Showing posts with label Minnesota Wild. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Minnesota Wild. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Minnesota vs. Colorado: What We Should Expect

Minnesota and Colorado have been division rivals since Minnesota has come into the league in 2000, so I guess you could say that these two teams are familiar with each other.

Up until the last couple of seasons, Minnesota has never really had any superstars on their roster, unlike the usual star studded Avalanche of the late 90's and early 2000's. However, the Avalanche recently have been struggling to find success and even had finished 29th in the league out of 30 teams last season.

This year looked as if it was going to be a rebuilding season for Colorado after the firing of head coach Joe Sacco. Before the draft last year, the Avalanche would announce that Patrick Roy would be named their head coach, leaving many scratching their heads wondering how the Avs would fare in this situation. Lets just say a worst to first turn around leaves Roy as a front runner for this year's Jack Adams trophy.

As for the Minnesota Wild, Mike Yeo has this team in a position for a possible playoff run. The main question mark will be in goal. Can Ilya Bryzgalov play like the goalie of 2007 with the Anaheim Ducks? Or will the Bryz, who struggled in the playoffs with the Flyers, show up. If the ladder of the two is to happen, Minnesota's playoff life will be ending earlier then the fans, and the team would like.

Colorado would go 4-0-1 against Minnesota this season, and shocked the league on their extreme turn around with the big youth movement in Colorado. However, a big part of this would be the outstanding play of goalie Semyon Varlamov, who would break Patrick Roy's franchise wins record with 41 wins this season. Also another big weapon for the Avs, besides Duchene, Landeskog, and Stastny, you have to watch out for likely Calder winner Nathan MacKinnon. With his speed, he likes to lead the rush to the outside and also has a very potent snap shot, much like UND fans saw in Danny Kristo's four years at UND. Colorado has three solid lines of scoring who can burn you at anytime you make a mistake. It is no fluke that this team won the Central Division.

Looking back at the two teams head to head playoff history, the teams have met twice in the playoffs. the first time was in the 2002-2003 season, also happens to be the last time that Colorado won their division and Minnesota winning a playoff series, and the second was in the 2007-2008 season when Minnesota would win their first and only division crown.

The most recent series in 2007-2008, the two teams would battle hard in a very tough six game series where Colorado would come out on top, but later lose out of the playoffs. This would be the first season that Minnesota would reach the playoffs in consecutive years, having reached the previous season, but losing to the eventual cup champion Anaheim Ducks in five games.

Now the most memorable series in 2003. Minnesota, just in their third season in franchise history, would make their first ever playoffs, and would be slated a huge underdog against the star studded Avalanche lead by the likes of Sakic, Forsberg, and Roy. Minnesota came out in game one on a mission, making a statement by winning game one. The Avs would have none of it and would rattle off three straight wins to put the Wild on the verge of elimination. Going into game five, nobody counted the Wild as a threat to Colorado anymore and was already preparing for the Avs to move on to round number two. However, Minnesota would be victorious in game five and have one more chance at home to keep their playoff series alive.

The next two games will probably be the most historic games in Minnesota Wild history. On the verge of elimination, the two teams would experience overtime in game six. The Xcel Energy Center was loud, and the fans were on the edge of their seats wondering who was going to play hero. Richard Park would gain the puck at the offensive blue line skate up the right wing and fire, what looked to be a harmless snap shot, at Roy and would beat him to send the Wild back to Colorado for game seven. This would be the first home NHL playoff win in Minnesota since the North Stars did in the early 90's.

Now on to game seven. Avalanche goalie Patrick Roy was virtually unbeatable in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when it came to game sevens, and was unbeaten when it game to game sevens that went into overtime. This game would again end up in overtime, making everyone think that this game was in the bag for Colorado because of Roy in net. This, however, was not the case. Andrew Brunette would get a pass from a teammate, take the puck into the offensive zone, have the presence of mind to go to his backhand and bury the puck in the back of the net, ending the career of Patrick Roy, in his first ever game seven overtime loss.

As for this series, will we see a series like this, or will we see one like in 2008? Honestly I think it will be a high flying series where if the games become more about offense, Minnesota has no chance to advance to the second round. However, if we have one goal, low scoring contests, this could very well go seven games.

Minnesota Wild: A trip down memory lane (videos)


These are two of the biggest goals in Minnesota Wild history... Just think about this, Hall of Fame goalie Patrick Roy lost the last two games that he played in.

