Whether you celebrate the holidays this time of year or you don’t its impossible to avoid the constant barrage of commercials, advertisements about sales. From automobiles to electronics, from robotic vacuum cleaners to the Nintendo Switch you can’t get away from it. The Minnesota Wild likely felt the same way about the Calgary Flames last night. No matter what they did, they couldn’t seem to get away from the Flames who were flying all over the ice, denying time and space with good active sticks to break up passing and shooting lanes.
The Wild hope to put that behind them as they make their way north to play Edmonton. The Oilers are getting a crash course in structure 101 with Head Coach Ken Hitchcock. No doubt the Oilers will try to replicate a lot of what the Flames did against the Wild the night before. Can Minnesota avoid another ‘Flame out’ in Edmonton?
1st Period Thoughts: The Wild looked like a team that realized it was going to have to probably focus more on defending as they were without Mikko Koivu as he was injured in last night’s game against Calgary. Minnesota seemed to struggle to make easy exits from its own end. Finally, they’d sustain a little pressure with some cycling down low, but Minnesota would get caught and the Oilers would counter attack and Connor McDavid threaded a cross-ice pass to Leon Draisaitl who wired a shot by Devan Dubnyk. 1-0 Oilers. The Wild were getting caught pressing the attack with their defense which made it rather simple for the Oilers to counter attack and they’d make Minnesota pay the price a few minutes later as Jujhar Khaira sent a shot on goal that Dubnyk blocked but as he tried to reach for the rebound he couldn’t corral the puck and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins shoveled it home. 2-0 Oilers. The struggles continued as a battle out in front of his crease between Draisaitl and Greg Pateryn seemed to distract Dubnyk as the puck worked its way out to the high slot where McDavid wired a shot by him. 3-0 Oilers and Boudreau had seen enough and swapped out Dubnyk for Alex Stalock. Minnesota would answer back on the very next shift as Marcus Foligno gathered up a puck in the high slot and powered a wrist shot that just managed to cross the goal line behind Cam Talbot to cut the Edmonton lead to two, 3-1. The Wild would calm down a bit after the goal and began to create some more opportunities offensively as Talbot appeared to be rather shaky. But the Wild were probably somewhat fortunate as the Wild were giving Edmonton the middle of the ice way too easily.
2nd Period Thoughts: The 2nd period would start with both clubs trading odd-man rushes with one another that yielded some ‘oh so close’ scoring chances in the process. Any shot looked like a great shot as both Talbot and Stalock were giving up big rebounds. Stalock would get tested over the next few minutes; with some tremendous stops from in close as the Oilers were working to try to finish the Wild off. McDavid would fly by Pateryn for a partial breakaway and Stalock would go A-frame to make a great stop. Minnesota would earn the first power play of the game Valentin Zykov getting caught for holding up Charlie Coyle. On the man advantage, the Wild seemed somewhat disorganized through the first minute and a half of the power play. Minnesota would eventually get set up but all they could manage a few shots from the point that were not to threatening and they’d come up empty with the man advantage. Edmonton would go back on the attack and Khaira would again work a puck towards the goal that allowed Nugent-Hopkins to set up Jesse Puljujarvi for a dangerous chance that was stymied by a nice defenensive play by Eric Fehr. A few minutes later, Zach Parise would go to work jamming away from in close before his stick was more or less held onto by Oscar Klefbom and he’d get sent to the sin bin giving Minnesota another power play. On the man advantage the Wild tried to work the puck across the ice, hoping to open on a shooting lane and was guilty of over passing as they set up Parise out front that Talbot was able to stonewall. Granlund and Dumba were both guilty of passing up good opportunities to pull the trigger instead trying to set up a pretty tic-tac-toe play. When the Wild did try to simplify their game; as Staal fired a shot off the rush which drew a juicy rebound in the slot the Wild fanned on the bouncing puck instead of burying it into the back of the Edmonton goal. Minnesota was working hard, but just couldn’t seem to work the puck into scoring areas when they had people there or when they did no one could pounce on the opportunities. Wild would trail by two going into the 3rd period.
