A new TV series I have started to watch is The Terror on AMC. Its based on a true story of two British ships in the late 1840’s on an exploration of the arctic in the hope of discovering a Northwest Passage where they trapped by the ice pack and become terrorized by a polar bear. Think Ice Station Zebra meets Ghost in the Darkness. With snow having inundated the State of Hockey in early April, the Minnesota Wild are feeling the relief of having qualified for the playoffs is this just the eerie calm before the terror of the playoffs begin?
As reported by the Athletic‘s Michael Russo, he believes the Wild will draw the Winnipeg Jets for the opening round which might as well be the arctic and are a team with plenty of ferocity. Another team that has played a physical style is the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks haven’t secured their spot in the playoffs just yet. Can Minnesota earn a confidence building win on the road in Orange County?
1st Period Thoughts: Minnesota did a decent job of controlling the pace of play to start the period. Every line seemed to want to work pucks deep and was taking their opportunities to send pucks at Ryan Miller. Charlie Coyle helped provide a little space for Jordan Greenway to let go a blast from about 10 feet left of the left faceoff dot that Miller dismissed. Minnesota continued to swarm as the Jason Zucker set up Matt Dumba for a one-timer that Miller again stopped with a fine shoulder save. The Ducks would try to counter attack with its top line of Rickard Rakell, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry and it was find a little space and firing a shot on goal that Devan Dubnyk was able to steer wide. Minnesota seemed to be able to transition the puck more efficiently than the Ducks and that meant the Wild were able to create more opportunities. Mikko Koivu would force a turnover in the offensive zone to have a short breakaway who tried to go to his backhand but Miller was again up to the task. The Ducks were still dangerous as their 2nd line tried to assert its speed as Andrew Cogliano just failed to click on a diagonal pass to a crashing Jakob Silfverberg. Minnesota would respond with a solid shift of their own as Greenway used his big frame to protect the puck and work a puck to Matt Cullen who found Daniel Winnik by himself for a shot that Miller totally guessed on and managed to stop. A tripping penalty by Zucker would put the Ducks on the power play. Anaheim moved the puck well but were not able to generate much in the way of shots beyond a few blasts from the point but it did get the Ducks moving their feet and they’d swarm the last few minutes of the period. Minnesota didn’t panic too much but they were scrambling about their own zone and they’d finish the period knotted at 0-0.
2nd Period Thoughts: The Ducks tried to pick up where they left off after their strong finish to the first and Dubnyk and the Wild found themselves a little busy in their own end. Nick Seeler would get called for interference on a pretty weak play considering how many times I watched the Ducks interfere with Wild players attacking up the ice all throughout 1st period to no call. Minnesota did a pretty good job of forcing the Ducks to settle for shots from the perimeter. The Wild would get a power play of its own as Ondrej Kase tripped up Carson Soucy. On the power play the Wild moved the puck around but was unable to generate anything real dangerous on the man advantage. Fortunately for them, Mikael Granlund would draw a tripping call on Getzlaf who clearly hooked the Wild forward. Minnesota would take advantage on the power play as Jonas Brodin set up Dumba for a one timer that he blasted by Miller. 1-0 Wild as Dumba took advantage of a nice screen set by the Ducks’ Josh Manson that gave Miller no chance to see it until it was already by him. Getzlaf decided to let Granlund know he wasn’t happy and he took a run after the Wild winger after he dumped a puck in; way late and right in front of an official to no call. The Ducks would tie the game up a few minutes later as Nick Ritchie would take a puck to the net where the puck bounced off the chest of Nate Prosser and then trickled over the line as Adam Henrique tried jamming it home. Minnesota would foolishly challenge the play for goaltender interference but the puck was virtually across the line as Henrique made contact with Dubnyk so the goal would stand. 1-1 game. The physical play started to ramp up as Greenway and Marcus Foligno started to throw their weight around a bit. Tempers seemed to be on edge a bit as the period would end with both clubs still tied, 1-1.
3rd Period Thoughts: The 3rd period was like watching a boxer playing rope-a-dope, sitting back and mostly focusing on not making a major mistake. Devan Dubnyk was sharp, making glove saves despite a lot of traffic near his crease. The Wild were not attacking at all; preferring to work pucks deep and hope for some colossal error from the Ducks. Nick Seeler and Carson Soucy had some fine shifts where they used strong physical play and good quickness to outwork the Ducks for pucks but all of the time spent in their own end was a recipe for disaster. A lazy pass by Nate Prosser was held in the zone by Josh Manson who got off a quick shot that drew a rebound from Dubnyk where Kase pounced on it to put the Ducks ahead 2-1. Minnesota didn’t seem to have the energy or the want-to to rally for a comeback and even when they pulled Dubnyk with just under 3 minutes left for an extra attacker the Wild didn’t seem to have their hearts in it. Andrew Cogliano would track down a missed empty net goal attempt to bury it for Anaheim and they would prevail 3-1.
I thought Minnesota’s best performances came from its younger players like defenseman Carson Soucy (who drew 2 penalties and played solid in his own end) and Nick Seeler. Soucy’s mobility and poise in making the simple play has made him a solid 3rd pairing defender while Seeler continues to provide sandpaper and solid stay-at-home play. Jordan Greenway had his best game since joining the Wild and used his size and strength more noticeably. While the game still seems a bit too quick for him; the potential is obvious. If he can get a little quicker he could be really scary as a power forward because he was rumbling through Ducks players on just about every shift.
~ The Wild roster was as follows: Eric Staal, Nino Niederreiter, Jason Zucker, Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Mikael Granlund, Matt Cullen, Charlie Coyle, Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson Ek, Marcus Foligno, Daniel Winnik, Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba, Ryan Murphy, Nick Seeler, Carson Soucy and Nate Prosser. Alex Stalock backed up Devan Dubnyk. Tyler Ennis was the healthy scratch.
~ The 3 Stars of the Game were: 1st Star Ryan Miller, 2nd Star Ondrej Kase, 3rd Star Josh Manson
~ Attendance was 17,495 at Honda Center.
Wild Prospect Report:
LW – Kirill Kaprizov (CSKA Moscow, KHL) ~ the skilled winger has been more of a playmaker in the post-season than sniper as he chipped in an assist in CSKA’s 5-2 loss to SKA St. Petersberg on Monday night. Kaprizov has a goal, 9 points, 4 PIM’s and is a +2 in 13 playoff games.
RW – Dmitry Sokolov (Barrie, OHL) ~ the sniping winger is starting to catch his post-season stride as he had 2 goals on 5 shots in the Colts 8-2 win over Mississauga, which gave Barrie a 4-2 series win. Sokolov has 5 goals, 10 points and is a +3 in 6 playoff games.