It is probably unfair, but when I think Minnesota Wild hockey I equate it to boring. It likely isn’t reasonable, but I still envision them as a trapping team. It is ridiculous, but I haven’t been able to shake how I see them as an organization since they entered the NHL for the 2000/2001 season.
1. Minnesota has been in the NHL for 20 years, and this is their 19th season (due to the 2004/2005 lockout). They’ve made the playoffs half the time (nine of 18 years), and they’ve won a playoff series three times; 2003, 2014 and 2015. The frustrating part for Wild fans is their best playoff run happened in their third year of existence. In 2003 they defeated the Colorado Avalanche and Vancouver Canucks in seven games before losing four straight to the Anaheim Ducks in the Conference Final. Their all-time record in the playoffs is 26-47.
2. Tonight is the 1,451st game in Wild regular season history. They have won 47.6% of their games (691) and have 704 losses and 55 ties. In case you are wondering, the Oilers have the fewest wins in the NHL since 2000/2001 with 613, winning 42.2% of their games.
3. Since the Wild entered the NHL in 2000/2001 only eleven teams have won more than half their games: San Jose (796), Detroit (793), Boston (761), Washington (757), Pittsburgh (753), Dallas (750), St.Louis (741), Vancouver (737), Anaheim (735) and New Jersey (733).
4. Tonight will be the 92nd meeting between the Wild and Oilers. Minnesota has an overall record of 52-29-6-4 (ties). At one point the Oilers lost 17 consecutive games in Minnesota between February 25th, 2007 and October 13th, 2011. In those 17 games, the Oilers scored a total of 22 goals. The Excel Energy Centre was an offensive wasteland for the many years for Edmonton. Since then the Oilers are 7-5-1.
5. So far this season the Wild’s offence is lost in the wilderness. They have 18 goals in eight games (2.25 goals/game), and only the Dallas Stars (2.09/game) and Ottawa Senators (2.13/game) have a more anemic offence. Wild forwards have a total of 12 goals. Former Oilers defenceman Brad Hunt leads them in scoring with 3-2-5.
6. To make matters worse they are 31st in the NHL in GAA allowing 4.00/goals per game. Devan Dubnyk is struggling with a record of 1-5 with a 0.874sv% and a 4.18 GAA. He did pick up his first win of the season against Montreal on Sunday/ He, and the Wild, is hoping that victory can get him back on track.
7. While Dubnyk is struggling the Oilers goalies have been outstanding. Mike Smith pitched a shutout on Sunday, but the Oilers lost in a shootout. He is now 3-1-1 with a .930sv% and a 1.98 GAA. He allowed five goals against the Kings, two when he wasn’t even in the net after mishandling the puck, and in his other four starts he’s allowed a total of five goals. He and Mikko Koskinen (4-0, 9.34sv% and 2.21 GAA) have been outstanding for Edmonton.
8. Smith’s shutout on Sunday was the 39th of his career. He is 10th among active goalies behind Henrik Lundqvist (63), Marc-Andre Fleury (57), Pekka Rinne (55), Jonathan Quick (51), Jaroslav Halak (48), Tukka Rask (46), Carey Price (45), Ryan Miller (44) and Craig Anderson (42).
Mike Smith wanting to get our heart rates up with that adventure behind the net. -bm
— Oilersnation (@OilersnationHQ) October 20, 2019
9. Smith is currently tied with Pete Peeters and George Hainsworth for 58th all-time in wins by an NHL goalie with 246. Johnny Bower is 57th with 250. Smith is currently 55th all-time in games played with 576, and if he plays in 31 more games this season he will pass Dwayne Roloson for 50th all-time.
10. Edmonton product Jared Spurgeon will play his 600th NHL game tonight. That is the third most in Wild history behind Mikko Koivu (982nd tonight) and Nick Schultz (743). Spurgeon was drafted 156th overall in the 2008 draft by the New York Islanders. The only reason he wasn’t taken higher was due to his size. Scouts were leery of a smaller, skilled defenceman. The Islanders never signed him, even though he produced 96 points in 113 games in his two seasons (19 and 20 year old) post draft.
No team signed him, but the Wild invited him to their 2010/2011 training camp. He impressed them in camp and preseason and on September 23rd, 2010 he signed a three-year entry-level contract. He started the season in the AHL, and produced nine points in 23 games, before the Wild recalled him and he made his NHL debut on November 29th, 1989. He did return to Houston Aeros (Wild AHL team) for their playoff run that spring and lost in six games in the Calder Cup final, but since that playoff run Spurgeon has never been back in the AHL.
Any team could have signed him in the summer of 2010, but none did. Since 2010/2011 he is 41st in games played among NHL defencemen, 34th in points (252) and 22nd in goals with 71. Over the past three seasons, he has averaged 24:13/game for the Wild, 17th most in the NHL.
The path to the NHL is different for everyone, and smaller players usually don’t fill out until later. Spurgeon is a great example of perseverance. If you are skilled enough the NHL will eventually find you, even if they overlooked you many times before.
Jared, congrats on a great career thus far.