Prisoners of war and hostages will sometimes provide interviews where the answers they provide are clearly being co-opted by their captors and thus told to lie to the media or face further punishment if they decide to be truthful. Yet what is the motive when an entire NHL team suddenly tries to convince the media and fans the half-hearted effort they just witnessed on the ice was actually a team playing with plenty of hustle and a sense of urgency? If it was just one member of the Minnesota Wild who told lies you’d simply consider it an example of a player being in denial, but what must it take to get the whole on board? Was it a fear of their new General Manager’s wrath and following up on his pledge to trade players if he saw the team quitting or was this a message the team instructed them to share in order to encourage fans to keep buying tickets?
Either way, it was strange to watch after the Wild’s 2-0 loss to San Jose on Saturday. Now the Wild go on a two-game road trip, with their ‘dad’s’ hanging around as they play tonight in Vancouver. The Canucks are hoping to keep their place as a playoff team. Will the Dad’s be there to cheer on a Wild victory or will they be a shoulder to cry on after another loss?
1st Period Thoughts: It would only take Minnesota 1:03 to take the lead as Kevin Fiala found a little time and space and he’d rip a wrist shot to shelf over Jacob Markstrom to stunned silence from the Vancouver crowd. With the Wild ‘dad’s’ enjoying the moment, the Canucks would try to answer back and in a bit of a scrambling effort, Bo Horvat let go of a shot that snuck through the pads of Devan Dubnyk and the Wild were able to sweep it out of the danger. The Canucks would try to assert their superior team speed to try to get the Wild on their heels defensively. A few shifts later it was Tyler Toffoli setting up J.T. Miller for a shot that was just steered to the corner by Dubnyk. Vancouver continued to hem the Wild in their own end of the ice as Troy Stecher stepped into a slap shot that just missed wide of the mark. Minnesota was being a bit careless with the puck, trying to utilize area passes as the hoped to exit the zone but with a bit more effort they could’ve made their life a lot easier. The Canucks’ continued to cause havoc in the Wild zone as a point shot deflected off a few bodies and legs to end up near the Minnesota crease but Loui Eriksson couldn’t pull the trigger. Moments after that, the Canucks were called for ‘too many men’ that the Vancouver bench disputed but to no avail and the Wild would go on the man advantage. The Wild power play was pretty awful, with poor passing that had Minnesota chasing the puck around the ice rather than being able to sustain any kind of offensive pressure let alone creating any scoring chances. The Canucks’ penalty killers just sort of watched the Wild kill off their own penalty. Minnesota would put a small scare into Vancovuer as Luke Kunin fired a wrist shot that Markstrom knocked down but then the puck was pounced on by Alex Galchenyuk who made the Vancouver goalie make a quality stop to keep his team within one. The Canucks would answer back with a long pass that got Miller behind the Wild defense and he’d skate in and was denied on his 5-hole attempt by Dubnyk where an alert Jared Spurgeon was able to sweep away the puck in the blue paint before any Canucks skater was able to take advantage of it. The Canucks would work their top scoring line in search of the equalizer but Fiala would lift the stick of Elias Pettersson before he could pull the trigger. Vancouver continued to attack in waves and the Wild found themselves trying to retreat and defend as best they could, but the pressure would draw a Minnesota penalty. On the delayed penalty, the Wild zone looked like a shooting gallery as Canucks defenseman were stepping up and blasting shots on goal that were too close for comfort. Minnesota would eventually get possession to draw a whistle as they went on the penalty kill. The Wild penalty killers did a decent job at limiting time and space of the Canucks’ power play and a strong play on the puck by Kunin would result in a turnover. Kunin would then find Jordan Greenway with a long pass who had Quinn Hughes draped all over him drawing a penalty as he charged into the Vancouver zone. The period would end with the Wild’s 1-0 lead still intact and Minnesota had to feel good at how they were playing defensively.
