One my favorite hockey writers is Sean McIndoe of the Athletic and formerly of the Hockey News. He initially got his start as a blogger where he has kept the name of Down Goes Brown. From his ‘top secret’ NHL suspension flow chart to his top 10 lists he is the right mix of savvy and comedy. Recently, McIndoe rated the Minnesota Wild as the most mediocre team of the last decade. From the team’s yawn-worthy playoff record to our blah drafts it is hard to disagree with his assessment.
Minnesota showcased some of that mediocrity on Sunday by giving up four different one-goal leads to Calgary to then lose 5-4 in a shootout. If the Wild had managed to win that game in regulation they could’ve been ahead of the Flames in the standings but instead now they trail by points instead. Will the Wild continue its mediocre play on the road in Calgary?
1st Period Thoughts: Minnesota started its 3rd line and they were looking to attack early as Joel Eriksson Ek had the first quality chance off the rush that was gloved by Cam Talbot. The Flames had a great chance of their own as Andrew Mangiapane managed pounce on a puck that slipped past Ryan Suter for an opportunity off the rush that hit the right post but stayed out as Alex Stalock reached to cover up for a whistle. Both clubs were trading rushes up the ice, which is probably not the wisest choice for the Wild who are a slower club. Perhaps that was why the Wild would get caught with too many men on the ice and the Flames would go on its first power play of the game. Minnesota’s penalty kill was assertive and challenging Calgary in the neutral zone. The Flames would waste nearly a minute just trying to get set up in the Minnesota one. Yet the Flames would take the lead with just 6 seconds left in the man advantage as a point shot by Noah Hanifin was redirected by Derek Ryan and by Stalock. 1-0 Flames. Minnesota would try to counter attack with the Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Kevin Fiala line and they’d set up a quality scoring chance for Suter as Fiala found him with a pass in the high slot but his shot was stopped by Talbot’s blocker save. The Wild had another good chance on the next shift as Luke Kunin hammered a shot off the faceoff that rang off the post and out. Calgary’s defense was rather loose and every line would get their share of scoring chances as Victor Rask and the 4th line got an opportunity from the slot that was fought off by Talbot. The game would slow down a bit as Calgary started to get their forecheck working and the Wild struggled to move the puck out of the zone beyond just chipping it off the glass and boards which made for easy turnovers. At times the Wild seemed to be playing with fire (literally and figuratively) as Calgary was setting up shots from the point with plenty of traffic near the Minnesota crease. The Wild seemed to be disorganized and chasing the game and the Flames were setting up long range shot after long range shot that was drawing some big rebounds from Stalock. Matt Dumba would jump up into the rush and pass it to Rask who dropped it back to Jordan Greenway who gave it back to Rask who moved in and set up Dumba for a chance from the slot that was denied by Talbot. Zac Rinaldo would take a run at Ryan Hartman, earning a penalty for an illegal check to the head. On the power play the Wild didn’t do much with the man advantage as they struggled to just get set up in the offensive zone. The Wild will have about 35 seconds left in the power play at the start of the 2nd period, but they looked tired and uninspired heading to the locker room even though they were only trailing 1-0.
2nd Period Thoughts: Minnesota didn’t do much of anything with its 35 seconds of power play time to start the period. As the penalty expired it was Alex Stalock connecting with Mats Zuccarello on a long pass and the Norwegian would rip a shot off just from beneath the faceoff dot that beat Talbot. 1-1 game. Fiala would get tagged with a holding call in the offensive zone. Luckily for the Wild, Stalock was sharp making a number of good saves from in close to keep the game tied at 1-1 as Minnesota would get the kill. The Wild would try to go back on the attack and the 4th line nearly cashed in as Hunt centered the puck but Hartman’s redirect missed wide. The Flames would trip up Fiala for a penalty giving the Wild an excellent opportunity to take the lead. Minnesota’s power play was certainly trying to set up Dumba but the Wild didn’t seem to have much of a plan beyond that. The puck movement was often slow and lacked variety which meant the Wild had little time and space and thus they were not sending many shots at all. The Wild seemed to sit back and revert to some indifferent play and Calgary would strike off a 3-on-3 rush as some half-hearted back checking allowed Johnny Gaudreau a little space and he’d fire one by Stalock with 3 Wild skaters standing around him. 2-1 Flames.
The Flames continued to attack and Hanifin would set up Sean Monahan near the Wild crease as Stalock would hold on for a big save to keep his team within one. Minnesota tried to intensify its physical game as the 4th line was throwing its body around, finishing checks consistently. This did lead to some offensive pressure as Rask set up Dumba for a chance in close that Talbot knocked down and covered up before Hartman could pounce on it. A few minutes later after some good work along the wall by Carson Soucy, the puck would work its way out front where Koivu had two quick shots that were both dismissed by Talbot. The 4th line would again apply some offensive pressure as Rask found a trailing Dumba who moved in and tried to wrist a shot by Talbot who knocked it down and was able to cover it up before the pinching defenseman could jam home a rebound. Minnesota had a great scoring chance late as Fiala made a nice little move to work his way into the high slot for a shot that Talbot fought off and Parise was nearly able to backhand it in only to be thwarted by an alert Derek Ryan who cleared it away to preserve Calgary’s 2-1 lead going into the 3rd. A better period in terms of scoring chances for the Wild, but a defensive lapse again is proving costly.