3rd Period Thoughts: If the Wild felt they had a chance in this one, that feeling would be challenged early as Zack Kassian used Nick Seeler as a bit of a screen before wiring a shot off the post and in. 4-1 Oilers. You could see it in the body language that the goal totally deflated the Wild’s confidence. Garbage time as they call this in football where a game is well in hand and players are simply going through the motions as it all winds to a close. The Wild would score a few minutes later as Nino Niederreiter would redirect a floating pass by Parise and in. 4-2 Oilers. The goal seemed to give the Wild a bit more life as they started to feel as though they were back in this game. Minnesota would have another golden opportunity to further shrink the Oilers’ lead as Talbot was flat on his back with two Edmonton defenders out on the ice with no sticks as they were broke and the Wild couldn’t manage to gather the puck to take advantage of the situation. On the very next shift the Wild found themselves again with Talbot sprawling and on his back in the crease and the puck near the paint but Staal couldn’t bury it and the Oilers would counter attack and McDavid set up Draisaitl for another goal. 5-2 Oilers. Edmonton would add another goal a few minutes later as the Wild let Alex Chiasson park himself out front and he’d fire a shot from about 20 feet from the top of the crease that Stalock had no chance on. 6-2 Oilers. The pain continued a few shifts later as Darnell Nurse blasted a shot from the high slot didn’t seem to see. 7-2 Oilers. The game would come to a merciful end. It was another poor road effort and the team has some soul searching to do going into Tuesday’s game against Montreal.
~ The Wild roster was as follows: Zach Parise, Joel Eriksson Ek, Charlie Coyle, Eric Staal, Jason Zucker, Mikael Granlund, Eric Fehr, Jordan Greenway, Nino Niederreiter, Matt Hendricks, Marcus Foligno, J.T. Brown, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, Matthew Dumba, Nick Seeler and Greg Pateryn. Alex Stalock shared duties between the pipes with Devan Dubnyk. Nate Prosser was the lone healthy scratch.
~ The 3 Stars of the Game were: 1st Star Connor McDavid, 2nd Star Leon Draisaitl, 3rd Star Cam Talbot
~ Attendance was 18,347 at Rogers Place.
Iowa Wild Report:
Record: (13-4-4-2) 32pts 1st in AHL Central
22.1% Power Play (6th in the AHL)
85.3% Penalty Kill (7th in the AHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #9 Cal O’Reilly ~ 5G 18A = 23pts
2. #42 Kyle Rau ~ 7G 9A = 16pts
3. #23 Mason Shaw ~ 3G 13A = 16pts
4. #19 Luke Kunin ~ 7G 5A = 12pts
5. #10 Gerry Fitzgerald ~ 8G 3A = 11pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #17 Mike Liambas ~ 34 PIM’s
2. #37 Hunter Warner ~ 31 PIM’s
3. #8 Louie Belpedio ~ 27 PIM’s
1. #34 Kaapo Kahkonen (6-1-4) 1.67GAA .943%SP 3SO
2. #35 Andrew Hammond (7-3-1) 2.96GAA .911%SP
Recent Score: Iowa 3, Chicago 4 OT
In front of 3,619 fans at Des Moines’ Wells Fargo Center the Iowa Wild are probably feeling a fair level of regret after this game. Iowa would get out to a fast start, scoring just under a minute into the game when Brennan Menell found Justin Kloos with a pass that the former Gopher hammered home behind Max Legace. 1-0 Wild. Iowa would add to its lead a few minutes later as Kloos set up Luke Kunin for his 7th goal of the season to give the Wild a 2-0 advantage. Chicago would try to rally back, peppering Kaapo Kahkonen with shots, but Iowa would carry their 2-goal lead into the 2nd period. Early-ish in the 2nd period, Iowa would strike early as two former Bemidji State stars Matt Read set up Gerry Fitzgerald to make it 3-0 Wild. Perhaps the Wild felt they could coast at this point, but the game would quickly get out of control and penalties played a major role in this change of fortune. Shortly after Fitzgerald’s goal, Colton Beck would get tagged for tripping and the Wolves would take full advantage as Daniel Carr lit the lamp giving Chicago some hope. 3-1 Wild. In the 3rd period, Chicago would add to its lead on another power play as Nic Hague blasted a shot from the point that beat Kahkonen. Later in the 3rd, Dylan Coghlin would pounce on a rebound on another power play to tie the game at 3-3. Iowa could only manage a few token chances offensively and the game would go to overtime. In overtime, both clubs traded chances until a turnover in the neutral zone led to a 2-on-1 between Nic Hague and Brandon Pirri and it was Pirri who set up Hague for the game winner. Kahkonen had 26 saves in the loss.
Wild Prospect Report:
C – Damien Giroux (Saginaw, OHL) ~ the Spirit’s captain had an assist, 3 shots on goal and was 9-for-19 on his draws in Saginaw’s hard-fought 6-5 loss to Niagara. Giroux has 11 goals, 21 points, 8 PIM’s and is +7 in 27 games.
RW – Ivan Lodnia (Niagara, OHL) ~ the Wild’s top pick from 2017 had two helpers on 7 shots in Niagara’s 6-5 win over Saginaw on Thursday. Lodnia has 9 goals, 28 points, 16 PIM’s and is +10 in 26 games.