“That was the worst game we’ve played since I’ve been here as coach,” said Minnesota Wild Head Coach Bruce Boudreau. I would agree as the Wild were outworked, outchanced and outplayed in an embarrassing 5-2 loss to Detroit. At the time of the game, the Red Wings were in last place in the Atlantic division. Strangely enough, the Minnesota Wild find themselves in the same situation as they play another last place club in the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Flyers are struggling mightily and would appear to be a vulnerable foe, but as we saw Saturday the Wild cannot just show up and expect to come away with 2 points. Can the Wild rebound from their worst game in years?
1st Period Thoughts: Well if you’re looking for a drinking game that could possibly numb things early for you, it would be something around how many times the Wild broadcasters mention former Wild and current Flyers General Manager, Chuck Fletcher. I mean within the first minute of play, we already heard Fletcher’s name once. Already, in the first few minutes, while shots are even, it feels like Philadelphia feels a bit more energetic. If that continues, this just may be a repeat of the Detroit game. As the game continues, neither team is really able to get much of any zone time set up. I mean, you’ll have those brief moments where you think one way or another one of the team will set up in the offensive zone, but then both let you down. It looked like the Flyers were going to get a goal from Wayne Simmonds as Devan Dubnyk was way out of position. Thankfully Greg Pateryn was able to stretch on the ice and poke the puck out of the way. Even better, he drew a penalty as after Pateryn regained his skates, Simmonds slashed the stick out of Pateryn’s hands. It’s amazing how the Wild’s power play can make other team’s penalty kill look aggressive. The first grouping of power play skaters (Zach Parise, Mikael Granlund, Eric Staal) made that look the case. However, the next shift on the power play featured players like Jason Zucker and Nino Niederreiter. They decided to take charge and make things happen. It would be Zucker who tucked the puck past Carter Hart with accompanying boos from the Flyers fans. Even better, is the Minnesota Wild found a way to get a second goal quickly, Joel Eriksson Ek taking advantage of a failed Flyers clearing attempt. It even forced the Flyers to take their timeout with over eleven minutes remaining in the opening period. I can’t remember the last time the Wild forced the opponent to take their timeout in the first period. Looking at the Flyers bench, it is filled with faces of resignation. Well since Pateryn drew the first penalty to get the Wild on the first power play, it would be Pateryn who too the Wild’s first penalty, for roughing. For a while, it looked like Minnesota was going to have another successful penalty kill, as they were getting sticks in the passing lanes and clearing the zone, however it looked like James van Riemsdyk got Philadelphia’s first goal. Yet, Bruce Boudreau decided to challenge the goal for an offsides. Considering Boudreau’s bad luck when it comes to challenging goals, I can’t imagine this will go well for Minnesota. And as expected, the linesmen determined that the Flyers were onsides and the goal will stand and the Wild will of course lose their time out and go back on to the penalty kill. But considering how hopping mad Boudreau was after the call, I want to know what he saw that the officials didn’t. Minnesota would successfully kill the second penalty. During the TV timeout, we saw the replay that Boudreau likely was arguing about, so now I can see where he could challenge. But here’s the thing, even that was super close, and when it comes to close calls, the Wild just don’t win them. And worse, for a while, the Wild here starting to get the lead in shots on goal. But when the Flyers get 2 consecutive power players, that certainly increases Phildelphia’s shots on goal. And as the period starts winding down, Granlund would take a hooking call, just when you don’t need that to happen. The Flyers mean business on these power plays too, as they’re skating all forwards with the man advantage. This game is quickly slipping away, with van Riemsdyk evening things up with just over a minute remaining in the period. Clearly the Wild were looking forward to heading to the locker room with a one-goal lead, but with that mentality, they killed that chance and let the Flyers back into the game. The worst part, is that in the final seconds, Philadelphia almost got the go-ahead goal. Another embarrassing period, and I really don’t know what to say anymore.
2nd Period Thoughts: If you wanted to know one major area of contention in the first period, it would be in faceoffs. The Flyers won 16 of the faceoffs compared to the five that the Wild won. It’s hard to gain possession when you keep losing faceoffs. When you can’t gain possession, it’s hard to generate offense and the more important offensive zone time. When it looks like things are going to continue in the habit of the first period, the fourth line showed up. Grabbing two rebounds in the offensive zone, Marcus Foligno was able to get the go-ahead goal. It would be nice to see some headway made in the faceoff circle now that Minnesota has the lead again and has evened up the shots again. So when you hoped that things were about ready to turn back into the Wild’s direction, Nolan Patrick was able to catch Dubnyk unaware and again tie the game. At least the Wild would jump back in and try to get the next goal, with lots of pushing and shoving in front of Hart, and it looked like Ryan Suter got the puck over the goal line, but Toronto determined it was no-goal. This game isn’t even half over yet, and I’m really not feeling this one. As this season continues without Matt Dumba, it is becoming more and more obvious how much his presence is missed. I haven’t always been his biggest fan in recent seasons, but right now, he is needed. The Wild would again take the next penalty, Foligno for tripping. The penalty kill would look brutal in its early minutes, but they finally got a much needed clear. After that clear, the Wild got to spend sometime shorthanded in their offensive zone. While it didn’t generate much of any resembling offense, it did kill some of Philadelphia’s power play time. With how things have gone tonight, I’m not going to complain much about killing the power play in front of Hart. As the game passes the midway point of the period, the pace has definitely picked up. The question will be who can weather the storm the best. Yes, the Wild are spending more time in their offensive zone, but then we let Philadelphia get the puck into their zone. At the time, they had two players in the zone and the Wild skaters instead didn’t push to clear the zone, no they waited for the other three Flyers skaters to join the fray. That then allowed them to get a full complement of skaters on the ice which lead to Patrick’s second goal of the night. With four minutes remaining, the Wild’s lack of team defense is what is dooming this team. If you think the Flyers are playing a great game, you would be oh so wrong. The Wild are just playing that poorly (again). Dubnyk taking a roughing penalty call doesn’t help matters. At least a penalty went both ways with Scott Laughton getting called for interference. However, the officials clearly missed that the Flyers had six skaters on the ice, which should have also been called, but I doubt the Wild would have done anything with it. And with just seconds remaining in the period (again I think the Wild were hoping to make it to the locker room just down one goal), Simmonds would make it 5-3 Philadelphia. Again, this feels much like a repeat of the Detroit game.. Time to look at yourselves in the mirror boys.
