An extra cup of coffee, perhaps a soda during lunch which is something you do when you’re trying to keep your eyes open after a rough night of sleep. No doubt, the 2nd day of two long days of work always is a bit more taxing physically let alone your mental focus. For NHL teams in a back-to-back you toss in time spent traveling. While the flight from Montreal to Boston is a mere 1 hour and 20 minutes, there is the ordeal of going through customs which certainly can turn into a headache. This is exactly what the Wild have endured before tonight’s game against Boston.
The Bruins have been sitting back and patiently waiting for the Wild to arrive after a few days off. Beyond spending some time for film study and practice, what else do you think they’ve done with that extra time? Hopefully they’ve tired themselves out chasing around their families or stayed out a little too late the night before. Can Minnesota get a victory against the Bruins?
1st Period Thoughts: Well, we’re less than a minute into the game, and we already have an excuse in the making. That being that the Wild arrived in Boston late last night while the Bruins were at home and asleep in their beds. But at least we have chances on both ends of the ice. With the way things were looking in that first minute, I was worried that we were going to spend the entire night in our own zone. So far, the Wild have been finding ways of not only getting the puck into the offensive zone, but have even managed a couple of shots on goal. It also seems like Alex Stalock is looking to play a mobile game, which I am not comfortable with. The Bruins have some players where it seems like they can score whenever they want (think of the 25 goals by David Pastrnak), with that in mind, I would be far more comfortable if Stalock would remain in his crease as much as possible. Yet even that wish isn’t enough, because even when he does stay in the goal, a nice screen and a deflection gets Danton Heinen on the scoreboard for the first goal of the night. Yet while it seemed early on that Minnesota was going to be able to get decent shots on goal, after they got the first three shots of the game, they hadn’t been able to tally any more. And as the old adage goes, you can’t score if you don’t shoot. The first power play of the night would go to Minnesota after Zdeno Chara interfered with Jordan Greenway. But like the limited shots on goal have been, they didn’t get one shot on goal during the man advantage. The longer this period continues with Minnesota’s limited shots on goal, it feels like it’s just allowing Boston to give a speed demonstration: skating, passing, and shooting. This of course forces the Wild to just try to hold on and try to keep up. I’m tired of playing catch up. And there’s more catch up to be had, with a goal by Brad Marchand which he was able to get by grabbing a rebound off of the back boards. Unfortunately for all involved, there’s still over eight minutes remaining in the period. This makes me wonder if we’ll see Devan Dubnyk at some point during the night. Sadly, even when the Wild get the puck into the offensive zone, they’re being kept to the perimeter, and they’re not even allowed to get a low percentage shot. So far, the two Wild skaters who have tried to make things happen, are the two guys with Boston connections, Greenway and Charlie Coyle. Both have had their chances, and it’s imperative that someone makes something happen, so why not one of them. Boston’s Kevan Miller would take the next penalty for holding Nino Niederreiter. Again like the rest of the game, Minnesota is finding it difficult to set anything up. The power play would be short-lived, with Eric Staal getting called for tripping goaltender Tuukka Rask. That power play would prove deadly, earning Jake DeBrusk the first power play goal the Wild have given up on this road trip. As the Wild head into the locker room down 3-0, you have to wonder if they have anything left in the tank, heck even to just keep more goals from being scored.
2nd Period Thoughts: Again, the Wild got the first three shots on goal in the period. They get those shots, and then Boston is able to either break up the passes or get them back to the perimeter. It’s a very effective way to stop any attempts by Minnesota to tip the momentum their way. Like a friend of mine said, should the Wild lose this one (which seems likely with how things are going and how they look in general), this is still a 3-1 road trip. It’s a win all around, and at this point, we need to take those small steps forward where we can get them. It looked like the Wild were going to have just a hope with a shot by Jared Spurgeon and then Luke Kunin deflecting the puck to then Coyle standing near the crease hoping to get the puck as it trickled between Rask’s pads. Unfortunately, Rask was up to the task and didn’t allow any puck movement. Minnesota would head back to the penalty kill, with Zach Parise getting called for tripping. The Bruins wouldn’t waste time, with Patrice Bergeron making it 4-0 Boston. So as you can probably tell, I’m already thinking about this road trip being over. Yes, it’s been successful, but it’s time to get back home. Time go get back to game starting in Central Time. I do like the occasional Eastern Time start, but it also takes away a little time between work and start time. Minnesota would get the next power play after John Moore got called for interference after shoving Kunin into the goal. And just like Minnesota’s previous two power plays, it looks like they’re not going to be able to get anything set up, which is funny because they’re so slow and deliberate with anything they do. When you take so much time to get things done and then have nothing to show for that time, that’s when the frustration sets in. With just over two minutes remaining in the period, again I’m feeling like I can’t wait to get out of this period. Thankfully we didn’t allow more goals than the Bergeron goal.
3rd Period Thoughts: I guess if there’s a silver lining early in this period, the Wild have almost evened up the shots on goal. But then when you look at the shots, very few of them have been of any decent quality. With the exception of the fourth line, it feels like everyone else is still back in Montreal. They haven’t looked ready (or interested) in playing much of the night. To add insult to injury, when this team is tired (from both the road trip and a back-to-back), they look even slower. Heck, not just look slower, they are slower. It would be nice if the team and its management would decide on an identity for this team. When this team had speedy wingers like Jason Zucker, Erik Haula, and even Jordan Schroeder, this team could get things done. Of course the problem then, is that they were too soft. Now we’ve added size and lost speed, but I can’t say that we’ve really gained physical players. Sure Greenway and Nick Seeler can be physical, but there are still other bigger players who continually don’t play their size well. It would be nice if this team could figure out what they want (and find a nice balance) and then actually buy in and execute that style. One sad side effect to this game, is that after the great work in the first three games of the road trip, and getting back into the playoff picture last night, they’re most likely going to lose that wild card spot in the next day or so. While both Anaheim and Vancouver are off tonight, either one can easily leapfrog Minnesota. The only ace up the Wild’s sleeve are the games in hand that they possess. Time to get back to Minnesota. Time to get some rest. Time to regroup.
~ The Wild roster tonight was as follows: Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund, Jordan Greenway, Luke Kunin, Marcus Foligno, J.T. Brown, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, Greg Pateryn, Nick Seeler and Nate Prosser. Alex Stalock got the start with Devan Dubnyk serving as back up.
~ The 3 Stars of the Game were: 1st Star, Tuukka Rask; 2nd Star, Patrice Bergeron; 3rd Star, Brad Marchand
~ Attendance was 17,565 at TD Banknorth Garden.
Iowa Wild Report:
Record (20-8-4-3) 47pts 1st in AHL Central
20.3% Power Play (12th in the AHL)
84.8% Penalty Kill (6th in the AHL)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #25 Justin Kloos ~ 12G 15A = 27pts
2. #9 Cal O’Reilly ~ 5G 22A = 27pts
3. #23 Mason Shaw ~ 3G 18A = 21pts
4. #42 Kyle Rau ~ 8G 12A = 20pts
5. #36 Colton Beck ~ 12G 7A = 19pts
Top 3 PIM’s:
1. #17 Mike Liambas ~ 75 PIM’s
2. #37 Hunter Warner ~ 42 PIM’s
3. #21 Carson Soucy ~ 38 PIM’s
1. #34 Kaapo Kahkonen (10-4-4) 2.28GAA .922%SP 5SO
2. #35 Andrew Hammond (9-4-1) 2.92GAA .907%SP
Recent Score: Iowa 2, Rockford 6