Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Preseason Game Four & Lineup Thoughts

Photo: Brace Hemmelgarn/USA Today
In last night's fourth preseason game, Minnesota edged Pittsburgh 4-1. Jason Pominville netted a hat trick, Darcy Kuemper made 32 saves, and Ilya Bryzgalov was killing time by taking selfies with fans on the bench. Onto the notes...

  • But in all seriousness, Kuemper was outstanding. The Wild defense was chasing a lot of the night, and he continuously bailed his team out (heard that before?). He made an incredible save on Steve Downie robbing him on the goal mouth to keep the game 2-1 for the Wild. It would be hard to argue against Kuemper starting for the Wild on opening night with another performance like this.
  • In his blog yesterday, Russo hinted that if Keith Ballard was injured to begin the year Matt Dumba and Christian Folin would make the roster out of the preseason. The projected pairings would go along the lines of Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon, Folin-Marco Scandella, Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba. That would be outstanding to start the year.
  • Speaking of a Suter-Spurgeon pairing, lets get behind this pair more because their Corsi For (52.2) and Goals For percentage (59.6) are considerably better than a Suter-Brodin top pairing (46.3 CF, 44.7 GF). Lets keep them together (stats via Progressive Hockey).
  • Stu Bickel sounds like he is a strong candidate to make the team out of camp as a 13th forward/7th defenseman. If the Wild want to have him be a healthy scratch, fine. But it just seems like there are better players in the system to carry as a backup forward or defenseman. 
  • The highly regarded Thomas Vanek-Mikko Koivu-Charlie Coyle line, who torched Pittsburgh a week ago, looked sluggish last night. Vanek did not look all that sharp in his first home game with the Wild. It reminded me of his Montreal days. No more of that please!
  • Speaking of Bryzgalov, it seems his time here is numbered so why not have some fun with the fans?

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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