Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Frank Seravalli of TSN.Which forward will the Minnesota Wild acquire this month?
Which forward will the Minnesota Wild acquire this month?
Ryan Suter described the Wild as “fragile” after Thursday night’s meltdown at Madison Square Garden. They have blown a lead in five of their last six games and are playing like a team begging for a trade.
“That’s not up to us,” Zach Parise told reporters post-game. “You can’t plan on that. You can’t assume that’s going to happen, because what if it doesn’t? Then we’re just going to quit? We have to play better as a group, and as the group that’s here right now.”
Wild GM Chuck Fletcher has been trying to make something happen. Fletcher has sniffed around for a forward for a couple months now, starting with Ryan Johansen when he was available from Columbus.
Who will it be? Loui Eriksson would be a nice fit, though the Bruins still want to re-sign him.
Keep an eye on former Golden Gopher Kyle Okposo, who has a very reasonable cap hit as a pending UFA. The playoff-bound Islanders aren’t interested in trading him, but Okposo said this week there hasn’t been much dialogue between his agent and GM Garth Snow on an extension.
four more NHL topics...
from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
Of all the losses during this lousy stretch and this lousy calendar year of Wild hockey, this was in my mind the most awful tonight.
This team is just a wreck, and the players have no answers, their under-siege coach has no answers and their GM apparently has no answers because he has so far declined interview requests from the beat writers during this road trip.
In the meantime, the Wild has lost nine of 10 games and 12 of 15 this year and tonight coughed up a 2-0 lead here at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers.
The Wild tried to make it like this was the exact same thing that occurred a couple nights ago against the Islanders, but in that game, the Wild had a 1-0 lead and a season-high 20 shots in a period in the first 20 minutes before caving.
Watch the game highlights below...
from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
The best blog may be by just stringing together my Twitter mentions.
It would certainly be more entertaining. The Wild fan base is in its annual January meltdown … which always mirrors the Wild’s annual January meltdown.
Last year’s was at least cut off in its tracks by the Devan Dubnyk trade Jan. 15.
There’s no end in sight yet, so the Wild better hope the seven days away before the Wild resumes practice next Monday and its season next Tuesday in Brooklyn magically repairs this squad.
On Dec. 31, the Wild beat the St. Louis Blues to improve to 20-10-6.
That night, it was four points behind St. Louis and two points behind Chicago and firmly in the top wildcard spot in the West.
After tonight’s 2-1 shootout loss to Arizona, it is 15 points behind conference-leading Chicago and nine back of St. Louis. It moved back into the top wildcard spot, tied with Colorado with 55 points, but only three points up on Nashville, which plays Tuesday and Wednesday in western Canada.
Game highlights are below...
from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
1-1 in the third tonight, the Wild generated next to nothing and all it took was one bad shift for the Ducks to get a 3-on-2 down low for a tic-tac-toe winner by Rickard Rakell.
“We gave them that one,” coach Mike Yeo said, upset the Wild let “details” slip that shift, got loose in the neutral zone, didn’t change when it had the chance and boom, game over when at a minimum the Wild was 6:19 from a much-needed point.
Instead, the Wild, 2-6-2 in January, lost for a fifth consecutive time in regulation for the first time since losing six in a row Dec. 19-31, 2013. The Wild will try to be avoiding that Thursday up the freeway in L.A.
“I feel for the guys right now,” said Yeo, the coach of a team that has scored four goals in the past five games and 30 in the past 16 (includes four empty-netters). “Certainly the effort was there. We didn’t give up much at all. But you could see in the third period, again, you’re not scoring and then some of the detail starts to slip. Second goal is a good example of that. I thought we gave them that one. That’s the difficult part right now. We’ve got to play tight. We’ve got to continue to defend as well as we have been, but we can’t lose any focus of that part of our game. But we’ve got to find a way to create some more, there’s no question.”
The Wild is falling fast. Colorado is now one point behind for the top wildcard spot and the Wild is feeling the pressure of Vancouver and Nashville, which sits ninth and 10th three points behind.
Watch the game highlights below...
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
- Patrick Marleau’s kind-of trade request has really gone quiet as a storyline since that early season blip of news. But don’t think it’s gone away. His agent Pat Brisson continues to quietly explore the market, as San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson gave him permission to do so earlier this season. Things should heat up closer to the Feb. 29 trade deadline, although there’s certainly no guarantee of a deal, Wilson will only trade Marleau if it’s a deal that makes sense for San Jose. Which means there’s just as good a chance that it’s an offseason move.
- Topping the list of trade deadline needs for the Dallas Stars would be another top defenseman. I wouldn’t expect Stars GM Jim Nill to make this a do-or-die objective or to give up the farm to get it done, but if there’s a deal that makes sense for a top blueliner, that’s where the No. 1 need exists for the high-flying Stars.
