In the daily grind that is life, often the toughest day to get yourself up and moving is Monday after a fun weekend. You enjoyed the chance to let loose, sleeping in later than you normally would and now you are back to the Monday-thru-Friday routine. Yet you want to get out to a good start for the week. It can also difficult to get yourself out of bed for that last day of work before you go on vacation. That will be Minnesota’s challenge today, focusing on what is directly in front of them instead of the 5-day NHL-mandated lay off that lies beyond it.
Vancouver will no doubt hope to jump all over a team that might be a little tired after having played the night before and hope to take 2 points against an unfocused team. I don’t know about you, but I like the feeling of having all of my work behind me when I go on vacation, because then I can relax with little worry and no regrets. A victory here for Minnesota would give them that piece of mind going into its ‘break’, will the Wild take another step forward with a win this evening?
1st Period Thoughts: Okay, if your heart is still ticking after that epic last minute win by the Minnesota Vikings after giving up a 17 point lead, now you can focus on hockey. I think for a lot of people, whether they like football or not, are having some heart palpitations. I know I am, and I really can’t stand football. It’s going to feel even mildly emotionally invested in this game after what happened on the other side of the river. The first power play of the game would go to the Wild after a tripping call on Sam Gagner. Amazingly, the Wild wasted absolutely no time on the power play and Jason Zucker scored mere seconds into the man advantage. When you’re getting your team healthy again, you need Zucker to regularly be on the boxscore for goals. He’s had too many games lately where he’s been missing in action. Okay, regarding this game, I can’t even watch it. Right now Derek is on the phone with his dad, who turned the game off after the Saints field goal. He is egging them on as they have no idea that the Vikings won. Heck, this phone call is far more interesting than this game has been after Zucker’s power play goal. The Canucks would get their first chance on the power play with just over six minutes remaining in the period with Marcus Foligno getting called for tripping Brock Boeser. The Wild successfully kill the penalty. However, we saw a breakdown in the Wild players actually skating, which would allow Loui Eriksson to get a goal. Eriksson’s goal clearly created some energy for Vancouver, as Boeser would get a scoring chance of his own. I’m hoping that head coach Bruce Boudreau gives them a bit of a talking to during the intermission, as I’ve seen some lack of moving feet late in the period. When they Wild stop moving, then they stop generating offense and end up taking more penalties.
2nd Period Thoughts: I’ll admit, I’m having a hard time focusing on this game. But it seems like the Wild are having a hard time focusing as well. This is feeling like a traditional Wild second period. You know, where the shots (and therefore goals) are few, and the mistakes tend to stack up. Here we are near the midway point of the game, and the number of shots on goal are pretty low (and virtually equal) for both teams. This game has the classic feel of a letdown game. You go from yesterday’s win at home against the Winnipeg Jets and then this afternoon/evening’s amazing Vikings win, and it just feels like a lot could go wrong in this game. Especially since we’re seeing very little pep in the step of the Wild players. And it seems to effect the basics as well. The Wild had a beautiful rush up the ice near the midway point of the period. Instead of Mikko Koivu keeping the puck on his stick, he made the ill-advised backwards pass to Matt Dumba which created an offsides. Why? This has been a team that has always been afraid to skate the puck into the zone. It’s as if they don’t know what to do if they’re prevented from doing a fancy move at the last moment or do a drop pass at the blue line. And then when they do those kinds of things, they compound their woes like Jonas Brodin coughing up the puck in the offensive zone. Thankfully the person who ended up with the puck on his stick was Thomas Vanek and you know he doesn’t like to skate hard. We should thank the Wild’s fourth line. We finally got some serious pressure and energy from Tyler Ennis skating the puck into the zone. That initial hard skate would pin the Canucks into their zone for a good amount of time, even making a few line changes while Vancouver was forced to keep the same tired players on the ice. And even after the Canucks were able to clear the zone, the Wild would again pin Vancouver into their zone. The sad part though, even for all that zone time, there were very few shots on goal. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to complain about the zone time (I’m happy to see it as we’ve seen so little of it these days). However, when you spend that much time in the zone, putting pressure on the opposition, you need to see shots on goal. Of course perhaps their game plan is simply to wear out the Canucks. That’s not a game plan I can officially get behind. Because all that does is say “we’re just going to hope for them to make mistakes.” Grab the bull by the horns and create your own offense. Don’t depend on the failure of others.
3rd Period Thoughts: There are games where I seriously wonder if the Wild’s television broadcast duo of Anthony LaPanta and Mike Greenlay are watching the same game I am. They keep talking about the amazing zone time the Wild had in the final quarter of the second period, however they failed to comment on the one glaring failure of that zone time. Not once have they mentioned the overwhelming lack of shots. I have to wonder some days if one of their job responsibilities is to serve the Kool-Aid, so we don’t notice the issues. But then, they probably have these jobs simply because they’re not the kind of people to call out the shortfalls of this team. Just like they refuse to see that it feels like certain skaters will do everything and anything to set up Zach Parise even when it’s not in the best interest of the team. As this period heads into its final half, again the Wild are getting pressure on Jacob Markstrom. However it again feels like too little, too late. And then instead of Parise being the one that everyone tries to set up, he repays the favor. For an unlikely tie breaker, Parise and Eric Staal fight for the puck in the corner, and get it out to the front of the net. There was Daniel Winnik, who would get the puck past Markstrom. What is nice, is even after Winnik’s goal, the Wild skaters, in particular Zucker and Mikael Granlund, some of the players need to find a little bit of selfishness. If you think you remotely have a shot on goal, TAKE THE SHOT. How often so we see Minnesota players pass the puck for no other reason than to pass the puck? That tendency usually comes back to bite this team, and this game would be no different. Instead of being selfish and taking more shots (which could lead to goals), we pass. And then when we don’t take the shots, we open the door for the opposition to get more shots on goal. And it doesn’t help when Devan Dubnyk lets in a softie by Vanek no less. Which of course ends up sending this game to overtime.
