Game #78: Minnesota Wild vs Pittsburgh Penguins, Saturday 4-5-14, 7:00pm CDT, Xcel Energy Center

Minnesota Wild (39-26-12)  90pts  4th in the Central

2.39 Goals For (27th)

2.42 Goals Against (6th)

18.1% Power Play (14th)

79.2% Penalty Kill (27th)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #29 Jason Pominville ~ 27G 26A = 53pts

2. #11 Zach Parise ~ 28G 23A = 51pts

3. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 10G 39A = 49pts

4. #26 Matt Moulson ~ 22G 25A = 47pts

5. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 7G 35A = 42pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #21 Kyle Brodziak ~ 59 PIM’s

2. #39 Nate Prosser ~ 56 PIM’s

3. #24 Matt Cooke ~ 54 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #35 Darcy Kuemper (12-8-4)  2.43GAA  .915%SP 2SO

2. #30 Ilya Bryzgalov (9-8-8)  2.76GAA  .909%SP  2SO

 

Vs.

 

Pittsburgh Penguins (49-23-5)  103pts  1st in the Metropolitan

3.01 Goals For (5th)

2.46 Goals Against (8th)

23.3% Power Play (2nd)

85.3% Penalty Kill (3rd)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #87 Sidney Crosby ~ 36G 66A = 102pts

2. #71 Evgeni Malkin ~ 23G 49A = 72pts

3. #14 Chris Kunitz ~ 35G 32A = 67pts

4. #18 James Neal ~ 24G 31A = 55pts

5. #36 Jussi Jokinen ~ 18G 35A = 53pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #15 Tanner Glass ~ 83 PIM’s

2. #41 Robert Bortuzzo ~ 72 PIM’s

3. #14 Chris Kunitz ~ 64 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #29 Marc-Andre Fleury (37-18-4)  2.35GAA  .916%SP  5SO

2. #37 Jeff Zatkoff (12-5-1)  2.58GAA  .915%SP  1SO

 

Matt Cooke pursues a Pittsburgh defender.

Numbers, numbers everywhere.  Sports are always a game of numbers, and those numbers become even more important the closer one gets to the playoffs.  Now, I will admit, math was never my strong suit in school.  As a classically trained musician, the numbers I was most comfortable with are 2, 3, 4 and sometimes 6.  Those numbers make complete sense for musicians.  However, don’t get me started on 7 or 11 when it comes to music, as those asymmetrical meters just throw me for a loop.  I’m talking to you Igor Stravinsky.  The numbers we have to work with right now don’t involve a lot of math or music, so let’s take a look at them.

First off, is the all-important number 5.  The Minnesota Wild have five games remaining.  We all know how important each and every one of those games are.  However, none of those games are going to be easy.  Looking at the opponents, it’s almost the worst possible group of opponents for Minnesota: Pittsburgh, Winnipeg, Boston, St. Louis and Nashville.  Within those 5 remaining games, there are heaps of other important numbers.  Of those 5 games, 4 of them are at home.  If ever there was a time to play extremely well in front of the home fans, it is now.  Also, within those 5 remaining games, there are 10 points at stake.  Considering how things have gone since the Olympic Break, I would be happy taking between 5-7 of the available 10 points.  It’s not going to be easy, because of the 5 remaining teams we face, 3 of them already have guaranteed an appearance in the playoffs.  The other 2 opponents would love nothing more than to play spoiler.

Another important number is 2.  That number refers to the number of Wild Card spots in each conference.  Right now, those spots in the Western Conference belong to Minnesota and Phoenix.  Now the Coyotes would love nothing more than to catch up and surpass Minnesota for that first Wild Card spot.  However with Minnesota earning 5 of 6 points in their last three games and the Coyotes having lost their last four games, Phoenix has taken a little bit of pressure off of the Wild.  Phoenix has 4 games remaining, and they’re about as ugly as our remaining 5 games.  They have Columbus, Nashville, San Jose, and their last game, Dallas.  The Stars are currently just 1 point behind Phoenix.  The Stars have more winnable games, and so the ultimate battle is going to be behind Dallas and Phoenix, and it will certainly be interesting to watch.  And as I have said before, I am more concerned with how Minnesota plays than our opponents.  If the Wild are going to make the playoffs, I want it to be on their own merits and not on the failures of others.

Then there is the number 21.  That of course being the player number of none other than Kyle Brodziak.  As fans, we have watched game after game where he gets a fantastic scoring chance and he either sends it wide and hits a pipe or crossbar.  This season he has only 6 goals.  Even in last season’s abbreviated season he had 8 goals.  Two seasons ago, he had 22 goals.  I can think of at least 5 times where, had Brodziak scored, they might have ultimately won the game.  Those kinds of numbers just make you shake your head.  What makes you shake your head even more over #21, is why Brodziak hasn’t been scratched.  Sure, he’s getting the scoring chances, but when you continue to not convert those chances into goals, something needs to change.  But then considering how long it took the coaching staff to bench #15 Dany Heatley, we shouldn’t begin to even imagine a scratched Brodziak.  And speaking of Heatley, our prayers have been answered yet again.  Tonight, he will be sitting and coming back is #22, Nino Niederreiter.  Well, tonight’s Minnesota Wild just got much faster.

So yes, the numbers are very, very important.  And who better to talk numbers than childhood hero, Count von Count:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIniljT5lJI

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