Lethargic Effort Buries Wild in 3-1 Home Loss to Philadelphia

Lethargic Effort Buries Wild in 3-1 Home Loss to Philadelphia


Lethargic Effort Buries Wild in 3-1 Home Loss to Philadelphia


Minnesota got a much-needed victory on Tuesday night, and you could sense a sigh of relief in front of the sellout crowd that witnessed it in St. Paul as well as on the Wild Twitterverse.  No more panic and depressed tweets how the season was doomed to end in mediocrity, etc.  Well, at least that’s the case until the next game this evening against the Philadelphia Flyers.  If the Wild falter I don’t think its a reach to say the Tweets and feelings among its fanbase will again turn gloom and doom rather quickly?  Why?  Its the Wild, a professional sports team in Minnesota need I say more?

On the flip side, the Flyers bring a team that is buried in the toughest division in the NHL (Metropolitan).  Philadelphia has been a Jekyll and Hyde team all season, and at this point are probably relishing the role of spoiler.  They are coming off a 3-2 loss to Winnipeg on Tuesday and I expect to see them be more motivated than maybe they were against the Jets.  Can the Wild earn another crucial 2 points in the standings?

1st Period Thoughts:  Lots of manic action, but not a whole lot of production is how I’d describe the first period for the Minnesota Wild.  At times Minnesota looked like a team that was going to just put 4-5 goals behind Steve Mason and make this game into a non-contest.  Instead after an early goal by Zach Parise who pounced on bad fumble of the puck by Mason the Wild decided to get fancy rather than keep it simple and blitz the Flyers and be done with it.  Minnesota was trying all kinds of fancy plays and at times it even led to some high quality scoring chances as Nino Niederreiter and Jason Zucker both tried to cash in on wrap around chances that just couldn’t curl quite enough.  Mason was struggling mightily, nearly coughing up the puck on almost any shot so the directive should’ve been just shoot the puck as much as you can.  I’ll give credit to the Wild (at least a little) by tapping the pad looking for a rebound but overall it was still mostly a weak flyby as no one seemed to really want to stand in there and force the issue the way they should have.  The Wild started to overhandle and overpass the puck as they looked to set up some kind of tic-tac-toe play.  The Flyers were not creating lots of havoc in the Wild zone and Devan Dubnyk certainly wasn’t busy but it was the kind decision that allowed the game to get away from Minnesota.  A lethargic forechecking effort late in the period would turn into an easy breakout as Sean Couturier got a step on Erik Haula and he’d beat Dubnyk on a backhander that slid through 5-hole.  It was a yogurt soft goal at the end of the period that deflated the crowd as well as the Wild.  The Wild must keep up the pressure on Mason and if they can re-take the lead they need to keep their foot on the gas or this period will replay itself once again.

2nd Period Thoughts:  The 2nd period started out the way the 1st period ended.  The Wild would turn a puck over in the neutral zone as as Martin Hanzal tried to gather up the puck he’d sort of kick the puck towards the goal that went off of Mathew Dumba‘s stick and was pounced on by Matt Read who fired it by Dubnyk before he could react.  2-1 Flyers and for the next few minutes, Philadelphia owned the Minnesota zone.  The Wild were aimlessly just sort of standing and reacting in their own end as the Flyers kept outhustling Minnesota to loose puck and it started to look like a Philadelphia power play.  Minnesota just didn’t have the will or the want to change that.  The Wild would escape without further damage as Brayden Schenn‘s chance was blocked aside by the glove of Dubnyk and Minnesota would at least prevent itself from camping out in its own end.  Yet offensively it was more of the same ineffective play by the Wild who were working very hard to try to set up some kind of pretty shot instead of taking what the Flyers were giving them.  Worse yet, the Wild were allowing the Flyers to slow them down and this meant time and space were hard to come by than when the team was ramping up the tempo and dictating the pace of play.  Minnesota was attempting all kinds of low-percentage passes and this led to zone time being squandered and not many shots being taken on Mason.  Mason was able to settle and regain his focus and the Wild then started to panic and try to pick corners but they kept missing high and wide letting him off the hook even more.  Minnesota would get a power play in the latter half the period, but slow predictable puck movement made it easy for the Flyers to take away shooting lanes and the Wild failed to even gain momentum with the man advantage.  During that early sequence where the Flyers dominated the Wild, it almost sounded like the home crowd was boo’ing the team and they should’ve been.  The Flyers didn’t want to be here tonight; the first period was great evidence of that but instead we let them hang around and now Philadelphia cares and relishes the chance to be a spoiler.  Sure, there was some after the whistle stuff and the Wild fell into that trap of getting involved in it instead of just focusing on hockey and trying to win this game.

