I was in attendance last night to take in the 4-2 ass kicking of Edmonton in what was supposed to be the "Pound of Flesh" game, the first contest since the Taylor Hall/Cal Clutterbuck kerfuffle. Hall sat in the press box last night after hurting his hamstring in The Oil's previous game, so any semblance of that narrative was gone- and everyone was treated to what amounted to complete and utter dominance on Minnesota's part.
- Now this is what I want to see from the Event Summary: 37 shots at even strength, just nine shots blocked. Every player but two had multiple shot attempts, and one of the two with one shot attempt, Charlie Coyle, had the game winning goal.
- Also what I like seeing: foot on the throat mentality to start the 3rd period. We saw some of this in the Phoenix game, but three goals in the first 12 minutes (kicked off by a Mikko Koivu goal just nine seconds in) essentially cemented the game before Sam Gagner's plinko machine type goal. I didn't hear him call bank though.
- Its been mentioned before, but no shots on goal for Edmonton in the second period. Like, zilch. Its sort of an underrated element of Minnesota's game now, is that they have become one of the better defensive teams in the league statistically, although they do get habitually outshot.
- It looks like Mike Yeo has found his lines; all four can be rolled, but also the bench can be shortened if need be, because Mike Rupp being matched up against another team's scoring line is, uh...not advised.
- A thing I noticed last night (my seats were behind the Minnesota goal) in regards to the puck-moving issues the team still has- there are many sequences were the D have the space and the lane to skate the puck out, or at least further up the ice before they make a decision/read/etc. but they opt to get rid of the puck (for better or for worse) before gaining the red line. A few more strides and they can at least dump it, generate a forecheck, etc. Its kind of curious, like there is a threshold there; like get move the puck to a teammate before this point on the ice (roughly the face off dots in the neutral zone.) To me a few more strides then a dump into the offensive zone seems a tad more prudent than almost getting to that point and then forcing a pass to a teammate bracketed by defenders.
- A curiosity: Charlie Coyle is put in a better position to succeed while fellow rookie Jason Zucker is often starting his shift in the defensive zone. There is a distinct advantage; almost 70% of the time Coyle starts in the O-Zone, and Zucker is at 42%. If Zucker is the "shooter" this team longs for, wouldn't you try and cheat a bit and get him out there when the team has the zone as opposed to making he and his line go 100+ feet to the net?
- To Zucker's credit though, he ends up in the O-zone more than half of the time.
- Finally, Minnesota has yet to win more than two games in a row this year. If there was a time to do it, and establish some legitimacy, now would be the time to do it- Chicago, Nashville, and Vancouver are the next three games on the rocket docket.