Anyone get the feeling of deja vu? A week ago the Minnesota Wild faced this same St. Louis Blues club on home ice during Hockey Day in America, where they put in a pathetic effort and were routed 4-0. Some fans even noted that the Blues appeared to have barely have broken a sweat due in part to the fact Minnesota had zero hustle and intensity making St. Louis’ win a cake walk. The Wild had just one shot from a high danger area for the entire game.
A trade was made, and with a youthful infusion the team is playing like a they want to win and compete. Two victories over two struggling teams in the east have helped restore a little confidence. But now is a much tougher test. Can the Wild earn a win on home ice against one of the hottest teams in the NHL?
1st Period Thoughts: Minnesota started the game with Joel Eriksson Ek, Luke Kunin and Ryan Donato which gives you an idea of what line has been bringing the energy the last two games. The Wild were moving their feet well as Anthony Bitetto carried the puck into the Blues’ zone and he’d pass a puck out to the point where Brad Hunt blasted a slap shot on goal that Jake Allen steered aside. Minnesota’s hustle was very evident as Mikael Granlund finished a check on Robert Thomas that sent him careening to the ice to the delight of the home crowd. The Wild had a shoot first mentality as Jason Zucker turned on the jets for a chance that missed wide of the mark. The aggressiveness of Minnesota’s attack would leave them a bit vulnerable to the long pass the other way and the Blues would set up Ryan O’Reilly for a partial breakaway but he was shut down by a fine stop by Devan Dubnyk. The Blues would try to connect on a diagonal pass from Alex Pietrangelo to a crashing Vladimir Tarasenko who was only able to get a stick on the pass that went up and over the glass behind the goal while he collided with Dubnyk. Dubnyk had to keep his wits about him as Robby Fabbri was set up by Ivan Barbashev that the Wild goalie read perfectly to stop. Minnesota was still settling for the perimeter far too often to shoot the puck which made for a lot of one-and-done rushes up the ice. The Wild’s forwards seemed hesitant to linger in the middle of the ice and that make Allen’s work to make saves fairly straight forward with little pressure near his crease. Minnesota’s forecheck would force a turnover in the Blues’ zone as Alex Steen coughed up the puck to Granlund who blasted a shot on goal that was gloved by Allen. The ‘kid line’ would work their way in close and Allen had to scramble a bit in his crease as Kunin and Donato were lurking looking for a puck to pounce on. Zucker would turn on the jets and get a step on Jay Bouwmeester and he’d swing a shot on goal before careening into the goal cage and drawing a penalty in the process. On the power play the Wild repeatedly set up Donato to take the shot from the wall that that seemed to threaten Allen and the Blues a bit but it would stay 0-0 going into the 1st intermission. Not a bad period, but Minnesota needs to have more traffic in front of Allen if they expect to capitalize on shots from the perimeter.
2nd Period Thoughts: Minnesota would start the 2nd period with about a minute left of power play time. The Wild were very patient and slow in their puck movement as Parise slowly passed pucks to Granlund along the wall and Minnesota would finally work it in close and they’d take a few shots but were unable to stuff one in. Minnesota would try to continue to apply pressure as Donato ripped a shot that Allen steered aside and as he chased down the puck the Wild would take its first penalty as Staal leaned into Bouwmeester earning an interference penalty to ire of the home crowd. The Blues went with their 2nd power play unit to start and were unable to do much of anything with the puck and the Wild penalty kill was able to clear the zone. Parise would read the play and tip a pass by O’Reilly and was about to race by the Blues forward was tripped up drawing a penalty of his own. Good kill. On the power play the Wild worked a puck to Kunin in the slot for a quick shot that Allen stopped and as the Wild tried to pounce on the rebound they were able to sweep the puck out of danger. I still don’t understand why they keep using Suter at the point when its clear opposing teams don’t care if he shoots the puck because they give him well over 20 feet of space. Minnesota would draw another Blues power play and again Suter went out there to play the point. The Wild did little with man advantage as they struggled to get set up in the offensive zone. By the time they finally did all they were able to set up was a quick shot from the wall by Hunt that was blocked aside by Allen. There was no doubt the Wild were looking to attack as Anthony Bitetto intercepted a pass in the middle of the ice and he’d race down the ice on a 2-on-1 but Colton Parayko would prevent him from being able to dish a pass to Marcus Foligno. Minnesota would break the stalemate as Eric Staal dished pass out front to Zucker who tapped it home. 1-0 Wild. The Blues would try to answer back by ramping up their forecheck which did cause some problems. St. Louis nearly tied the game as Alex Pietrangelo rang a shot off the left post. The Wild had to feel as though the game was slipping a bit as the Blues were winning the races to the loose pucks and being more assertive in puck battles along the wall. Dubnyk started to get peppered with shots as the Blues took advantage of a tired ‘kid line.’ The Blues continued to swarm in the Wild zone with its top line as O’Reilly and Tarasenko were set up for shots but Dubnyk was able to alleviate pressure with a fine glove save. The Wild looked exhausted as the period ended, but they at least held the lead going into the 2nd intermission.
