Coyle Won't Be Suspended, but We Can Never Unsee Ensuing Flames PP

lol @ "we got a Flame in distress"

Anyways, no punishment for Charlie Coyle, no Emmy for Matt Stajan (although Ray Edwards' promoter just called to see if he could be Edwards' next opponent), and Wild play tomorrow night in Phoenix.

NHL Needs to Dump their Playoff Proposal and Take Mine

I'm not a traditional hockey guy.  Might have been at one time, but someone took my hockey team away.  I came back during the shootout era and do enjoy it.

Now that the NHL wants to re-align divisions or conferences to match geography and time zones (imagine that!), they absolutely NEED to carry this format into the playoffs.  You don't have teams battling each other four times a year so they can play a team halfway across the country when it matters.  Hell no.

Dany Heatley And The Amnesty Buyout

The Star Tribune's Mike Russo joined KFAN's Paul Allen for another Penalty Box Show (which are becoming incredibly rough listening because PA is approaching a high level of obnoxiousness with each passing show) today, and you'll be shocked to know that there was some little nuggets to be gleaned from the two segment interview.

Of course scoring woes and power play ineptitude were covered, but a healthy discussion on the state of Dany Heatley's game also took place, and the argument of pedigree vs. potential production.

Taylor Hall hits Cal Clutterbuck in a not-so-clean way

Once again we're talking about Taylor Hall and it isn't about his historic goal scoring.

For nearly 58 minutes tonight the story of tonight's Minnesota Wild game was Matt Cullen stepping up in a way he hadn't this season. The Moorhead native scored two goals and assisted on Devin Setoguchi's third goal of the season to put the team ahead 3-1 after trailing 1-0 in the second.

Unfortunately, Cullen's performance was overshadowed in the final two minutes by a center ice hit by Hall on Cal Clutterbuck. The Oilers forward and 2010 number one pick went into Clutterbuck with his knee into Clutterbuck's knee and left the Minnesota forward crumpled on the ice.

The NHL knows how to sell Minnesota-Edmonton

Everyone likes low-scoring? Check.
To be fair, the Wild and Oilers are near the bottom of the league when it comes to goals. Minnesota, who set a inter-lockout record for goal futility last season, are tied with Los Angeles for the fewest goals this season (Edmonton, meanwhile, is 25th). There is room to say that this is an improvement; just not one fans and players would have liked to see.You will always improve from the bottom because there is nowhere else to go. How much of an improvement is appropriate depends on expectations. With relative health and the addition of Zach Parise, being tied for last instead of historically last is far from the "managed expectations" coming into the year.

But that is besides the point.

The point is that the NHL preview sounds like it gave up halfway through. While not Minnesota nor Edmonton's PR, they have some responsibility to get people excited.. It isn't like the Wild are 3-1-1 in their last 5 and just beat Detroit. They did? Then maybe talk about the youth on both teams - I hear that Taylor Hall guy is good - or Tom Gilbert and Nick Schultz playing against their former teams. Heck, they could even discuss the divisional nature of Oilers-Minnesota games rather than toss out "two low-scoring Western clubs" and pray the die-hard fanbases will do whatever.

At least the folks at didn't get lazy and pump up the "rivalry" between Minnesota and Edmonton (or replace the Oilers with one of 7 teams) like Fox Sports North...
...wait they do in the title. Crap!

A Trip Down Memory Lane

I found this while scouring my house looking for someone else. Its even autographed!

Does Bjorn Krupp Actually Exist?

There are things that happen in Nature that lack explanation; they're only seen in grainy footage, or vague photos, or heresay from oddball townsfolk. And since the sightings are sporadic at best, these things achieve cult status...

Loch Ness Monster


Game Fifteen and Sixteen: The Hangovers

Game Fifteen Recap

I'll keep it simple; yes, they got a point, but when you score more than two goals for the first time in six games, and then cough up the lead 40 seconds later...that's a son of a bitch.

So, did they learn anything?

Games Twelve Through Fourteen: One Massive Hangover

Sorry for the delay on some of these.

I'll make the Calgary game pretty brief.