3rd Period Thoughts:  The 3rd period was more of the same.  The Wild using area passes because they were afraid of getting hit and the Flyers smartly just taking the body, not even as much to punish but rather to simply get in the way and Minnesota couldn’t seem to figure that out.  Toss in more overhandling and overpassing of the puck and it meant a lot of easy turnovers for the Flyers who quickly dumped the puck back into the Wild end and then proceeded to outwork Minnesota in their own zone.  Jordan Weal seemed to be hounding the puck all over; even on the power play the Wild couldn’t outwork the Flyers on the boards and this led to lots of wasted time.  Watching the team unable to dig the puck out on the man advantage with 3 guys battling Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.  All Minnesota could manage was a perimeter shot and if it did manage to get through no one was there to pounce on the rebound or it was blocked and we found ourselves on our heels in transition.  Minnesota only managed just 4 shots in the 3rd period and they were the team that was trailing by one.  Philadelphia would salt the game away on an empty net tally by Jakub Voracek and thankfully this one came to an end 3-1.

Dubnyk was again a little shaky.  The first goal was super soft and not much more was needed.  Some static, weak defensive coverage led to a quick goal in the 2nd and that’s all that was needed.  Minnesota’s defenseman were not helping the cause by utilizing lots of area passes that really meant the Wild were spending lots and lots of time chasing the puck around the ice.

Offensively the Wild had a good first 10 minutes, playing fast and crashing the crease with a purpose but then after a hit after the whistle by Brayden Schenn, Minnesota seemed to sit back and play not to get hit.  After that hit, the Wild only seemed to want to take shots from the perimeter and no one wanted to linger near the crease.  That meant shots were few and far between and Mason was able to regain his confidence.  Towards the end, Wild players were forcing extra passes that squandered potential scoring chances as if no one wanted to be the one to take a shot on goal.

No matter what, the Wild need to wake up and soon.  After the game we heard all kinds of remarks from players about needing to work harder.  Don’t look at Boudreau for that solution; that is all on the players.  Minnesota needs to pull its head out of its ass and be ready to battle or its going to find out of the playoffs pretty quick.  There will not be any sympathy for this team, and they will find something colder than a Minnesota winter if that happens.

Wild Notes:

~ The Wild roster was as follows: Mikko Koivu, Jason Zucker, Mikael Granlund, Eric Staal, Zach Parise, Charlie Coyle, Jason Pominville, Martin Hanzal, Nino Niederreiter, Erik Haula, Chris Stewart, Jordan Schroeder, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella, Mathew Dumba, Jonas Brodin and Gustav Olofsson.  Darcy Kuemper backed up Devan Dubnyk.  Nate Prosser, Christian Folin and Ryan White were the scratches.

~ The 3 Stars of the Game were: 1st Star Sean Couturier, 2nd Star Zach Parise, 3rd Star Andrew MacDonald

~ Attendance was 19,004 at Xcel Energy Center.

Iowa Wild Report:

Iowa 2, Charlotte 3

With Tuesday’s 1-0 loss to Charlotte, it made it a must-win for Iowa who was in danger of being leap-frogged in the AHL Central Division standings.  Iowa would strike first as Christoph Bertschy found the back of the net late in the 1st period as he pounced on a rebound off a Nolan Zajac shot.  The Checkers would crank up the intensity in the 2nd as Alex Stalock found himself under siege but the South St. Paul native was sharp making a number of saves with traffic near his crease.  But he’d surrender two goals in the last 5-minutes of the 2nd (from Danny Kristo and a Haydn Fleury point shot) to give the Checkers a 2-1 advantage going into the 3rd.  Iowa would pour it on early in the 3rd in search of the game-tying goal and their persistence would be rewarded as newly signed Gerald Mayhew scored his 3rd goal in 4 games tying it up at 2-2 with a little over 9 minutes left.  Yet it wasn’t meant to be as the Checkers would score with just over 2 minutes left as Connor Brickley buried what would be the game winner.  Iowa threw the kitchen sink at the Checkers in the closing minutes but couldn’t get a puck by Tom McCollum and they’d fall 3-2.  Stalock had 24 saves in the loss.  The loss puts Charlotte ahead of the Wild in the standings with one game in hand and that all-important spot in the playoffs is now in the Checkers’ hands.

Wild Prospect Report:

C – Dmitry Sokolov (Sudbury, OHL) ~ the Russian sniper did what he does best by scoring a goal (with 3 shots on goal) in Sudbury’s 4-2 win over Mississauga on Tuesday night.  Sokolov is 2nd in the Ontario Hockey League in goals, with 48 to go along with 72 points, 8 PIM’s and is a -32 in 64 games.

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