Also, the last game of  Roy's NHL career was against the Minnesota Wild. Looking at some of the names of the players, the Av's were loaded.



Watching these old video, I can't imagine the NHL without HD TV. Also, I really don't miss NHL Hockey on ESPN anymore. I think that NBC and NBCSN have done a very good job with the NHL broadcasts.
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Monday, April 14, 2014

2014 Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions

EAST:
Round 1:
Boston over Detroit
Montreal over Tampa
Philly over NYR
Pittsburgh over Columbus

Round 2:
Philly over Pittsburgh
Boston over Montreal

Round 3:
Philly over Boston

WEST:
Round 1:
Anaheim over Dallas
LA over San Jose
Colorado over Minnesota
Chicago over St. Louis

Round 2:
Anaheim over LA
Colorado over Chicago

Round 3:
Colorado over Anaheim

STANLEY CUP FINALS:
Colorado over Philly

Friday, April 11, 2014

Mike Rupp Hit on T.J. Oshie



Wild forward Mike Rupp was given a match penalty for this hit on St Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie. According to the Blues, Oshie is listed as day-to-day. I think Rupp might get a few games for this hit, he's has a phone hearing with the Department of Player Safety.
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Sunday, April 06, 2014

When Dany Heatley Sits, Wild Win

March, 29, 2014, Minnesota Wild win 3-1 against the Phoenix Coyotes, much maligned forward Dany Heatley is a healthy scratch. Wild fans rejoice.

March 31, 2014, the Minnesota Wild win against the L.A. Kings 3-2. Again, forward Heatley is a healthy scratch.

Is this a coincidence? Maybe.

April 3, 2014, Minnesota loses in a shootout to the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2., Heatley is a minus (-1) and plays 4th line minutes.

April 5, 2014, the Minnesota Wild shutout the Pittsburg Penguins 4-0, Heatley is again sitting in the press box with a suit and tie.

One of my Facebook friends brought this point up, and I had to look into this further. One has to think that Heatley’s final playing days with the Wild are going to be uneventful, with him sitting in the stands in a suit and tie.

Let’s think about this from an economic angle. For $5,000,000.00 dollars you get this kind of production (12g-15a—27pts). For $600,000.00 you get this kind of production (13g-8a—21pts). To be fair, neither player has produced much in the way of points the last five games. Heatley has (0g-0a—0pts) and Justin Fontaine has scored (0g-1a—1pts). That being said, Fontaine isn’t a defensive liability like Heatley is.

If Heatley hadn't been hurt last season, he would have been an amnesty buyout during the summer. The season can't end fast enough for Heatley. The guy needs a new start in a place not called Minnesota. That being said, he’s not going to be sign another deal for 5 Million a year and play first line minutes for anyone in the NHL.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Two Games Without Heater and Two Wild Wins

For the first time in his career Saturday, Dany Heatley was a healthy scratch for the Minnesota Wild as they played Phoenix, in what quite possibly was the biggest regular season game for the Wild to this point.

Being demoted to the fourth line this season, Heater hasn't done much for the Wild, but I still will say the trade to San Jose to get him was one worth while. It got rid of a Martin Havlat who really didn't do much of anything for the Minnesota Wild.

However, is the offensive fuel for Dany Heatley running on empty? I think these past two games have shown that. His veteran presence in the locker room is probably one that is well liked, but his lack of production on the ice is one I think the fans won't miss.

Maybe Heatley was the thorn in the side as of late, keeping guys like former UMD Bulldog Justin Fontaine off the ice and I'm sure many will agree to this, and because of this, I don't see Heater getting much, if any, playing time until the playoffs, if he even gets any there.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tough Road Trip Ahead for Minnesota

After last night's head shaker, the Minnesota Wild now find themselves leaving home on what could be their toughest road trip of the season. On this trip, the team will make stops in St. Louis, Phoenix, LA, and their last stop is at the Madhouse on Madison against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Tonight two huge points are on the line as the green and white invade Scottrade Center in St. Louis to play the first place Blues. In the two teams last meeting at Xcel, Minnesota would rally for one point as they would fall in the shootout. However, many positives would come from this game. One, this proved that the Wild are capable of skating with the top dogs in the NHL. Two, they are able to overcome adversity coming from behind, tying the game in the third, and sending it to overtime and eventually the shootout.

