The Wild traveled to Denver Saturday to face their second straight Central Division Playoff team. Many of the same characteristics and tendencies from the loss in Nashville surfaced against the Avalanche, resulting in a 4-2 loss. We breakdown the game here.
Stop me if you have heard this before. Less than five minutes into the game, Mats Zuccarello would take a hooking penalty on Matt Duche-
*ahem* Sorry, that was game one.
Mats Zuccarello would take a hooking penalty on Tyson Jost. Not even thirty seconds into the penalty, Nathan MacKinnon would skillfully interfere with Jonas Brodin, open up a shot for Mikko Rantanen, which he would bury.
Ok now stop me if you have heard THIS before. Almost ninety seconds later, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare would beat Devan Dubnyk stabbing away at a loose puck in an awkward position.
Inexplicably, the Minnesota Wild just can’t get out to a quick start. It feels like if they start a period slow, (or with a Zuccarello hooking penalty apparently) the opponent will score two quick goals in less than two minutes.
The Wild would begin their rally back midway through the first when a Ryan Suter shot deflects off an Avs player.
The Wild would have two Powerplays in the last four minutes of the first period, thanks to a Tyson Jost faceoff infraction (playing the puck with his hand after the puck drop- a weird rule) and a Tyson Jost interference a minute after he was done serving his faceoff infraction. Fifty seconds of the second powerplay would be in the first period, the last minute and ten seconds would be in the second period.
The Wild would not score with the remaining powerplay time from the first and a minute after the powerplay was over, Luke Kunin would take a tripping penalty, which was killed off, and a minute after the Kunin penalty was over, Matt Dumba would take a tripping penalty, which would be killed by an Andre Burakovosky tripping penalty in the last twenty-three seconds. With the abbreviated man advantage, Zach Parise would tie the game in typical Parise-fashion, making a play in front of the net on a shot that came from the blueline.
The Wild would get one more powerplay in the second (thanks to a Ryan Graves tripping penalty), but failed to capitalize on the opportunity. Shortly thereafter, Mikko Koivu would take a penalty for interference, that the Wild escaped without any damage.
In the most Minnesota Wild way, the Wild would give up a goal in the twilight of a period, as Gabe Landeskog received a great feed from Mikko Rantanen and would benefit from a poor backcheck by Ryan Donato, and score on Devan Dubnyk. Down one entering the third, it was gut-check time for the Wild. Without a strong third, the Minnesota Wild would be 0-2-0 for the first time since their inaugural season.
A largely underwhelming period for the Minnesota Wild. Kunin and Brodin would both take penalties, Kevin Fiala had a prime time chance to tie the game with the net empty, but couldn’t get the puck off the ice and Grubauer made the save and Ryan Graves would ice the game with the empty netter.
Penalties and a lot of them. The Wild took ten minutes of penalties, none of which were fighting majors- wouldn’t have been surprising for these two teams.
The forwards have yet to create a goal for themselves. Every goal has been generated from a defenseman’s shot.
Zuccarello, Staal, Fiala, Donato, Greenway, Ek, and Kunin all have failed to register a point. For the Wild to succeed, the majority of this group has to get going, it’s just how it is.
Speaking of Staal, he’s had a terrible two games. According to Russo, Staal has been playing through an injury.
Staying on the Russo train, Foligno practiced with Staal and Zuccarello, while Donato was sent to the fourth line. Staal and Zuccarello could benefit from a physical body on their line and Foligno played a similar role for scoring lines in Buffalo. Donato, despite having several chances in recent games, has had a slow start to the season, but I believe he has the opportunity to make a special line with Joel Eriksson Ek and Ryan Hartman.
The Wild play next Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets who are severely lacking defensively. After losing Trouba and Myers, Dustin Byfuglien has yet to return to the team and is seriously pondering retirement and Josh Morrissey is currently injured.
*Previous versions of this post contained NHL media from unverified sources, have been removed for copyright