Minnesota sports fans are no strangers to setbacks or disappointments. Neither are they strangers to their teams throwing away leads late in games to lose games they absolutely should’ve won. That certainly was the case on Thursday night as the Wild squandered a 3-1 lead in the 3rd period to lose 4-3 in a shootout to the New York Rangers. Little did fans know that loss would result in Wild General Manager Bill Guerin dropping the axe on Head Coach Bruce Boudreau and installing Dean Evason as interim head coach.
The San Jose Sharks have had their share of disappointments too as injuries and perhaps age have combined for the Sharks to have endured one of their most challenging seasons in recent memory. They also saw their coach Pete DeBoer fired mid-season in favor of Bob Boughner. Both teams are kind of trying to scratch and claw their way back into playoff contention but time is running out. Which team will inch itself closer to the playoffs and which one will inch itself closer to firesale?
1st Period Thoughts: Predictably, the Wild were moving with tempo and straight-forward approach, taking any chance to send shots on Martin Jones. Minnesota’s first quality chance came off the stick of Marcus Foligno that was steered aside by the shoulder of Jones and the Wild look motivated as one would hope after the events of the last 24 hours. The pressure drew a delay of game penalty as they sent a puck up into the stands. On the power play, the Wild struggled to get set up in the offensive zone against a fairly aggressive Sharks penalty kill which was waiting near the edges of the perimeter hoping to force a turnover they could turn into a shorthanded chance. The power play managed to generate just one shot on goal and they’d come up empty. Towards the end of the power play, Matt Dumba took a tumble to the ice on a zone entry that seemed to have him fall on his shoulder awkwardly and he’d head down the tunnel to be evaluated where he eventually returned a minute or two later. The Wild continued to apply pressure with its forecheck. The aggressiveness of the Wild would make them vulnerable as Stefan Noesen managed to get behind the defense and he’d rip a shot that was blocked away by Alex Stalock. Kevin Fiala would slash Noesen before he could pounce on a rebound and he’d go to the sin bin giving the Sharks their first power play of the game. Early into the Sharks power play, Carson Soucy would send a puck into the stands that gave San Jose a 5-on-3 power play for 1:53. The Sharks’ power play was very slow and deliberate as Joe Thornton tried to draw the attention of the Wild’s penalty kill as he set up Brent Burns for a one-timer that was absorbed by Stalock. Minnesota’s penalty killers were fairly static, not chasing the Sharks around the perimeter and doing what they could to take away the middle of the ice. Stalock would come up with another few high quality saves as he denied Patrick Marleau on a chance from the slot and the Wild penalty killers waited for their moment to pounce on a loose puck to clear the zone and Minnesota would escape unscathed. After the kill the Wild swarmed all over the Sharks’ zone and it began to resemble a shooting gallery as Zach Parise, Brad Hunt and Eric Staal all hammered shots at Jones struggled to stop. The Sharks would try play the puck possession game and work pucks behind the Wild defense but Minnesota’s defense did a nice job of retrieving the dump in’s and moving the puck out of the zone efficiently. A few minutes later the Wild gave the home fans some excitement as Alex Galchenyuk rifled a shot on goal that Jones was just able to deny. Marcus Foligno would get caught high sticking as he battled for position against San Jose’s Radim Simek. On the power play, the Wild had good puck pressure early on, forcing some turnovers and clearing the zone to alleviate pressure. Minnesota would get the kill without too much drama in their own end of the ice. San Jose was beginning to hem the Wild in their own zone and while they were mostly taking shots from the perimeter, Minnesota was scrambling around their own zone as Stalock finally forced a stoppage by deflecting a shot up into the netting above the back glass. The Wild had to feel a bit relieved to still be knotted at 0-0 against the Sharks after spending so much of the period on the penalty kill.