3rd Period Thoughts: The 3rd period would start much the way the 2nd ended, with the Wild pinned in its own end under an oppressive Blues’ forecheck. Minnesota struggled mightily to work the puck out of their own end, often chipping it off the boards which made it dangerous to go and chase it down. The Wild were just holding onto their lead as St. Louis seemed to be getting closer and closer to tying the game. Minnesota looked like a team that was hesitating and unsure of itself and continued to flirt with disaster. The Wild’s Ryan Suter would trip up Tarasenko but the officials initially called Jared Spurgeon for tripping. But Wild Head Coach Bruce Boudreau would argue with the official he had the wrong guy and Suter would end up serving the penalty. Minnesota’s penalty killers would collapse near the goal and this gave Pietrangelo tons of time and space and he’d wind up and blast a slap shot that deflected off the leg of Eriksson Ek and by Dubnyk. 1-1 game to boo’s from the home crowd as Suter gave the official a few words of advice. The Wild would try to rally back and it was Zucker swinging a pass to Jordan Greenway for a quick shot that was gloved by Allen. A long pass would spring Eriksson Ek for a partial breakaway and he’d try to jam a shot inside the right post but Allen’s leg pad wouldn’t move and the Wild would come up empty on what looked like a great opportunity. A turnover caused by Donato would lead to a chance from the slot for Granlund that Allen fought off. The Blues would try to counter attack as they’d drive the Wild defense down low and Bouwmeester’s shot was held onto by Dubnyk. The Wild were trying to work the cycle down low but at the crucial moment to work it out front the Blues strong physical play would eliminate the Wild forward before he could set it up. The Blues was also playing somewhat conservatively as Tarasenko swung a shot towards the goal that deflected off the leg of Jaden Schwartz that Dubnyk pounced on for a whistle. St. Louis tried to press late and a big point shot by Parayko was blocked away and the game would go to overtime.
Overtime Thoughts: The Wild would start with Granlund, Spurgeon and Eriksson Ek. The Blues would win the initial draw and be very patient, circling around waiting for an opportunity to go on the attack. St. Louis would nearly cash in off the rush as O’Reilly was stopped at close range. Minnesota would counter with Ryan Donato and the youngster demonstrated his willingness to pull the trigger and he’d ultimately be the hero. On probably what would’ve been his last rush, Donato would rip a shot from just wide of the left faceoff dot that beat Allen cleanly. 2-1 Wild win.
~ The Wild roster was as follows: Zach Parise, Eric Staal, Mikael Granlund, Jason Zucker, Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson Ek, Luke Kunin, J.T. Brown, Eric Fehr, Ryan Donato, Pontus Aberg, Marcus Foligno, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, Greg Pateryn, Anthony Bitetto and Brad Hunt. Alex Stalock backed up Devan Dubnyk. Matt Hendricks and Nick Seeler were the healthy scratches.
~ The 3 Stars of the Game were: 1st Star Ryan Donato, 2nd Star Jason Zucker, 3rd Star Devan Dubnyk
~ Attendance was 18,645 at Xcel Energy Center.
Iowa Wild Report:
Record (28-16-6-5) 67pts 2nd in the Central
22.1% Power Play (4th in the AHL)
83.6% Penalty Kill (6th in the AHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #9 Cal O’Reilly ~ 9G 32A = 41pts
2. #20 Gerald Mayhew ~ 18G 22A = 40pts
3. #42 Kyle Rau ~ 16G 18A = 34pts
4. #26 Matt Read ~ 15G 15A = 30pts
5. #23 Mason Shaw ~ 4G 22A = 26pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #37 Hunter Warner ~ 76 PIM’s
2. #21 Carson Soucy ~ 57 PIM’s
3. #8 Louie Belpedio ~ 42 PIM’s
1. #34 Kaapo Kahkonen (16-9-7) 2.55GAA .912%SP 5SO
2. #35 Andrew Hammond (11-7-1) 2.74GAA .912%SP 1SO
Iowa 2, San Jose 3 SO
The Barracuda would jump out to a quick lead just 29 seconds in as former Denver University star Dylan Gambrell took advantage of a bad turnover and put one behind Kaapo Kahkonen. The early goal would wake up the Wild and they started to take control of the game. Iowa would tie it up in the latter half of the period as Kyle Rau pounced on a rebound to make it 1-1 going into the 1st intermission. The Wild would take the lead just 57 seconds into the 2nd as Matt Read sniped a shot off a pass from Brennan Menell. 2-1 Wild. The Barracuda would answer back late in the period as Gambrell buried his 2nd goal of the game making it 2-2 going into the 3rd. Iowa would seem to get a big break late in the 3rd when Danish-born forward Alexander True was tagged with a high sticking double minor with just 14 seconds left in the 3rd. As the game was in overtime, Iowa got an even bigger break when San Jose was called for ‘too many men’ which gave the Wild a rare 5-on-3 power play. Yet they couldn’t manage to solve Josef Korenar and the game would go to a shootout. Iowa would be stonewalled by Korenar while Gambrell again delivered in the shootout to give San Jose a 3-2 victory. Kahkonen had 22 saves in the loss.
