Spurgeon Scores Twice to Lift Wild to 5-4 Overtime Victory Against San Jose


I’ve heard it said that character is revealed with how someone behaves when they feel no one is watching.  Did the Minnesota Wild feel no one was going to be watching them tonight, even though it was a home game in front of a sellout crowd?  Seems unlikely.

On the surface, a 5-4 come-from-behind overtime victory is very much ‘on brand’ for the Minnesota Wild this season, but if you just look at the score I think you miss the real story.

Truth is, the Minnesota Wild played a sloppy, half-hazard game and were fortunate to somehow come away with two points and clinching a playoff spot in the playoffs.

We (Wild fans) should be happy they clinched a playoff spot right?

No, we should expect more.  Bill Guerin and Dean Evason probably expect more too.

Teams that want to be taken seriously in the post-season crush teams like the Sharks.  Take a look at the Saint Louis Blues, after edging the Minnesota Wild 6-5 in overtime, they didn’t coast on Sunday against the Nashville Predators.   Saint Louis blitzed the Predators with 7 goals in the 2nd period as they rolled to an 8-3 rout.

In previous post-game articles, I’ve talked about how difficult it is to scold a team after a victory even if it is well-deserved.  Since the Wild have qualified for the playoffs, isn’t this the time to expect more?

Remember, this is the same team that traded for a future Hall of Fame goaltender in Marc-Andre Fleury with the implied idea that he will play a key role in pushing the Wild beyond the 1st round of the NHL playoffs.

See why I have a problem with the Minnesota Wild just barely scraping by in an overtime win against a non-playoff team like the San Jose Sharks?  Fleury showed his frustration with some of the goals he gave up against the Sharks.  He acted this way because he expects more of himself, just like fans need to expect more of this team.

Kirill Kaprizov is a legit NHL superstar and it appears likely the team will have two other forwards with at least 30 goals besides him in Ryan Hartman and Kevin Fiala.  Six players with at least 20 goals give this team the kind of scoring depth to not suffer a post-season scoring firewall that have stopped so many post-season efforts a one and done.

Minnesota has another busy week with a games against Montreal, Vancouver, Seattle and Nashville.  Earning home-ice advantage is the prize Minnesota must focus on.

Sloppy games like Sunday’s game are what they have to work against so they can build momentum and improve their execution to be ready for the gauntlet of the post-season.  Whether its on-ice leaders like team captain, Jared Spurgeon or alternate captain Marcus Foligno the tough conversation with the team needs to happen and hopefully we don’t see a repeat of Sunday’s performance no matter if its against a playoff team or not.

What did you think of this week’s slate of games for the Minnesota Wild?  Tell us on Twitter at @CreaseAndAssist!

Spurgeon Scores Twice to Lift Wild to 5-4 Overtime Victory Against San Jose

Iowa scratching and clawing its way toward the AHL Playoffs

Unlike Minnesota, the Iowa Wild’s post-season hopes are hanging on by the thinnest of margins.  Because of the west coast teams in the American Hockey League play less total games than the rest of the league because of travel reasons, the playoffs are determined by your winning percentage and not by your point total.

When I say thin, I really mean it.  Iowa is currently sitting in 5th in the AHL’s Central Division (last playoff spot) by a 1,000th of a point.  Yes, you read that correctly, .001 of a point with .508 to the Texas Stars’ .507.  Texas has played one more game than Iowa has this season.

Of course this also means that it will likely come down to the wire as to which club punches its ticket to the playoffs and which one starts scheduling tee times at the local golf course.  Every night is spent scoreboard watching and hoping for opponents to help buoy the Wild’s cause even by a few percentage points during any given game.

Injuries, call ups always cause drama to any AHL season and with the race for the playoffs so tight those roster moves seem even more magnified in terms of their ability to derail precious momentum.  Connor Dewar getting called up by the Wild deprived Iowa of perhaps its most well-rounded skater and this is not a team that has a lot of offensive firepower to begin with.

Luckily, veterans like Joe Hicketts, Dominic Turgeon and Kyle Rau, as well as prospects like Mason Shaw and Mitchell Chaffee have raised their offensive game which has helped Iowa go 6-3-1 in its last 10 games.

Thief River Falls, Minnesota-native Zane McIntyre has been fantastic between the pipes, keeping Iowa in games and buying the ‘baby’ Wild time to generate enough offense to earn victories most nights or at least force games to overtime so they can continue to accumulate points in the standings.

Case in point, on Saturday the Iowa Wild traveled to Milwaukee, a place where the team has not had much success in any season let alone this one.  With a 4-1 lead going into the 3rd, Iowa watched that advantage slip away to being tied with a little under 8-minutes left to play.  Instead of imploding, the team settled down and battled their way to overtime.

In overtime, it was Hicketts making a great play to skate around an Admirals defender and then beat Connor Ingram with a beauty of a shot to give Iowa a 5-4 overtime victory.  Only time will tell if that extra point earned is what helped put Iowa in the playoffs (knock on wood).

Tim Army‘s team is certainly showing plenty of determination down the stretch, but will it be enough to nudge this team into the playoffs?

Iowa Wild (30-28-4-5)  69pts  5th in the AHL Central

18.7% Power Play (20th in the AHL)

84.6% Penalty Kill (2nd in the AHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #23 Marco Rossi ~ 17G 34A = 51pts

2. #42 Kyle Rau ~ 21G 27A = 48pts

3. #18 Mason Shaw ~ 17G 31A = 47pts

4. #21 Mitchell Chaffee ~ 22G 16A = 38pts

5. #13 Nick Swaney ~ 13G 20A = 33pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #55 Cody McLeod ~ 139 PIM’s

2. #14 Brandon Baddock ~ 127 PIM’s

3. #18 Mason Shaw ~ 104 PIM’s

Top Goaltenders:

1. #70 Zane McIntyre (19-12-3)  2.42GAA  .919%  2SO

2. #30 Dereck Baribeau (4-8-2)  3.07GAA  .903%

Wild Prospect Report:

LW – Marat Khusnutdinov (SKA St. Petersburg, KHL) ~ Skilled forward had an assist on two shots on goal and one blocked shot in SKA St. Petersburg’s 3-1 loss to CSKA Moscow on Tuesday.  Unfortunately his season would come to an end as they lost Game 7 to CSKA Moscow.  Khusnutdinov would finish the playoffs with a goal, 3 assists, 4 points, 6 PIM’s and is an ‘even’ rating in 16 playoff games.

D – Carson Lambos (Winnipeg, WHL) ~ Winnipeg’s alternate captain had an assist on one shot on goal in the Ice’s 6-1 victory over Regina.  Lambos has 10 goals, 37 assists, 47 points, 57 PIM’s and is a +41 in 50 games.

D – Ryan O’Rourke (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL) ~ Greyhounds’ captain had two assists on 1 shot in Sault Ste. Marie’s 6-3 victory over Flint on Friday.  O’Rourke has 10 goals, 36 assists, 46 points, 87 PIM’s and is a +7 in 51 games.

D – Simon Johansson (Ilves, Sm-Liiga) ~ Lanky defenseman’s season came to an end as Ilves fell 2-1 to TPS Turku losing their series 4 games to 2.  Johansson has a goal, 5 assists, 6 points, 4 PIM’s and was an ‘even’ rating in 9 playoff games.

C / LW – Caeden Bankier (Kamloops, WHL) ~ Kamloops’ power forward had a goal and an assist on 4 shots and went 9-for-10 on his draws in a 5-2 win over Vancouver.  Bankier has 21 goals, 39 assists, 60 points, 26 PIM’s and is a +19 in 68 games.

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