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
Last year’s 43rd game against the Buffalo Sabres sparked the Wild’s second-half turnaround and surge into the playoffs. In 82 games since Devan Dubnyk’s Jan. 15, 2015 debut, the Wild was 50-21-11 for 111 points, one point fewer than Washington and the Rangers for most in the NHL in that span.
The Wild better hope Tuesday’s 43rd game against the Sabres doesn’t trigger the opposite.
Facing the team with the second-fewest points in the NHL, the Wild spotted the Sabres a three-goal first-period lead and could not complete the uphill climb before falling 3-2 in just the latest disappointing home loss.
“The first period, the game was lost there right away,” center Erik Haula said. “That’s three games in a row now at home, and it’s unacceptable. It’s quite embarrassing.”
Also from Russo,
A week after missing out on Columbus Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen, Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher has his sights set on Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin, multiple sources say.
The Wild is one of several teams having trade talks with Lightning GM Steve Yzerman. Other teams pursuing Drouin, according to league sources, include St. Louis, Anaheim, the Rangers, Islanders, Colorado, Winnipeg, Montreal and New Jersey.
The price for Drouin, the third overall pick in the 2013 draft, is considered a young player of similar ilk. From the Wild, the Lightning has asked for defenseman Matt Dumba, sources say, a pending restricted free agent coming out of his entry-level contract.
Below, watch Mike Yeo post-game...
via Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
The Wild played six minutes in the third without top-pair defenseman Jared Spurgeon. Tyler Seguin took a baseball swing at a puck in mid-air and instead nailed Spurgeon on the chin. No penalty was called despite Spurgeon leaking blood. He brushed it off afterward, saying, “Just a couple stitches.”
Yeo wanted a five-minute major. The refs told the Wild they didn’t know whose stick hit Spurgeon.
“Obviously, they got a tough job,” Dubnyk said. “I thought the refs did a good job tonight, but it’s tough to see how four guys can miss when the puck’s there. It’s not like it happened away from the play. I would think that everybody is looking at the net when the puck’s up in the air. The other thing I said too is why would our sticks be swinging toward our net? We’re not trying to bat the puck in the net, so we didn’t hit him. Obviously, it’s frustrating when they get the call at the end of the game there, but I thought those guys did a good job tonight. It’s tough for them, if they don’t see it they can’t just make it up either. They don’t get look at the video board and decide what happens, so it’s tough for them too. I thought they did a good job tonight.”
The Wild did win the game, 2-1.
from Gary Craig of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle,
National Hockey League star Thomas Vanek was worried and was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to irate bookies.
He thought his name was being kept from others in the Rochester-area gambling circles where he wagered upwards of millions of dollars and now it appeared some angry debt collectors knew just who he was.
“I thought my name stayed anonymous,” Vanek said in a Feb. 27, 2014 text message to his Rochester bookie, Joseph Ruff. “Guess not.”
Minutes later Ruff texted back, forgoing punctuation: “Hey man I’ve tried my hardest to keep your name out of it 3 guys showed up at my house today And start threatening me infront of my fiancée She of course flips out and is scared.”
The text exchange between Vanek and Ruff, now public in unsealed court records from a local gambling investigation, provides some insight into the significant debts Vanek owed for his gambling. And, the records of text exchanges — messages between February 2014 and April 2014 — also add clarity to the odd extortion plot involving Vanek.
SAINT PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher today announced the National Hockey League (NHL) club has signed defenseman Jared Spurgeon to a four-year, $20.75 million contract extension starting with the 2016-17 season.
Spurgeon, 26 (11/29/89), owns 16 points (4-12=16), four penalty minutes (PIM) and a plus-4 rating in 31 games this season. He leads the team in blocked shots (65), ranks second in TOI/game (22:15) and his point total ranks second amongst Wild defensemen and tied for seventh overall on the team.
from Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post,
Henrik Lundqvist’s stick was in pieces on the ice at Xcel Energy Center, the Rangers’ franchise goalie having broken it over the crossbar in frustration. It lay in shambles like so much of the past month for his Rangers.
There was just 2:17 remaining and Lundqvist had just given up the final goal in a 5-2 loss to the Wild on Thursday night, a loss that stands as a microcosm of how quickly things have snowballed out of control for the Blueshirts.
“I think if we’re not concerned with the way things have been going lately, we have to look at ourselves,” said Lundqvist, whose team is now 3-7-2 in its past 12, with the good games proving to be the aberrations in this deep malaise. “Every player, including myself — how to improve, how to be better to help this team turn it around.”
Below, watch the game highlights...
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