Wild Prospect Report:
RW – Shawn Boudrias (Cape Breton, QMJHL) ~ the Terrebonne, Quebec-native had two helpers in Cape Breton’s 7-5 loss to Rouyn-Noranda. The 6’6″ power forward added another helper on Saturday in the Screaming Eagles 7-3 rout of Val ‘d Or. Boudrias has 19 goals, 43 points, 27 PIM’s and is a +9 in 53 games.
D – Nick Boka (Michigan, Big 10) ~ the senior defenseman had an assist in Michigan’s 4-2 win over arch-rival Ohio State on Friday. Boka has 3 goals, 9 points, 38 PIM’s and is a -9 in 31 games.
C – Sam Hentges (St. Cloud State, NCHC) ~ the former Totino Grace star had a goal in the Huskies’ 4-1 win over Nebraska-Omaha on Friday. Hentges has 7 goals, 14 points, 18 PIM’s and is +11 in 27 games.
RW – Nick Swaney (Minnesota-Duluth, NCHC) ~ the sophomore forward had a goal on 2 shots in the Bulldogs’ 4-1 loss to North Dakota on Friday. Swaney has 13 goals, 21 points, and is a +11 in 27 games.
C – Alexander Khovanov (Moncton, QMJHL) ~ the skilled Russian center earned 3rd star honors by tallying a goal and two helpers on 4 shots and went 5-for-7 on his draws in Moncton’s 8-3 loss to Dummondville on Saturday. Khovanov has 24 goals, 64 points, 86 PIM’s and is a +5 in 55 games.
LW – Brandon Duhaime (Providence, H-East) ~ the junior forward had an assist on 2 shots in the Friars’ 3-2 win over Massachusetts on Saturday. Duhaime has 8 goals, 26 points, 51 PIM’s and is +17 in 33 games.
RW – Ivan Lodnia (Niagara, OHL) ~ the Los Angles, California-native had 2 goals on 9 shots in Niagara’s 5-0 win over Peterborough. Lodnia has 14 goals, 34 points, 18 PIM’s and is +14 in 31 games.
Minnesota High School Hockey Report:
The Minnesota High School Girls Hockey tournament wrapped up this week at Xcel Energy Center. Here’s how the tournament unfolded as well as their respective all tournament teams. Congratulations to all the teams, coaches, schools and their respective communities to have made the ‘Trek to the X” this year!
Class A Championship: Breck 6-1 over Warroad
Class A 3rd Place: Proctor / Hermantown 5-3 over Mound-Westonka
Class A Consolation: Fergus Falls 4-2 over Rochester Lourdes / Dover-Eyota
Class A All Tournament Team: Hallie Sheridan (D, Fergus Falls), Jade Zierden (F, Fergus Falls), Ella Anick (D, Proctor / Hermantown), Emma Schmitz (F, Rochester / Dover), Genevieve Hendrickson (F, Warroad), Kaitlyn Kotlowski (D, Warroad), Hannah Corneliusen (F, Warroad), Quinn Kuntz (G, Warroad), Carly Beniek (F, Breck), Olivia Mobley (F, Breck), Katherine Solohub (D, Breck), Uma Corniea (G, Breck)
Class AA Championship: Edina 4-3 2OT over Brainerd / Little Falls
Class AA 3rd Place: Minnetonka 3-2 over Andover
Class AA Consolation: Maple Grove 5-1 over Farmington
Class AA All Tournament Team: Peyton Hemp (F, Andover), Lauren Stenslie (F, Maple Grove), Brynn Dulac (G, Minnetonka), Lacey Martin (F, Minnetonka), Maggie Nicholson (D, Minnetonka), Olivia King (G, Brainerd / Little Falls), Cheyanne Abear (F, Brainerd / Little Falls), Sophie Robinson (D, Brainerd / Little Falls), Gabbie Smith (F, Brainerd / Little Falls), Mallory Uihlein (D, Edina), Annie Kuehl (F, Edina), Vivian Jungels (D, Edina)
Let’s Play Hockey Goaltender of the Year: Calla Frank ~ White Bear Lake
Let’s Play Hockey Ms. Hockey: Madeline Wethington ~ Blake