Tonight's game may be a little different though. Minnesota, who just played last night, is coming into St. Louis after a 5-2 loss against the Vancouver Canucks.  Yes they would throw 31 shots on goal, but had major struggles to capitalize on premium scoring chances, and had a few costly turnovers. I would expect Ilya Bryzgalov to get the call in St. Louis tonight as the Wild look to get the much needed two points and remain the top wild card team.

After tonight, Minnesota travels to face a Phoenix team who sits just three points behind the Wild for the top wild card spot. This is probably the biggest game of the season for Minnesota, and a must win in regulation. The Coyotes are a team that not many talk about, so there is no pressure on them making their season a lot less stressful on this team.

From the desert the Wild will travel to Hollywood as they face-off against the LA Kings at Staples Center. Minnesota really has not done too well in LA in recent history, but need to change history in order to keep their playoff push strong. LA is also the new home to the first ever Minnesota Wild draft pick Marian Gaborik. Although Gabby would have many injury problems towards the end of his time in Minnesota, New York, and Columbus, he is always a threat to score when he is on the ice and makes this LA offense that much more lethal. The Minnesota defense is going to have to be at the top of their game or LA will blow this one wide open.

Finally, from LA Minnesota travels to the Windy City to play the Chicago Blackhawks. These two teams have had a lot of history in the last two seasons, including last year's playoffs, and look to have another tight battle on the ice. Minnesota has found some success playing in Chicago this season and lets hope they can continue to have it.

The road doesn't get much easier as the season draws to a close for Minnesota, but this tough end of season schedule might be just what this team needs to prime themselves for the playoffs. It is looking like right now the Wild will be playing the winner of the Pacific Division, provided no major changes in the standings between now and the second week in April.
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Who's to Blame for Home Loss?

Not much can be said about tonight's game for the Wild, except, well I can't think of anything to say. This game left me with no words and scratching my head wondering what they need to do to find the net.

The Minnesota Wild would control much of the play in tonight's home game against Vancouver, but would find themselves surrendering the first goal to David Booth. However, just over a minute later, Charlie Coyle would find the twine when he would flat out snipe Eddie Lack. The teams would go into the locker room tied at one, but Minnesota probably should have been up by two goals for how much they controlled play. They just were not getting the bounces they needed.

As the game went on, things were still being controlled by the Wild, but the flood gates would open up in the third for the Canucks. A couple of power plays and bad turnovers later, the game was quickly 5-1 in favor of the bad guys. Nino Niederreiter would put one late goal in for the Wild, but that's exactly what it would be, too little too late.

Outshooting the Canucks 31-19 tonight, the Minnesota Wild and fans like me are left scratching their heads wondering what they could have done different tonight. More often then not, they did not get any second or third quality chances in the offensive zone, even though they were controlling most of the play.

Another thing that would cost them is too many costly turnovers. The Canucks are a team you can't make these kind of mistakes against or they will find the back of the net and tonight was a good example of this.

Goalie Darcy Kuemper also looked a bit off tonight, however, each and every Vancouver goal was scored from a high percentage scoring area, or off of a deflection. Kuemper can't be completely to blame for this loss. That being said, five goals against on 19 shots isn't that good at any level of play, and improvement is needed.

The gist of it all is that our key guys need to contribute more consistently in key games like tonight, and on the upcoming road trip. With guys like Parise, Pominville, and Moulson not finding the net as much as they should, it leaves playmakers like Koivu and Granlund sitting in the dust getting ridiculed because they aren't producing points either.

It's time for the veteran leaders to take charge and lead this team into the playoffs. They can't keep missing out on key points coming down the stretch, otherwise they could be sitting on the outside, much like the Toronto Maple Leafs are right now in the east.

Minnesota Wild: Nino Niederreiter hit on Alex Burrows (Video/GIF)


Minnesota forward Nino Niederreiter was given a two-minute minor for interference. As you can see Nino hit Alexandre Burrows with a legal shoulder-to-shoulder check. There was no interference either. This is a blown call.

The line - Nino Niederreiter Interference - 2 min against Alexandre Burrows

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

If NHL Playoffs Started Today....

With just two and a half weeks left in the NHL season lets have a little fun and see how the playoffs would match-up if they were to start right now. Remember, the playoff format has been changed from last season. The top three finishers in each of the four divisions will make the playoffs along with two wild card spots for each conference. The top division winner in each conference will play the second wild card team, as the other division winner plays the top wild card team. This then leaves the second and third place teams in each division. These two teams will meet in the first round, just enhancing the inner division rivalries.

