Showing posts with label NHL. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NHL. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

From Warroad, Minnesota, Number 29 Brock Nelson

As if UND fans needed an introduction to Brock Nelson, the rest of the NHL world is getting a taste, finally, of what UND fans saw in his two seasons representing, the then Fighting Sioux, colors and that is the ability to score goals and help produce them. Tonight was no different, scoring his fourth goal of the season for the Islanders, and the game winning goal in tonight's contest against the Rangers as well.

Playing on the Islander's top line with John Tavares, Nelson has found his niche to find the net in this young season. He has tallied a four point night, and is tied for top scoring in the NHL with 7 points with the likes of Rick Nash and John Tavares. Now I do understand that the season is very young, but I see him playing as well, if not even better than, when he played with Danny Kristo and Corban Knight in his 30 goal sophomore campaign at UND.

Brock has put the NHL on notice that he is one to keep a sharp eye on in the near, and probably the distant future. Look for Nelson to impress on the ice for many seasons to come. UND fans knew what the Islanders were getting, now everyone knows what they have, a future superstar.

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?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Danny Kristo on the Rangers 2014 Training Camp Roster


The question is, will Danny Kristo stick with the Rangers and make the team out of training camp.  The Rangers appear to have a pretty stacked training camp roster this season.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Minnesota Wild Announce New ECHL Affiliate

There has been a lot of hockey news in the past day or so, and more coming from the Minnesota Wild camp today as well, and no it isn't anything about the Darcy Kuemper situation. The Wild have announced an affiliation with the ECHL's Alaska Aces.

The Aces have been very successful as a franchise in the past few seasons, winning three Kelly Cup Championships in the past nine seasons, including this past season.

Included in the agreement, according to wild.com, the Aces will serve as a resource for developmental efforts for both Iowa (AHL) and Minnesota.

UND fans may take notice at a familiar face on the Aces roster, and now in the Minnesota Wild system, Evan Trupp. Trupp played four years at UND and was a member of the Aces for their championship winning team last season.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Preseason Power Rankings

Well it's almost time for NHL training camps to open up again so I went through each of the 30 rosters and put together my complete power rankings based on what I thought the depth of the roster was going into the upcoming season. So, here it goes.
1. LA Kings
2. St. Louis Blues
3. Boston Bruins
4. Minnesota Wild
5. Chicago Blackhawks
6. San Jose Sharks
7. Detroit Red Wings
8. Anaheim Ducks
9. New York Rangers
10. Pittsburgh Penguins
11. Colorado Avalanche
12. Dallas Stars
13. Montreal Canadiens
14. Philadelphia Flyers
15. Tampa Bay Lightning
16. Vancouver Canucks
17. Toronto Maple Leafs
18. Washington Capitals
19. Nashville Predators
20. Columbus Blue Jackets
21. Carolina Hurricanes
22. Arizona Coyotes
23. Edmonton Oilers
24. New Jersey Devils
25. Calgary Flames
26. Ottawa Senators
27. New York Islanders (might be a little low)
28. Winnipeg Jets (again maybe a little low)
29. Buffalo Sabres
30. Florida Panthers

Now I know that everyone will think that there should be some tweaking somewhere in this power ranking, but remember, it is the preseason and it is only the opinion of me based on the current rosters. However, do remember that I predicted that the Blue Jackets would make the playoffs in September last year and almost everyone laughed at me. Just saying. I'd love to hear your opinions on the subject. Tweet me your top 5 @siouxhockey33, comment on this post, or even email me your complete 30 team power rankings at siouxhockey33@gmail.com to see where we are similar or differ in our opinions.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

This Day in Hockey History

So sitting between classes looking for something to do, I decided to look up what happened on this day in hockey history, but quickly found out that not many interesting things happened on August 26th for the sport of hockey. However, here are the few things I did find in order by year:
1938- Montreal Maroons dropped from the NHL
1971- Then all time shutout leader, Terry Sawchuck, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame
1980- The Stastny brothers, Peter and Anton, were signed by the Quebec Nordiques becoming the first pair of non North American players to play in the NHL. This signing was huge for the future of the NHL because if this doesn't go down, there could have possibly been no Lidstrom, no Ovechkin, no Malkin, no Datsyuk, no Sedins, and the list could just go on and on.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Breakdown of the Hockey Rink



