(spoiler alert) Some fans of the Walking Dead were devastated at the revelation on Sunday that beloved character Carl had been bitten by a zombie meaning his death is all but certain. I wonder if a certain Wild player (cough Matt Cullen cough), who is a famed home son has had his struggles and was a healthy scratch during the California road trip. In fact some of our friends at 3 in the Box discussed that very question.
The Calgary Flames and Minnesota Wild have had their share of physical run-ins over the seasons as this YouTube video would attest. Like the Saviors, the Flames has made life difficult for the Wild as they’ve attempted to intimidate them. Will the Wild fight back and earn a big victory at home?
1st Period Thoughts: Well I’m not sure if the Wild have shown up for today’s game. In less than a minute, the Flames have gotten two shots on goal and at least that many more scoring chances. It’s as if the skaters have forgotten that they need to eliminate the scoring chances, and especially reduce the shots on goal. The Flames appear to be a team that effectively plays the dump and chase game. Unlike the Minnesota, Calgary dumps the puck in and has players ready to jump into the zone and attack the puck. We’re just allowing the Flames too much room. And worse, they’re not able to create the same kind of scoring chances through hard work. Now, I understand you just got home from a West Coast road trip, but you could at least attempt to look better. The Flames would get the first power play of the night after Marcus Foligno dumped goaltender Mike Smith. When the march to the penalty box starts relatively early in the game, you pretty much expect to see a constant march. At least they were able to kill the penalty. The sad part is that it took over ten minute for the Wild to register their first shot by Mikko Koivu. And the lack of shots won’t improve much. In over 15 minutes, the Wild still have the one shot on goal and the march to the box continues. This time it is Ryan Murphy called for hooking on Matthew Tkachuk. With the way this game is going, I honestly don’t know how they’re going to turn things around. Again, the Wild would kill the penalty. Not only would they kill the penalty, but the third line would get numbers and get the puck into the offensive zone. When you can get the puck into the zone, you get an additional three shots on goal. The extra sweet part of this situation, is that last shot turned into a goal for Matt Cullen. While it feels good to get the first goal of the night, with how the rest of this period has been, I feel like it’s a harbinger for the rest of the night. Lack of energy, lack of urgency, often create apathy. The Wild should be counting their lucky stars that they’re the one with the 1-0 lead at the intermission when this game could have easily been 2-0 Flames. Color me not impressed.
2nd Period Thoughts: Oh wow. Here we go, and Alex Stalock is in net and Devan Dubnyk is not on the bench. And eight seconds in, and Minnesota gets their first power play of the night after Michael Frolik was called for hooking. Let’s hope the power play is more intense than the fist 17 minutes of the Wild’s first period. Like many times (power play, even strength, penalty kill), you often find Wild skaters either not ready to quickly turn a pass into a shot, or the puck jumps their stick. There’s not much you can do when the puck jumps (which can happen early in the period when the ice is more slick) but not being ready, is inexcusable. The Flames were to fairly easily kill their first penalty of the night. The first four minutes was filled with sloppy play, much of which was even worse because the Wild skaters were tired from being penned into their own zone for as long as they were. Minnesota would get their second power play of the night after the stick of Nate Prosser was slashed out of his hands by Troy Brouwer. After the TV timeout, it was announced that Dubnyk is out the rest of the night with a lower-body injury. Early in this power play, it looked like a more composed and determined power play. Some decent scoring chances, so I can’t complain too much. While Calgary was able to kill the penalty, I am moderately pleased with this power play attempt. Interesting factoid coming your way. The National Hockey League requires all teams to have an emergency goaltender at all games. The Wild’s emergency goaltender is Connor Beaupre, who is the son of Minnesota North Stars goaltender Don Beaupre. Makes you wonder how quickly the Wild’s “stitchman” was able to get a nameplate on Beaupre’s jersey. I don’t know what the NHL mandates for that, meaning are team’s required to stitch a nameplate onto a jersey for an emergency goaltender. While our chances of seeing Beaupre in action tonight are rather slim, I have to admit, it’s kind of cool to see an emergency guy with his family history in Minnesota hockey. So when you’re starting to feel good about how this game is going, with just 1 minute 3 seconds remaining, Michael Ferland blasted a shot from the blueline. That blast deflected off of Jonas Brodin’s skate, so changed direction and went past Stalock and tied the game. You have to give up late period goals like that, but considering we scored fairly late in the first period, one could say the Flames repaid the favor.