We will start out east. Sitting at the top of the conference, and the Atlantic Division, the surging Boston Bruins look like they are the favorite to come out of the East. However, Pittsburgh is always tough and the Rangers seem to be finding their stride down the stretch, so things could be very interesting as the season out east begins to wind down.

As of right now, the three teams making it in the Atlantic Division would be the first place Bruins, second place Canadians, and third place Lightning. Tampa is on their longest point streak dating back to when they won the Stanley Cup in the 2003-2004 season. The Montreal Canadians made a splash at the trade deadline to grab scorer Thomas Vanek from the Islanders to add a little more depth to their line-up for the stretch run. No explanation is needed for the Boston Bruins. They are about as deep as they come from top to bottom. They are my favorite to come out of the East, but the competitiveness of the NHL today anything can happen.

In the Metropolitan Division, the Pittsburgh Penguins are leading the charge, like they have for much of the season. Making the late charge after a horrible start, the Flyers are now finding themselves in the playoff mix sitting in third place in the division. Captain Claude Giroux has found his scoring touch and the rest of the team has followed his lead. The New York Rangers are the hottest team in the division right now on a four game winning streak, and with the trade deadline addition of Marty St. Louis, they look for a little more playoff experience, and a little bit more scoring then Ryan Callahan provided.

Finally we have the two wild card teams. There are four teams tied with 80 points, but the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings are the two teams shown in the two slots. People laughed at me before the season started when I picked the Blue Jackets to make the playoffs, or just be in the playoff hunt. Lets just say I will take my apologies at anytime from all who laughed at me. Still in the hunt, however, are the Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals, and I will go as far to include the New Jersey Devils who are sitting at 75 points right now.

My pick to come out of the east needs to be the Boston Bruins. The only team that comes close in the east to match their depth is the Penguins. However, you can never count anyone out in the NHL.

Moving west, this is the superior conference in the NHL and it looks that barely anyone out east will be able to compete with anyone in the west. With three teams over 100 points, and likely to be four or five by seasons end, my Cup winner will be out of the west this year.

Starting in the ever so tough Central Division, we have the red hot St. Louis Blues leading the charge at 103 points. In a division where everyone thought that the Blackhawks, who are in second, would win outright this season after their amazing cup run last year, the St. Louis Blues are only a little bit of a surprise to the NHL community this season. Probably the biggest surprise coming out of the St. Louis camp would be the play of Alexander Steen this season. Having a career year, Steen, along with usual suspects in Backes and Oshie, are leading the charge. Probably the biggest surprise in this division is the third place Colorado Avalanche. New head coach, and my pick to win the Jack Adams award for coach of the year, Patrick Roy grabbed the bull by the horns and utilized this young and talented team, making their opponents look like fools this season.

In the Pacific, we have the usual suspects at the top with San Jose, LA and Anaheim. The Sharks currently occupy the top spot in the division, but the Ducks are breathing down their neck just two points back right now. At points of this season, the Ducks were considered the best team in the NHL and, in my opinion, are a very good favorite to come out of the west this year, or at least make it to the west finals. Finally, we have the Kings quietly doing their thing in third place in the division. With their cheap deadline deal with the Blue Jackets acquiring Marian Gaborik, this team is always a threat to score. If Gaborik can stay away from the injury bug that has plagued him for nearly his entire career, the Kings look to bring themselves back to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Now for the two wild card teams in the west. First we have the streaky Minnesota Wild. The Wild would add Matt Moulson at the trade deadline to make what should be three complete lines that should be a threat to put the puck into the net. However, this is not the story. Coach Mike Yeo is having trouble in finding chemistry within his lines, but saw a ray of hope in their overtime victory Sunday night in Detroit. You also can't talk about the Wild without talking about Darcy Kuemper. Kuemper has taken over the number one role between the pipes with injuries to Josh Harding and Nik Backstrom and has ran with it. Sitting in the second wild card is the Phoenix Coyotes. With the Stars not too far behind, the margin for error is not that big for Phoenix. One thing that might trouble the Coyotes is the injury to their goalie Mike Smith. One can only wonder how far they can go without their number one.

