The Minnesota Wild finished off the road portion of their regular season schedule by shutting out the Winnipeg Jets 1-0 at the MTS Center Monday night. The Victory was the Wild’s second consecutive shutout and brings their road record to .500 for the season, at 17-17-7. Minnesota Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo praised his team for their efforts saying, “We got back to .500 on the road tonight. We went into a lot of tough buildings and I give our guys a lot of credit for the way we battled on the road. I would say we’ve been a little up and down at home but I think last game should serve as a reminder of how we should play and as long as we continue that we’ll continue to go in the right direction.” Yeo also credited the stellar play of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov for the Wild’s recent 5 game point streak that included 4 wins and one shootout loss. The Minnesota Wild outscored opponents 13 to 6 in those 5 games.
Monday night the Wild needed just a single goal by Charlie Coyle to defeat the Winnipeg Jets, the last place team in the Central Division. The win and the important two points in the standings give the Wild a total of 94 points and a 7 point lead over the Dallas Stars and an 8 point lead over the Phoenix Coyotes. Minnesota now returns home for the final three games of the regular season, facing Boston, St. Louis and Nashville, definitely NOT an easy end to the regular season. Coyle’s goal came at the 1:05 mark of the second period as his one timer off a Zach Parise pass beat Jet’s net minder Michael Hutchinson for the games only goal. Coyle has been hot as of late extending his scoring streak to 4 games. The goal was also Coyle’s 30th point of the season with 12 goals and 18 assists. One thing is for sure, Charlie Coyle has become a force for the Wild since he was placed on a line with Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu. Coyle is quickly developing into a top power forward with veterans Parise and Koivu at his side.
The play of the Wild’s special teams units were also a huge factor in Monday’s victory. The penalty kill units were perfect going 4 for 4 on the night. This was a huge improvement for a PK unit that has struggled as of late and is ranked 26th in the NHL. The Wild power play units looked good but were unable to break through against the Jet’s penalty killers. Entering play against the Boston Bruins the Minnesota Wild power play ranks 17th in the league. The Wild didn’t play a great game against the Jets as they managed just 17 shots on goal and just one that found the back of the net. They are going to have to improve both of those totals if they expect to pick up points against the Bruins, Blues and Predators.
Ilya Bryzgalov had an excellent outing producing his second straight shutout and third since joining the Minnesota Wild. His record now stands at 6-0-3 with a 1.67 goals against average and a .929 save %. Another amazing stat is that the Wild have use a team record 7 different goaltenders this season and a team goals against average of 2,35. That’s the 5th best in the NHL!! That’s also a tribute to Minnesota Wild goal tenders coach Bob Mason. The net minders are playing well and the team is not giving up a lot of goals defensively. The issue is and has always been goal scoring for the Wild. When this team learns to score an average upward of 2.80 goals a game then, and only then will you you see them seriously contend for a Stanley Cup.
This was a fun victory for the Wild. The rivalry with the kids to the north is building and taking 4 of 5 from the Jets has been fun. Next up on the menu is Bruin. I’ll have your preview of Wild vs Bruins later this morning. Until then this is Scott Drain standing tall and shouting loud, “LET’S GO WILD!!”