saying out of the Buddhist tradition, explains this so well: “A flower does not think about competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms.”

If there’s anything the Wild need to do, is keep doing what they’ve been doing lately on the penalty kill. Firstly, it doesn’t feel like they’re taking as many penalties in general. I don’t know about you, but that’s certainly a step in the right direction. While Washington’s power play is fairly anemic, that hasn’t prevented teams with horrible power plays from scoring on Minnesota. Secondly though, it feels like Minnesota has figured out how the penalty kill is supposed to work. In recent games, they either don’t give up any power play goals or just give up one. And even better, the improved penalty kill also seems to correlate with an overall improved team defense. Neither are where I would want them to be, but I’ll take what we’re getting right now.

If Minnesota can come out and play a calm game, yet still play with some energy, Minnesota stands a good chance at taking home the win. I don’t know about you, but right now this team is fun to watch. And somedays, that’s all you can ask for. Well that, and a nice afternoon nap.

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