Wild start slow and come up short in 4-3 loss in Winnipeg

Wild start slow and come up short in 4-3 loss in Winnipeg

Wild

Wild start slow and come up short in 4-3 loss in Winnipeg

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Hurry up and wait has kind of been the story of the Minnesota’s Wild’s season besides its injury woes.  The team has had the last 5 days off since it lost in overtime to Columbus on Saturday night.  With so many new faces in the roster its been an opportunity to polish out the rough parts of its game.  Winnipeg has had its own set of troubles out of the gate, but its been less about injuries but more about inconsistency.  With lots of young talent maturing and ready for prime time the Jets want to make their mark in the always tough Central Division.

The Wild will likely be fighting for its playoff lives throughout the season against its neighbor to the north and every game has the potential for a 4-point swing in the standings.  Winnipeg will want to stay in the Central’s top 4 if it wants a realistic shot at the post season.  Can Minnesota pull off another win in the division on the road the way they did against Chicago last week?

1st Period Thoughts: With the youth movement, aka “call everyone up from Iowa because of the mountain of injuries” I have to say that I appreciate the energy. The legs are younger, and there’s definitely more energy. While it’s still not ideal, it could be much, much worse. The Wild would go on the penalty kill first, after Mikko Koivu was called for cross checking. He had stayed with his skater with an amazing show of speed, but ultimate took down Nikolaj Ehlers. The Jets wouldn’t waste time with the man advantage, taking the lead with a goal by Patrik Laine. It will be interesting to see Minnesota’s response. And sadly, the response is not good as Ehlers quickly followed up with a goal of his own. This kind of start to a game has to force the league as to why before tonight, they’ve played only four games when compared to the five teams that have played EIGHT GAMES. You can’t build any sort of consistency when you barely play. And then when you do play, there are large gaps of time between said games. Of course tonight’s game is part of a back-to-back which is far from ideal as well. If the Wild’s games are this few and far between now, it means that later in the season games are going to come fast and furious with little time off. There has to be a better balance. Even though Minnesota is down two goals, at the very least the shots are almost even. Near the end of the period, the Wild’s best scoring chance would come from Landon Ferraro skating through and past three Jets players, only to get stopped by Connor Hellebuyck. I was just thinking with just under a minute remaining in the period, that Minnesota desperately needs a goal to head into the intermission. And of course I had that thought, Jason Zucker would get the puck to Minnesota’s lead goal scorer, Chris Stewart. I feel much better with a 2-1 score than I did with the 2-0 score. Minnesota still has plenty of work to do, but at least there’s a show of some fire.

2nd Period Thoughts: With the late period goal, it’s up to Minnesota to set the pace. Well in an ideal world, it should be. But hey, this is the Minnesota Wild we’re talking about. Plus, this is a second period, which in recent season hasn’t been a kind period for Minnesota. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the first serious scoring chance this period again came from Stewart and Zucker. Another thing I like about the youth (besides young legs) is their willingness to play on instinct and take chances. Players like Ryan Suter often gets caught thinking too long with the puck on the blue line. He gives up quick shots and scoring chances to think about who he’s going to pass to. Koivu is guilty of the same. Sure, the young guys might not have the confidence of the more established players, but I definitely enjoy watching them. I’d rather see their boneheaded mistakes than those of the older players. About halfway in the period, Minnesota got hemmed into their end. It took a puck getting past Jacob Trouba and getting on to Zucker’s stick. His speed and smarts allowed him to get the puck to Koivu, and we find a game that started out poorly for Minnesota in a tie. Minnesota’s second goal fired up Winnipeg, and the Wild again found themselves hemmed into their own zone. Thankfully a deflected Jets shot would stop play and get the Wild a much needed commercial break and a chance to change their skaters. One would think if you scored the last two goals, you would be the team with the determination to take the lead, but you would be wrong. After tying the game, Minnesota has decided to let Winnipeg try and get back in. Minnesota would get their first power play of the game with just 5:30 remaining in the period after Dustin Byfuglien was called for holding Zucker. Zucker would get a quick shot near the midway point of the man advantage, but Hellebuyck’s glove was quicker. However, quick shots seem to be the key. With pretty much all of the skaters in front of the Winnipeg goal, Mike Reilly blasted a shot from the blue line which for the goal. Winnipeg would get another chance on the power play after Kyle Quincey was called for slashing. It wouldn’t take long for Laine (again) to get the puck past Devan Dubnyk. And while I’m not happy about letting Winnipeg back into the game and tying it up before the intermission, I guess things could have been worse.

