Game 57: Philadelphia (25-24-7) @ Minnesota (27-24-5)
7pm CT- Xcel Energy Center
Watch - Fox Sports North & Fox Sports Go App
Radio - KFAN 100.3; Wild Radio Network
Two teams going in complete opposite ways. The Wild, just 4-4-1 in their last 10 while the Flyers are 8-1-1 in their last 10. During this stretch, the Flyers have now found themselves just six points out of a playoff spot while the Wild hold the second Wild Card position, but have a number of teams breathing down their neck. Coming into the match-up this evening, the Wild will be the more rested team as Philly played last night against Pittsburgh, coming out on the short end of the stick losing 4-1 although putting up 51 shots on Matt Murry.
Almost a month ago these two teams met back in Philly, and it was one the Wild wish they could’ve had back. The Wild would build a 2-0 lead early in the opening frame before the Flyers would tie things up after the first 20 minutes. The Wild would also take a brief 3-2 lead before Philadelphia would score three in-a-row ending the night for Devan Dubnyk. In the third, the Wild would pull within a goal but the Flyers were just too much for the Wild. A 7-4 Wild loss thanks to a James van Riemsdyk hat-trick and two goals each for Wayne Simmonds and Nolan Patrick.
This Time Out
The Wild will have a huge advantage for this contest tonight. Since the Flyers played last night, and Carter Hart was between the pipes, the Flyers will have to rely on Anthony Stolarz who hasn’t played since February 7th. Stolarz, just 3-3-3 on the year, posts a 3.26 GAA and .903 save percentage in 11 appearances this season, and has only two appearances since January 29th.
On the offensive side of things for the Flyers, they are lead by six-time All Star Claude Giroux who leads the team in both assists and points with 42 and 58 respectfully. As for putting the biscuit in the basket, Philadelphia is lead by Sean Couturier who has 23 goals so far this season.
As for the Wild, something’s got to give. The start to February has been one that is not needed due to the fact of how close the Western Conference Wild Card is. From the first Wild Card spot, to the last place team in the West, those nine teams are just separated by eight points. And with the Wild only picking up one win, three points in the first six of the month, times need to change. And quickly or the playoff streak will come to an end. Tonight will begin a stretch of five straight home games that are very crucial for the Wild to gain some ground and get into the playoffs.
The offense has to start getting back on track, and for one player in particular. One player that many saw having a good year has only scored one goal in the last fifteen games, and three goals in the last 39 games. That player, Mikael Graulund, who got the monkey off his back Sunday afternoon after scoring the Wild’s first goal against the Islanders. However, with Mikko Koivu done for the year, the scoring needs to increase from everyone or the Wild will be golfing early this year.
Also, something that has to change is the Wild scoring first in a game. The Wild have allowed their opponents to score the opening goal in 37 of their 56 games this season which is a league high. Starting fast and scoring first is very important, but even more important with the stretch the Wild have upcoming. The Blues, Blackhawks, and Kings are all starting to get hot, and now it’s time for the Wild to get hot.