It's gameday Wilderness!
Tonight's game should be an interesting one for the Wild before they even step on the ice for pre-game warmups. As Wild beat writer extraordinaire Michael Russo reported yesterday, Madison Square Garden has a women's basketball double-header this morning, so the team isn't even allowed in the arena until late this afternoon.
So, on top of the typical horrible ice that is MSG, the players are unable to go through their typical gameday routines, and unable to have a morning skate. Most disastrous, Niklas Backstrom will be unable to participate in his turtle walk routine.
To add insult to injury so to speak, that means most likely no coaches comments until just before gametime. Mikael Granlund hasn't been cleared by Wild medical staff for games yet, and due to the MSG arena fiasco, we may not know if he's playing until right before gametime. This also means we won't have the line-up in the gamethread. We will try and update it during the game however.
We are also going to try something a little different today. Instead of doing the 5 questions of the game, we are going to try posting some keys to the game in the preview threads, and talk about how they played out in the wrap up. Feel free to add your ideas for keys to the game in the comment section.
Wild keys to the game
- Score the first goal- The Wild have given up the first goal in the last 10 road games. They have lost 7 of those 10 games and won 1 in a SO. The Wild are also winning 82% of the time after scoring the first goal, and the Rangers are right on their heels percentage wise. However, the Rangers have the lowest percentage of winning after trailing first in the league.
- Take less penalties- The Wild have the 24th ranked penalty kill in the league. They've allowed 26 goals during penalty kills. This needs to stop.
- Tighten the defense/give the goalie some help- The defense can play a bit of a sloppy game when Josh Harding is in net. Niklas Backstrom is a rusty goaltender who has gone from playing 3 games a week to playing maybe once a week. Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin need to play better than they have been. The forwards need to pitch in more on defensive responsibilities.
- Score more than one or two goals- This is pretty self explanatory. The more goals, the higher the chance of winning.