As to who is coming out of the west, this is going to be very difficult. However, I am going to have to take the Chicago Blackhawks because with the majority of the team from last season, they know what they have to do to get the job done. They are also my pick to win the Cup and win the first back to back since the Red Wings did it in 1997-1998.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Minnesota Wild: Jason Zucker done for the season

It's been a tough season for the former DU Pioneer forward Jason Zucker and his season with the Minnesota Wild is probably over after having knee surgery.
Michael Russo, Star Tribune --- Zucker probably out for year.

Winger Jason Zucker is likely out for the season, General Manager Chuck Fletcher said. He will likely need additional knee surgery after aggravating his injury while training.

“It’s gone from something minor to not,” Fletcher said.





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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Monday, March 17, 2014

Jarome Iginla Knuckle Puck - GIF


Boston Bruins forward Jarome Iginla scores a knuckle puck goal against Minnesota Wild goalie That was goal 553 of Iggy's career. Darcy Kuemper had no chance on that goal.
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Wild and Bruins Battle for First Time in Two Years

Tonight the Minnesota Wild will face the East's best Boston Bruins at the TD Garden in Boston. The match-up will be the first time the two teams have met since February of 2012 because of last season's half season lockout.

The B's come into tonight's tilt as the hottest team in the NHL with an eight game win streak. During that streak, the Bruins have scored 32 goals, plus one extra added because of a shootout victory, which averages out to four goals a game. Teams scoring like that don't lose that often.

Tonight also is the first game that Jarome Iginla would play against his former division rival Minnesota since being traded to the Eastern Conference last season. Iginla, a known Wild killer, has scored more goals against the Wild than any other player in the NHL since the Wild would come into the league in 2000. In His last five games, Iginla has five points with four of those being goals. He also leads the Bruins in goals with 23 and looks to pad his totals tonight against a team where he has had great success against.

As for Minnesota, they find themselves in a little bit of a late season funk, and wins haven't been that easy to come by for the Wild. Since the beginning of March, the Wild are 2-1-3, which isn't terrible, but could have been a lot better if they could hang on to some leads. Having leads in the games against Edmonton and Dallas, they would sit back and watch their wins slide away from them, missing out on key points this late in the season.

Forwards Jason Pominville and Zach Parise, need to keep the offense going and lead this team to victory once again. Pominville, who also has five points in his last five games, and scored the only goal in the Wild's last game against Columbus, seems to be one of the only consistent things offensively as of late. The same can be said for Parise as well.

Minnesota goalie Darcy Kuemper has played virtually lights out hockey since the Olympic break ended, aside from the two speed bumps in Dallas and at home against Edmonton. In his last five games, Kuemper has posted an outstanding .925 save percentage and a goals against of 2.20, solid numbers for any goalie in any league.

People are wondering why Minnesota can't seem to finish games as of late then, and I say it's simple. They aren't playing that puck control hockey they were playing when they were having success. I know this is stating the obvious here, but chances are you control the play with the puck, you control the outcome of the game. Not only that, but Minnesota can't seem to catch a bounce as of late either. A good example of this is the two posts they hit Saturday night against Columbus.

Tonight is West vs. East and we will see if the West hast their continued dominance against the East, or if the hot play of the Bruins can shut down a Minnesota Wild team who can't seem to find a way to finish games as of late. One thing on Minnesota's side tonight is that Boston has not beat Minnesota since 2009. Will this slump end and the Bruins stay hot, or will the Wild finally find a way to finish a game off?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Minnesota Wild: Soldier's Surprise at the Xcel



I thought this was a nice touch.
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Monday, March 10, 2014

Brian Elliot robs Mikael Granlund (GIF)


What a save by former Wisconsin Badgers and current St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliot as he absolutely robs Minnesota Wild forward Mikael Granlund  Difference in the game, maybe. The Wild would lose in a shootout as T.J. Oshie got the game winning shootout goal.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Wild trade Ilya Bryzgalov from Edmonton

The Minnesota Wild have acquired Ilya Bryzgalov from the Edmonton Oilers for a fourth round draft. Bryzgalov (5-8-5, .908 SV% and a 3.01 GAA) is probably expendable with the emergence of Ben Scrivens.

"Bryzgalov is a quality veteran that adds depth to the goaltending position for our team," Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher said.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

(Video) Keith Ballard no goal



There no reason this goal shouldn't count. This is obviously a blown call by the on-ice official. There's no reason why this goal shouldn't count. Some how the on-ice official thought that Wild forward Erik Haula made incidental contact with Canucks goalie Eddie Lack. Video shows that there was no contact.

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