When someone decides to launch a bit of a verbal jab at another, sometimes people use the hashtag #ShotsFired. When Minnesota Wild General Manager Bill Guerin told reporters that if players show signs that they are quitting there will be more trades, it was #ShotsFired around the Wild locker room. Later that same day when the Wild played Vegas you could see the hustle and determination of a team who knows they might get moved if the boss feels they’re giving something less than 100%. As one Wild player said after the team’s 4-0 victory over the Golden Knights, “message received.”
Ok, but let’s see them do that again as the New York Rangers come to town. Like the Wild, the Rangers have been playing a little better as of late and are trying to scratch and claw their way back towards playoff contention. Will the Wild continue to play like a team that ‘got the message’ or will they prompt management to make some moves?
1st Period Thoughts: Minnesota had good energy and jump in their skates to start the game, as they were swarming in the Rangers’ zone early. The Wild had a great chance as Mikko Koivu found Jonas Brodin who let go of a shot high short side that was stopped by the shoulder of Alexandar Georgiev and the puck popped up into the air and Brodin moved around the goal for a quick shot that Georgiev knocked down and covered up for a whistle. Carson Soucy was jumping into the play offensively as he used his frame to keep Kaapo Kakko away from the puck and he’d swing a backhand shot on goal that Georgiev steered aside. The Wild kept attacking and at times it looked as though the Wild were on the power play with how much time they were spending in the offensive zone. New York would start to push back a bit by cycling the puck along the boards that gave Minnesota a little trouble. Alex Galchenyuk would turn on the jets and fly into the Rangers zone and he’d let go a shot that missed high and the Rangers counter attacked and on the ensuing dump in Alex Stalock would get caught out of his crease. As Stalock scrambled back to the crease he was fortunate to get in front of Mika Zibanejad‘s shot and the Wild dodged a bullet. Minnesota would break the stalemate as Ryan Donato moved into the middle of the ice and he’d unleash a backhander that fooled Georgiev to make it 1-0 Wild.
I’m not sure why, but the Rangers’ defense just sort of gave him a lane through the middle of the ice to work with and credit to Donato for taking advantage of it. New York would try to counter attack as Pavel Buchnevich let go of a shot from just above the right faceoff dot that was blocked by Joel Eriksson Ek. The Rangers would tie the game as Minnesota failed to work the puck out of the zone and Anthony DeAngelo would make a diagonal pass to Artemi Panarin for a one-timer that beat Stalock blocker side. 1-1 game. Brendan Lemieux and Ryan Hartman would hack and slash at one another after a hit near the boards and both would get sent to the sin bin. With the ice a bit more open 4-on-4, the Wild were a bit reckless with the puck with no-look passes that led to dangerous turnovers. Mats Zuccarello would chip a puck by the Rangers defense giving the Wild a 3-on-1 and he’d find Luke Kunin with a cross-ice pass and with no other options, Kunin let go of a wrist shot that was knocked down and covered up by Georgiev. A few minutes later the 3rd line would get their forecheck working, and the Rangers’ smaller defense couldn’t get it away from the big bodies of Marcus Foligno and Jordan Greenway and it was Greenway feeding a pass to Brodin for a one-timer that he blasted by Georgiev. 2-1 Wild. A minute or so later the 3rd line would have another great chance as Brodin sent a pass to Greenway waiting about 10 feet from the Rangers crease but his redirection went right into the glove of Georgiev who had to be pretty alert to make the save. The Rangers wanted to apply some pressure, but Minnesota was backchecking well and supporting the puck well to have fairly clear zone exits. Stalock would make an outstanding save in the last few seconds of the period as he stopped Buchnevich with a leg pad stop to keep the Wild ahead 2-1 going into the 1st intermission.
2nd Period Thoughts: The Rangers were hoping to pick up where they left off near the end of the 1st period when they were getting Minnesota to chase around the offensive zone. Minnesota tried to go back on the attack and Eric Staal sent a pass towards Kevin Fiala who was hauled down by a Rangers’ defender to no call. The same line would have another nice scoring chance as Zuccarello tried to draw Georgiev’s focus before trying to feed a cross-ice pass to Kunin that failed to connect. Zuccarello would have another chance as he hammered a shot on goal that Georgiev blocked aside. The Rangers would try to work the puck deep and Minnesota was scrambling a bit in their own end. Stalock would mishandle a puck and nearly score on himself as he was just about able to steer the puck to a defender just in time before a Rangers’ forechecker arrived on the scene.