2nd Period Thoughts: Minnesota would start the period with a quality scoring chance as Fiala set up Staal for a shot off the rush that he pushed high and wide of the goal. The Sharks Radek Simek would get called for an ‘illegal stick’ to go on the power play for the 2nd time in this game. On the man advantage, the Wild let go of a shot from the slot by Fiala that was stopped by Jones who gave up a big rebound but Minnesota wasn’t able to win the battle for the loose puck and the Sharks were able to clear the zone. Minnesota would set up Jared Spurgeon for a back-door one-timer that he fired wide of the goal. The Sharks’ penalty kill would counter attack and Melker Karlsson would let go of a wrist shot that was fought off by Stalock in an awkward sequence. San Jose was icing the puck a bit more frequently as their legs were probably feeling it a bit after playing last night in Winnipeg. The Wild would work pucks deep and Joel Eriksson Ek would attempt a wrap around that was denied by Jones. The Wild were not generating a lot of shots and spending lots of time and energy chasing the puck around the ice. Jordan Greenway who had been mostly invisible in the game would careen into the boards as he lost an edge and seemed to get up a bit slowly. The Wild seemed to have ‘ok’ energy at this point in the game, but not many shots were being taken and it appeared as though both teams were wary of making the first big mistake. The Sharks would start to swarm in the Wild zone and Joel Kellman tried to stuff a puck in near the left post that Stalock sprawled to keep out. The Wild were looking to set up the pretty play but long passes were not connecting and the team was working awfully hard to accomplish very little as Fiala’s shot went right into the crest of Jones. Mats Zuccarello would spin and fire a shot that missed a few feet wide to some ‘ooh’s from the sellout crowd that hadn’t had much to be excited about to this point in the game and it was still 0-0 going into the 2nd intermission. Zzzzz…
3rd Period Thoughts: The 3rd line would create some buzz early with a powerful shift where they used their big bodies to work the puck down low and Foligno missed just wide. You could sense the anxiety of the crowd as the Wild just didn’t seem to have a lot of push and the result was predictable. Burns would send a shot towards the goal and the puck hit Dylan Gambrell‘s arm and into the back of the Wild net. 1-0 San Jose.
This is a very appropriate type of goal for this hockey game. pic.twitter.com/AAPiUUwCER— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) February 16, 2020
The Wild would try to answer back as Jones denied a shot by Fiala. The Sharks were looking to counter punch as they knew the Wild would be taking more risks in search for the equalizer. San Jose was sitting back in a 1-2-2 and looking for a turnover in the neutral zone that they could transition against. The Wild were forced to take shots from the perimeter which made for relatively routine saves for Jones. Carson Soucy would step into a slap shot that was just steered to the corner by Jones as Minnesota was trying to deny his vision with some traffic out front. The 3rd line would cause some havoc in the Sharks’ zone, but the Wild seemed insistent on having the shots come from the perimeter and Jones was able to make the initial save and to his defense’s credit they would be able to clear pucks out of danger. San Jose’s Antti Suomela would dive to clear a puck from the Sharks’ zone and give the Wild a power play. On the power play, the Wild’s veteran group (Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Kevin Fiala, Jared Spurgeon, and Eric Staal) would mostly help the Sharks’ penalty kill with sloppy passing and poor execution. The boo’s started to rain down from the crowd as the Wild tried to slow it down and regroup in their own end but the turnovers continued and Minnesota didn’t get so much as a shot attempt in the entire power play. The Wild were pressing late and looking desperate but the Sharks were content to flip the puck out of the zone forcing Minnesota to lose valuable time. As Wild defenseman pinched to help Minnesota’s forwards push the puck deep, no one was there to hold the zone and time after time the team had to regroup. Minnesota would pull Stalock for an extra attacker with about 1:33 left n the game. The Wild was trying hard but couldn’t manage to enter the zone and all they would manage is a point shot by Spurgeon. The Sharks would eventually work the puck out of the zone and Melker Karlsson buried an empty netter to seal a 2-0 victory.
Only thing #mnwild are achieving so far the day after Bruce Boudreau was fired is resurrecting Martin Jones' career.— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) February 16, 2020
Being blanked by a goalie who is 1-9-1 since Nov. 30 with an .874 SV% and 3.70 GAA
9:45 left, trail 1-0
Yes Michael Russo, the ‘new voice’ managed to get the team’s more dangerous players to sit back and not take the initiative and we make a struggling goalie look like he’s a wall in the crease.
~ 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, Marcus Foligno, Ryan Donato, Ryan Hartman, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Carson Soucy and Brad Hunt. Devan Dubnyk backed up Alex Stalock. Victor Rask and Greg Pateryn were the healthy scratches.
~ The 3 Stars of the Game were: 1st Star Martin Jones, 2nd Star Joel Eriksson Ek, 3rd Star Jonas Brodin
~ Attendance was 18,611 at Xcel Energy Center.
~ Crease And Assist: A Legally Compliant Minnesota Hockey blog would like to congratulate Zach Parise on playing 1,000 NHL games as he was honored before the game today.
Iowa Wild Report:
Iowa 3, San Diego 0
The Iowa Wild would give the fans in Des Moines more to cheer about on Friday night against the visiting San Diego Gulls. The first two period were a cautious chess match as both squads featured lots of veteran talent and scoring chances were hard to come by. Both Kaapo Kahkonen and the Gulls’ Anthony Stolarz were not giving up much of anything as it was scoreless through two periods of play. That would change early in the 3rd period as Gerald Mayhew tried to feed a pass through the crease to a waiting Nico Sturm but the puck would carom off a skate and into the back of the net to give Iowa a 1-0 lead. The Gulls tried to pour it on to get the equalizer and late in the period they thought they got just that as Isaac Lundestrom appeared to score as Kahkonen was sprawling in his crease. But the official had blown his whistle before Lundestrom had shoveled the puck home and it was ruled ‘no goal.’ Mayhew would add two more empty net goals in the closing minute to get a natural hat trick while Kahkonen earned his 5th shutout of the season on a 35 save effort. Nico Sturm had two assists on the night.
