Losses have a way to bring about some soul searching. The Wild’s recent spate of losses has some fans back ’embracing the tank’ of hoping the team finishes as poorly as it can in order to secure a top draft pick this summer. Considering the fact that even if the Wild win 25 more games, it still might be a bit short of where it needs to be to qualify for the playoffs I don’t think that’s worth it. Does that mean we should expect a sell off at the trade deadline?
The Vancouver Canucks, a rival of the Wild during their Northwest Division days has been steadily reconstructing itself with youth and physical style of hockey. Minnesota is nearing a cross-roads to its season while Vancouver is on the cusp of taking a wildcard spot. Can the Wild earn a victory over its former rival?
1st Period Thoughts: The Wild would start out with the 3rd line and they caused some trouble right away with a good first shift. A shot by Joel Eriksson Ek was sent on goal that Jacob Markstrom stopped and Marcus Foligno and Luke Kunin crashed the net but Markstrom was able to hold on. The Canucks would answer back with some pressure of their own as J.T. Miller batted a puck out of the air that Devan Dubnyk steered aside. Minnesota was activating its defense early as Mats Zuccarello found Jonas Brodin with a pass and he’d try to go forehand to backhand but the puck was swept off of his stick at the last minute by Oscar Fantenberg. Minnesota was moving well and finishing their checks. The pace was fast and you could sense the anxious urgency of the Wild at the start of this game as they knew how important it was to get out to a lead in this game, if for any reason than to build their confidence. A few minutes later the Canucks would give the Wild the first power play of the game as Anotine Roussel ran into Dubnyk without trying to avoid contact, earning him a trip to the penalty box for goaltender interference. But the Wild power play lasted a whopping 7 seconds after Mikko Koivu was tagged for tripping up Brandon Tanev. With more open ice with both clubs 4-on-4, the Wild were fairly conservative as they tried to assert some token offensive pressure. Minnesota would then get tagged with an elbowing call for standing up into Alexander Edler. The Canucks power play moved the puck reasonably well, but Dubnyk looked efficient and focused in reading the play and tracking the puck. Unfortunately the Wild continued to take penalties as Brodin cleared a puck into the stands for a delay of game penalty. Minnesota’s penalty killers were again strong, applying good puck pressure and not allowing the Canucks to ever get comfortable in the Wild’s end. Bad passes would derail a few attempts to go on the attack in the last few minutes of the period. The Wild’s 4th line started to cause some issues for Vancouver on the forecheck with some good hustle and a willingness to dish out some hits but it didn’t lead to many shots being directed on goal. The Wild were outshot 9-3 in the period, but hopefully that will even itself out if Minnesota can manage not to spend half of the period in the penalty box.
2nd Period Thoughts: The Canucks had a golden opportunity to start the period as Miller set up Elias Pettersson all alone on Dubnyk and his wrist shot was deflected away by the Wild goalie. The Wild would take another penalty as Jason Zucker was given a hooking minor as he slowed up Edler on a race for the puck in the corner. The Canucks’ power play moved the puck quickly and using their speed effectively. Minnesota would then take another penalty as Ryan Suter chopped Bo Horvat‘s stick to give the Canucks a 5-on-3 advantage for about 1:30. Minnesota’s penalty killers tried to stay in a fairly tight diamond on the ice as they attempted to deny the diagonal and cross-ice passes which lead to prime scoring chances. The penalty killers did a nice job of taking away the middle of the ice and Vancouver was never able to generate a one-timer opportunity. The Wild would get the kill but Vancouver kept Minnesota pinned in its own zone. Minnesota would finally break out of their own end and they’d draw a penalty as Roussel tried holding up Zucker in the neutral zone. The Wild’s power play was slow and predictable in its puck movement, making it easy for the Canucks to get sticks into passing and shooting lanes. The Tim Schaller would get tangled up with Ryan Suter giving the Wild a 45-second 5-on-3 advantage. Minnesota seemed to only want to set up Suter for shots that were easily dismissed by Markstrom. As Minnesota came up empty on the power play they’d take a ‘too many men’ penalty and Vancouver would finally cash in on the power play. A long range shot from the point by Quinn Hughes was redirected by Pettersson and by Dubnyk to a torrent of boo’s from the annoyed home crowd who felt like the officials missed a pretty blatant cross-checking call in the moments before the ‘too many men’ call which caused Zach Parise to be slow to the bench which drew the penalty. 1-0 Canucks. The Wild appeared to slow down after the Canucks’ goal and Minnesota didn’t appear to have the speed to create offensive chances for itself and the ice continued to be tilted towards the Wild’s end of the ice. Minnesota was in need of someone to make a big play, and the 3rd line would make it happen as Luke Kunin skated into the Canucks’ zone with speed and he’d send a shot on goal that drew a rebound from Markstrom and Foligno would crash the net and deflect the puck into the back of the net. 1-1 game after a brief review. The good feelings would be short-lived as the Canucks took the lead back about 20 seconds later as a shot by Tanner Pearson would deflect off the stick of Matt Dumba and the puck would settle near the top of the Wild crease where it was poked home by Horvat. 2-1 Canucks. Vancouver would add to its lead a few shifts later as Miller would win a race for the puck and he’d feed a pass to Troy Stecher at the point and he’d unleash a laser of a shot by Dubnyk. 3-1 Canucks. Carson Soucy would carry the puck deep and attempt a wrap around that was stopped by Markstrom but as the puck sat in the slot, Koivu would charge in to fire it on goal only to be leveled by Jake Virtanen who got tagged with a cross-checking penalty. On the power play, the Wild struggled to get set up in the offensive zone which is nothing new. They spent the first half of the power play just getting established. After that the Wild had a couple quality shots on goal but they still couldn’t find the back of the net even as they had the Canucks’ penalty killers scrambling around their own zone. Minnesota appeared supremely frustrated in the closing minutes of the period as Dumba ripped a shot high over the goal. I am not optimistic about a Wild comeback based on the limited amount of chances the Wild have been able to create at even strength.