This one is kind of funny, the break down of the NHL Hockey Rink. I would like to have one for college with the Wehr's Corner.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Time for a coaches challenge for the NHL



Based on what we have seen this past weekend, I think we could make the argument that it’s time for the NHL to have a coach’s challenge, or some kind of video review system for certain kinds of plays. More specifically, there's no reason why the NHL shouldn't be able to review goalie interference. The NHL is the best hockey league in the world, but even their officials are human. Thoughts?
Damien Cox, The Spin – And the notion of a coach's challenge for replay review, a concept he's championed for several years, is suddenly more popular than ever.

"Now people are seeing what happens in a critical game and a critical situation that can cost people jobs," he said today.

"Why not? It works in the NFL."

Expanding the use of video review and giving coaches the opportunity to challenge calls are both likely to be hot topics this week, including today at the competition committee and Wednesday when the GMs meet.

If it were up to Tallon, coaches would be able to challenge both goalie interference calls and offside plays leading to goals, neither of which currently can be reviewed.

"I'm saying one time per game, one goal, one time per coach," he said. "That's it. It's not going to happen that often.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Bylsma is now the "blue chip" of the NHL (RW77)

I understood the firing of Ray Shero but, Bylsma is now a free agent and I think it is going to cost the Penguins.

Oh, I can understand the why behind the move, but I still think it is a mistake.  The truth is, hockey is a team sport.  More a team sport than the NBA.  I believe with the star talent the Pens have right now, translated (somehow) to the NBA, it would be the Pens vs. Heat in the Finals most every year.  The truth is, though, two stars don't make a championship team.  Even Gretzky had more big time players on his Oiler teams when he won all those times.

In the end, the person who paid the price was Bylsma.  He leaves the Pens with a fabulous record as a head coach (especially since pretty much nobody thought much of him when it first took the job in Pittsburgh).

So where does he end up?

There are currently (as of June 6th) three coaching vacancies (not counting Pittsburgh) in:  Florida, Carolina, and Vancouver.  Let's also not discount the crazy rumors surrounding Carlyle in Toronto.  I do not believe that any team has recently fired its head coach as soon as another guy became available, but I could be wrong.... but if it were to happen this offseason, Toronto would be the team.  From what I've read and heard, Toronto feels that they're on the cusp of being very competitive and they might feel that Bylsma could take them to the promised land...

However, they somehow have been more adamant about waiting until next year to steal current Red Wings' boss Mike Babcock.  It's too bad, if this were true mind you, that it didn't happen now because I wouldn't mind Bylsma heading up the Wings.  Then again, all signs point to current AHL Coach of the Year and former WMU head coach Blashill as Babcock's successor.

How about Florida?  Ron Wilson just interviewed for that position and Florida, forgive me, seems to be the destination for old vet NHL head coaches to try to rekindle old times.  Bylsma isn't that desperate.  I do not see him joining Florida, even if Dale Tallon is the GM.

Carolina?  They may make a play for him, and after all, former Penguin great Ron Francis is now the GM.  I don't see him going to Carolina either.

I think for the second straight time, the Canucks take a head coach from the East to lead them.  Bylsma would be a good fit for their game style and may even improve the lagging production of the Sedins, Kessler, and Raymond.  Heck, he may also make radical changes like eliminate diving (thus ending Bieksa and Burrows' careers in Vancouver).

How long will Byslma be a free agent?  Not long.  I'd be shocked if he was still unemployed by the 4th of July.  I would not be surprised in the slightest if he was employed before Fathers Day.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Grimaldi Takes Talents to South Beach



Ok, I know I am a day late on this on, but I needed to figure out how I wanted to word this post. As it was announced yesterday, UND Junior forward, Rocco Grimaldi signed with the Florida Panthers yesterday. The California native would sign a three year entry level deal worth around $3.2 million. Rocco was drafted 32nd overall, which is the second pick of the second round, in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minnesota.

