Kukla's Korner Hockey
Entries with the tag: minnesota wild
According to NHL.com's David Merz, Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu was taken to hospital after this inocuous hit:
The updated news from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo is good:
According to the New York Post's Larry Brooks, the recent "Paid Patriotism" report reflects poorly upon NHL teams:
Six NHL teams received funds from the U.S. Department of Defense amounting to a sum of $1,040,500 from fiscal years 2012-15 to promote patriotism by virtue of honoring veterans and the military, according to a report released on Wednesday by U.S. Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona.
Boston, Carolina, Florida, Minnesota, Detroit and Dallas participated in the program, with the Wild reaping $570,000 from their partnership with the Minnesota Army National Guard.
The report has sparked questions and even some outrage about whether this is a proper use of government money, but no one should infer or imply that these teams or the league have anything for which to apologize. The NHL didn’t have its hand out here.
There was nothing surreptitious about it within the league, either. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Slap Shots the so-called “patriot funds” were reported as hockey-related revenue (HRR) as per the collective bargaining agreement.
“Anything received by Clubs as part of partnership deals with military organizations would have been included in HRR reporting and therefore would have been shared with the Players,” Daly wrote in an email correspondence.
Brooks continues, discussing Alain Vigneault's candidacy for Team Canada's World Cup team, goal-scoring disparities and James Neal's "hit list."
Sportsnet's Damien Cox and Elliotte Friedman discussed Patrick Marleau being on the trade market, the KHL deciding to make its players available for the World Cup of Hockey, WIlliam Nylander playing well in the AHL for Toronto, Connor McDavid's surgery (no torn labrum or separated shoulder), Pavel Datsyuk returning next Friday or Saturday, Zach Parise's likely status as being out for the month, and according to Friedman, per an NHL competition committee debate, the NHL is considering asking goalies to wear player-sized jerseys and have their chest protectors fit underneath:
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Tags: connor+mcdavid, detroit+red+wings, edmonton+oilers, minnesota+wild, patrick+marleau, pavel+datsyuk, san+jose+sharks, william+nylander, world+cup+of+hockey, zach+parise
TwinCities.com's Marino Eccher reports that Devan Dubnyk is returning to Arizona as a member of the Minnesota Wild this evening, and while Dubnyk will be opposing his former team in the nets, Dubnyk is very grateful for his time spent with the Coyotes:
"I attribute a lot of (my) success last year to the way the guys there, the coaches, the organization, brought me in and were excited to have me there," Dubnyk said. "I wasn't a damaged project that they were trying to resurrect."
For most players, half a season as a pretty good goalie for a pretty bad team would be nothing to stick in the scrapbook. For Dubnyk, coming off a year in which he teetered on the brink of minor league oblivion, "that's exactly what I needed."
He got his mind and his pads right, with the aid of goaltending coach Sean Burke. He made friends; a handful of teammates, including fellow netminder Mike Smith, spent a week in the offseason playing golf with him in Europe.
"It just felt like I'd been part of that team for a long time," he said.
The good vibes aren't lost on Wild coach Mike Yeo -- nor is the running start Dubnyk got on his stunning finish in Minnesota last season.
"I know he's grateful to them and what they did for him," Yeo said. "Clearly, he was on top of his game before he came to us last season. Certainly he elevated it to a new level, and what he did with us was very special. But he had a good start to the season and played good hockey for them last season."
From the Canadian Press:
The Stanley Cup is headed to Anaheim this season, according to a video game simulation of the NHL season.
EA Sports says its "NHL 16" simulation has the Ducks winning the Presidents' Trophy, symbolic of the best regular-season record, and then defeating the Montreal Canadiens in the Cup final. Anaheim forward Corey Perry claims the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
The Ducks defeat the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference final while the Habs dispatch the Pittsburgh Penguins in the East final.
EA, which develops the hockey video game in suburban Vancouver, had the Los Angeles Kings winning the Cup last season in its pre-season simulation and the St. Louis Blues the year before that.
The new simulation has the Buffalo Sabres, who finished last in the 2014-15 standings, missing out on the playoffs by just two points. The Los Angeles Kings make it back to the post-season only to lose in seven games to the Calgary Flames in the first round.
Update: Here's EA's video of their simulation:
On Hockey Night in Canada, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman discussed the post-Babcock coaching dominoes (Todd Nelson of Edmonton "free to look around," Don Sweeney meeting with Claude Julien to discuss "personnel and style of play," Dan Bylsma's status, Ken Hitchcock's future) and Devan Dubnyk's desire to re-sign with the Wild:
The Chicago Blachkawks defeated the Minnesota Wild 4-3--hanging on to squeeze out what was at one point a 4-1 win--on Thursday night, sweeping the Wild and advancing to the Western Conference Final.
