I don’t often use talking points from the Minnesota Wild broadcasts, but former White Bear Lake star and current TV color commentator Ryan Carter related a point from Wild Head Coach Dean Evason about finding some desperation to continue to push one’s self even when you’re playing well. Its all about not being complacent and overlooking an opponent you’ve had the best of the previous two games.
Minnesota was showing that desperation early and they’d strike first as Kevin Fiala won a battle for the puck along the wall and he’d push it down the ice where it was gathered up by Ryan Hartman who then fed it to Jordan Greenway who raced into the Coyotes zone for a chance on Adin Hill who stopped it with blocker save. But Hill would give up a rebound and an alert Hartman fired it home to give the Wild a 1-0 lead. Minnesota continued to control the pace of play as the ‘Lettuce line’ of Victor Rask, Mats Zuccarello and Kirill Kaprizov continued to dazzle as Kaprizov set up Rask for a chance that was fought off by Hill. The Wild would continue to dominate until a 5-minute elbowing call on Carson Soucy for what looked like a fairly benign hit on Arizona’s Conor Garland.
Minnesota’s penalty killers did a great job of keeping Arizona to the perimeter and the Coyotes really only had one quality opportunity in their 5-minute power play. That came off the stick of Derick Brassard that drew a rebound from Kaapo Kahkonen, but he was able to get across to deny Clayton Keller from close range. Yet as Soucy would leave the box, before he could reach the Wild bench he was jumped by Lawson Crouse who wrestled the former Minnesota-Duluth Bulldog to the ice and he kept throwing punches as he was on the ice. Soucy would end up with a fighting major for nothing more than being beaten up while Crouse got an instigator, a fighting major and a game misconduct. Minnesota would have a chance to double its lead in the closing seconds as Kaprizov found Zuccarello all alone on a back door play but his shot would be deflected up and over the net by a diving save by Hill to keep his team only trailing 1-0 going into the 1st intermission.
In the 2nd period, the Wild would try to add to its lead and one player who seemed to be inspired was Zach Parise. The Wild alternate captain would show some hustle, speed and ‘want to’ that we haven’t seen in a while as he won a footrace for a puck against the Coyotes’ Alex Goligoski and then drove to the net on Hill who had to make a save from in close. Arizona also is still having nightmares of Wild goalies as Clayton Keller was stonewalled on the breakaway by Kahkonen.
The ‘Lettuce line’ continued to showcase great skill as Kaprizov made a no-look, between the legs backhand pass to Zuccarello who pushed a shot wide of the mark. As the period wore on, the Wild were being perhaps a bit too fancy with the puck as they were hoping to set up some pretty tap in plays that were failing to connect. Joel Eriksson Ek would try to keep it simple by just driving the net but the puck was knocked off his stick before he could slam a shot on goal. Minnesota continued to having good chances in Arizona’s zone but Hill was coming up with the saves and gathering up the rebounds before the Wild could pounce on the rebounds keeping his team within 1-shot of tying the game. The Wild were working hard, doing lots of the little things right but at the crucial moment they just couldn’t get a stick on the puck to add to their lead. There had to be at least a small level of frustration for Minnesota as it headed to the locker room for the 2nd intermission.
In the 3rd period, it was predictable that the Coyotes would be aggressive early on but Minnesota would counter attack and it was Mats Zuccarello taking a slap shot from the left faceoff dot that snuck underneath the arm of Hill and in. 2-0 Wild. The Coyotes were not too demoralized by Minnesota’s goal as Wild penalties would give Arizona some chances in the middle of the period as a slash on Jonas Brodin and a hook by Greenway gave them a minute of 5-on-3 time. Arizona’s power play with the 5-on-3 was fairly static and this allowed Minnesota to stay in a triangle and get sticks and bodies into shooting lanes and they were able to get a huge penalty kill. The Wild would try to continue to apply pressure offensively and they’d add to their lead late in the period as Jared Spurgeon took a draw from Nick Bonino and he’d skate in and rip a shot that beat Hill who was well-screened by Luke Johnson. 3-0 Wild. It was Spurgeon’s 1st of the season. The Coyotes kept firing away and Jakub Chychrun would ring a shot off the post and out. That was close as the Coyotes would get to putting one behind him and Minnesota would sweep the 3-game series with a 3-0 shutout. Kahkonen had 17 saves in the victory.
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Is Zach Parise the odd-man out?
With a Wild fanbase buzzing at the steady emergence of perhaps its first superstar in Kirill Kaprizov, his hat trick Friday night certainly had people wanting to talk about it on KFAN‘s ‘Wild Fanline.’ But one fan called in and asked a question about alternate captain Zach Parise as he noted that the veteran winger had barely played at all during the 3rd period of the game. That fan was indeed correct as Parise logged just 11:44 of ice time, the lowest among Wild forwards that played the entire game. He had just 3 shifts in the 3rd period.
If it wasn’t for the injury to Marcus Foligno, one would think that Parise may have been the logical candidate to scratch considering Marcus Johansson is close to being ready to return to the Wild lineup. A few weeks ago, Parise was made a healthy scratch as a disciplinary measure after prolonging a shift in a game against the Vegas Golden Knights which led to the game tying goal. Parise was mostly unapologetic at being scratched and said he prolonged his shift trying to help Foligno register his first hat trick. It would be one thing if he felt that way and then played with a chip on his shoulder and found ways to contribute offensively.