3rd Period Thoughts: Minnesota seemed motivated to try to rally in this game, as they were attacking off the rush with defensemen joining the play. Jonas Brodin had a chance off the rush but his shot was denied by Talbot who got across his crease quickly. The Flames were content to dump pucks deep and force the Wild to skate up the full length of the ice. Soucy and Sam Bennett would tangle a bit near the Wild goal after a whistle with no one going to the sin bin as a result of the scrum. Minnesota was taking any chance to shoot the puck and the scrums after the whistle continued. Give Talbot credit for absorbing pucks and giving the Wild little to nothing to work with in regards to rebounds. The Flames were trying to pin Minnesota in its own end on the forecheck and at times it resembled a Flames’ power play as Wild skaters seemed to just be standing around. Elias Lindholm and Matt Tkachuk had a few chances that Stalock fought off that drew a small ovation from the home crowd as they enjoyed watching their team attacking the Wild. Minnesota didn’t seem to have the energy make a real push for the equalizer. Its not to say they were not able to create some scoring chances. Eric Staal had a backhander that went off the inside of the right post and stayed out. Late in the period, it was Jordan Greenway firing a shot that Talbot stopped and the rebound went right out to Zuccarello whose quick shot went off the side of the goal. Minnesota would pull Stalock with a little over 2 minutes left. The Wild had some chances with the extra attacker as Koivu set up Fiala for a quick shot from the slot that Talbot absorbed and that was as close as it got as Minnesota fell 2-1.
~ The Wild roster was as follows: Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Eric Staal, Mats Zuccarello, Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson Ek, Luke Kunin, Ryan Donato, Marcus Foligno, Victor Rask, Ryan Hartman, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba, Brad Hunt and Carson Soucy. Kaapo Kahkonen backed up Alex Stalock. Greg Pateryn and Louie Belpedio were the scratches.
~ The 3 Stars of the Game were: 1st Star Cam Talbot, 2nd Star Alex Stalock, 3rd Star Johnny Gaudreau
~ Attendance was 18,634 at ScotiaBank Saddledome.
Iowa Wild Report:
Record: (21-12-2-2) 46pts 2nd in the AHL Central
20.5% Power Play (9th in the AHL)
85.3% Penalty Kill (6th in the AHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #7 Sam Anas ~ 11G 28A = 39pts
2. #20 Gerald Mayhew ~ 23G 14A = 37pts
3. #42 Kyle Rau ~ 7G 24A = 31pts
4. #27 Brennan Menell ~ 3G 22A = 25pts
5. #11 Nico Sturm ~ 9G 8A = 17pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #47 Louie Belpedio ~ 51 PIM’s
2. #17 Mike Liambas ~ 48 PIM’s
3. #44 Matt Bartkowski ~ 40 PIM’s
1. #34 Kaapo Kahkonen (13-3-1) 2.56GAA .906%SP 2SO
2. #60 Mat Robson (7-7-3) 2.81GAA .905%SP 1SO
Recent Score: Iowa 3, San Diego 2
Iowa made its way to San Diego on Wednesday, a place Iowa had been winless in 3 games going into this one. The first period was a bit of a chess match as Iowa’s Mat Robson and San Diego’s Anthony Stolarz were in control keeping the game 0-0 after 1. The Gulls would break the stalemate as former Michigan Tech star Blake Pietila scored early in the 2nd, 1-0 San Diego. Iowa would then answer back with two goals from Sam Anas who been absolutely on fire lately for the Wild to take a 2-1 lead. The Gulls would tie the game late in the period as Sam Carrick buried his 13th of the season to make it 2-2 going into the 3rd period. In a hard fought 3rd period, Iowa would pull ahead on Baxter, Minnesota-native Mitch McLain‘s 2nd goal of the season and Robson and the Wild would shut the door on a 3-2 victory. Robson had 28 saves in the win and Gerald Mayhew continues his point streak with 2 helpers of his own.
Wild Prospect Report:
C – Damien Giroux (Saginaw, OHL) ~ the Hanmer, Ontario-native had an assist on 5 shots and went 5-for-8 on his draws in Saginaw’s 5-3 win over Sarnia. Giroux has 24 goals, 41 points, 14 PIM’s and is a +9 in 37 games.
LW – Adam Beckman (Spokane, WHL) ~ the skilled winger used his abilities as a playmaker on Tuesday night when he had two assists on 5 shots earning 3rd star honors in Spokane’s 5-3 loss to Portland. Beckman has 29 goals, 61 points, 10 PIM’s and is a +26 in 37 games.
LW – Kirill Kaprizov (CSKA Moscow, KHL) ~ the talented Russian had an assist with no shots on goal in CSKA’s 4-1 win over Dynamo Minsk. Kaprizov has 19 goals, 38 points, 6 PIM’s and is in +12 in 40 games.