This goal by Patrick Kane summarizes the Blackhawks' mastery of the Wild--and Devan Dubnyk, who twisted and turned slinkily but could not stop this 2-on-1 opportunity by Bryan Bickell and Kane:
The Tampa Bay Lightning can sweep the Montreal Canadiens this evening (7 PM EDT start on NBCSN/CBC/TVA Sports) and the Chicago Blackhawks can eliminate the Minnesota Wild (9:30 PM start on NBCSN/Sportsnet/TVA Sports 2). If you wish to weigh in on said games, here's an open thread to serve your needs.
In the comedy department (we have that here), Jimmy Fallon poked fun at the "mugshots" of players taking part in the second round of tne NHL playoffs last night, and the results were quite amusing:
From Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika:
Patrick Kane suffered a broken left collarbone Feb. 24. He had surgery the next day, and the Chicago Blackhawks released a statement quoting a team doctor. “We anticipate a full recovery in approximately 12 weeks,” the doctor said.
Kane was supposed to be out until about May 20 – after the start of the Western Conference final, if the Blackhawks made it that far without him.
Well, Tuesday was May 5.
Still more than two weeks before he was supposed to have made a full recovery, Kane scored the lone goal as the Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild, 1-0, and took a 3-0 lead in their second-round series. He has five goals and six points in his past four games. He has six goals and 11 points in nine playoff games.
The ’Hawks are one win from their third consecutive conference final – and fifth in seven years – not without him but largely because of him.
Among the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons' mostly Maple Leaf and/or Toronto-centric Sunday sports notes:
Mark Giordano’s season-ending injury has complicated voting for the Norris Trophy. Somehow, between Shea Weber, Drew Doughty, the alleged embellisher P.K. Subban, Ryan McDonagh, the re-emerging Erik Karlsson and Duncan Keith, it’s a tough ballot to figure out. Said a pro scout: “If I’m voting the first half of the season, I’m voting Giordano. If I’m voting the second half, I’m taking Karlsson. He’s back skating like he was before injury. But if I’m voting for the whole season, Weber is the pick. He does everything well."
The Minnesota Wild are 14 games over .500 with Devan Dubnyk in goal and nine games under .500 in games he hasn’t played. The Coyotes were two games over .500 in games Dubnyk played in Arizona and are now 31 games under .500 without him. Can you say Hart Trophy candidate — just after Carey Price?
Mike Santorelli has been a disaster in Nashville thus far: He has one assist in 14 games with the Predators. No doubt he’s regretting walking away from that multi-year offer in Toronto.
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Tags: carey+price, devan+dubnyk, drew+doughty, erik+karlsson, hart+trophy, mark+giordano, mike+santorelli, minnesota+wild, phoenix+coyotes, pk+subban, pk+subban, ryan+mcdonagh, shea+weber
The wheels may be coming off the train in Minnesota, which dropped a 7-2 decision to Pittsburgh on Tuesday evening...
But Mike Yeo isn't the coach who had to deal with the hardest news on Tuesday evening:
Thyroid cancer, mumps and now shoulder surgery. Bad year to be Olli Maatta.
Marco Scandella signed a contract extension with the Minnesota Wild on Saturday, and on Saturday night, as CBS Sports' Adam Gretz noted, Scandella may have spent some of that money after hitting St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie (who would emerge unscathed...eventually...) in the head:
That's a suspension. Period.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman summarized his "mini Hotstove" set of news items shared with Hockey Night in Canada viewers--because Sportsnet geo-blocks videos to Canadian IP's only--on Twitter:
1) SAT night newz...@DamoSpin reports Josh Harding returning in AHL this weekend, will be interesting to see if ends up in MIN or elsewhere
2) Several reports from FLA this week about potential UFAs being available, but hearing there is interest in [Brad] Boyes. Wonder if a fit in PIT.
3) VAN guarded on [Dan] Hamhuis injury (groin?), but hearing he will be re-evaluated in two weeks and he may hold off on surgery.
4) Other teams saying that EDM/PHI being careful, not make a move that hurts them long-term.
Sportsnet's Luke Fox expanded upon Friedman's report that the Florida Panthers might want to send their unrestricted free agents elsewhere:
From the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle's Mark Craig, as a follow-up to Craig's Tweets about Thomas Vanek possibly being involved with the gambling ring ran out of a restaurant he was an investor in:
A bookmaker pleaded guilty Thursday to laundering a $230,000 gambling debt — a payment his attorney said was made with a New York Islanders check.
That payment — apparently a salary check that was endorsed and handed over to cover wagers — was made at the same time hockey superstar Thomas Vanek played for the Islanders, said local attorney James Wolford.
Wolford declined to say whether the payment came from Vanek, who has been linked to the alleged Rochester-based gambling ring. Vanek has acknowledged testifying before a grand jury and sources say his name turned up in records seized from the alleged bookmakers.
Still, Wolford said he was surprised that Vanek's agent said in an interview that Vanek was not involved in any wrongdoing.
And it gets worse from there:
Wolford said after the plea that the $230,000 was a small portion of the overall debt owed by the gambler who paid with an Islanders check. The total of the debt was more than $1 million, he said.
