Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Minnesota Wild: Game #27
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Xcel Energy Center
Opponent SBNation Site: Hockey Wilderness
The Leafs journey to Minnesota tonight to take on the most forgettable team in hockey. I don’t know, at time of writing, whether William Nylander will sign with us or will spend the year in a hermitage practicing the blade, and so I have no further comment other than to note he won’t be playing tonight either way.
Patrick Marleau - Auston Matthews — Kasperi Kapanen
Zach Hyman - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Andreas Johnsson - Nazem Kadri - Connor Brown
Josh Leivo - Par Lindholm - Tyler Ennis
Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner - Nikita Zaitsev
Travis Dermott - Igor Ozhiganov
Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Nino Niederreiter
Jason Zucker - Eric Staal - Mikael Granlund
Jordan Greenway - Joel Eriksson Ek - Charlie Coyle
Marcus Foligno - Eric Fehr - J.T. Brown
Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin - Matt Dumba
Nick Seeler - Greg Pateryn
I honestly struggle to remember facts about the Minnesota Wild more than virtually any other team in the league, other than that I want to lift Nino Niederreiter and Jared Spurgeon off them. This is not to say they’re bad; they’re probably going to make the playoffs again, and they’re consistently the rare team that genuinely does beat Corsi by sustaining a shot quality advantage. Almost every other team you hear that about is full of it, but Minnesota actually pulls it off.
In particular, Minny is a dandy defensive team; they have the best expected goals against rate in the NHL, by really cutting down on chances against. This’ll be an interesting showdown with the Leafs, who are a team that gets a lot of chances and (especially Matthews) converts on them at a high rate. Minny also has a couple of game breakers on offence, including Zach Parise and Eric Staal, who are a very spry pair of 34-year-olds. There’s definitely talent here. Enough to win out of the Central Division? Hey, you never know.
The curse of Minny has always been good but not great, and once again, that’s how they look. The Leafs clearly want to be great. So pull your socks up.