Wild Looking to Repeat Game 3 From a Year Ago
Wild Game Day number 3
Wild Record (0-1-1 1 pts)
Home Record (0-0-1)
Opponent: Chicago Black Hawks (2-0-1 5 pts)
Road Record (2-0-0)
Site: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN
Time: 7:00PM CT
TV: Fox Sports North (FSN)
Last season results:
10/12 Wild 5 @ Blackhawks 2
11/4 Blackhawks 2 @ Wild 0
12/17 Wild 1 @ Blackhawks 4
1/10 Wild 2 @ Blackhawks 1
2/10 Blackhawks 0 @ Wild 3
It an odd stroke of irony the Wild meet the Blackhawks in the third game of their season following an odd early season four day break, just as they did a year ago. Following that same trend the Wild enter tonight's game with the very same 0-1-1 record as they had a year ago while the Hawks have a 2-0-1 record this year much like the 3-0-1 mark they had when the teams met for the first time a year ago.
The Wild prevailed 5-2 in Chicago that night one year ago tomorrow, but in the process they lost three forwards during the game with Charlie Coyle's and Nino Niederreiter's injuries having lingering effects for a good majority of the remainder of the season.
Tonight the Wild look to get into the win column for the first time of course, but even more critical is the need for them to put pucks in the net. Having scored just two goals through the first two games of the season is definitely cause for alarm for Bruce Boudreau and his team.
Boudreau went to work this week juggling his lines in hopes of kick starting the offense. He moved Joel Eriksson Ek to the top line with Eric Staal and Jason Zucker, while shifting Mikael Granlund to play with Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise. Niederreiter moves to the third line with Jordan Greenway and Charlie Coyle. The Wild fourth is the question mark and will be for the foreseeable future until something is done to infuse some speed into the lineup.
Eric Fehr and Matt Hendricks have their better days well in their rearview mirror, and Marcus Foligno will never be confused with a speed burner. J. T. Brown has not been able to convince Boudreau that he belongs in the lineup, but maybe BB will succumb to the fact that he absolutely needs Brown's speed in the lineup.
Chicago, much like the Wild have been a disappointment over the past several seasons with early playoff exits, and last season missing the dance altogether. of course that was due in large part to the health of Corey Crawford who missed most of the 2nd half of last season. The main difference,oh by the way, for the Hawks is those three Stanley Cups that they have won prior to their recent Spring woes.
For the Wild they are searching for the elusive extended playoff run to even have a chance at the big prize. Either way the Hawks and the Wild are expecting to be much better this time around.
Cam Ward is holding down the Hawks net until Corey Crawford is cleared to return. The former Hurricane and 2006 Stanley Cup winner has not been great through the first three games despite the 2-0-1 record giving up 14 goals and sporting a whopping 4.62 GAA to go with a .843 save percentage.
That said the Chicago offense has been scorching with 15 goals scored through three games. Each of the Blackhawks three games have taken extra time with each being decided prior to the skills competition.
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane surprisingly haha lead the way with 5 and 4 goals respectively through three games. The Wild know all about those two along with Brandon Saad, Artem Anisimov, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, and last years star rookie Alex DeBrincat who scored 28 goals and 52 points in his inaugural NHL season,but the Hawks have a some new faces that are making names for themselves through the early going.
Henri Jokiharju the former 2017 1st round (29th overall) pick leads Chicago with five assists from the back end and Dominik Kahun the free agent signee from the Czech Republic give the Hawks some added some more skill to the lineup. Veteran defenseman and former Flyer, Brandon Manning was signed as a free agent along with another former multiple Stanley Cup winner Chris Kunitz.
October is usually a high scoring month in the NHL and not a lot of stock should be put into the results during the first month of the season. That said teams can really put themselves in a bad spot if they don't figure things out quickly.
I put the Wild firmly in that category as the lack of offense is alarming in the fact that the Wild do not have a true goal scorer on their roster. They are a team that is built to come at you with four lines that all need to contribute something in order for the team to have sustained success.
Boudreau is going to be challenged every night to find the right combinations to get the job done. But I believe his biggest challenge will come in the form of how willing he is to adapt to today's NHL.
What I mean by that is, will Boudreau come to grips with this is a young man's league and start putting more trust in Matt Dumba, Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter, etc to take on the prominent roles, and slot Mikko Koivu into a role that is better suited for him to thrive and shift Ryan Suter to a more supporting role rather than thinking these guys have the same game they had in their prime.
I am not saying that Koivu and Suter are not great players and extremely hard workers. No one will ever question that. But their days of being the top line center and minute munching defenseman should be behind them both. They are still very prominent players but if their roles were tempered down the results should actually be more productive for both players and their linemates.
Big game tonight for the Wild, they need the W to build the confidence level.
It's always Hockey Day in the State of Hockey!
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