Minnesota Wild @ Vancouver Canucks
9:00 PM Central
Watch on: Fox Sports-North
Listen on: KFAN 100.3 FM, Wild Radio Network
For weeks Minnesota fans have wondered who was at fault for the awful stretch that's seen the Wild lose 13 of 14 games. Was it the GM? The coach? The players?
With the firing of Mike Yeo on Saturday evening, the Wild will now be able to start figuring it out. If the Wild can win tonight, and get on a run in the coming weeks, we'll have a good sense that Yeo wasn't quite as effective as he'd been in years past. And if they continue to slide, well... I guess we'll know that the problems ran a bit deeper than a coaching issue.
Tonight will be John Torchetti's very first game coaching the Wild. It's the first game in a while where we just won't know what to expect. Is Torchetti going to mix up his lines, or is he going to stick with the units we've seen. How's he going to deal out ice time on defense? Is he going to lean on younger kids, or will he, too, rely on the veterans.
And, oh, my God, might we see something new on the power play.
I assume we'll have some updates on that later throughout the day on Hockey Wilderness. But in the meantime, let's take a quick look at Vancouver.
Believe it or not, the Canucks have the same point total as Minnesota, and are sitting at 4th place in the Pacific. Like Minnesota, they now find themselves outside the playoff bubble after making the postseason last year. What's responsible for the drop-off? Well, last season, Vancouver was one of the highest-scoring teams in the league, scoring 2.95 goals a game. That's more than half a goal per game than the Canucks have gotten this season.
The Sedin twins are now 35 and are finally starting to show their age, no longer producing at their normal point-per-game pace. Beyond the Sedins and Jannick Hansen, there's not anyone having anything resembling a standout offensive season. Their blueline has solid players on it, but they lack a star-caliber player with true dynamism. All-in-all, this is a team that you'd very much expect to see in the middle of the pack in the Pacific. Sure, a couple of things to like, but overall not a good team.
And yet, they still have the same amount of points as Minnesota.
If the Wild expect to get back into the playoff race, they'll have to prove that they're better than teams like Vancouver. And not just better in terms of process, they'll need to back up their play with actual results. Being 5 points out of the Wild Card, there's no more room for error.
Tonight's game starts at 9 Central (hooray, late starts!), so make sure to get a cup of coffee around 6 PM tonight. Stop by Hockey Wilderness later today for more info and analysis, and join us in our GameThread to discuss the game as it happens!
Let's go to the Tale of the Tape and projected lineups!
Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle
Jason Zucker - Mikael Granlund - Nino Niederreiter
Thomas Vanek - Erik Haula - Justin Fontaine
Ryan Carter - Jarret Stoll - Jason Pominville
Ryan Suter - Christian Folin
Marco Scandella - Mathew Dumba
Nate Prosser - Mike Reilly
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Jannik Hansen
Sven "Paul" Baertschi "Mall Cop" - Bo Horvat - Radim Vrbata
Alex Burrows - Linden Vey - Emerson Etem
Derek Dorsett - Jared McCann - Jake Virtanen
Dan Hamhuis - Chris Tanev
Ben Hutton - Matt Bartkowski
Yannick Weber - Luca Sbisa