2nd Period Thoughts: Well it didn’t take long into the second period for the Canucks to even up the score. Watching Dubnyk follow the puck is very frustrating some time. It was obvious that the shot wasn’t going to come from the side, but he followed that player instead of Jay Beagle who got a weak goal over Dubnyk’s glove. Then even more annoying than that, is having to listen to Wes Walz justify that goal and say that Dubnyk did a great job. Really? Oh, and then watching a silent Dean Evason giving the team that “new voice”. Does he have the gift of mental telepathy? With just over 14 minutes left in the period, Tanner Pearson, took a shot on goal, but it made a super awkward bounce, yet somehow Dubnyk was able to prevent that one, but not the more simple one. Minnesota would take a tripping penalty by Jonas Brodin near the mid-point of the period. I think he was trying for the puck, but he did it in a lazy way, hence the trip. So when you’re getting outshot 2:1, going on the penalty kill is the last thing the Minnesota Wild can afford to do. The first half of the Vancouver power play, the Wild did a decent job of keeping the puck out of their zone. While the second half of the kill was in their own zone, but they didn’t succumb to the pressure. Yes, the penalty was killed, but they would struggle to get the puck out of the zone to get fresh skaters. There would also be an icing call, which of course extended the same tired players on the ice. Kunin would score what seems to be one of the slowest goals ever. It looked like Markstrom had the puck under control, but it managed to sneak in either 5-hole or under his arm. The reaction by everyone on both teams was pretty funny. As the team heads into the final five minutes of the period, you can only hope that they find some way to build on Kunin’s goal. However, it just seems like they’re not always able to maintain both possession and create offense out of it. And of course it doesn’t help when Eric Staal goes stupidly offsides by making the latest possible drop pass. That’s the kind of stuff that really just makes you shake your head. It’s the sign that someone either doesn’t care or just refuses to concentrate on what they’re doing. Minnesota would head to the locker room again with the lead.
3rd Period Thoughts: Minnesota would luck out early in the period, with a Vancouver shot off the pipes. Watching the possession and Dubnyk’s reaction, I was sure it was going in. Of course, Dubnyk rarely lets us down with shots that should be saved, this time allowing a J.T. Miller goal. Also, this tying goal was again very early in the period. That habit is about as bad as allowing a goal late in the period. Minnesota just didn’t look ready to start this period, and that lack of readiness would continue to rear its ugly head. First Hunt lost an icing race with Petterson. Then Soucy got tangled with an official along the boards, thus putting Minnesota essentially down a player. That would lead to a second goal by Miller, giving Vancouver the first lead of the game. As the period gets close to the midpoint of the period, everything is feeling very disjointed. Passes not connecting. And when they do connect, nothing happens with them, or they make another ill-advised pass. And when you think luck is on your side, like when Markstrom is down, none of the players around the goal mouth could tuck the puck into the net. It’s these little things that are making this season harder and harder to watch. I’ve noticed something tonight. Since Bruce Boudreau was fired, we seem to be seeing fewer and fewer shots of the Wild bench, and even fewer shots of Evason. Perhaps what is even crazier, is that our television broadcasters are still talking about a potential playoff appearance. The only way that’s going to happen (and it’s going to tick me off if it does), is for everyone ahead of Minnesota to fail even more. And again, making the playoffs if the absolute worst thing for this team to do. Watching the time tick down, I just want this game to end. Adding a missed Vancouver trip on Dumba, and I don’t know how I feel about it. I mean, if they get a power play, can this team even put a decent effort together to try and tie this game? With how they’ve been playing in the third, I don’t know if that’s possible. Just when you don’t think a tie game is possible, Alex Galchenyuk would get his first goal with Minnesota. In the waning moments of the period, it seemed like the Wild decided to wake up and try to make the win happen, They had some great moments of pressure, but were unable to make anything happen with them. Regulation would end in a tie, so off to overtime we go.
Overtime Thoughts: I really dislike overtime. Actually let me clarify that. I dislike overtime, because the Minnesota Wild aren’t very good at it. When you continue to put the wrong people on the ice, it makes it hard to enjoy. The Wild would get a decent look at a goal in the first minute of overtime, but nothing would come of it. The Canucks would get a 2 on 1, but the shot would go wide of Dubnyk. With just 2 minutes remaining in overtime, I found myself getting really annoyed with Suter continually backing up into the Wild’s zone. Yes, Fiala came close to winning this game, but it’s the play of Suter that makes me crazy. Since nothing came of overtime for either team, it’s off to the shootout we go.
Shootout Thoughts: Starting off would be Petterson for Vancouver. He would easily get the puck past Dubnyk, over his stick. Donato would get first attempt for Minnesota. He was able to get Markstrom down, and into the goal. Next would be Miller. He would swing wide, which had Dubnyk fall, which then left the other side of the net wide open and an easy goal. Fiala would try to tie it up, but Markstrom would stop the puck. Toffoli would be Vancouver’s third skater and could win the game. While Dubnyk went down, Toffoli ran out of room. Zuccarello would be Minnesota’s next shooter. He would score, but as one of most successful shootout scorers, he should. Pearson, would be next. and Dubnyk stood tall and stopped the puck. Parise would be next for Minnesota which chance to win the game. He was stopped by a very patient Markstrom. Horvat was next for the Canucks. Dubnyk would get a toe on it and the puck would go high. Now it’s up to Galchenyuk to win this game. He would get Markstrom to drop, and Galchenyuk would go high and net the winning goal.
