Game #61: Minnesota Wild vs. Vancouver Canucks 2/28/2014 @ 9:00PM CST at Rogers’ Arena

Minnesota Wild (32-21-7)  71pts  4th in the Central

2.37 Goals For (24th)

2.38 Goals Against (6th)

18.1% Power Play (17th)

81.0% Penalty Kill (20th)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #29 Jason Pominville ~ 22G 18A = 40pts

2. #11 Zach Parise ~ 19G 18A = 37pts

3. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 8G 27A = 35pts

4. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 6G 27A = 33pts

5. #22 Nino Niederreiter ~ 11G 19A = 30pts

Top 3 PIM's:

1. #4 Clayton Stoner ~ 76 PIM's

2. #24 Matt Cooke ~ 50 PIM's

3. #2 Keith Ballard ~ 35 PIM's

Top Goaltenders:

1. #37 Josh Harding (17-5-2)  1.65GAA  .933%SP  3SO

2. #35 Darcy Kuemper (9-3-2)   2.29GAA   .921%SP   2SO

3. #32 Niklas Backstrom (5-11-2)   3.02GAA   .899%SP

 

 

Vs.

 

 

Vancouver Canucks (28-24-9)  65pts  5th in the Pacific

2.36 Goals For (25th)

2.52 Goals Against (12th)

13.7% Power Play (28th)

85.0% Penalty Kill (4th)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #22 Daniel Sedin ~ 13G 27A = 40pts

2. #33 Henrik Sedin ~ 9G 31A = 40pts

3. #17 Ryan Kesler ~ 20G 18A = 38pts

4. #20 Chris Higgins ~ 16G 17A = 33pts

5. #5 Jason Garrison ~ 6G 23A = 29pts

Top 3 PIM's:

1. #29 Tom Sestito ~ 169 PIM's

2. #9 Zack Kassian ~ 101 PIM's

3. #3 Kevin Bieksa ~ 91 PIM's

Top Goaltenders:

1. #1 Roberto Luongo (19-16-6)  2.38GAA  .917%SP  3SO

2. #31 Eddie Lack (9-8-3)  2.11GAA  .924%SP  3SO

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Ryan Suter

 

Five.  That's the number (last night and tonight's games) of back-to-back series we have until the end of the regular season.  If that's not bad enough, there's some sort of travel involved in every series.  For two of those back-to-back games, the Wild are the visiting team for both games.  To make up for all that travel, Minnesota will hopefully benefit from some extended home stands, including four games in March, not to mention getting the last three games of the regular season in the friendly confines of Xcel Energy Center.  And taking a look at the standings for the playoffs, while Minnesota is currently looking solid in their positioning for one of the Wild Card spots, March will definitely be a make or break month for the Wild.  And trust me, those teams still trying to make a push into one of the Wild Card spots will have Minnesota as a target.  Just because our team name and the spot we currently possess are one in the same, it is far from a guaranteed spot.

Last night in Edmonton, I saw a Wild team that finally seemed to figure out what 'team' really means.  We saw players like Kyle Brodziak and Clayton Stoner stand up for their teammates.  Heck, Stoner even came back after dislocating his finger, by simply having a couple of fingers taped together.  The skaters all seemed to be firing on all cylinders, and I'm still wondering who fitted Mikael Granlund's skates with rocket boosters.  The speed and finesse our young Finnish skater demonstrated last night, has hopefully dispelled all the worries many of had when he was drafted.  Last night, he looked to be his own man, and not a clone of Pierre-Marc Bouchard.  On top of skaters looking the best we've seen all season, we once again got great goaltending from Darcy Kuemper.  Considering how his start with the Wild went this season, I'm pretty sure he's rather pleased with his numbers now.  I also wonder if he owes Jared Spurgeon a steak dinner for his phenomenol reverse five-hole play to keep Edmonton off of the scoresheet.

Of course, we all need to temper last night's win with the reminder that it was against Edmonton.  I know I'm not alone when I express my wonder at how they can be so horrible.  A team that accumulates that many, and often consecutive, first overall picks should be vastly better than they are.  For a while, the Chicago Blackhawks had a few first overall, or at the very least top five, picks, and their fortunes have been much better.  When you're that bad with the talent you pick, you pretty much have to start picking apart their scouting, player development, coaching and front office.  Something is not right in Edmonton, and short of a complete organizational overhaul, I don't see anything changing.  But tonight, the Wild are no longer in Edmonton.  Tonight, the Wild have far bigger (and annoying) fish to fry.  Vancouver desperately needs tonight's two points if they have any hope of sneaking into one of the Wild Card spots.  A win tonight for Vancouver could find them in the second Wild Card spot, behind Minnesota.  I'm sure Dallas would appreciate us winning tonight and that Colorado clobbers Phoenix.  Vancouver will definitely be hungry tonight, and it will be interesting to see how the Wild handle the back-to-back situation, especially when the back-to-back really means something.

Tonight will truly begin the real test of what this team is made of.  Hopefully last night was a demonstration of how things are going to be and not just a fluke.

 

Jack Jablonski & Jenna Privette

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