So John Moore did this to Erik Haula...
Update: While we're at "Illegal Checks," Chris Kreider was ejected for this hit on Jonas Brodin:
From the Minneapoils Star-Tribune's Michael Russo:
Thanks to Josh Harding’s broken foot, Darcy Kuemper got his one-way contract. On the eve of players taking the ice for the first time, the Wild conceded in its standoff with its young goalie by signing Kuemper to a two-year, $2.5 million contract.
“I’m super excited to continue this journey with the Wild and can’t wait to see and get back on the ice with my teammates,” Kuemper said in a text message.
The move comes a day after veteran Ilya Bryzgalov agreed to a tryout and hours after General Manager Chuck Fletcher met with Harding to try to establish how he got injured in an off-ice incident Sunday involving an altercation with a teammate.
Soon after the meeting, Fletcher made the decision to suspend Harding. During the time he recovers, Harding won’t be paid a prorated portion of his $2.1 million salary and he won’t count against the Wild’s salary cap. The paperwork was filed and all parties were notified late Thursday.
In the meantime, Fletcher said Thursday night that Kuemper’s signing won’t affect Bryzgalov’s tryout. If Kuemper’s not one of the top-2 goalies in training camp, the Wild can sign Bryzgalov and assign Kuemper to Iowa of the American Hockey League without waivers.
ESPN's Katie Strang held a chat on ESPN.com today, and the first two questions of said chat touched upon meaty topics:
Ed (Queens Village): If you had to pick 1 this season Kings repeat as Cup Champs or Red Wings miss playoffs for 1st time this century?
Katie Strang: Well, I really do not like ever doubting the Wings. That record speaks for itself and the club has a well-earned reputation for its winning culture. That said, I think the chances of them missing are far greater than a Kings repeat. Winning a Cup takes so many elements beyond great personnel and a bevvy of talent. It takes grit, depth and yes, some luck. Especially during the salary-cap era, dynastic teams are harder to come by. Anything can happen in the East though I am banking on Wings making it again this year,
Michael (Minnesota): If you were Chuck Fletcher, what would you do with your goalie situation? Are you tempted to sign Brodeur?
Katie Strang: If I were Chuck Fletcher I'd be extremely concerned about my goaltending situation. I know he said publicly that there will be training camp competition with Harding, Backstrom and Kuemper but I wouldn't feel too confident with that. That's why, since the trade deadline, many assumed Brodeur would be a great fit there. His sons also play at famed hockey prep school Shattuck St. Mary's in Fairbault, MN. Makes a lot of sense. But I think Brodeur is holding out for potentially an injury situation that opens a spot up.
The theory was that very few free agent players were actually going to meet with teams' coaches or general managers during the "wining and dining period"--which ends today--because the draft's location in Philadelphia would yield too much of a hubbub (see: players being chased down by the media as they go from hotel to hotel and meeting room to meeting room)...
But the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo reports that the seemingly inevitable marriage between Thomas Vanek and the Minnesota Wild will get a meet-and-greet kick in the pants on Monday:
With the free-agent market set to open Tuesday at 11 a.m. [Central Daylight Time], pending free agent Thomas Vanek was scheduled to sit down with Wild coach Mike Yeo late Sunday. General Manager Chuck Fletcher was not expected to be at the meeting.
For more than a year, Vanek has seemed destined to sign with the Wild. The 30-year-old former Gophers star turned down lucrative long-term contracts last season with the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders in order to become a free agent.
However, the Wild appears set to offer Vanek only a short-term contract, so he likely will have a tough decision to make Tuesday because it’s expected that he’ll have the chance to sign longer-term deals for more money with other teams.
But wait, there's more, especially in the, "WILD WILL SIGN EVERYBODEYZ" category:
TSN's posting double doses of Insider Trading videos due to the massive amount of pre-draft trade talk, and I should've known better than to simply post the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch's update on Jason Spezza's situation without looking for a rumor-related column on other Sun newspaper sites (the Ottawa Sun doesn't always post articles on his columnist page in a timely manner).
The Toronto Sun posted Garrioch's wining-and-dining update, and I need to say this out loud: while this summer's class of unrestricted free agents-to-be is particularly thin, I have the sinking feeling that we're going to see more classes like these--where second-line players and second-pair defensemen are the ones who hit the market and make top-player money, serving as the main source of player-value inflation (as yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika suggested).
The wining-and-dining period is great in terms of allowing teams to explain their expectations for players, and vice versa, but the number of offers these players are receiving over the course of consecutive days are driving up their asking prices considerably (of course, there are no numbers being exchanged ), and I really get the feeling that we're going to see Paul Stastny and Matt Niskanen become $7 million players come July 1st.
Anyway, here are Garrioch's updates regarding Stastny...
One really begets the other here, so bear with me:
Via Chris Nichols, Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher spoke with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo about the free agent wining and dining period, which is clearly very good in terms of sensing the "fit" for players with various organizations, but isn't necessarily fascinating in terms of the way that it's driving players' "market values" into the stratosphere...
