If you watched the game tonight, there’s a pretty good chance that like me, you didn’t get to see the new Star Wars yet. So no spoilers alright!! But, if you happened to tune into the game, you got a chance to see Minnesota mop the floor with the Rangers. For the second game in a row, the Wild gave up a tidy two goals, but hung a big old crooked number on offense. These are the good times, so remember them well when the puck luck dries up.
Don’t get me wrong, Minnesota played hungry for the whole sixty minutes to soundly defeat a Ranger squad that was competing for the Eastern Conference final last year. But as the chart above shows, Minnesota was able to run with the Blueshirts for the first forty minutes, and then although they gave up a couple of goals, the Rangers really plateaued in the possession numbers while the Wild kept their boots on the gas.
When the whole team is on the plus side for possession, a chart like this doesn’t really tell us much…the fourth line was only on the ice for ten shot attempts for both teams! I tweeted today that I thought Stoll should face his former team while he had the chance, but really…Haula hasn’t been playing poorly and Coach Yeo didn’t really have much of a reason to scratch him this evening. While Stoll’s addition is about the closest thing to a zero-risk contract in the NHL today, Haula is stuck in a position where the coach is saying he’s not doing enough to make himself invaluable, but he’s not being given a chance to prove himself. There must be something that Yeo is seeing though, so until we see whether he gets scratched on the regular, no time to get too upset. Plus, there could easily be an injury and the lines would have to be shuffled again.
Once again, the Wild peppered the Ranger goalies from all areas of the ice. Scandella had a couple of absolute laser shots tonight, and unfortunately Antti Raanta got one right on the forehead. It looked pretty bad, but remember that goalie masks are pretty much designed to redistribute the force away from the skull, and so hopefully he’s alright. But, looking at the Ranger map above, they really didn’t bother with any shots from beyond the circles, preferring to get right down on the doorstep. I want to zoom in on the Wild map and show you something we don’t usually see.
Minnesota tallied five goals (three at even strength and two on the PP) but they also hit no less than three posts, and had a number of really well set-up plays that could have been goals. Nino missed a wide open net as he was falling to the ice. But I see seven missed shots from the high danger zone. As always, we can look at this a couple of ways. Either they get an attaboy for getting good chances, or a wag of the finger for missing the net. Obviously we have 20/20 hindsight now, so they’re not so bad given the final score. I think too, if you watched the last couple of games, the team is just clicking on all cylinders, which is great to see. Vanek and Koivu are displaying some chemistry that they really haven’t demonstrated until now.
The Wild continue their homestand against Nashville, so we get to see some fantastic #ConferenceIII action again over the weekend.
I’m not really sure right now what’s going to happen with blog and podcast content…Dan and I are very much looking forward to some Christmas vacation, so we may be incommunicado for a while. But, you never know, we might decide to record a pod while I’m in the Cities.