Same Mistakes Haunt Wild in 3-2 Overtime Loss to Detroit

Same Mistakes Haunt Wild in 3-2 Overtime Loss to Detroit

Wild

Same Mistakes Haunt Wild in 3-2 Overtime Loss to Detroit

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If you do not call yourself a fan of the Minnesota Wild but you know some people that are, I’ll give you a helpful hint.  You may not want to steer clear of them for the next few days.  They just might be libel to take a swing at you if you get a little snarky with them.  In fact, I’m sure their collective patience is pretty much shot these days as the Wild continues to pile up more and more poor efforts.  Their latest ‘gem’ was yesterday against the non-playoffs bound Vancouver Canucks.  The Canucks were starting their 3rd goaltender and the Wild inexplicably seemed rather unmotivated and the young spoiler-minded Vancouver squad embarrassed them in front of a sellout crowd which spent plenty of time boo’ing their performance.

How much more time will Wild fans decide to spend their hard-earned money to go to the games only to boo the team; and at what point will they just stop going altogether.  I know I’d hate to be a ticket sales agent calling up Wild fans to ask them if they plan on renewing season tickets as they probably are going to get an earful.  The Wild now have to regroup a little less than 24 hours to face another spoiler-minded non-playoff bound team in Detroit.  Can Minnesota stop the free fall against Detroit?

1st Period Thoughts:  The period had just about everything we’ve seen from this team the last month or so.  Some ok effort and reasonable energy, missed opportunities and a late period let down that cost them on the scoreboard.  Initially the reconstituted Wild with altered lines were showing reasonable jump but not a ton of cohesion.  The Red Wings were patient and allowing the Wild to make mistakes for them.  Still the signs of a team that is full of anxiety were there.  A 3-on-1 for Jason Zucker, Martin Hanzal and Marco Scandella results in nothing at all as Zucker (who had Hanzal barreling towards Jimmy Howard) rips a shot high and wide.  It wasn’t much better in their own zone as Devan Dubnyk tries to play a puck behind his net and fans on the pass and as he scrambles back to his crease he loses his stick and all he can do is hope Riley Sheahan‘s shot hits him and luckily it did.  Minnesota would score off a nice pass by Zach Parise to Eric Staal who got behind the defense and he’d ripped a shot by Howard.  1-0 Wild.  All is good right?  Of course, its the Wild.  The goal seemed to calm the Wild a bit and even with a power play later in the period where Minnesota did generate a few chances, Howard came up with some good saves.  In the closing minute, Staal had another opportunity this time below the dots by himself and he fired it high and wide and as in the case of hockey karma when you miss on a golden chance it often boomerangs into a goal for your opponent.  With just 22.6 seconds left it looked like Minnesota was going to be able to skate into the 2nd with a lead.  But the Red Wings win the faceoff and Danny DeKeyser sets up Mike Green for a one-timer that beat Dubnyk whose mind appeared to be in another place.  1-1 game at the end of 1 period of play to mostly bitter indifference on Wild Twitter which is the reaction one would expect from a fanbase that now expects to be disappointed.

2nd Period Thoughts:  I think just about everyone back at home in the State of Hockey watching the game waited for the Red Wings to jump out to a 2-1 lead early in the period.  It didn’t happen, but not because the Wild came out focused and ready to go.  In fact, Minnesota looked like the Walking Dead out there, as Wild players were just standing out there and reaching for the puck while Detroit swarmed all over their end.  It looked like a shooting gallery and luckily for Minnesota the Red Wings were not putting shots on goal and the Wild would escape unscathed.  Minnesota would regroup but it was mostly a chess match with neither club gaining a major advantage over the other.  I think we were all expecting some unfortunate play that would doom the Wild with their batch of luck lately.  The Wild were playing like a team that was tired and uninspired, but a late-period goal by Nate Prosser gave them an improbable lift.  Prosser picked up a puck near the blueline and flung a wrist shot that deflected off the stick of Dylan Larkin causing the puck to go end over end and flutter by a stunned Jimmy Howard.  2-1 Wild, as Prosser netted his first goal in 106 games.  Again the fanbase waited for the Wild to experience heartache in the closing seconds of the period, especially as Mikko Koivu was headed to the box after he hooked Drew Miller who was robbed by a fine save by Dubnyk.  The Red Wings came dangerously close to cashing in as Gustav Nyquist slung a pass that skittered through the ice out in front of the Wild crease towards a wide open Niklas Kronwall who was standing all alone on the opposite post.  Yet for a brief moment the Wild would hold onto a 2-1 lead.  Prosser actually had a good period as he helped break up solo rush by Anthony Mantha.