I myself have some memories in the two full seasons I was able to see him skate at UND, but my favorite memory is probably when he scored his first goal against Minnesota back in November of 2011. It was a game I was fortunate to be attending while back home for a weekend my freshman year, but what made it most memorable was his celebration. Replicating his idol, Tim Tebow, it possibly was the best celebration in college hockey that season. However, Rocco would miss most of this season due to a knee injury, and was forced to take a medical red shirt for the remainder of the 2011-2012 season.

Rocco was by far the fan favorite in his time at North Dakota, and with good reason. He was fast, and would dazzle the crowd with his great hands. However, his likeness to pull the flashy moves would cost UND at times where taking the shot would be the better option. However, when they did work they were all highlight reel goals that would leave the entire crowd speechless.

Grimaldi would lead UND in points this year with 37 and would make a statement in the NCAA tournament as well. His presence was well felt on the ice greatest in the Wisconsin game when he would earn his first collegiate hat trick, leading UND to a 5-2 victory.

It is hard for me to say if Rocco will have success in the NHL, or even make it into the NHL, but we wish him the best of the luck in whatever his career has in store for him.
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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Minnesota Wild: Breaking down Matt Cooke's Suspension History

Matt Cooke of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Matt Cooke of the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I don't think people realize how many games and times that Matt Cooke has been suspended by the NHL. Here's a break down of Cooke's illustrious history and the number of games that he ended up sitting as a result of his bush league play. Like I said in another post, "I also have to wonder if the NHL's Department of Player head Brendan Shanahan already has Chuck Fletcher's cell phone number in is speed dial?"  I think it's just a matter of time before Cooke is suspended again by the NHL. 

2013/07/05        Signed as an unrestricted free agent by the Minnesota Wild to a three-year contract.
2011/04/27        Missed the last 10 games of the regular season and 7 playoff games (suspension). (17)
2011/03/21        Suspended by the NHL for the remainder of the season and the first round of the playoffs.
2011/02/20        Missed 4 games (suspension). (4)
2011/02/09        Suspended by the NHL for four games.
2009/12/04        Missed 2 games (suspension). (2)
2009/11/29        Suspended by the NHL for two games.
2009/01/31        Missed 2 games (suspension). (2)
2009/01/27        Suspended by the NHL for 2 games.
2004/02/21        Suspended by the NHL for 2 games. (2) [TSN.CA]

Bellow, is a typical Matt Cooke play that happened during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 


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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Seabrook banned for three games



None of us should be surprised that Brent Seabrook suspended three games by the National Hockey League.
NEW YORK -- Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook has been suspended for three games for interference and charging against St. Louis Blues forward David Backes during Game 2 of the teams' First Round Stanley Cup Playoffs series in St. Louis on Saturday, April 19, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today.

The incident occurred at 15:09 of the third period. Seabrook was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for charging.
Brent Seabrook on the hit.
“It wasn’t my intent,’’ a contrite Seabrook said regarding his check that leveled Blues forward David Backes and earned Seabrook a game misconduct. “I was just trying to make a play on Backes. I thought the puck was there. I was on [Alexander] Steen. I was just coming down the wall and I just tried to finish my hit.’’
Former UND forward Chris Porter on the Seabrook hit.
When (Backes) went down like that, I thought it gave us a little bit more push to finish it off …" winger Chris Porter said. "He's our leader. We'll do whatever it takes to get him back. If that's winning a couple of games more, then so be it."
Former All-American goalie Ryan Miller said this.
“I didn’t like it,” Miller said. “I don’t think a lot of people who are hockey fans and have seen they way they’ve been calling things should like it. I imagine the NHL will have something to say about it but it’s not up for the players to decide. We’ll see what they do with it. But it certainly was not what we want to see.”

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

(Video) Hockey Night In Canada 2014 Playoff Opening



What an awesome video. Hockey is the greatest game on the planet. The Stanley Cup is also the pinnacle of the NHL's season. Should be a good run. This is one downside of having DirecTV, I no longer get CBC.
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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.

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.

Monday, March 17, 2014

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?