The Wild made waves even before Wednesday’s game dropped the puck when the team decided to scratch alternate captain Zach Parise. Many believe Parise was scratched for his penchant in extending his shifts, which played a role in how Monday’s game (a 5-4 overtime loss) turned out. With Ryan Hartman hurt and Parise’s scratch the team had to call up Gerald Mayhew and Kyle Rau from its taxi squad to fill in those spots up front.
Whether it was psychology or something else, the Wild seemed like a different club and it showed on the ice. The Golden Knights were dictating the pace of play and they would strike early, as Cody Glass would race into the Wild zone and make a backhand cross-ice pass to Alex Tuch who redirected it by Cam Talbot to put Vegas up 1-0. If that wasn’t enough of a wake up call for the Wild, they’d get another one when Mark Stone set up Max Pacioretty who was wide open in the slot only to be denied on a fine leg pad save by Talbot. The Wild would try to answer back in the closing seconds of the period with a flurry from its 4th line as Jared Spurgeon stepped into a slap shot that was nabbed out of the air by Marc-Andre Fleury to keep his team ahead by one going into the 1st intermission.
In the 2nd period, the Golden Knights would extend their lead a few minutes in as Alex Tuch drew the attention of the Wild’s defense and he’d find a wide open Jonathan Marchessault on the back side for a short-side snipe that went over the glove of Talbot to make it 2-0 Vegas. Minnesota would answer back as they’d win a draw in the Vegas zone and Ryan Suter would step into a slap shot that was partially deflected by Marcus Foligno which had the puck trickling behind the Golden Knights goalie and Foligno stuffed it home. 2-1 Vegas. Minnesota seemed to feel some energy from Foligno’s goal but they were not able to do much against the Golden Knights’ strong defensive game.
In the 3rd, the Golden Knights would pull away about halfway through the period as Chandler Stephenson would intercept a puck in the neutral zone and race into the Minnesota end for a 2-on-1. As he drove the left side of the ice he’d draw the Wild defender towards him and make a quick pass cross-ice to Stone who took full advantage of Talbot being a little off on his angle for an against the grain shot that made it 3-1 Vegas. Fleury was terrific as he shut down Kirill Kaprizov on a quick shot from the slot with just under 5 minutes left to play. With Minnesota trailing by two, they were pinching with their defense and Vegas would take advantage of that with their speed as Stephenson picked up puck near the blueline before the Wild defenseman could get there and he sped off on another 2-on-1. This time Stephenson didn’t pass and he’d move in and beat Talbot short side with the backhander. William Karlsson would add an empty netter in the closing seconds and the Wild felt the pain of a 5-1 rout and a series sweep by the Golden Knights. Talbot had 23 saves in the loss.
What did you think of the Wild’s series against the Vegas Golden Knights? Tell us on Twitter @CreaseAndAssist!
Marcus Foligno playing like a leader on & off the ice
I think just about anyone could use a big brother from time to time. To feel secure some has your back no matter what, is a good feeling. For the Minnesota Wild, Marcus Foligno is that ‘big brother’ presence for the club. He throws his 6’3″, 228lbs frame around to punish opponents, he kills penalties and chips in offensively. But his contributions were not just on the ice, but like teammate Jared Spurgeon, took the time to welcome Kirill Kaprizov when he signed with the club and made his way to Minnesota. Whenever he’s interviewed he is rather candid and honest about the team’s performance which makes sense for a player who plays a blue collar style of game.
It should be no surprise that many Wild fans were hoping Foligno would be the one that would end up with the Captain’s ‘C’ this offseason because they admired his approach to the game. When you consider his background, you could say it runs in the family from his father, former NHL’er Mike Foligno and his brother and Columbus Blue Jackets’ captain Nick Foligno. There is something different in the conversations you have about the game when your dad and your brother has played the game and no doubt Marcus has benefited from that perspective over the years and carries it forward to be a leader for the Minnesota Wild. In my opinion, its a shame he isn’t at least an alternate captain for this team. Wild General Manager Bill Guerin wanted to change the culture of this team, and while he had to have a new captain with the departure of Mikko Koivu but I would like to see him shake up the alternate spots which have been held by Zach Parise and Ryan Suter since they arrived in 2012.