3rd Period Thoughts: Two minutes into the third, and while Minnesota is trying to skate the puck into the offensive zone, they’re having a hard time controlling the puck once they hit the blue line. When that happens, it makes it hard to create significant zone time. They’re having a hard time in general playing either dump and chase or carry the puck. In the meantime, Calgary continues to press. Ferland would have a wide open net, but ended up hitting the cross bar. That puck would then continue on and hit referee TJ Luxemore in the side of the head. This would force Luxemore down the Wild’s tunnel for some attention, and for a while, we would go old school with referee Wes McCauley be the lone referee. I’m not sure if the officiating has improved much over the years now that we use two referees in a game. You would think with two referees and two linesmen, more things would be caught, but alas that is rarely the case. It still baffles me how the near referee can miss a blatant call, but the far referee is able to see some phantom call. I guess I should at least be thankful that the Wild has narrowed the shot differential. Now the Wild are only short of the Flames by four shots on goal. Considering how long it took to get only one shot on goal, I guess we should be thankful that we’ve gotten a few more. However, we’re in the second half of the final period with only 19 shots on goal, and I’m simply not comfortable with that. We should note that referee TJ Luxemore has been able to return to the game. It would be nice if the Wild’s players would show as much energy hopping over the boards to join the play as Luxemore did to return to the game. Instead of finding that energy, Foligno would take another penalty, this time for tripping Dougie Hamilton. Again, Minnesota would kill the penalty. While it’s great to see that they’re being successful on the penalty kill, it would be nice to stop the continual march to the penalty box. They need to start watching film of some of the least penalized teams in the league and see what they do to not get called. Now, we get to see another overtime session.
Overtime Thoughts: Thankfully Bruce Boudreau is sticking with his recently successful overtime starting line up of Charlie Coyle, Jonas Brodin, and Matt Dumba. As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well we’re getting play at both ends of the ice, both Stalock and Smith have had to be prepared. With the way that this overtime has gone, with the exception of the early parts of the overtime, I feel like both teams are skating for the shoot out. I may take that back, as in the last minute or so, both teams again decided to play for the win. However, it was too little, too late for both teams as we head to the shootout.
Shootout Thoughts: Coyle would get the first shot in the shootout. He would go to the forehand, but Smith would stop it. Johnny Gaudreau would be Calgary’s first shooter. Stalock that had him all the way, but Gaudreau would maintain the puck going toward the net and get it past Stalock. However, while he had possession, Gaudreau was then skating away from the net, so it shouldn’t count, but they’re letting it stand. In payback, Chris Stewart would waste no time, and get a quick shot past Smith. Sean Monahan would have the next Calgary shot, and Stalock stopped the shot. Koivu would be next. He had Smith beaten, but hit the post. Calgary could win it with Tkachuck’s chance, but Stalock had him pegged the entire way. Eric Staal would try to go 5-hole, but was stopped. Sam Bennett was next, and again Stalock was more patient than Bennett. Mikael Granlund would be next, and he would get a nice tricky shot in and beat Smith. Ferland would be next, but Stalock would stop and get the win for the Wild and a bailout for the team in general.
~ The Wild roster was as follows tonight: Charlie Coyle, Matt Cullen, Mikko Koivu, Chris Stewart, Eric Staal, Joel Eriksson Ek, Jason Zucker, Marcus Foligno, Nino Niederreiter, Daniel Winnik, Zack Mitchell, Mikael Granlund, Ryan Murphy, Ryan Suter, Gustav Olofsson, Matt Dumba, Jonas Brodin, and Nate Prosser. Devan Dubnyk got the start with Alex Stalock serving as backup.
~ The 3 Stars of the Game were: 1st Star, Alex Stalock; 2nd Star, Mikael Granlund; 3rd Star, Dougie Hamilton.
~ Attendance was 18,767 at Xcel Energy Center.
Iowa Wild Report:
Record: (11-8-5-0) 27pts 3rd in the AHL Central
18.3% Power Play (10th in the AHL)
88.9% Penalty Kill (2nd in the AHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #12 Pat Cannone ~ 10G 10A = 20pts
2. #9 Cal O’Reilly ~ 5G 11A = 16pts
3. #25 Justin Kloos ~ 6G 9A = 15pts
4. #36 Colton Beck ~ 6G 8A = 14pts
5. #7 Sam Anas ~ 4G 9A = 13pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #3 Nick Seeler ~ 33 PIM’s
2. #28 Carson Soucy ~ 27 PIM’s
3. #44 Christoph Bertschy ~ 24 PIM’s
1. #35 Niklas Svedberg (6-7-2) 2.81GAA .906%SP 2SO
2. #34 Steve Michalek (5-1-2) 2.52GAA .926%SP
Recent Score: Iowa 2, Grand Rapids 1
It was ‘Teddy Bear Toss’ night at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Sunday. Iowa had good energy to start the game and they were making life difficult for the Griffins. Iowa would break the stalemate on the power play as Luke Kunin wired a shot off the post and in, causing an avalanche of stuffed animals to hit the Wells Fargo ice. The Wild would add to their lead in the 2nd as Gerald Mayhew pounced on a rebound off a Nick Seeler shot that made it 2-0 Iowa. Unfortunately after Mayhew’s goal the ice would tilt in the Griffins favor and Steve Michalek found himself under siege for most of the rest of the game. The Griffins would cut the Wild lead to one a few minutes later Mayhew’s goal as Zach Nastasiuk scored his first AHL goal making it 2-1 going into the 3rd. Michalek continued to shut the door on the Griffins through the 3rd period and Iowa would only have a few token chances of their own but they’d hold on for a victory. The former Harvard star had 39 saves in the victory.