Minnesota Wild: End Preseason with Loss to Avs in Overtime

DENVER, CO - MARCH 02: Mikko Rantanen #96 of the Colorado Avalanche celebrates a goal against the Minnesota Wild with teammates Gabriel Landeskog #92 and Samuel Girard #49 at the Pepsi Center on March 2, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 02: Mikko Rantanen #96 of the Colorado Avalanche celebrates a goal against the Minnesota Wild with teammates Gabriel Landeskog #92 and Samuel Girard #49 at the Pepsi Center on March 2, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Wild Jason Zucker
DENVER, CO – DECEMBER 7: Jason Zucker #16 of the Minnesota Wild fights for position against Nathan MacKinnon #29 of the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on December 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Jason Zucker

Jason Zucker is a star. If you didn’t believe it after his breakout season last year, now seems like a good time to start buying what he is selling.

I’ve heard criticism of his season last year being a credit to Eric Staal’s resurgence, and that Zucker isn’t actually as good as his stats will show. Performances like this one against Colorado make it easy to see that Staal can’t get all the credit for Zucker being an offensive weapon.

Zucker was involved on all 3 Minnesota Wild goals. Finishing with the same 1 goal, 2 assist stat line as the Avalanche’s Kerfoot. Zucker was also all over the ice, beating Colorado players to loose pucks on the end boards, winning puck battles, and generally being in the right place at the right time.

His first goal, as noted, was a case of him being in the right place to take the pass when Fehr stole the puck. It also took great awareness and vision for Zucker (behind the net) to be able to see Granlund open on the other side of the ice and thread a pass across to him for the first goal.

His second point was due to pressure again down low on Zadorov. Zucker ran a dump-and-chase play into the Colorado zone, he threw it down behind the Avs net and then went after it. The pressure caused Zadorov to throw an errant pass that ended up on a Minnesota stick and then in the Avs net.

Then, Zucker topped off the evening with his best play of the night. He took a pass from Greg Pateryn and went off to the races. He used Fehr as a distraction on the other side of the ice, and opted to take the shot. Grubauer made the initial save, but Zucker rushed in for his own rebound and tied the game at 3 with 1:02 remaining in the 3rd period.

Next. Kloos and Soucy Sent to Iowa. dark

The hustle he showed on his goal, was evident all night. It took that long to pot one in the net, but not for a lack of trying. Zucker had 2 takeaways in the game, and 3 shots on goal, and that doesn’t even feel like it does justice for how noticeable he was on the ice in this one. A fantastic effort that we hope to see repeated in the regular season opener next week.