With 2018 not yet upon us, both the Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators have much more hockey – and likely, more peaks and valleys – ahead of them.
That said, Friday was much friendlier to the Wild than it was to the Predators:
- The Wild managed a 4-2 win, pushing them to 20-15-3 on the season and giving them two straight victories.
- For the second time in his career, Mikael Granlund generated a hat trick. He scored twice early and then iced it with an empty-netter. You could argue Granlund earned it either way, as he was a frequent threat, firing seven shots on goal during this game.
- Devan Dubnyk is back after missing nine games. He was sharp in his return, stopping 41 out of 43 pucks.
- Oh, and Bruce Boudreau seems to be OK after getting hit in the noggin with a puck. They need that guy.
This 4-2 loss stings for the Predators. For one thing, they’ll fall behind the Winnipeg Jets (50 points in in 39 games) for the Central Division lead, at least briefly. (The Predators have 49 in 37 games.)
The 2017-18 campaign has been a turbulent season for the Wild so far, with injuries and inconsistency plaguing this team. Granlund can relate; he came into this contest with a middling eight goals on the season, with injuries and inconsistency playing roles in his struggles.
Granlund and the Wild seem like they’re making progress toward shaking off these issues, like a puck to Boudreau’s head.