Cue Fletcher: “I’ve had the opportunity to speak with several agents of pending UFAs and try to get a sense of who may have interest in coming to Minnesota and talk about different roles and whether what we have to offer them fits from a role and an ice time standpoint with what they’re looking at. There’s been some ones that may work out, there’s been some ones that clearly won’t work out. But that’s good. I wasn’t really involved in the shopping period last year, but it’s been great. It gives you the sense where instead it used to be July 1 it was such a battle to sign guys. You were competing with other teams to sign players. It wasn’t like you were spending time interviewing players to get their idea of an ideal role. We weren’t having these conversations you might assume we were having. A lot of times you had to make quick decisions and you were throwing money around. So the great thing about the shopping period is you can say, hey this is what we have. This is the type of role. This is the type of fit. Does that interest you?”
And the lack of consensus as to who-goes-where from picks 1 to 4 to the utter mess of players who could be drafted anywhere from 5th to 40th means that we could see a flurry of trades to move up and/or down (and a first round that takes four or five hours starting tonight at 7), as NHL.com's Dan Rosen notes...
Mid-afternoon pre-draft round-up: on Kesler Watch, Vanek Watch, Board of Governors stuff and Stastny
Updated 3x at 4:24 PM: Amongst this afternoon's news from the Board of Governors' meetings and the Trade-and-wine-and-dine-a-palooza...
1. It's time for Kesler watch to kick into an even higher gear?
2. Thomas Vanek is in demand:
3. Sportsnet's Mark Spector reminded us that quite a bit of this draft-day-draft-pick-trade talk is...talk...
When player agent Neil Sheehy's left International Falls, Minnesota prior to the draft, you know the wining and dining period is underway. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo reports that the WIld plan on speaking to the agent who once got a free flight back home (after the Wild and Red Wings made their pitches to Ryan Suter) by owner Craig Leipold on Thursday in Philly, and it sounds like the Wild are aiming for the free agent stars:
It’s not believed the Wild had any formal sit-downs yet, but General Manager Chuck Fletcher contacted at least the agents of defensemen Matt Niskanen and Willie Mitchell, goal scorer Thomas Vanek and center Paul Stastny, NHL sources confirmed. At a minimum, Fletcher is expected to meet with Niskanen’s agent, Neil Sheehy, and Vanek’s agent, Steve Bartlett, while they’re all in Philadelphia this week for the NHL draft.
Vanek, 30, the former Gophers star who lives in Stillwater, might have to consider a one- to three-year deal from the Wild if he wants to play at home in Minnesota.
That’s because it’s clear the Wild has significant interest in Niskanen, who lives in Tower, Minn. The 27-year-old right-shot blue-liner had a career year with the Pittsburgh Penguins, scoring 10 goals and finishing 13th among defensemen with 46 points. He led all defensemen with a plus-33 rating.
The question is whether Vanek would forgo potential long-term security elsewhere for the opportunity to stay in Minnesota. After all, he turned down a seven-year, $49 million contract offer from the Islanders last season and an even more lucrative offer from the Sabres.
Continued with talk about Willie Mitchell returning to Minnesota, and again, Russo reported that the players represented by top agents probably won't be in Philadelphia (though it would not surprise me if a little man in a top hat calling himself AnDay OyleBay makes an appearance ), it appears to be time for each and every team interested in a free agent to talk contract...Cheesesteak.
The NHL's free agent "wining and dining" period has begun, but the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo reports that teams interested in some of the top UFA's-to-be will be sorely disappointed if they were hoping to speak with them in Philadelphia:
Last year, when bought-out Tampa Bay Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier was seen in a New York hotel, reporters and TV stations camped out in the lobby. That’s why the agents of Vanek and Niskanen both say neither client will come to Philadelphia.
“The whole [interview period] isn’t working, at least from the player side, the way it was intended,” said agent Steve Bartlett, whose top two free agents this cycle are [Thomas] Vanek and Tampa Bay’s Ryan Callahan. “It handcuffs everybody when everybody’s sitting in Philly. The way this was envisioned was players could go into cities and see the schools, the neighborhoods, look at the facilities, go out to dinner. When someone has to make what often they feel is a pressure decision on July 1 or 2, they want to have a sense more than just what they might know from playing on a visiting team.”
It's believed that Callahan's close to re-signing with Tampa Bay...[edit: and while I was thinking out loud, I'm sure that the GM's and team officials know that these players won't be in Philly, and as such, they've probably already booked flights to the major agents' offices in Toronto, which are generally located in nondescript buildings near Lester B. Pearson International Airport]
Bartlett won’t bring any of his pending free agents to Philadelphia. Agent Don Meehan, whose agency, Newport Sports, represents pending free agents such as Jarome Iginla, Brad Richards, David Legwand and the Wild’s Matt Moulson, said he won’t either.
