Before I say anything else, I really appreciated having no Wild hockey to cover this weekend as it gave me a chance to just enjoy watching the Boys State High School Hockey Tournament. The Minnesota Wild probably appreciated the rare opportunity to rest up a bit. Hopefully they also re-focus as they have another busy and challenging week ahead starting with tonight’s game against the San Jose Sharks.
The Sharks are playing some great hockey this season and that’s without their high profile defenseman Erik Karlsson. San Jose are trying to catch Calgary to be atop the Pacific Division. Can the Wild bounce back after a poor effort on Friday?
1st Period Thoughts: Minnesota had good pace to start the game as Jared Spurgeon activated early for a quick shot on goal that was stopped by Martin Jones. The Sharks would try to answer back with a scoring chance of their own as Timo Meier worked his way to the slot where he was stonewalled by Devan Dubnyk. Minnesota seemed to be reacting to the play, and were not moving their feet and the Sharks continued to swarm near the Wild goal as Gustav Nyquist was stopped from in close. Minnesota tried to put the Sharks back on their heels with some quick puck movement in the offensive zone and Jonas Brodin let go of a wrist shot that was redirected by Zach Parise that eluded Jones and rang off the post and stayed out as Jones covered it up. The Wild kept applying pressure, working pucks deep and dictating the pace of play. Minnesota nearly cashed in again as Eric Fehr pounced on a loose puck and got off a quick shot that forced Jones to make a diving save. Meier would draw a Wild penalty as Fehr tripped him up. The penalty kill started off a bit shaky for the Wild as a failed clear by Jason Zucker allowed the Sharks to continue to attack on the power play. Minnesota’s penalty killers would force a few cheap clears of the zone with good puck pressure on San Jose’s attempts to enter the Wild end. The Wild would be successful on the penalty kill and then go back on the attack as a point shot from Anthony Bitetto went on goal, but unfortunately Minnesota was unable to get any sticks on the rebound. The Sharks started to move their feet more and Minnesota found itself on its heels in its own and and Victor Rask found his way to the penalty box as Wild Head Coach Bruce Boudreau fumed from the bench. The Wild penalty kill again was solid at preventing San Jose from getting comfortable in the offensive zone and they’d keep the Sharks at bey. It was an ok period, but Rask continues to look incredibly lost out there. I can’t imagine Boudreau enjoys playing a player that doesn’t fit in as much as Rask does. He’s a terrible liability as I see it. Joel Eriksson Ek was hurt early in the period which only forces the Wild to play Rask even more. Hopefully Eriksson Ek can return, for Boudreau’s sanity alone. 0-0 after 1 period of play which the Wild are probably ok with.
2nd Period Thoughts: Minnesota would draw a penalty early in the period as Nyquist left for holding. The Wild had a good initial chance as Ryan Suter split the defense for a scoring chance. The Sharks penalty kill did a good job of challenging Minnesota’s zone entries, forcing turnovers and the Wild power play would fail to generate much offensive pressure. The game was a bit of a chess match as both teams were playing responsible defense and shots on goal and scoring chances were infrequent. The sellout crowd was quiet but anxious as they knew the first goal was likely going to be huge. Meier would have a great chance as he fired a shot that rang off two posts and out. But the Sharks continued to attack and a point shot by Marc-Edouard Vlasic would send a shot on goal from the point that was deflected by Barclay Goodrow‘s chest and in. 1-0 Sharks to a collective groan from the 18,000+ in attendance. The Sharks were content to keep working some traffic about 15-25 feet in front of the crease and the Wild seemed unable to move them out of the way. Minnesota’s 3rd line would try to crash the net as Eriksson Ek tried to burrow one through but Jones was able to cover it up for a whistle. A few minutes later Brendan Dillon would hold up Zucker trying to chase a puck down into the corner giving Minnesota another power play. The Wild would lose the initial draw and then Minnesota spent the next minute or so just trying to get set up in the offensive zone. Minnesota’s only real shot on goal came off the stick of Ryan Donato who missed wide of the mark off the rush and that was it. The period would end to dead silence. No one reacted one way or the other. They know how this one is going to end, in a flurry of weak and empty cliches.