Overtime Thoughts: Well at least we’re going with the two-defenseman overtime with Charlie Coyle, Brodin, and Matt Dumba getting the start in the extra session. While that makes me happy, what doesn’t happy is that Koivu gets on the ice for overtime. He doesn’t have the speed needed for this open space. And it should come as no surprise that it’s another defenseman getting the first best chance in overtime by Jared Spurgeon. And then we have to watch the team try to set up Parise, which again just makes you shake your head. But of course, they will find ways to let you down. And tonight’s letdown comes in a Vancouver overtime goal by Brandon Sutter. This is a typical Wild game. We’d come out strong against the Winnipeg Jets yet play down to the Vancouver Canucks, playing a 1-goal game. As the old saying goes, this is why we can’t have nice things.
~ The Wild roster was as follows: Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund, Jason Zucker, Eric Staal, Tyler Ennis, Zach Parise, Charlie Coyle, Joel Eriksson Ek, Chris Stewart, Marcus Foligno, Matt Cullen, Daniel Winnik, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, Mathew Dumba, Gustav Olofsson and Nate Prosser. Alex Stalock backed up Devan Dubnyk. Mike Reilly was the lone scratch.
~ The 3 Stars of the Game were: 1st Star, Brandon Sutter; 2nd Star, Jacob Markstrom; 3rd Star, Daniel Winnik
~ Attendance was 18,927 at Xcel Energy Center.
Iowa Wild Report:
Iowa 5, Manitoba 4
It has been the Iowa Wild’s best season, but its also had some pitfalls as well. The team has let games get away from them in overtime and those lost points have them sitting in 5th place in the division. Iowa traveled to Manitoba on Saturday to take on one of the AHL’s best teams and the Moose would break the stalemate late in the period on the man advantage as Sami Niku rifled a shot by Steve Michalek. 1-0 Moose. Iowa would answer back just a minute later with a power play goal of its own as Cal O’Reilly found the twine behind Eric Comrie. Iowa would then score 3 times in the first 4 minutes of the 2nd period as Landon Ferraro, Kyle Rau and Sam Anas scored to give the Wild a 4-1 lead. The Moose would then cut the Iowa lead in half as Nic Petan scored on the power play just 17 seconds into the 3rd. Iowa would answer back with a goal by Justin Kloos making it 5-2 and that caused Moose head coach Pascal Vincent to swap out Comrie for Jamie Phillips between the pipes. Kloos’ tally would prove to be crucial as the Moose scored twice more to put a scare into the Wild. Luckily for Iowa, Michalek was strong down the stretch and the Wild were able to hold on for a 5-4 victory. Michalek had 44 saves in the victory. Cal O’Reilly had a monster game with a goal and 3 helpers to his credit.
Wild Prospect Report:
D – Nick Boka (Michigan, Big 10) ~ he is playing on the Wolverines’ top pairing and he had an assist as Michigan rolled to a 3-1 win and series sweep of Minnesota. Boka has no goals, 4 assists, 34 PIM’s, and is a +6 in 22 games.
LW – Avery Peterson (Minnesota-Duluth, NCHC) ~ the former Mr. Hockey had an assist as Minnesota-Duluth earned a series split with a over Colorado College. The Grand Rapids, Minnesota-native has 5 goals, 8 points, 15 PIM’s and is a +2 in 18 games.
RW – Ivan Lodnia (Erie, OHL) ~ the 18-year old winger continues his march towards finishing the season at a point-per-game pace as he had an assist (4 shots on goal) in Erie’s 5-3 loss to Niagara. Lodnia has 19 goals, 50 points, 20 PIM’s and is a +7 in 42 games.
Wild Prospect Camp Tryout Watch:
LW – Jared Bethune (Prince George, WHL) ~ the former Warroad star has been a Wild Prospect camp regular the last few seasons and is having a strong overage season for the Cougars. Bethune had a goal and 2 helpers (5 shots on goal) on Saturday night in a 5-2 win over the Tri-City Americans. The 6’0″, 187lbs winger has 15 goals, 43 points, 42 PIM’s and is a +2 in 43 games.
D – Artyom Minulin (Swift Current, WHL) ~ Minulin played for Russia in this year’s World Junior Championships. The 6’2″, 201lbs right-shooting defenseman had a goal (3 shots on goal) in the Broncos’ 9-1 drubbing of the Edmonton Oil Kings on Saturday. Minulin has 8 goals, 24 points, 8 PIM’s and is a +15 in 36 games.