GDHQNHL15_2pg-Minnesota Wild 2

NY Rangers Gameday HQ

teammate. Suter has lived up to expectations in his first two years in Minnesota. While his offensive output took a little dip from year one to year two in terms of points per game, Suter doubled his goal output from four to eight. With 32 points in a strike-shortened season and 43 points last year, there is no reason to believe that Wisconsinborn defensemen will regress. He will continue to play nearly half of each game on average during the season and consistently be matched against the opposing teams’ top offensive line. Suter stands among the upper-echelon of defensemen in the league today. After Suter, the defense lacks offensive punch. One player that has shown a penchant for putting points on the score sheet is Jared Spurgeon. The diminutive defensemen has shown improvement in his end of the ice as his plus/minus rose from +1 in 12-13 to +15 in 13-14. If Spurgeon can sustain his newfound improvement in the defensive zone, the Wild will be able to give him some of Suter’s minutes to keep the topnotch defenseman fresh throughout the year. (84) Of the players that could push to make the roster, Matt Dumba is the most impressive name. Dumba was sent back to juniors after 13 games despite putting up a goal and an assist in his time with the big club. If the 20-year-old can show that his defense has improved, the Wild will not hesitate to put him in the lineup. Goaltending With Josh Harding injured to start the year from a non-hockey injury and subsequently suspended indefinitely by the team, the Minnesota Wild have a question mark in goal as they continue forward without one of the NHL’s better goaltenders. In 29 appearances last season, Harding had 18 wins, an eye-popping 1.65 goals-against average and .933 save percentage. (61) Darcy Kuemper made a name for himself last year after starting 24 games towards the end of the 2013-14 season and in the playoffs before succumbing to injury. During the regular season, Kuemper put up some pretty solid numbers for a starting goaltender as he had a 2.43 goalsagainst average with a .915 save percentage. Those numbers improved immensely during the playoffs. He shaved nearly a half a goal off his goals-against average in the playoffs, standing at 2.03 and a consistent save percentage sitting at .913. Kuemper will probably get the first crack at the starting job. Also in the mix is Niklas Backstrom, but he will have to prove he is over his injury issues. Not only that, but he will have to improve his level of play after a down year that may have been caused by his injuries. Power Play The Wild finished middle of the pack while on the power-play last season, coming 16th in the NHL with a success rate of 17.9 percent, The team is hoping to improve on that position, largely due in part to the addition of Thomas Vanek to the lineup for the upcoming year. In three different stops in 2013-14, Vanek showed a knack for scoring on the power-play. With 18 points (8 goals, 10 assists) coming while on the man-advantage, Vanek showed that even without a consistent set of linemates throughout the year that he could still produce in that situation. If given a year with the same group of guys, he could improve upon those numbers. For his career Vanek has nearly 200 points (198) on the power play, more than one-third of his career point total. Penalty Kill The Minnesota Wild penalty kill left a lot to be desired last season. The Wild killed off only 78.8 percent of the opposition’s chances, finishing 27th in the NHL in that category. That number labeled the Wild as one of only five teams in the league to not crack the 80 percent mark. Part of the reason could be attributed to not having a consistent goaltender throughout the season. Another reason for the team’s struggles on the penalty kill could be attributed to having only one real shutdown defenseman in Ryan Suter. Regardless of the reasoning, for a franchise known for their defensive prowess, the team will have to improve in this area if they hope to make an extended run in the playoffs. (72) Prediction If the Wild can straighten out their goaltending, this team can have a special year. With the development of Granlund and the addition of Vanek combined with the top guys of Parise, Koivu and Suter, the Wild will land a spot in the playoffs. If you want a team that could be a surprise contender for the Stanley Cup, this team could be it. Scoreboard 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 Playoff Finish Conf SF Conf QF DNQ DNQ DNQ REGULAR SEASON 43-27-12 26-19-3 35-36-11 39-35-8 38-36-8 POINT TOTAL 98 55 81 86 84 SHOOTOUT RECORD 9-8 4-2 11-9 3-5 5-7 GOALS SCORED 207 122 177 206 219 GOALS ALLOWED 206 127 226 233 246 POWER PLAY % 17.9 17.9 15.1 18.2 19.1 PENALTY KILL % 78.8 80.7 82.1 82.8 82.7 Mikko Koivu Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images


NY Rangers Gameday HQ
To see the actual publication please follow the link above