3rd Period Thoughts: Minnesota would have a tremendous potential chance early in the period but Kevin Fiala couldn’t settle the puck enough to put a shot on goal. That was the story through most of the 1st half of the period, the Wild would make something promising but was unable to generate a shot on goal and that left them vulnerable to a counter attack from San Jose. A risky pinch by Spurgeon and a turnover by Zucker allowed Tomas Hertl to get behind the Wild defense and he’d patiently deke Dubnyk for an easy backhand goal. 2-0 Sharks. With the crowd still pretty quiet the Wild didn’t seem to have the will to even make a rally. After a few indecisive minutes the Wild would try to pour it on, but most of the shots were from the perimeter that didn’t even force Jones to make a save as they were missing high and wide. Bitetto would hook Logan Couture who was on a breakaway and he was rewarded with a penalty shot as Couture seemed to be losing the puck regardless of what the Wild defenseman did. Couture would capitalize on the penalty shot as he moved from right to left and he’d snipe a shot 5-hole. 3-0 Sharks. The play would be reviewed, but no one was sure if it was because they were checking to see if Couture was offsides as he carried the puck in the zone. The replay seemed to indicate he may not have had possession, but ultimately after a talk with Toronto the play was considered to be unreviewable since Couture didn’t score on the initial chance. Good goal to the boo’s from the home crowd and the anger of Boudreau who continued to rip into the officials for missing the offsides call. The perceived bad call seemed to finally awaken the catatonic crowd, but Minnesota didn’t seem to have much fire or jump in their skates and the Sharks just dumped it deep and forced the Wild to waste time struggling to get out of their own end. San Jose’s Michael Haley would take a tripping call giving Minnesota a power play. On the power play, the Wild played half-hearted and they’d kind of go through the motions to fire a few shots in the general direction of the goal. Minnesota would come up empty on another forgettable Wild power play. In the last few minutes the Wild would try to activate its defense as Suter was on the prowl for some points and Fiala set up Suter for a one-timer that he fired through the paint to no avail. The Sharks would attack late and Timo Meiter nearly added to the Sharks’ lead. San Jose was playing its 4th line trying to save itself knowing it had another game tomorrow night. The Wild would keep Dubnyk between the pipes to the end instead of pulling him for an extra attacker as I’d imagine Boudreau was trying to send a message to his team about needing to play with more urgency at a point in the game when it actually matters. A few apathetic boo’s rained down in the closing seconds as Minnesota fell 3-0.
This was another apathetic home effort for a team who seems to lack any fire or fight in the game, especially after getting their ass kicked 6-2 in their last game in Florida. Minnesota is way too comfortable at home; and are not mentally ready to play. I am not sure if its just being around the families and kids that they don’t show up to really battle. I think its time this team forces this roster to stay in a hotel even at home to get its focus back in order. Because if this is what this 5-game homestand will look like we might as well shut the TV of for the rest of the season. It’s that pathetic.
Before anyone starts to blame Bruce Boudreau I think they’re missing the issue. This is a culture problem; and the culture is the players on this roster. Watching Eric Staal slowly glide back to the bench on the end of a shift or seeing Victor Rask throw the puck away just when he thinks he might get checked isn’t going to get it done. It takes sacrifice and selling out your body and soul to get it done. Otherwise you don’t want to be there badly enough. Its a shame this team doesn’t want to win; Wild fans deserve better.
~ The Wild roster was as follows: Zach Parise, Eric Staal, Jason Zucker, Kevin Fiala, Pontus Aberg, Jordan Greenway, Victor Rask, Joel Eriksson Ek, Ryan Donato, Marcus Foligno, Eric Fehr, J.T. Brown, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, Brad Hunt, Greg Pateryn and Anthony Bitetto. Alex Stalock backed up Devan Dubnyk. Nick Seeler was the lone scratch.
~ The 3 Stars of the Game were: 1st Star Marc-Edouard Vlasic, 2nd Star Martin Jones, 3rd Star Jonas Brodin
~ Attendance was 18,907 at Xcel Energy Center.
Wild Prospect Report:
C – Connor Dewar (Everett, WHL) ~ the Minnesota Wild signed Dewar to an 3-year entry level contract this week and he celebrated it at his first opportunity with a goal on 5 shots as well as going 15-for-31 on his draws in the Silvertips’ 3-0 win over in-state rival Tri City on Friday. This earned him 1st star honors. The Pas, Manitoba-native had a helper on Saturday in Everett’s 2-1 loss to arch rival Seattle on Saturday night. Dewar has 35 goals, 78 points, 56 PIM’s and is +27 in 57 games.