3rd Period Thoughts:  The Red Wings started the period with a power play left over from the 2nd and while Minnesota was hustling ok, when it came to clearing the zone they just couldn’t get it done as Staal and Jared Spurgeon had chances to do so.  Detroit held the zone which gave them time to set up Tomas Tatar for a one-timer that beat Dubnyk.  2-2 game.  The Wild didn’t seem to have a lot of push and a few minutes later they seemed to give up the lead on a point shot by Mantha.  The goal was immediately waived off by NHL referee Kelly Sutherland, who claimed there was goaltender interference.  The Red Wings challenged the call and upon further review Sutherland upheld his own call and the game stayed tied at 2-2.  Detroit fans were incensed and I felt they had a right to be as Justin Abdelkader‘s ‘contact’ with Dubnyk seemed pretty minimal and the Wild goalie fell and spun out of the way in an attempt to draw a call.  Funny, Abdelkader didn’t receive a goaltender interference penalty so his ‘interference’ couldn’tve been too egregious.  Either way the Wild lucked out and could Minnesota capitalize on this good fortune.  The Wild had a decent push in the late but Howard was sharp stopping a diving shot by Jason Zucker and then a nice snap shot by Staal in the closing seconds and the game would go to overtime.

Overtime Thoughts:  In overtime, the Wild had put out its line of Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund and Jared Spurgeon.  The line didn’t seem to have a lot of jump and despite working the puck into the Detroit zone wasn’t able to create much of anything.  A minute or so later the Wild thought it had its best chance as Zach Parise and Erik Haula skated down the ice in a 2-on-1.  Haula decided to take the shot himself and he fired a shot that was stopped by Howard who kicked the rebound into the slot just out of the reach of Parise and the puck was gathered up by Gustav Nyquist.  Nyquist then sent a long outlet pass to Andreas Athanasiou who was waiting in the neutral zone while an absent-minded Mathew Dumba was inexplicably way out of position.  Athanasiou would skate in, make an easy move around a diving poke-checking Dubnyk for an easy goal to seal a 3-2 win for Detroit.

Devan Dubnyk got props from one Wild fan for taking the time to talk to Jared Spurgeon during a stoppage in play.  Perhaps the Wild goaltender should spend more time worrying about his own game than trying to impart advice to Spurgeon and others.  The truth is, Dubnyk gave up 3 goals on just 19 shots which equates to about an 85% save percentage which is well below the NHL average.  If Dubnyk tried give me advice about my job, I might respond with a terse, “well, maybe you should worry about stopping some goals instead of worrying about me.”  Dumba continues to find ways to make costly mental mistakes.  On the overtime goal, Dumba just sort of floated out of position so when the Wild scoring chance was thwarted he was no where he could challenge Nyquist’s outlet pass that resulted in the game winning tally.  It was an absent minded play by a player who seems to struggle with the mental part of the game.

The Wild were in full positivity mode after the game.  After the previous game where Wild Head Coach Bruce Boudreau called the effort embarrassing and encouraged fans to boo the team, he stated the team had its best effort all month.  Wild players echoed that sentiment saying they felt they did a lot of positive things.  Ok, that’s one way of looking at it.  However, the Wild were playing a team that was made up of nearly a 1/3rd of the Grand Rapids Griffins.  So should Wild players and coaches wear out their shoulder from patting each other on the back after a game against another non-playoff team like the Red Wings are?  I don’t think so.

The Wild can try selling this was a positive step all they want.  The team got a ‘mercy’ point, they’ve clinched spot in the playoffs.  That shouldn’t be seen as a big accomplishment with a team that is spending near the cap ceiling as they are.  The Wild are finding ways to lose games right now, and you won’t get ‘mercy’ points in the playoffs.  I didn’t think the effort was really that much better when you take into account the team they were playing is a non-playoff squad.  Minnesota not only should be better, but they must give us a lot more than they have if we’re to really have any hope of a long-playoff run at all.

By the way, a friend of mine has Wild tickets for 3 of the team’s remaining regular season home games.  Section 220, row 7, seats 1 & 2 for the games against Carolina, Washington and Ottawa respectively.  They want $100 for each pair, if you’re interested please Direct Message me on Twitter @CreaseAndAssist.

Wild Notes:

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

~ The 3 Stars of the Game: 1st Star Andreas Athanasiou, 2nd Star Tomas Tatar, 3rd Star Niklas Kronwall

~ Attendance was 20,027 at Joe Louis Arena.

Wild Prospect Report:

LW – Jordan Greenway (Boston U., H-East) ~ the power forward’s sophomore season came to an end on Saturday as the Terriers fell 3-2 in overtime to Minnesota-Duluth as part of the NCAA West Regional final.  He had no points and 2 shots on goal.  Greenway finished the season with 10 goals, 31 points, 82 PIM’s and was a +11 in 37 games.

D – Jack Sadek (Minnesota, Big 10) ~ the top seed in the Northeast Regional were bounced from the tournament on Saturday with a 3-2 loss to Notre Dame thus ending the former Lakeville North star’s sophomore season.  He had no points in the game.  Sadek finishes the 2016-17 season with 4 goals, 11 points, 12 PIM’s and was a +9 in 34 games.

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