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Article: How Much Can the Wild Lean On Marc-Andre Fleury Down the Stretch?

Luke Sims

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Wild goaltending is good overall VS. bad. Weird though. Fleury is a 1A tendy. Gustavsson could be too. Stopping 40+ against EDM who are hot is outstanding. 

Trouble is, sometimes both guys who are capable and proven, have off-games. 

The Wild need zero bad games to make up ground. MN will have to lean on anyone between the pipes. If the Wild are gonna get into the playoffs, let alone go deeper than Rd.1, the goalies are gonna need to be equally great.

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The Wild have been identified as an inconsistent team throughout most of their lineup. It’s clear that includes goaltenders. To make the playoffs and have any impact at all they need to #1 Stay out of the penalty box #2 no soft goals in close games #3 get and stay healthy. Best case scenario is Gus gets hot and starts stealing games. MAF plays well when called upon. 

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21 hours ago, Sviginak said:

Red Wings smoke the Blues 6-1 today, so if we can crack the Kraken tonight we are tied with the Blues and Preds, Blues will have a game in hand, Preds play Sharks tonight to even games played with us.

Predators have gotten hot on a road trip(4-0 so far), following an awful home stand(1-3, outscored 21-11) where the only team they beat was Arizona.

Predators last 4 games are road wins at St. Louis, Vegas, LA, and San Jose. They close that road trip in Anaheim tonight. If Wild will be in Nashville Feb 29.

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There are essentially 5 teams vying for that last Western Wild Card spot, with the Wild smack in the middle of the pack:

  • Predators: 64 pts in 58 games (.552)
  • Blues: 62 pts in 57 games (.544)
  • Wild: 62 pts in 58 games (.534)
  • Flames: 61 pts in 58 games (.526)
  • Kraken: 59 pts in 57 games (.518)

Each team has 4-6 games leading up to the Trade Deadline (March 8th at 2pm), which hopefully pushes the teams apart a bit more:

  • Predators: 
    • Ducks (.377), Senators (.482), Wild (.534), Avalanche (.636), Canadiens (.448), and Sabres (.491)
    • Opponents Average (.495)
  • Blues: 
    • Jets (.682), Oilers (.618), Wild (.534), Flyers (.578), Islanders (.526), and Devils (.534)
    • Opponents Average (.578)
  • Wild:
    • Hurricanes (.640), Predators (.552), Blues (.544), Sharks (.313), and Coyotes (.446)
    • Opponents Average (.499)
  • Flames:
    • Kings (.607), Penguins (.537), Kraken (.518), and Lightning (.575)
    • Opponents' Average (.559)
  • Kraken:
    • Bruins (.686), Penguins (.537), Oilers (.618), Flames (.526), and Jets (.682)
    • Opponents Average (.609)

The Wild and the Preds have the easiest of the schedules with their opponents' average below .500, so I imagine those two teams to potentially be leading the pack by the Trade Deadline for the last spot. Each team on this list also have a significant player in trade rumors, which could potentially help the Wild's chances too:

  • Predators: Alexandre Carrier, Juuse Saros and Tyson Barrie
  • Blues: Pavel Buchnevich and Kasperi Kapanen
  • Flames: Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev and Jacob Markström
  • Kraken: Jordan Eberle, Alex Wennberg and Tomas Tatar

Two most important games this week are obviously against the other two teams on the list (Preds + Blues).

Edited by WheelSnipeCelly
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A win against Carolina, or even a loser point overachieves where we needed to be before facing the Preds and Blues. These games are must wins, but we got through our gauntlet in pretty good shape. 

I believe we have a more talented squad than both these teams, and the March schedule should allow us to gain ground and enter April in the 8 spot if not catching LA. 

That said, and in reference to this article, I would favor a full goalie tandem going forward. Both goalies have been really good at times and not very good at times. I think in the Vancouver-Winnipeg b2b, they probably should have reversed the 'tenders in hindsight.

So, for me, even with Fleury, I think I'd keep getting him stretched out. I think I'd leave him in the locker room at times to stay stretched out, because a quick hook would be my strategy. You've got to play the guy who's going to be hot that night, and sometimes that means calling to the bullpen. Plus, doing that is like getting an extra timeout. I am also not opposed to switching a goalie in and keeping the pulled goalie stretched out and putting him back in later when his head clears. 

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