However, one agent who asked not to be named because he doesn’t want to create a distraction, said he might bring a “few of my lesser free agents.”
Russo continues, and while he simply says that Matt Niskanen won't be in Philadephia, either, it's intimated as his agent, Neil Sheehy, didn't comment per se [edit: Sheehy is based in the remote location of International Falls, Minnesota, so it's kind of hard to miss a GM taking a connecting flight to the border of Minnesota and Ontario at Minneapolis-St. Paul]; in his blog, Russo states that Bartlett will sell Vanek to clients based upon his body of regular-season work:
Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
Tags: brad+richards, clayton+stoner, david+legwand, don+meehan, jarome+iginla, minnesota+wild, philadelphia+flyers, ryan+callahan, tampa+bay+lightning, thomas+vanek, vincent+lecavalier, willie+mitchell
The New York Post's Larry Brooks was very busy on Saturday evening, pondering the fates of Brian Boyle and the Rangers' unrestricted and restricted free agents-to-be, as well as positing a thorough set of NHL notes. The main topic of his latter work may be a well-tread-upon (trodden-upon?) subject, but it bears repeating.
On July 1st, we know that Thomas Vanek will earn a boatload of money. What we don't know is how much he's going to earn, nor do we know whether his spectacularly mediocre playoff run with the Montreal Canadiens has changed NHL general managers' minds as to whether Vanek is in fact a game-breaking player, or whether he's the kind of "specialist" player who needs to be placed amidst both a strong supporting cast and a set of doing-the-hard-work-for-him linemates who must pave the way for someone who might not be the natural goal-scoring machine everyone thought he was prior to his trade to the Islanders last December.
Is Vanek worth the investment that somebody is more likely than not to put into someone who either is a game-breaker or is in fact the modern-day Ray Sheppard? Brooks isn't sure:
[There's no] evidence at all the winger is remotely worth the seven-year, $50 million deal he rejected from the Islanders before being sent to Montreal at the deadline. No evidence he is anyone’s missing piece to a playoff puzzle.
And yet, the rule of the NHL market is — or has been: Players don’t pay a price for having underperformed and teams indeed will pay the manufacturer’s sticker price, regardless.
See: Semin, Alex for a prime example. Another: Thornton, Joe.
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Tags: brad+richards, dan+boyle, marian+gaborik, matt+moulson, matt+niskanen, mike+cammaleri, minnesota+wild, montreal+canadiens, new+york+rangers, paul+stastny, ryan+callahan, thomas+vanek
According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo, the Minnesota Wild will lock up coach Mike Yeo--and the vast majority of the team's front office--in short order:
Final details were being worked out Friday night, but all signs pointed toward an agreement soon, multiple sources said. Yeo, General Manager Chuck Fletcher and other members of the front office are due to leave for owner Craig Leipold’s home in the Bahamas on Saturday for meetings.
The NHL’s youngest coach is 104-82-26 (. 552) in the regular season and coached the Wild past the first round for only the second time in franchise history this spring.
Yeo, 40, is nearing the end of a three-year contract. Fletcher said May 16 that his first offseason priority was to re-sign Yeo, then address the two-dozen others whose contracts also expire June 30.
That includes members of his front office like Andrew Brunette, the scouting staff and the medical and equipment trainers. The trainers have since been re-signed.
So everybody and their brother's uncle's cousin's monkey's hedge-trimmer assumes that the Minnesota Wild are going to sign Thomas Vanek as an unrestricted freeagent, and as we've already gotten several, "Craig Leipold and the Wild Will Not Be Over-spent" spiels regarding Vanek and Suter-and-Parise before them (which are, of course, TOTALLY NOT COLLUSION), here's Eddie Olczyk talking to the Pioneer Press's Charley Walters about Vanek's pluses and minuses:
"I love Thomas Vanek," Ed Olczyk said. "It's hard to find difference makers. He's certainly one of those guys, especially on the power play. There aren't many guys better in the league on the power play than Thomas Vanek."
Olczyk, who played 16 NHL seasons as a center, was an NBCSN-TV analyst for the Wild-Blackhawks playoff series.
"The interesting thing (regarding Vanek) is that the Eastern Conference is a different animal than the West, with the up and down, the skating. The East is a quicker conference, much quicker," Olczyk said. "That would be the only thing (of concern) with me with Vanek. But he's a proven 30-goal scorer. How many 30-goal scorers are there in the NHL? Not a lot. But especially on the power-play -- he's so good in front of the net, has a willingness to go to the front of the net. You need a goal on the power play, the puck finds him."
The Wild have been deficient on the power play.
The Minneapols Star-Tribune's Michael Scoggins argues that hockey players are a little "nuts" for playing through the kind of pain that they play through during the playoffs:
Ryan Suter doesn’t look right, but he refuses to admit anything. Ask him about his left arm and he’ll smile and say everything is A-OK. Suter took a horrible spill in Game 3 after a collision with Chicago’s Marian Hossa and landed awkwardly. He left the game holding his arm in a way that suggested he had suffered a serious injury.
