NHL Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Edmonton Oilers
Tonight’s matchup between the Edmonton Oilers and Minnesota Wild could be…well, I’ll just come out and say it: it could be a real snooze fest. Nobody has scored fewer goals in the National Hockey League than Minnesota (33), and Edmonton isn’t that much better (36). Both teams have good goaltending as well, so this could easily end up being a 1-0 shootout kind of game with both goaltenders pitching shutouts.
Look, we all know that the Wild are never going to score bushels of goals no matter how much new offensive talent they bring in because they simply don’t play a style hockey that allows them to create much offense.
Yes, Zach Parise has been as good as advertised, and Ryan Suter has chipped in eight assists already, but as per the usual, Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley are the only other players who are doing much scoring for the Wild because they are focusing on defense first. They will try to wait out the younger, more inexperienced, more error-prone Oilers, pounce on their mistakes and try to capitalize because they know they won’t have to force the issue.
The Oilers, on the other hand, are desperate and could play right into Minnesota’s hands tonight. They’ve lost two of the first three games of their five-game homestand, and they know they need to win the final two games before they head out on their nine-game road trip because their season already hangs in the balance.
Edmonton is twelfth in the West with 15 points, they’ve underperformed in a variety of categories outside of special teams, and they have yet to gel and become that dynamic team some thought they could become this season. Perhaps that’s still another season away, but right now they know they have to win, which means they are likely to take more chances than they should against a patient team like the Wild. This could prove to be disastrous.
Devan Dubnyk will likely be called upon to save the Oilers’ bacon as the young guns try to break through Minnesota’s trap-style defense. Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Sam Gagner will be leading the charge, but whether they can do so effectively remains to be seen. Will their potent power play (6th in the league at 23.9%) and elite penalty kill units (4th in the league at 87.1%) be able to help get the team back into the win column?
Will the Oilers be able to keep their cool tonight? Or the Wild do their part in giving Oilers fans everywhere that sinking feeling that this season is about to go down the drain?