The Rangers’ kept attacking and a shot by Zibanejad was stopped by Stalock but he’d give up a big rebound that was pounced on by Chris Kreider which was blocked to the corner by Spurgeon on what was a wide open net. Minnesota would score on a point shot that managed to thread its way through and by Georgiev. It appeared Georgiev was partially bumped into by Hartman and the Rangers goalie immediately pleaded his case to the officials. The Rangers’ bench would challenge the play saying there was goaltender interference and the goal would go under review. DeAngelo appeared to provide a bit of a push to Hartman and the contact looked pretty minor but its impossible to tell how they’ll interpret this play as you’ve seen goals count and others be waived off that looked similar to this. The goal was waived off to some boo’s from the home crowd and the game remained 2-1 Wild. Perhaps feeling as though they got a big break, the Rangers would go back on the attack in search of the equalizer. New York’s puck movement gave the Wild’s defense some trouble but while Minnesota wasn’t able to prevent them from shooting they were getting bodies and sticks into shooting lanes and blocking most of them before they could reach Stalock. Yet the Wild were really kind of just holding on for dear life as they were getting next to nothing going offensively and the Rangers just kept sending shot after shot on goal and Minnesota would scramble to try to get it out of the zone. Despite being outchanced, the Wild would add to their lead as the 3rd line again asserted itself physically on the forecehck and Eriksson Ek fed a puck back out to the point that Brodin one-timed that was redirected perfectly by Jordan Greenway that eluded Georgiev. 3-1 Wild. Minnesota was content to defend its 2-goal lead in the closing minute of the period and the Rangers never got another shot for the rest of the period. It wasn’t the prettiest period of hockey, but the Wild were being opportunistic.
3rd Period Thoughts: Minnesota’s top line gave the Rangers a bit of a scare as Fiala set up Parise for a blast that was blocked away by Georgiev. The Rangers would counter attack with Panarin and his wrist shot was gloved by Stalock. The 2nd line would provide some offensive pressure of their own as Kunin gathered up a pass by Zuccarello and try to lift a backhander by Georgiev who stood his ground well and was able to pounce on the puck for a whistle. The 4th line tried to get into the action as Hartman sprung Donato for a breakaway and he’d race in and fire a wrist shot that was absorbed by Georgiev and then Donato found himself shoved into the cage by Jacob Trouba. Donato wasn’t happy and he went after Trouba and the two players would wrestle themselves to the ice before any punches could really be thrown. Both players would go to the sin bin for roughing. The Rangers would try to go on the attack with the ice a bit more open 4-on-4 and a Jesper Fast wrist shot was denied by Stalock as Minnesota was just trying to defend and get play back to 5-on-5 where they feel more comfortable defensively. As the penalty was about to expire, Greenway poked a puck behind the Rangers defense but Georgiev aggressively raced out of his crease to sweep away the puck just before the Wild power forward could reach it. Moments later, Soucy would get called for cross-checking Filip Chytil and the Rangers would get the first power play of the game. Minnesota’s penalty killers were pressuring the puck carrier effectively and never really letting the Rangers get comfortable in the offensive zone as it forced turnovers and led to easy clears of the offensive zone. They’d get the kill and shortly after it expired, Zibanejad was trying to rip a slap shot his stick would shatter into two pieces and as Matt Dumba knocked the puck away and hoped to chase it down he was stood up by the stick-less Rangers forward who earned an interference penalty for his trouble. Zibanejad protested but to no avail and the Wild would get its first power play of the game. Minnesota mostly wasted time with the man advantage as they simply hoped to avoid giving the Rangers any chances shorthanded. The Wild would come up empty with the power play which emboldened the Rangers who still felt they were still in the game. The Rangers would cut the Wild lead to one, as a Buchnevich shot would go off Stalock and a few skates before ending up in the back of the net. 3-2 Wild. Foligno would be tripped up by former Lakeville North star Brady Skjei giving the Wild a chance to extend their lead. One would think this is where you’d be focused and try to re-establish a two-goal lead. Instead of it was sloppy passing and combined with a more aggressive penalty killing effort by the Rangers meant the Wild would come up empty on the man advantage once again. The anxious home crowd could only look on as the Wild seemed to be flirting with disaster. The Rangers were stepping up and throwing their body around as Trouba lit up Kunin with an open ice hit that drew the ire of Foligno. Minnesota was content to work the puck in deep and change. The Wild was also intensifying its physical game as they were tying up Rangers forwards to prevent them from being able to get to loose pucks. New York would pull their goaltender with 1:49 left to play. Minnesota was trying to protect the middle of the ice but the Rangers moved the puck well along the points and they’d cash in as Zibanejad redirected a shot from the slot that just went just by the outstretched leg of Stalock and in.
3-3 game and the game would go to overtime. A disappointing outcome when you consider the Wild let their foot off the gas on two power plays to let the Rangers believe they still had a chance.
Overtime Thoughts: The Rangers had a great chance early in overtime as DeAngelo set up Zibanejad but Stalock was aggressive and catching the Rangers forward by surprise and the puck would miss wide. A few minutes later the Wild would set up Donato for a shot and his shot would be partially blocked by Georgiev and off the side of the goal. The Rangers would counter with a 2-on-1 of their own but Stalock was able to deny Buchnevich from close range. Minnesota would have another great chance as Fiala turned on the jets but he couldn’t sneak a shot through 5-hole on Georgiev. The Rangers looked very calm and polished in 3-on-3 while the Wild looked like a team kind of making it up as they went along. Zibanejad would find Trouba behind the Wild defense on a little give-and-go play but Stalock would make a beauty of a glove save to keep Minnesota in the game. Fiala would put on an exhibition of toe drags as he tried to work himself into a better shooting lane but Georgiev was able to make the saves to push the game to a shootout.
