WHO: MINNESOTA WILD VS ANAHEIM DUCKS
WHERE: XCEL ENERGY CENTER, ST. PAUL, MN
WHEN: 7:00 PM CST, FOX SPORTS NORTH | FOX SPORTS WISCONSIN | FM 100.3 KFXN
Honestly, at this point in the swoon, it matters not whom the Wild are playing against, but if the Wild look like a competent hockey team. Before I get too much into tonight’s game, I have to share some thoughts about the game against the Blues. I’ve witnessed some pretty piss-poor hockey as a fan of the Minnesota Wild, but being in attendance Sunday, after spending a good chunk of change for the Wife and me to get away for the day, I’ve never seen such a terribly dreadful performance than what was on display Sunday. The team looked like they were going through the motions, and the quotes post-game by Zach Parise and Marcus Foligno did not quell the pure disappointment I felt in purchasing those tickets.
I didn’t boo, but I turned the “Let’s Go Wild” chant that struggled to find teeth in the apathetic crowd into “This is Dreadful” clap* clap* clapclapclap*.
After the utter destruction witnessed by a national audience, the Wild now turn their attention to the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks have been equally abysmal after they axed head coach Randy Carlyle, and GM Bob Murray placed himself behind the bench...as unqualified as he is to coach a team. Nevertheless, the Ducks have one just twice in their last ten games. Somehow their most recent win came just last game when they beat up on the defending Stanley Cup champs en route to a 5-2 win.
The Ducks are the worst team in the league (31st) in scoring and bottom half of the league (21st) in the amount they give up. The penalty kill is in the middle of the pack (16th) and he power play is downright awful (29th).
Ryan Miller, of all people, took over the top spot on the list of wins by an American-born goalie. Pretty awesome feat for him, especially when you consider the fact that I just found out that Miller was still active on an NHL roster. John Gibson is their guy, and he’s been great despite poor play by the skaters in front of him. However, an injury has had him occupying the Injured Reserve list rather than the blue paint for the Ducks. Miller might just get another crack at the net against the Wild.
When we last left the hometown team in Green ‘N’ Wheat, they had just dropped their 4th consecutive game on Sunday, their third on this current four-game homestand. They looked to be going through the motions, gave up numerous odd-man rushes, hardly tested the Binnington kid in net for the Blues, and had national hockey pundits sticking a fork in the Wild and calling them, “done.”
Not much has been positive for the Wild, but Joel Eriksson Ek and Luke Kunin have been the lone bright spots for Minnesota. Parise has been mostly great all year, even if he’s no longer a good fit on the PK.
Speaking of the PK, my oh my has that been leaky. And leaky, meaning an overflown toilet flooding the whole bathroom floor, then leaking down to the bathroom downstairs by way of the HVAC ducting. The PK was at one point this season ranked number one. Devan Dubnyk had one of the highest save percentages in the league when his team was down a man. The loss of Mikko Koivu has exacerbated the penalty killing failures, but it was trending downward prior to the injury too.
On the flip side, the power play has mirrored the PK in the slide. It’s been pretty awful as well, and was downright atrocious against the Blues. The struggle to get into the offensive zone and get set up is real. Losing faceoffs to start the power play surely doesn’t help. The hand grenade passes to guys at the blue line with defenders all over him doesn’t help much either. If Mikael Granlund stick handles himself into traffic and coughs the puck up for an easy clear just inside the offensive blue line one more time, I might just take a razor to my scalp.
After Alex Stalock was left out to dry by the skaters in front of him, Devan Dubnyk is likely back in net. No surprise. By not addressing the back-up situation in the offseason, they’re tied to Dubnyk come hell or high water. And I’m not even a Duby hater, but it would be nice to have someone capable of spelling Dubnyk when things go awry.
Minnesota needs to put together a good game to beat a team they absolutely would beat if they wre at their best, and even now, at their worst, need to find a way to win. It’s been all different shades of awful in Minnesota, but it would be nice for the team to offer something positive.