RW – Nick Swaney (Minnesota-Duluth, NCHC) ~ the former Lakeville South Star had an assist in Minnesota-Duluth’s 4-3 overtime loss to in-state rival St. Cloud State on Friday. Swaney has 13 goals, 22 points, no penalty minutes and is a +14 in 31 games.
D – Jacob Golden (Erie, OHL) ~ the Toronto-native earned 3rd star honors as he had two assists in Erie’s 5-3 win over Mississauga on Saturday night. Golden has 3 goals, 17 points, 12 PIM’s and is a -1 in 59 games.
RW – Sam Hentges (St. Cloud State, NCHC) ~ the former Totino-Grace star had a goal in their 4-3 win over Minnesota-Duluth. Hentges has 9 goals, 17 points, 20 PIM’s and is +12 in 32 games.
RW – Ivan Lodnia (Niagara, OHL) ~ The winger had a goal on 3 shots as Niagara held on for a 4-3 win over Barrie. Lodnia has 15 goals, 40 points, 20 PIM’s and is +16 in 38 games.
C – Ivan Khovanov (Moncton, QMJHL) ~ the skilled Russian earned 2nd star honors for having 3 assists Moncton’s 10-1 thrashing of Acadie-Bathurst. Khovanov has 24 goals, 70 points, 92 PIM’s and is a +9 in 61 games.
High School Hockey Report:
The 75th Boys State High School Hockey Tournament concluded at Xcel Energy Center and here is a complete summary of the Class A & Class AA champions and other major awards. Crease And Assist: A Legally Compliant Minnesota Hockey Blog would like to congratulate all of the respective schools, coaches, and their athletes for another great tournament! Lastly, a huge thanks to Channel 45 for the extra effort to bring so many of the past voices & personalities (Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, Gary Thorne, Mark Rosen, Rob Leer, Jeff Grayson, Wally Shaver, Clay Matvick, and Lou Nanne) to reflect on the 75th Anniversary of the tournament and what it means to our state and to offer a free stream, thanks so much!
Class A Coach of the Year: Jeff Poeschl (Mahtomedi)
Class AA Coach of the Year: Mark Manney (Andover)
Reed Larson Award Winner (HS defenseman of the year): Mike Koster (Chaska)
Frank Brimsek Award Winner (HS Goalie of the year): Charlie Glockner (Minnetonka)
Mr. Hockey Award Winner (Best HS player): Bryce Brodzinski (Blaine)
Class A Championship: St. Cloud Cathedral 5-2 def. Greenway
Class A 3rd Place: Mahtomedi 7-3 def. East Grand Forks
Class A Consolation: Delano 2-1 def. North Branch
Class A Herb Brooks Award Winner: Donte Lawson (Greenway)
Class A All Tournament Team: Noah Amundson, John Bell, Nate Warner, Jackson Savoie, Jack Smith (St. Cloud Cathedral), Donte Lawson, Cameron Lantz, Ben Troumbly, Logan Wright (Greenway), Trey Ausmus (East Grand Forks), Colin Hagstrom, Noah Skillings (Mahtomedi)
Class AA Championship: Edina 3-2 def. Eden Prairie
Class AA 3rd Place: Blaine 5-1 def. St. Thomas Academy
Class AA Consolation: Duluth East 5-0 def. Lakeville South
Class AA Herb Brooks Award Winner: Jack Jensen (Eden Prairie)
Class AA All Tournament Team: Carsen Richels, Cole Hansen (Blaine), Ryder Donovan (Duluth East), Henry Welsch (Lakeville South), Keegan Langfels, Jack Jensen, Luke Mittlestadt (Eden Prairie), Jake Boltmann, Louden Hogg, Mike Vorlicky, Jett Jungels, Liam Malmquist (Edina)
Oh and one last thing. The originator of the All Hockey Hair Team, John King has announced this year will the last video he’s going to make. It even got some love from NBC‘s Today Show. So enjoy this one and please consider donating to the Hendrickson Foundation too and make something that is always very good into something truly great! We at Crease And Assist: A legally compliant hockey blog would like to thank Game On Minnesota! and Mr. King for his amazing creativity and effort over these last 10 years in making these videos. Stick Tap to you!