3rd Period Thoughts: The Canucks were hustling well to start the 3rd period, working pucks deep and forcing Minnesota to defend in their own zone and bring the biscuit the full length of the ice to go on the attack. Vancouver seemed to be a step or two faster on any small races for pucks and Minnesota just seemed frustrated and near the point of just kind of giving up. The 4th line would try to get something going as Ryan Donato worked a puck around to Ryan Hartman who fired a shot on goal as Jordan Greenway crashed the crease as Markstrom held on that drew the ire of Tyler Myers. Horvat would get called to a check to the head as he hit Hartman in the head with his elbow. On the power play, the Wild were mostly disjointed and ineffective as the Canucks’ effort was superior and Minnesota couldn’t get anything set up in the offensive zone. Making matter worse and perhaps a sign of the general frustration of the game, Zucker would haul down Tyler Motte which negated the last 45 seconds of the man advantage. Vancouver wasn’t particularly motivated on their shortened power play, to do much beyond just force the Wild to waste more time defending in its own zone. Minnesota would try to attack as the penalty expired and it was Zucker dropping a pass back to Greenway who hammered a slap shot from the high slot that was denied by the outstretched leg pad of Markstrom.
Zucker, just out of the box, takes a pass and feeds Greenway on the rush, but it's just kick saved by Markstrom pic.twitter.com/VMG7QsqQtJ— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) January 12, 2020
The Wild would take another penalty as Kunin hauled down Miller for a holding call. The Canucks hustle and skating was clearly superior to the more well-rested Wild squad today. Vancouver was content to keep the puck deep and forcing the Wild to spend time and energy chasing the puck around their own end of the ice. Minnesota would try to cut the Canucks lead in half, but at the crucial moment they’d make one more pass and set up a lower probability shot that predictably failed to find the back of the net.
Zucker and Staal have a great shorthanded chance, but can't connect on the pass. pic.twitter.com/FTDsRs4U53— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) January 12, 2020
Another two-on-one, this time with Zuccarello and Staal, but the same story as they can't find the handle. pic.twitter.com/WF7PPAYQsY— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) January 12, 2020
The Canucks stayed calm as Minnesota tried to throw everything they had at Markstrom and simply hoping for a lucky bounce. Donato had a good chance off a rebound from a Suter point shot but Markstrom was able to stretch and make the save. With the Wild wanting to press offensively the Canucks nearly hammered the nail in the coffin as Pettersson rang a shot off the left post. Minnesota would pull Dubnyk with a little under 2:30 left, and the Wild were able to create a few quality chances but Markstrom was able to make some fantastic stops including a robbery of Eric Staal on a back-door play and then Zucker and Kunin from in close.
Zucker and Kunin can't solve the Canucks' netminder. pic.twitter.com/CirhTghi4H— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) January 12, 2020
On the next shift it was Markstrom again denying Staal. Horvat would clear the zone and the puck would slide into the empty goal and would skate away with a 4-1 victory.
~ The Wild roster was as follows: Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Eric Staal, Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Fiala, Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson Ek, Luke Kunin, Marcus Foligno, Ryan Donato, Jason Zucker, Ryan Hartman, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba, Carson Soucy and Greg Pateryn. Alex Stalock backed up Devan Dubnyk. Brad Hunt and Victor Rask were the scratches.
~ The 3 Stars of the Game were: 1st Star Elias Pettersson, 2nd Star J.T. Miller, 3rd Star Marcus Foligno (I am not sure how Jacob Markstrom wasn’t one of the stars of the game)
~ Attendance was 17,348 at Xcel Energy Center.