Foligno has not just been providing that ‘big brother’ presence this season, he’s been a significant contributor offensively and is currently 4th on the team in scoring with 7 goals, 12 points in 18 games. Plying his trade alongside Zach Parise and normally Ryan Hartman they’ve been an effective unit at working pucks deep and causing havoc with their heavy style of game. With Hartman being injured in Monday night’s game after blocking a shot, it will be interesting to see who the Wild place into the lineup in his place. No matter who it will be, they will know they have ‘big brother’ watching their back.
Iowa 2, Texas 3
The Iowa Wild are going through a time of transition. Last year, the Wild’s AHL affiliate was led mostly by minor league journeyman who carried the load offensively. Now they’re a team that has handed those reins to the younger players and as one would expect there have been some growing pains. On Saturday, Iowa would finish up their weekend series against the Texas Stars.
The game was predictably deliberate and calculated as teams were biding their time for someone to give them a window of opportunity. Iowa would break the seal as Ian McCoshen blasted a slap shot that was stopped by Texas’ Tomas Sholl but he couldn’t control the rebound and Joey Cramarossa found the back of the net. 1-0 Iowa. Texas would answer back a few minutes later as Nick Baptiste scored from in close on Dereck Baribeau. Iowa would strike with just 8 seconds left in the period on the power play as Gabriel Dumont buried a nice set up from Connor Dewar to give the Wild a 2-1 lead going into the 1st intermission.
The Wild lead would be short-lived as the Stars scored less than 2 minutes in as Adam Mascherin ripped a shot from the slot that tied the game at 2-2. These two teams have already played one another 4 times already and the chippy element started to reveal itself as there were more scrums after the whistle and both benches were chirping at one another. Texas would take the lead late in the period as Tye Felhaber ripped home a pass from Riley Daimiani (who has been an Iowa Wild killer this season) to give the Stars a 3-2 lead going into the 3rd.
Texas would go into lockdown mode in the 3rd period, raising their intensity and the Wild struggled to handle the pressure. Iowa was spending time defending in its own zone, instead of being on the attack and Texas did a good job of getting bodies and sticks into passing lanes and the Wild were unable to get the equalizer and they would fall 3-2. Baribeau had 29 saves in the loss. Iowa’s next game is Saturday against the Rockford Ice Hogs in Rockford.
Wild Prospect Report:
RW – Nick Swaney (Minnesota-Duluth, NCHC) ~ The senior and Hobey Baker finalist had a big night for the Bulldogs as he had a hat trick on 8 shots in Minnesota-Duluth’s 5-1 rout of St. Cloud State on Saturday. Swaney leads UMD in scoring with 13 goals, 27 points, 10 PIM’s and is a +10 in 23 games.
D – Brennan Menell (Dinamo Minsk, KHL) ~ The ‘Woodbury Workhorse’ was held scoreless on 5 shots and was a -2 with 24:45 minutes of ice time in Dinamo Minsk’s opening round loss to SKA St. Petersburg 4-2 on Tuesday. They now trail their series 1-0.
C – Andrei Svetlakov (CSKA Moscow, KHL) ~ The 4th line center had no points, but he had a shot on goal and he went 10-for-14 on his draws in CSKA Moscow’s 1-0 win over Spartak Moscow and taking a 1-0 series lead.
High School Hockey Report:
We’re getting closer and closer to the end of the regular season for the Boys and Girls High School seasons. I have rankings for the Boys Class AA from @KarlEastHockey, click on the link for explanations for his grades as well as a run down for each of the sections. Then I have rankings for Boys Class A as well as Girls Class A & AA from Let’s Play Hockey. Check it out!
Girls Class A
#1 Chisago Lakes
#3 Proctor / Hermantown
#4 Mound Westonka
#6 Gentry Academy
#7 South St. Paul
#9 River Lakes
Girls Class AA
#4 Benilde-St. Margaret’s
#7 Lakeville South
#9 Maple Grove
#10 Brainerd / Little Falls
Boys Class A
#2 Gentry Academy
#3 Little Falls
#4 Duluth Denfeld
#6 East Grand Forks
#7 Fergus Falls
#9 Northern Lakes
Boys Class AA
#1 Maple Grove
#2 Eden Prairie
#3 Grand Rapids
#5 Lakeville South
#6 Prior Lake
#8 Cretin-Derham Hall
#9 St. Thomas Academy