Naturally, Suter returned for the third period.
But the Wild’s star defenseman hasn’t looked the same since. He hasn’t played poorly. He just looks like a guy who might have an arm injury, which prompted another round of health questions a day before Game 6.
He insists his shoulder is not an issue. OK, how about his elbow?
“I’m feeling great,” he said, laughing as he exited the interview room.
That should be the official mantra of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Everyone feels great, or at least well enough to play. The NHL postseason is nothing if not a testament to the willingness of players to ignore their aches and pains and broken bones in pursuit of the Cup.
The Minnesota Wild have pulled two fast ones on the Chicago Blackhawks, utilizing home ice to their advantage (Minnesota's 5-and-0 at home). All of a sudden, the defending Stanley Cup champs have won two consecutive games, as the AP notes:
The Minnesota Wild have turned their home ice into a deafening, discouraging place for opponents to play in the playoffs. For the second straight game, they dominated the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.
Jason Pominville scored in the second period off the back of Chicago goalie Corey Crawford's skate, and the Wild beat the Blackhawks 4-2 on Friday night to even their Western Conference semifinal at two games apiece.
"It's been fun to play here. I don't know what it is, but we have to find a way to bring that on the road as well," said Jared Spurgeon, whose third-period goal gave the Wild a cushion for the final stretch while the fans cheered and chanted louder and louder.
"They play hard in their building, and they're good in their building, and they check well so it's tough to get momentum in here," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.
Matt Cooke returned from his seven-game kneeing suspension to give the Wild a jolt, assisting on Justin Fontaine's opening goal, and Nino Niederreiter also scored.
Given that 1. One Craig Leipold's pals in the media penned a set of "feeler" articles stating that he would not be out-bid for Ryan Suter and Zach Parise's services, given that 2. Leipold signed the players to lockout-proof contracts and then complained about player costs hampering his business, while he played one of the pivotal owners' roles during the third owners' lockout, and given that 3. the Pioneer Press's Charley Walters posited what is sure to be the first of several, "Leipold won't be out-bid on Vanek, either" not-quite-collusion "feelers"...
I'm not exactly a fan of the warm fuzzies written about a man who spent $196 million on two players and then decided to lament the spending practices of the other guys...
But the "warm fuzzies" continue to flow, and the Star-Tribune's Patrick Reusse spoke with Leipold about the concept that signing Suter and Parise was a community as well as a business decision:
Based upon the Twitter reactions of those who were watching the Minnesota Wild defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0 on Tuesday night (climbing back into a series they trail 2 games to 1), the fact that the Wild nursed a 0-0 tie into the third period and happened to pounce on the Blackhawks seemed eerily reminiscent of the kinds of efforts Jacques Lemaire's trap-tastic, "lull 'em to sleep" machines of the mid-"naughties."
Not surprisingly, ESPN's Scott Burnside reports that the Wild do indeed believe that dilligent checking's the only way to stifle the Blackhawks' offensive machine:
After meandering their way through more than two periods of some of the most lackluster hockey produced by any two teams anywhere this spring, the Wild struck for two picture-perfect goals in a span of 2 minutes, 37 seconds early in the third period to break open a scoreless game and go on to a 4-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
"We know it's going to be a really checking game. You don't have a lot of room there, you don't have a lot of time to skate with the puck. Both teams are in their face all the time. Sometimes the games are like that and you need to find a way to get a win. Tonight we were able to do that," offered Mikael Granlund, who scored the Wild's second goal and added an empty-netter to round out the scoring.
The victory, regardless of its pedigree, was significant on a number of fronts.
First, it allowed the Wild to narrow the Blackhawks' lead in this Western Conference semifinal series to 2-1. It was, not to overstate the obvious, a victory the Wild absolutely had to have.
It also marked the team's fourth straight home victory in this playoff season, which is critical given they are 1-5 on the road.
From the NHL:
NEW YORK (April 29, 2014) – The National Hockey League today announced updated start time information for the First Round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
- The starting time for a potential Game 7 of the series between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, if necessary, has been set for 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday, April 30, in New York. In the U.S., the game would be seen on NBCSN, MSG and CSN Philadelphia. In Canada, the game would be televised on TSN and RDSI.
- The starting time for Game 7 of the series between the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild has been set for 9:30 p.m. ET/8:30 p.m. CT/7:30 p.m. MT on Wednesday, April 30, in Colorado. In the U.S. outside of the Colorado and Minnesota markets, the game will be seen on CNBC. In Canada, the game will be on TSN and RDS2.
- The starting time for Game 7 of the series between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings has been set for 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on Wednesday, April 30, in San Jose. In the U.S., the game will be televised on NBCSN outside of the San Jose and Los Angeles markets. In Canada, the game will be televised on CBC and RDS.