Iowa Wild Report:
Iowa 3, San Diego 4 OT
Iowa would jump out to an early lead as Gerald Mayhew buried a Kyle Rau pass to give the Wild a 1-0 lead. The Wild would add to its lead late in the period as Connor Dewar tapped home a rebound off a Dmitry Sokolov shot to make it 2-0 going into the 1st intermission. San Diego would answer back in the 2nd period with a more direct, crash-the net approach as Sam Carrick buried a rebound given up by Mat Robson to cut Iowa’s lead in half, 2-1. The Gulls would then tie the game a few minutes later as Chris Mueller would beat Robson on deflection. San Diego would then take the lead early in the 3rd as Carrick scored just 17 seconds into the period on a shot off the rush. Iowa would answer back as Sam Anas would tie it up a few minutes later. Both teams would lock it down in the 3rd period, defensively and the game would go to overtime. It didn’t take long as the Gulls caught the Wild deep in their zone and Josh Mahura was able to race out on a breakaway where he beat Robson with a quick wrister to give San Diego a 4-3 win. Robson had 30 saves in the loss. Anas and Mayhew both ended up with a goal and an assist on the evening.
Wild Prospect Report:
RW – Shawn Boudrias (Cape Breton, QMJHL) ~ the power forward earned 2nd star honors on Friday with a hat trick and an assist in Cape Breton’s 8-2 win over Saint John. Boudrias has 24 goals, 49 points, 48 PIM’s and is +24 in 37 games.
C – Bryce Misley (Vermont, H-East) ~ the junior forward has had another slow start as he had an assist on 1 shot in Vermont’s 2-2 tie against Dartmouth. Misley has a goal, 2 points, 6 PIM’s and is a -7 in 19 games.
G – Filip Lindberg (UMass, H-East) ~ the athletic goaltender had 28 saves to help the Minutemen earn a 3-1 win over #4 ranked Boston College on Friday. Lindberg has a 6-4-1 record, 1.81 goals against average and .931 save percentage with 2 shutouts.
C – Matvey Guskov (London, OHL) ~ the versatile center earned 2nd star honors for having a goal and an assist and going 10-for-11 on his draws in London’s 5-2 win over Barrie. Guskov has 8 goals, 19 points, 35 PIM’s and is an ‘even’ rating through 38 games.
RW – Ivan Lodnia (Niagara, OHL) ~ the Novi, Michigan-native had a goal on 6 shots but went an ugly 3-for-15 on his draws in Niagara’s 5-2 loss to Kitchener. The next night the versatile forward had another goal on 4 shots in Niagara’s 4-2 loss to Erie. Lodnia has 21 goals, 49 points, 14 PIM’s and is +11 in 28 games.
C – Damien Giroux (Saginaw, OHL) ~ the Spirit’s captain had 2 goals and an assist as well as going 14-for-20 on his draws in Saginaw’s 7-4 win over Flint. The next night, the Hanmer, Ontario-native had a truly rare goal; an empty-net shorthanded game winning goal in Saginaw’s 6-5 win over London. He went 9-for-17 on his draws too. Giroux has 27 goals, 45 points, 14 PIM’s and is +11 in 40 games.
RW – Nick Swaney (Minnesota-Duluth, NCHC) ~ the junior winger had 2 goals and an assist on 2 shots in the Bulldogs 6-3 win over Western Michigan. Swaney has 7 goals, 17 points, 2 PIM’s and is a +2 in 16 games.
LW – Adam Beckman (Spokane, WHL) ~ the skilled winger continues piling up points with an assist on 2 shots in Spokane’s 3-1 win over Vancouver. The next night, he’d add another goal on 2 shots in the Chiefs’ 4-3 win over the Giants. He has 30 goals, 63 points, 10 PIM’s and is +27 in 38 games.
F – Nikita Nesterenko (Chilliwack, BCHL) ~ the Brooklyn, New York native had an assist in the Chiefs’ 6-5 loss to Langley on Friday. On Saturday, the Boston College-commit had a goal and an assist as Chilliwack prevailed in a 6-1 win. Nesterenko has 16 goals, 38 points, 21 PIM’s in 39 games.
D – Marshall Warren (Boston College, H-East) ~ the mobile defenseman had a goal in Boston College’s 6-3 win over UMass on Saturday night. Warren has 4 goals, 7 points, 14 PIM’s and is a +13 in 18 games.
LW – Matt Boldy (Boston College, H-East) ~ the top pick from this summer’s draft might be showing signs he’s heating up offensively as he had a goal and an assist on in the Eagles’ 6-3 win over UMass. Boldy has 2 goals, 6 points, 4 PIM’s and is a +2 in 18 games.
C – Jack McBain (Boston College, H-East) ~ the lanky power forward had an assist in Boston College’s 6-3 win over the Minutemen. McBain has 4 goals, 10 points, 27 PIM’s and is a +3 in 18 games.
G – Hunter Jones (Peterborough, OHL) ~ the big goaltender stopped all 23 shots he faced in the Petes’ 4-0 shutout of Ottawa on Saturday earning him 1st star honors. Jones has a 22-7 record, 2.78 goals against average and a .912% save percentage and 2 shutouts on the season.