3rd Period Thoughts: Well it looks like Alex Stalock will be starting the third period. I highly doubt that’s enough to turn things around, because again there is no team defense. But I suppose tonight’s one period outing will somehow prepare him for the start tomorrow night against Los Angeles. Well at least that’s the hope, but no amount of the world’s best goaltending will turn this team around unless the skaters figure things out. While this period has felt like more of the same thing, has had us wondering why Jori Lehtera is even in this game, as on January 1, 2019, he was charged in Finland to the buying and possession of cocaine. I can’t find anything about the charges being dropped, so I’m wondering how he’s even playing. The Wild would get the first power play of the period after Claude Giroux was called for holding the stick. The Flyers would kill the penalty, and it would look like the Wild would get a goal but it was immediately waived off for “incidental contact with the goaltender.” However, Staal was pushed into Hart. Although, how we’re able to challenge the goal, I don’t know. I have very, very low expectations of this call being overturned, because the referee was very determined in waiving it off after it was scored. Boudreau would win the challenge that we didn’t know he had, and Suter would be credited with the goal. Now that the Wild have been given a great gift of a goal, they have to not waste it. The faceoffs continue to be dominated by the Flyers, but the shots on goal have been taken over by the Wild. But waste it they would. Simmonds would get his second goal of the game. This now means the Flyers have three chances at the hat trick tonight, so the chance of additional salt in the wounds is not yet over. I’m at the point of quitting. If the Minnesota Wild can continually quit like they have, why can’t we the fans. I know of many long time fans who gave up their season tickets because they were tired of spending their precious income on a team who continue to be a first round playoff team and nothing more. I’m tired of players who continue to say the right things but don’t actually follow through a do the right things. Speaking of the bad team defense, it doesn’t help when Suter takes a hooking call. It also doesn’t help when night after night, the only line that really shows up for the entire game is the fourth line. For some ridiculous reason, the Wild would pull Stalock for the remainder of regulation. Sure, the Wild would spend plenty of time in the offensive zone, but the Flyers would keep them pinned up along the boards, which is not where goals are scored. And like I said, Philadelphia had three chances at a hat trick, tonight it would go to van Riemsdyk. This is also the second game in a row where the Wild allowed the hat trick. It’s official, this game is over. Personally, I can’t wait to hear the excuses on this one.
~ The Wild roster tonight was as follows: Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund, Jason Zucker, Jordan Greenway, Luke Kunin, Eric Staal, Joel Eriksson Ek, Marcus Foligno, Matt Hendricks, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, Greg Pateryn, Nick Seeler and Nate Prosser.
~ The 3 Stars of the Game were: 1st Star, Nolan Patrick; 2nd star, James van Riemsdyk; 3rd Star, Wayne Simmonds
~ Attendance was 19,123 at Wells Fargo Arena.
Iowa Wild Report:
Record: (20-12-4-3) 47pts 4th in AHL Central
19.1% Power Play (15th in the AHL)
84.6% Penalty Kill (6th in the AHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #25 Justin Kloos ~ 12G 17A = 29pts
2. #9 Cal O’Reilly ~ 5G 22A = 27pts
3. #20 Gerald Mayhew ~ 10G 12A = 22pts
4. #23 Mason Shaw ~ 3G 19A = 22pts
5. #42 Kyle Rau ~ 8G 13A = 21pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #17 Mike Liambas ~ 75 PIM’s
2. #37 Hunter Warner ~ 44 PIM’s
3. #8 Louie Belpedio ~ 40 PIM’s
1. #34 Kaapo Kahkonen (10-6-4) 2.46GAA .917%SP 5SO
2. #35 Andrew Hammond (9-6-1) 2.93GAA .906%SP
Iowa 2, Texas 4
Like the big club, the Wild’s farm team is on its own little slide in the standings after losing their last 4 games in a row, all of them road games in Texas in two, 2-game series against San Antonio and Texas respectively. The once potent attack has been sputtering and the power play has gone from elite to being mostly in hibernation. Sound familiar? Iowa has most everyone on its club healthy, so its not a matter of missing key personnel. Iowa returns home for a game against one of the hottest teams in the AHL, the San Diego Gulls tonight.
Wild Prospect Report:
LW – Brandon Duhaime (Providence, H-East) ~ the Plantation, Florida native had an assist in the Friars’ 4-3 loss to Boston University on Saturday. Duhaime has 6 goals, 19 points, 35 PIM’s and is a +12 in 22 games.
C – Sam Hentges (St. Cloud State, NCHC) ~ the freshman forward played center in the Huskies’ Saturday night game against the Bulldogs and he chipped in an assist in their 4-2 win over Minnesota-Duluth. The former Totino-Grace star has 5 goals, 10 points, 14 PIM’s and is a +10 in 18 games.
C – Ivan Khovanov (Moncton, QMJHL) ~ the skilled Russian earned 1st star honors as he had 3 primary assists with 2 shots on goal and went 10-of-16 on his draws in Moncton’s 4-1 win over Charlottetown on Sunday. Khovanov has 20 goals, 50 points, 64 PIM’s and is a -1 in 40 games.