Multiple reports from the Avs and Sportsnet's John Shannon confirm that Barrie's out for 4-6 weeks (i.e. for the season) with a sprained MCL. And Stephane Robidas went to the hospital after Ryan Garbutt's knee broke Robidas' leg...Garbutt stayed in the game and scored a goal.
It took Mikael Granlund a little time to warm up to the smaller ice in North America but the kid is up to familiar goal scoring tricks.
That was the only goal of the game and it came in overtime. The Avalanche the series 2-1 Game Four is Thursday.
Updating Monica's post:
I guess we can only hope for so long before Matt Cooke does what Matt Cooke does, per USA Today's Kevin Allen:
Key Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie left Monday's game after absorbing a knee-on-knee hit from the Minnesota Wild's Matt Cooke.
Barrie grabbed his knee after spilling to the ice and was unable to put any pressure on his left leg as he went straight to the dressing room.
The Avalanche announced that he wouldn't return to the game.
Cooke received a two-minute penalty for kneeing.
From SomeHockeyVideos, Ray Ferraro, on the TSN broadcast, told Gord Miller that Barrie said, "I'm done" as he skated by the bench:
Via the Hockey News's Rory Boylen and Some Hockey Videos on YouTube, Minnesota Wild goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov shut out the Winnipeg Jets on Monday evening (Minnesota won 1-0), and he did so while giving Jets fans' jeers a playful response:
Via Chris Nichols on Twitter, the Bergen Record's Tom Gulitti reports that, should Martin Brodeur consider being traded, he could find himself in Minnesota:
Brodeur, 41, is in the final season of a contract that includes a no-trade clause, so he’d have to approve any trade general manager Lou Lamoriello might be offered. According to two sources, the Minnesota Wild have contacted Lamoriello about acquiring Brodeur as insurance for and possibly an alternative to rookie Darcy Kuemper.
Kuemper, 23, has played in only 23 NHL games, but has excelled in taking over as the Wild’s No. 1 with Niklas Backstrom trying to play through an abdominal injury and Josh Harding out indefinitely. Still, the Wild would like to add an experienced second goaltender to share some of the load and be there to take over if Kuemper falters.
A three-time Stanley Cup-winner such as Brodeur, who backstopped the Devils to the Cup Finals just two seasons ago, would definitely fit that bill. The Wild are reportedly also interested in Jaroslav Halak, who was shipped to Buffalo in Friday’s blockbuster trade that sent Ryan Miller to St. Louis, but are apparently not completely convinced Halak would be the right goalie for them.
Gulitti continues at length and in detail...
Update: And Gulitti took some umbrage with comments made by Hockey Night in Canada's Kevin Weekes:
While the Canucks and Flames were stealing the show, as it were, it turns out that one Matt Cooke received a possibly suspension-worthy elbow in the face from Jamie Benn, as noted by the QMI News Agency's Anthony Vasquez-Peddie:
Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn could be looking forward to some quality time in the press box after this nasty check to Minnesota Wild forward Matt Cooke’s head Saturday.
Just seconds into overtime with the score tied 2-2, Benn carried the puck across centre ice and bowled over Cooke with his elbow extended.
It’s safe to say NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan will have a good look at this one. Benn would be considered a repeat offender after having been fined $10,000 for a cross-check on Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Jones last March.
As if the hit wasn’t mind-boggling enough, Benn was not penalized on the play.
Here's a clip of the hit, and Cooke is OK:
Welcome to the morning after! A recap of the games from the night before and quick hit hockey news.
In Case You Missed It
Boston Bruins at Buffalo Sabres
Good night for the home team in Buffalo as the last place team took on the Atlantic Division leader and beat them 4-2.
Penalties would be the mainstay in the first period as Sabres Marcus Foligno and Bruins Matt Fraser would drop the gloves less than four minutes into the game. Both teams trying to claim the momentum swing from the early fight saw Boston take a rash of penalties.
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Tags: cooke+returns+to+pittsburgh, kings+brown+ejected, linus+omark+traded, minnesota+wild, pittsburgh+penguins, red+wings+finally+win+a+game, sabres+beat+bruins, st.+louis+blues, ville+leino+dive
Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin took a nasty puck to the face in the Wild's 2-0 win over the Nashville Predators, absorbing Gabriel Bourque's clearing attempt with his teeth, and Pro Hockey Talk's James O'Brien posted a video of the incident from an NBC-telecast game...
As Paul noted, Tim Thomas appeared to tweak his groin or some othe part of his "lower body" in the Florida Panthers' 2-1 loss to Philly on Tuesday, and while I was preparing to have my beard trimmed for the first time in six years, Pro Hockey Talk's Ryan Dadoun notes that Niklas Backstrom got dinged in the Wild's 3-2 loss to Nashville...
[T]he Minnesota Wild are reporting that netminder Niklas Backstrom is done for the night due to a similar problem.
Backstrom lasted just 11:14 minutes against the Nashville Predators and surrendered two goals on five shots. He sustained the injury when Nashville forward Eric Nystrom crashed into him and seemed to accidentally jam Backstrom’s leg against the post.