A hat trick, a shut out & a victory! 🙌— Iowa Wild (@IAWild) February 15, 2020
The weekend is off to a strong start - relive last night's highlights below ↓ pic.twitter.com/c9v1HOIyIC
Wild Prospect Report:
RW – Shawn Boudrias (Cape Breton, QMJHL) ~ the 6’5″ 225+ lbs power forward had a goal and an assist on 4 shots in Cape Breton’s 3-2 loss to Rouyn-Noranda on Thursday night. Boudrias has 28 goals, 65 points, 65 PIM’s and is a +34 in 49 games.
RW – Ivan Lodnia (Niagara, OHL) ~ in his first game back from injury since January 18th, the California-raised winger had an assist on 5 shots in the Ice Dogs’ 4-1 loss to Barrie. On Friday, the winger had a goal and an assist on in the Ice Dogs’ Lodnia has 23 goals, 54 points, 14 PIM’s and is a +10 in 31 games.
D – Fedor Gordeev (Guelph, OHL) ~ the big defenseman had an assist in Guelph’s 2-0 win over Owen Sound on Friday. Gordeev has 3 goals, 24 points, 34 PIM’s and is an ‘even’ rating in 42 games.
C – Alexander Khovanov (Moncton, QMJHL) ~ the skilled center had an assist on 3 shots in Moncton’s 4-1 win over Saint John. Khovanov has 26 goals, 79 points, 72 PIM’s and is a +36 in 39 games.
RW – Matt Boldy (Boston College, H-East) ~ the Wild’s top pick from 2019 is starting to heat up a bit offensively as he had an assist on 1 shot in the Eagles’ 3-2 win over Merrimack. Boldy has 3 goals, 15 points, 6 PIM’s and is a +2 in 27 games.
C – Jack McBain (Boston College, H-East) ~ the rangy power forward is anchoring the 3rd line and he had an assist in Boston College’s 3-2 victory over Merrimack last night. McBain has 6 goals, 15 points, 33 PIM’s and is a ‘even’ in 27 games.
D – Calen Addison (Lethbridge, WHL) ~ the skilled defenseman had 2 assists on 1 shot and a fight in the Hurricanes’ 5-4 victory over Winnipeg. Addison has 10 goals, 45 points, 41 PIM’s and is a +9 in 40 games.
F – Nikita Nesterenko (Chilliwack, BCHL) ~ the Boston College-commit had a power play goal (his 8th PPG of the season) in Chilliwack’s 4-2 loss to Surrey. Nesterenko has 18 goals, 20 points, 27 PIM’s in 52 games.
C – Andrei Svetlakov (CSKA Moscow, KHL) ~ the bottom 6 forward had a goal on 3 shots in CSKA Moscow’s 4-0 win over Yaroslavl Lokomitiv earlier today. He also went 8-for-10 on his draws. Svetlakov has 4 goals, 16 points, 24 PIM’s and is a +9 in 38 games.
LW – Kirill Kaprizov (CSKA Moscow, KHL) ~ the immensely talented winger showed off his gift for scoring as he had two goals on 3 shots in CSKA Moscow’s 4-0 rout of Yaroslavl Lokomotiv including this sharp angle beauty you can see below. Kaprizov has 27 goals, 54 points, 10 PIM’s and is a +27 in 53 games.
Точнейший выстрел Кирилла Капризова 🚨🚨🚨 pic.twitter.com/BVVxoZTRkb— ХК ЦСКА Москва (@hccska) February 15, 2020
Minnesota High School Hockey Report: Girls Teams played their section finals this week and have punched their tickets to the Tourney. Here are the fields for both Class A and Class AA respectively.
Class A – Starts 2/19/20
Willmar vs. #2 Warroad – 11AM
Hutchinson vs. #3 Cloquet / Esko / Carlton – 1PM
Luverne vs. #1 Breck – 6PM
#4 South St. Paul vs. #5 Rochester Lourdes – 8PM
Class AA – Starts 2/20/20
Farmington vs. #2 Andover – 11AM
Roseau vs. #3 Minnetonka – 1PM
Burnsville vs. #1 Edina – 6PM
#4 Maple Grove vs. #5 Hill-Murray – 8PM
2020 Ms. Hockey Finalists
Maggie Nicholson – Minnetonka
Olivia Mobley – Breck
Lily Delianedis – Blake
Sydney Langseth – Eden Prairie
Hannah Corneliusen – Warroad
2020 Goalie of the Year Finalists
Allyn Goehner – Forest Lake
Chloe Stockinger – Sartell / Sauk Rapids
Amanda Pelkey – Andover
Anna Larose – North Wright County
Keni Allen – Apple Valley