Shootout Summary: The Wild elected to have the Rangers’ shoot first and their first shooter was Mika Zibanejad who went forehand to backhand and he lifted it right underneath the crossbar for a goal. 1-0 Rangers. Minnesota’s first shooter was Ryan Donato and and he tried to go forehand to try to sneak it 5-hole but he mishanded it and it was poked away by Georgiev. The Rangers’ next shooter was Panarin who skated wide left and then slowed down and he then pivoted so he was moving backwards before lifting a forehand over a sprawling Stalock. Stalock screamed that he was moving backwards and the replay clearly showed Panarin moved in and then away from the goal before he shot it on goal but after a review they said it was a good goal to the chagrin of the home crowd. Zach Parise would move in slowly and go forehand to backhand but his shot went off the post and out and the Wild fell 4-3 to the Rangers.
~ The Wild roster was as follows: Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Eric Staal, Mats Zuccarello, Alex Galchenyuk, Kevin Fiala, Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson Ek, Luke Kunin, Ryan Donato, Marcus Foligno, Ryan Hartman, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba, Greg Pateryn and Carson Soucy. Devan Dubnyk backed up Alex Stalock. Victor Rask and Brad Hunt were the healthy scratches.
~ The 3 Stars of the Game were: 1st Star Mika Zibanejad, 2nd Star Jonas Brodin, 3rd Star Jordan Greenway
~ Attendance was 17,413 at Xcel Energy Center.
Iowa Wild Report:
Iowa 2, San Antonio 1
It must be awfully fun to be an Iowa Wild fan these days. The Wild carried most of the play in the 1st period before Luke Johnson tallied his 10th goal of the season on the power play off a nice pass from Sam Anas to give Iowa a 1-0 lead. San Antonio would answer back as former Denver Pioneer Joey LaLeggia scores on a shot from the point to tie it up at 1-1 after 1. In the 2nd period, the goalies took over as the Rampage’s Ville Husso and Iowa’s Kaapo Kahkonen put on a show. Early in the 3rd period, the Wild got a scare as leading goal scorer Gerald Mayhew and Nico Sturm both left for the locker room after blocking shots. Luckily for the Wild, they would both return and coincidentally they’d combine to tally the game winning goal as Mayhew scored on an incredible shot from between his legs. The Wild defense shut the door in the closing minutes to earn a 2-1 victory. Kahkonen had 31 saves in the win.
Wild Prospect Report:
LW – Kirill Kaprizov (CSKA Moscow, KHL) ~ the talented Russian had a secondary assist in CSKA Moscow’s 4-1 win over Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod on Tuesday. Kaprizov has 25 goals, 52 points, 8 PIM’s and is a +25 in 51 games.
C – Alexander Khovanov (Moncton, QMJHL) ~ the Kazan, Russia-native had two goals and two assists on 5 shots, earning 2nd star honors in Moncton’s 10-2 blowout of Saint John on Wednesday. He was 3-for-7 on his draws. Khovanov has 26 goals, 78 points, 68 PIM’s and is a +34 in 38 games.
D – Jacob Golden (Erie, OHL) ~ the former Harvard-commit had 2 assists in Erie’s 4-3 overtime loss to Barrie on Wednesday. Golden has 3 goals, 20 points, 6 PIM’s and is a -5 in 37 games.
RW – Shawn Boudrias (Cape Breton, QMJHL) ~ the Terrebonne, Quebec-native earned 1st star honors for setting up the game winning goal in addition to registering 9 shots on goal in the Eagles’ 4-2 win over Val ‘d Or. Boudrias has 27 goals, 63 points, 65 PIM’s and is a +33 in 48 games.
C – Damien Giroux (Saginaw, OHL) ~ the Hanmer, Ontario-native had the game winning goal on 3 shots and went 7-for-13 on his draws in Saginaw’s 7-5 victory over Sault Ste. Marie. Giroux has 33 goals, 57 points, 18 PIM’s and is a +15 in 51 games.
LW – Adam Beckman (Spokane, WHL) ~ the Chiefs’ top scorer had the primary assised on his team’s game winning overtime goal as Spokane prevailed 2-1 over Moose Jaw. Beckman has 40 goals, 88 points, 12 PIM’s and is a +33 in 52 games.
F – Nikita Nesterenko (Chilliwack, BCHL) ~ the Brooklyn, New York-native continues to lead the way for Chilliwack as he had an assist in the Chiefs’ 4-1 win over Prince George on Tuesday. Nesterenko has 17 goals, 49 points, 25 PIM’s in 51 games.
Minnesota High School Hockey Report: Girls teams are punching their ticket to the X, while the boys teams are finishing up the regular season and onto sections. Here are the last regular season Top 10 rankings for the Boys in Class A and Class AA respectively as of February 13th, 2020 by Let’s Play Hockey!
#1 St. Cloud Cathedral
#5 East Grand Forks
#8 Delano / Rockford
#10 Little Falls
#3 Eden Prairie
#6 Prior Lake
#7 Benilde-St. Margaret’s
#9 Cretin-Derham Hall