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Tags: brad+stuart, eric+nystrom, erik+gudbranson, florida+panthers, minnesota+wild, nashville+predators, new+york+rangers, niklas+backstrom, philadelphia+flyers, rick+nash, san+jose+sharks, scott+hartnell, tim+thomas
Welcome to the morning after! A recap of the games from the night before and quick hit hockey news.
In Case You Missed
It Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins Puck dropped in Boston to start the season for the two Atlantic teams’ first game of the 2013-14 season. Neither team wasted much time getting on the box score; however, to start it was on the penalty side. A hooking call to Bruins Reilly Smith would lead to a shorthanded goal by teammate Chris Kelly.
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Tags: boston+bruins, calgary+flames, ilya+bryzgalov+to+the+echl, los+angeles+kings, minnesota+wild, new+jersey+devils, new+york+rangers, phoenix+coyotes, pittsburgh+penguins, san+jose+sharks, tampa+bay+lightning, tim+thomas+returns, vancouver+canucks, vlasic+skate+to+face, washington+capitals
Now that it is official that the Washington Capitals will host the 2015 Winter Classic more questions have risen:
Where is the game going to take place?
Who will the Capitals play?
What are the events for their Fan Festival?
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Tags: boston+bruins, chicago+blackhaawks, chicago+blackhawks, detroit+red+wings, flyers, minnesota+wild, montreal+canadiens, nationals+park, nhl, washington+capitals, winter+classic, winter+classic+2015
Chris from IceThetics.info scours the net for news about hockey jerseys, and he's followed the Carolina Hurricanes and San Jose Sharks' jersey tweaks, the Dallas Stars' rebranding and now the Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild's teasers regarding a third jersey and new road jersey, respectively.
The Wild were supposed to unveil their road jerseys at the Minnesota State Fair today, but two astute folks on Twitter, Andrew Heil and Dan Stefaniak, let both IceThetics and Chris Creamer's SportsLogos.net know that the Wild posted a photo gallery of their new road jerseys (worn by Zach Parise and Josh Harding) a few hours early.
And then there were three. Saturday evening, the Sharks acquired a third player from the Minnesota Wild, James Sheppard, in exchange for a 2013 third round pick. That’s a lot of threes. He was the 9th pick, in the ‘06 draft, age 23… Still more threes.
Let’s start with some headlines that have nothing to do with three:
From David Pollak: “Summer rerun: Sharks
another deal with Wild, acquire F James Sheppard for 2013 third-round pick.”
From Fear the Fin: “Sharks deal with Wild again,
James Sheppard to the Sharks”
This week I will take a look at some former NHL players now playing in various European leagues. With the implementation of the salary cap, the average NHL players’ career is now ending when they hit their mid-thirties, as GM’s round out their roster with younger, less expensive options. This recent trend has led to an influx of big name players, such as Pavol Demitra and Evgeni Nabokov, heading overseas for better contracts and a chance to lengthen their career. Do most of these players repeat their NHL success overseas or are they clearly at the twilight of their careers?
Hasek was signed last summer after leading HC Pardubice to the Czech Extraliga championship. However, Hasek has struggled this year with a 4-10 record, a 2.80 GAA and a .898 save percentage as Spartak currently sit 18th out of 23 KHL teams.
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Tags: detroit+red+wings, dominik+hasek, evgeni+nabokov, glen+metropolit, martin+straka, minnesota+wild, pavol+demitra, sandis+ozolins, stacy+roest
Per various sources, the Minnesota Wild have obtained enforcer Brad Staubitz from the San Jose Sharks for a 2010 5th-round draft pick.
From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo:
Brent Flahr seems like a quiet, innocent, unsuspecting guy, but when you work with him, you learn awfully fast to never turn your back.
Take Shep Harder, the Wild’s director of hockey administration. He’s allergic to mayonnaise, so during a recent meeting, when Harder asked for “no mayo” on a sandwich, Flahr made sure it had extra mayo.
Luckily, Flahr didn’t kill Harder. But it made for a lot of laughs when Harder ran out minutes later with indigestion.
From the Associated Press:
The Minnesota Wild have a lot of work to do this summer. They need to add promising young players, but also must improve the depth and quality of their roster. It’s a difficult place to be in the NHL, not quite good enough to contend for the Stanley Cup but also lacking the top draft picks to add elite talent and get better in a hurry the way the champion Chicago Blackhawks did with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
After missing the playoffs for the second straight year, the Wild have the ninth selection in the first round of next week’s draft. Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said Friday he’s pleased with the amount of salary-cap space he has to make moves, more than most teams, but he insisted that’s not a blank check for free agency.
“You can’t buy your way out of the basement,” Fletcher said. “We don’t have the ability to sign five guys on July 1 at $5 million apiece, but looking at the talent pool on July 1, I would suggest that shouldn’t be our goal, too. We will patiently and methodically build this team.”