~ 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 Hartman, Ryan Donato, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba, Carson Soucy and Brad Hunt. Alex Stalock backed up Devan Dubnyk. Victor Rask and Greg Pateryn were the healthy scratches.
~ The 3 Stars of the Game were: 1st Star, J.T. Miller; 2nd Star, Quinn Hughes; 3rd Star, Mats Zuccarello.
~ Attendance was 18,871 at Rogers Arena.
Wild Prospect Report:
RW – Matt Boldy (Boston College, H-East) ~ the freshman forward has been dynamite on a line with fellow 1st round pick (Colorado) Alex Newhook as he had 2 goals and an assist on 4 shots in the Eagles’ 6-2 win over Merrimack. Boldy has 5 goals, 18 points, 6 PIM’s and is an ‘even’ rating in 28 games.
C – Jack McBain (Boston College, H-East) ~ the sophomore power forward had an assist on 1 shot in the Eagles’ 6-2 victory against Merrimack. McBain has 6 goals, 16 points, 35 PIM’s and is an ‘even’ rating in 28 games.
RW – Shawn Boudrias (Cape Breton, QMJHL) ~ the Terrebonne, Quebec-native had a goal and two helpers on 5 shots and 3 registered hits in Cape Breton’s 7-3 win over Gatineau on Saturday. Boudrias has 29 goals, 68 points, 69 PIM’s and is a +37 in 50 games.
C – Damien Giroux (Saginaw, OHL) ~ the Spirit’s captain had a goal and an assist on 5 shots in Saginaw’s 8-2 win over Kitchener. He also went 5-for-8 on his draws. Giroux has 34 goals, 59 points, 18 PIM’s and is a +18 in 53 games.
C – Bryce Misley (Vermont, H-East) ~ the junior forward had a big night as he had two helpers in the Catamounts’ 3-2 loss to Providence on Saturday. Misley has 2 goals, 7 points, 12 PIM’s and is a -9 in 29 games.
C – Matvey Guskov (London, OHL) ~ the versatile forward had a goal on 4 shots in the Knights’ 7-5 win over Kingston. Guskov has 13 goals, 25 points, 48 PIM’s and is a +3 in 52 games.
D – Jacob Golden (Erie, OHL) ~ the over age defenseman had an assist on 1 shot in Erie’s 6-5 loss to Oshawa. Golden has 3 goals 21 points, 6 PIM’s and is a -3 in 38 games.
G – Hunter Jones (Peterborough, OHL) ~ the big goaltender had 35 saves in the Petes’ 5-3 win over Owen Sound. On Monday, the big goaltender had 28 saves in Peterborough’s 5-2 win over Sudbury. Jones has a 28-13 record, a 2.92 goals against average and a .908 save percentage with 3 shutouts this season.
D – Filip Johansson (Leksand IF, SHL) ~ to say its been a while since the Wild’s top pick in 2018 has found his way to the score sheet is a bit of an understatement. He picked up his first point since October, with an assist. Johansson has 2 goals, 4 points, 10 PIM’s and is a -7 in 29 games.
C – Alexander Khovanov (Moncton, QMJHL) ~ the skilled Russian had a goal on 3 shots and went a not-so-good 5-for-11 on his draws in Moncton’s 6-2 win over Acadie-Bathurst on Sunday. On Monday, the forward earned 3rd star honors as he had a goal and an assist on 4 shots and went 7-for-15 on his draws in Moncton’s 7-2 win over arch-rival Halifax. The Kazan, Russia-native has 28 goals, 82 points, 72 PIM’s and is a +39 in 41 games.
LW – Kirill Kaprizov (CSKA Moscow, KHL) ~ the Wild’s top prospect continues to light up the KHL as he had two goals and an assist on 5 shots in CSKA Moscow’s 4-1 win over Dinamo Minsk on Monday. Kaprizov has 29 goals, 57 points, 10 PIM’s and is a +29 in 54 games.
F – Nikita Nesterenko (Chilliwack, BCHL) ~ the Brooklyn, New York-native had a goal in the Chiefs’ 5-2 loss to Surrey on Monday. Nesterenko has 19 goals, 50 points, 29 PIM’s in 54 games.
D – Calen Addison (Lethbridge, WHL) ~ the fiesty defenseman had an assist on 2 shots in Lethbridge’s 5-3 loss to Edmonton on Monday. Addison has 10 goals, 46 points, 43 PIM’s and is a +7 in 42 games.