3rd Period Thoughts: Well when you want Minnesota to pick things up, it doesn’t help when Joel Erickson Ek takes an early hooking penalty against a team that is perfect on their two power play attempts in this game. It also doesn’t help that Laine has both power play goals and has scored several hat tricks in his short NHL career. Thankfully, Minnesota finally killed a penalty tonight. However they would find themselves spending more time in their own zone as opposed to applying offensive pressure of their own. It would appear that Winnipeg would take the 4-3 lead, however Minnesota would challenge the goal for goaltender interference. Blake Wheeler would come through the crease making contact with Dubnyk’s pad with his skate spinning him out of position which allows Mark Sheifele to score the goal. After review by the officials, they determined that Dubnyk was interfered with and the goal was waived off, Bruce Boudreau winning the challenge. It takes the overhead view to see the interference, most likely a view not shared in the arena with the fans. That won challenge seems to have inspired both teams to pick up their play. Both teams are skating hard at both ends of the ice and using their bodies. While I’m glad to see the Wild players pick up the physical aspects of the game, I’m also hesitant. We all know that this is a team that absolutely cannot afford any more injuries. Heck, an infected paper cut is a threat these days. So I hope our players are judicious in the hits they give and have their heads on a swivel so they can be prepared for the hits coming their way. While he’s wearing a full cage, it is nice having Marcus Foligno back in the lineup after his own injury. He has the size and grit that we haven’t often had on the roster. Yet Minnesota didn’t sustain the energy and focus after winning the challenge. They found themselves stuck in the neutral zone (and flat footed), which allowed the Jets to take back the lead off of an even strength goal by Wheeler. With the way this season has started, it feels like it’s going to be a season of one step forward and two steps back. As our friends over at 3 In The Box have pointed out, Matt Dumba is a -2 tonight. This something that has to change, and soon. It would take some time, but Minnesota would get Dubnyk pulled in an attempt to tie up the game. They would get the Jets trapped in their zone, but with 11 skaters on the ice, it’s hard to get a clear shot on goal. While the Wild made an effort in this game, going down 2 goals early in the game isn’t exactly a recipe for success. Nor is losing your focus during stretches of the third period. On to Calgary.

Wild Notes:

~ The Wild roster was as follows: Matt Cullen, Mikko Koivu, Chris Stewart, Eric Staal, Joel Erickson-Ek, Jason Zucker, Marcus Foligno, Luke Kunin, Daniel Winnik, Landon Ferraro, Zack Mitchell, Tyler Ennis, Mike Reilly, Ryan Suter, Matt Dumba, Jonas Brodin, Kyle Quincey, Jared Spurgeon. Devan Dubnyk got the start with Alex Stalock serving as backup.

~ The 3 Stars of the Game were: 1st Star, Blake Wheeler; 2nd Star, Patrik Laine; 3rd Star, Jason Zucker.

~ Attendance was 15,321 at MTS Centre.

~ Landon Ferraro wore #41 for the Wild, joining Martin Skoula, Justin Falk and Jed Ortmeyer having worn the number.

~ Luke Kunin wore #19 for the Wild, joining Jeff Nielsen, David Cullen, Stephane Veilleux, Dominic Moore, Andy Hilbert, Patrick O’Sullivan, Jeff Taffe, Brett Bulmer, Jarrett Stoll and Martin Hanzal having worn the number.

Wild Prospect Report:

RW – Ivan Lodnia (Erie, OHL) ~ the skilled forward has had solid start to the 2017-18 season, on Saturday he chipped in a goal in Erie’s 5-4 overtime win over Mississauga.  Lodnia has 6 goals, 10 points, 8 PIM’s and is an ‘even’ rating through 10 games.

D – Jacob Golden (London, OHL) ~ the skilled defenseman had a helper in the Knights’ 4-3 loss to Owen Sound on Sunday.  Golden has just 1 point in 10 games as he battles to get ice time an always competitive London squad.

LW – Brandon Duhaime (Providence, H-East) ~ the speedy forward played on the Friars’ top line on Sunday where he had a goal in Providence’s 4-3 overtime loss to Boston College.  Duhaime has a goal and 2 points, 19 PIM’s and is an ‘even’ rating through 3 games this season.

F – Kirill Kaprizov (CSKA Moscow, KHL) ~ the youngster registered his 100th KHL point on Wednesday night as he tallied a goal and two helpers in CSKA’s 7-2 rout over Metallurg Magnitogorsk.  Kaprizov has 11 goals, 21 points, 0 PIM’s and is a +11 in 18 games.

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