Thursday, October 09, 2014

Wild Make Avs Night One to Forget

With a season of very high expectations in Minnesota, the Wild open the regular season at home against division rival, the Colorado Avalanche. The two teams met 13 times last season, regular season and playoffs, and Minnesota advanced against the Central Division champs to the second round of the playoffs after a game 7 overtime victory. 

With a roster deeper than most in the NHL, Minnesota came out flying and made the Avalanche look like they didn't belong on the same ice as Minnesota. Jason Pominville scored the lone goal in the first, but the overall period was dominated by Minnesota. The score made the game seem much closer then it actually was. The period would end at 1-0, but the Wild put up 17 shots to Colorado's 5.

As the second rolled around, the floodgates opened for Minnesota as four different players would tally goals in the period. Just over four minutes in, soon to be breakout defenseman, Jared Spurgeon, finds a lane, takes his shot, and boom, the Wild are up 2-0. Not even three minutes later, the top line strikes again. This time it was Zach Parise who lights the lamp right off of an offensive zone face-off. Minnesota's offensive zone presence in the second period kept on pushing shot after shot on net, and much of this was due to amazing puck support deep in the zone and the wonderful cycle. As the period drew to a close, Nino Niederreiter and Ryan Suter would both find the twine as a total of four of Minnesota's 21 second period shots found their way behind Semyon Varlamov. His night would end here. 

As one would expect, the Wild took a little off in the third, but did enough to maintain a shutout and still have much of the offensive zone play. There were still a couple of great scoring chances right on top of the crease for Charlie Coyle, Zach Parise, and Jonas Brodin, but were unable to put the puck home. As the clock ran down, there were many things you could take from this game and just say wow. Maybe it was the franchise record 48 shots on goal totaled for Minnesota, or the five different players who found the net tonight. 

Special teams was a spot where Minnesota was not that great at last season, but today showed a gigantic improvement. In four power plays surrendered to the Avs, Minnesota would not allow one single shot. This was not the 27th ranked penalty kill from last season. Although the power play did not score tonight, they still looked dangerous with crisp puck movement, and a willingness to shoot the puck multiple times.

Minnesota's top line put on a show tonight as well. the trio of Pominville, Parise and Granlund totaled a combined seven points, and were a combined plus 10 rating on the night. The trio also totaled as many shots, 16, as the complete Avalanche roster could muster up for the game. They looked in mid season form and were controlling the game like they were the best line in the entire NHL. If this keeps up, I could see this tremendous trio to possibly total 200 combined points come seasons end. This line is dangerous and the NHL needs to take notice of this. 

Having a quiet night tonight was Thomas Vanek. The newly acquired forward only put two shots on net, but I expect many great things from him this season. I don't think that he played to his full potential tonight.

The Avs and Wild face-off once again on Saturday night, but this time at Pepsi Center in Denver. Will the Avs have a response to this beating, or will the Wild come in and spoil the home opener party for Colorado?

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