While Parise appears to provide his best effort, but its impossible to ignore that he may have lost a step to his game. That may not be a big deal for some players as they can adapt and find a way to be effective but playing fast and on the forecheck is Parise’s whole game. Being a step slower means you’re less effective as a forechecker and it also means that when you do try to forecheck and the other team breaks out of the zone you’re likely a liability defensively as you don’t have the speed to get back and help defensively.
So right now, an injury probably prevented him from being scratched but what does this mean for his future with the club? He is under contract for 4 more seasons after this one. If so, its a tough ending for a player whose effort is why he was a fan favorite even before he became a member of the Minnesota Wild. A ‘heart and soul’ type just like his father J.P. Parise, his game is all about effort but without the wheels to play that style he simply doesn’t seem to have the versatility to play another way effectively.
The Athletic‘s Michael Russo profiled Parise in July of 2019 and he discusses the problematic nature of an ‘early retirement’ would mean for the club due to cap recapture, a system put in place to punish clubs who made 10+ year contracts as a form of cap circumvention. Honestly, its frightening how devastating that scenario could be for the Wild and if we’re scratching Parise as the ‘odd man out’ with 4 years left on his contract it becomes a real and scary possibility. Perhaps the only way to effectively use Parise at this stage of his career and with the team’s current compressed schedule is to rest him every so often so he can focus his efforts so he can be the effective forechecker he has been throughout most of his career. It may not be ideal, but it might be the best solution for both parties.
Iowa 2, Chicago 6
After falling 4-0 on Saturday night to Chicago, the Wild would try to settle the score on a Sunday matinee game against the Wolves. Chicago would take an early lead as Dominik Bokk sniped a shot on the power play to give the Wolves a 1-0 advantage. Iowa would work to answer back and young Damien Giroux scored mid-way through the period. The Wild seemed to take control over most of the pace of play, but a late ‘too many men’ call would prove costly as the Wolves would score with just 49 seconds left in the period as David Warsofsky‘s point shot found the twine behind Hunter Jones. 2-1 Chicago going into the 2nd period.
An early penalty on the Wolves would appear to give Iowa a chance to tie the game, but it would backfire horribly as Tanner Jeannot walked around a Wild defender to score shorthanded to give Chicago a 3-1 lead. Iowa’s problems continued as Chicago defenseman Max Lajoie joined the rush and he’d tap one from in close to give the Wolves a 4-1 advantage. Iowa was feeling frustrated and you could see more pushing and shoving after the whistle. The Wild would cut the Wolves’ lead in half as ‘Gerry Time’ Gerald Mayhew hammered a slap shot that trickled through Jeremy Helvig to make it 4-2 Chicago. The goal seemed to get Iowa’s legs moving and they had another great opportunity to cut into the Wolves’ lead late in the period as Will Bitten‘s backhander was denied by Helvig as he kept his team ahead by two going into the 2nd intermission.
Iowa would find itself on the penalty kill early in the 3rd period and they’d manage to escape unscathed. At least for a little while, but Chicago would add to its lead about a minute later as a point shot by Josh Healey would trickle through Jones and over the goal line. 5-2 Chicago. The Wolves would add to their lead a few minutes later as Philip Tomasino would get behind the Iowa defense and he’d move in and beat Jones with a shot that rang off the crossbar and in. 6-2 Chicago. It was this point the tensions between the two teams would boil over as Josh Atkinson would drop the gloves with Healey after he dished out a big hit on Jarrett Burton. On the very next shift, it was Calen Addison dropping the mitts for the first time in his pro career in a fight against Chicago’s Anthony Richard. The 20-year old defenseman held his own against Richard and the crowd gave an appreciative cheer for the youngster’s first fight. The Wild would try to press the attack late but couldn’t get anything else by Helvig and they’d fall 6-2. Jones had 23 saves in the loss. Iowa’s next game is Friday against the Rockford Ice Hogs.
Wild Prospect Report:
D – Brennan Menell (Dinamo Minsk, KHL) ~ The ‘Woodbury Workhorse’s’ season came to an end Wednesday as he had an assist in 28:35 of ice time as Dinamo Minsk’s 4-3 overtime loss to SKA St. Petersburg. Menell had a goal, 7 points and is a -5 in 5 playoff games.
RW – Matt Boldy (Boston College, H-East) ~ The skilled sophomore had 2 helpers on 2 shots in the Eagles’ 3-2 win over New Hampshire on Sunday. Boldy has 10 goals, 26 points, 4 PIM’s and is a +12 in 20 games.
D – Marshall Warren (Boston College, H-East) ~ The mobile defenseman had an assist on 1 shot in BC’s 3-2 victory over New Hampshire. Warren has 2 goals, 10 points, 25 PIM’s and is a +18 in 21 games.
LW – Nikita Nesterenko (Boston College, H-East) ~ The freshman winger had a goal on 3 shots in Boston College’s 3-2 victory over the Wildcats. Nesterenko has 8 goals, 19 points, 18 PIM’s and is a +15 in 22 games.
G – Filip Lindberg (UMass, H-East) ~ The Finnish-born puckstopper had 25 saves in the Minutemen’s 4-1 win over Northeastern in the Hockey East quarterfinals on Sunday. Lindberg has a 5-1-4 record, 1.55 goals against average and a .939 save percentage and 2 shutouts.
D – Daemon Hunt (Moose Jaw, WHL) ~ The Warriors’ captain had a goal on 3 shots in Moose Jaw’s 2-1 shootout win over Prince Albert. Hunt has a goal in 2 games.