The New York Rangers travel to Minnesota, to not only bare the treacherous cold but also hold off the Wild to make it three in a row and two of those games coming on the road. The center of all great U.S. born hockey players may have their mind elsewhere as the Minnesota High School championships approach, which usually packs the Excel Center more than Wild games do.
Quick rundown of Rangers & Wild
The Wild come into this game off a 3-0 win on the road over Chicago, a struggling Western Conference team, so let’s not toot the Wild’s horn too much here. Nights before the Blackhawks game the Wild dropped a 4-3 overtime loss to the Arizona Coyotes, now that is game that makes one bat their eyes, scratch their head and look the other way. The Coyotes came back to beat the Wild down by three goals, oddly enough Devan Dubynk was in net, a goaltender who just received the third star of the week, posting a 2-0-1 record, 9.50 save percentage and 1.98 goals against. I guess that’s what makes this Wild team so deadly, their ability to bounce back the next night and earn a road shutout, over the Blackhawks.
The Rangers, on the other hand, come into this game with a mix of emotions winning back to back games, dealing with a ton of trade rumors right now and having lost seven of their last ten, with a 3-7-0 record in the last ten games. The Rangers who are seemingly in a rebuilding phase still only sit two points out of a playoff spot, which means a win tonight and they are right back in the mix? Ranger fans must be extremely confused and uneasy right now, one second they are hearing trade rumors, rebuild trade the house, next thing they know they are two points out of a playoff spot with playoff implications on the line tonight. They can’t have the best of both worlds, it’s either rebuild for an extended period of time or rebuild on the fly and come up short yet again. You choose…
Eight Minnesota born players to skate tonight
Anyways, the Rangers and Wild could possibly have eight Minnesota born players skating tonight, Brady Skeji, Ryan McDonagh(out), Vinnie Lettieri, Neil Poink, Matt Cullen, Zach Praise, Nate Prosser, Nick Seeler, Alex Stalock. The state literally breeds hockey players, as we can tell, this is just a few names in the NHL of players who are Minnesota born and raised.
Furthermore one of those names may sound unfamiliar(well maybe a few do) but Nick Seller the Minnesota native, a 24-year-old defenseman, 5th round draft pick and former two-year University of Nebraska-Omaha defenseman and one-year University of Minnesota player, Seeler will finally get his lick at the NHL level tonight. Seeler played in 106 AHL games for the Iowa Wild, racking in a whopping 17 points(2 goals, 15 assists) and an alarming 183 penalty minutes, the kid had more PIMS then games played. Good sign. Also played in 106 collegiate level games totaling, 29 points(6 goals, 23 assists) and again an alarming 159 PIMS, again more PIMS then games played. The 24-year-old defenseman must either be a real bruiser or have zero to little offensive ability, therefore he uses his 6’2 frame for good, I guess.
The exciting part about tonights game is that both the Wild and Rangers are playing some young talent as the Rangers have recently recalled Ryan Sproul, former Red Wings second-round pick, as well as Neil Poink playing in his third NHL game, John Glimour also playing in his third NHL game, the Rangers and Wild will test out their youth in an exciting Tuesday night match up.
What can we expect?
We will not see much from the Rangers tonight as the Wild have one of the best home records in hockey with a 19-4-5 home record with the opportunity to be the fourth NHL team this season to reach 20 wins at home. The Rangers recent games are definitely a good sign but Lundqvist ultimately held them in that Winnipeg game, also in which the Jets had two goals called off and did outplay the Rangers. It will still be exciting to see players like Gilmour, Poink, Sproul play at the NHL level a little more. The Rangers youth has not failed them yet, let’s see what they can do against another top Western Conference team.