Game Twelve Recap

Let us never speak of that game again. That was just dreadful to watch, but at least Jarome Iginla was kept at bay.

Time To Put PMB On The Block

There's been a decent fuss made about the likelihood of Minnesota trading away Devin Setoguchi- if they could, and to be fair a lot of the fuss was made before he found his sea legs and has since been the only one doing a lick offensively. Not only was it made clear that he is for sale, he had the "message" sent to him to get his ass in gear by banishing him to the fourth line, and after that it would have been viewing the next game from above, all suited up in the press box.

Now, Seto played well enough on that fourth line tour of duty to escape the wrath of the healthy scratch ( Mikael Granlund, who has been stapled to Setoguchi since the beginning of the season, often times disastrously as the combination of the two and whoever else tend to get hemmed in their own zone and get waaaaaaaaay out shot by the opposition, was the healthy scratch that night.)

Now Seto's got some sort of swerve to his game, and someone else has taken his place as the recipient of "the message" and the "wrath of the scratch."

Pierre-Marc Bouchard.

Another Good Guy Calls It Quits

It was bound to happen eventually but that doesn't make it any easier. Following a 16-year NHL career that spans across five NHL teams (including a Grover Cleveland-style stint with Minnesota), Andrew Brunette has officially retired.

However that doesn't mean Brunette is going anywhere.

Quick Primer on Darcy Kuemper

I heard the news today, oh boy...

So with Josh Harding out indefinitely while trying to get a semblance of balance in terms of deal with his MS and the corresponding medical treatments, Minnesota called up Darcy Kuemper.

Via Friend of FRB Justin Goldman

Game Eleven: The Hangover

Are we witnessing the Devin Setoguchi Redemption Tour?

Your Pre-Game Appetizer

Here's a small platter to nibble on, as we get nearer the puck drop against Vancouver.

Game Nine: The Hangover

Headed into last night's game at Phoenix, Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild had plenty of reasons to be fired up.  Fourth-line forward, penalty-killer, and well-liked Darroll Powe was traded to the New York Rangers for another fourth-line forward in Mike Rupp.  Mikael Granlund and Devin Setoguchi, both struggling for many games, were "demoted" to the fourth line centered by tough guy and rabbit enthusiast Zenon Konopka.

And Charlie Coyle was called up to make his NHL debut with no injuries keeping any of the forwards out of the lineup.

Charlie Coyle's in better shape than you.

The result of the latest statement game for the Wild?  A regulation loss.  Much gnashing of teeth around the Internets.  A players-only post-game meeting.  Which is surprising, because I loved the effort and game of just about everyone. You won't lose many hockey games playing like that. 

I know that beat writer Mike Russo says everyone's frustrated because they "have to try so hard to score", but that's B.S. Last year was a different team with a lot less talent, and clearly we've had some guys struggling and coasting this year. But if the team plays like they did last night, they will get their wins. And that's really supposed to be Yeo's strong area, getting everyone on the same page. This is a Dave Tippett team they are playing. Clearly they are going to struggle to score. Wild played a stifling system for eight years.

On to the coach...are people calling for Yeo's head now? Really? Want to hit the reset button and give up on this year already? I get that the team is not scoring, but the team hasn't scored EVER except the one year with Gabby and Demitra and Rolston rolling. Yeo's not telling the guys to not shoot the puck or to turn it over. He can't go on the ice and score the goals.

That said, I'm curious about Yeo's defensive system. The Wild are sitting back way too much in the neutral zone, not in a good way as in 1-3-1 and clogging up the lanes, but the forwards go to the boards and the D backs way off and basically lets the other team just steam right through across the blue line. And in the D zone, the team collapses so deep that they cannot pressure the points. All five players are below the hash marks and between the faceoff dots. Do they not have any faith in the defense or goalie? This is leading to some prolonged shifts, unless someone can intercept the puck. The puck movement is solid from there, surprisingly excellent, but they are spending too much time waiting for the other team to make a mistake rather than forcing them to make mistakes.

How about the experiment with the lines up front?  Well, I loved that the Wild could roll four lines last night and not lean on the big guns until late in the game. Now if they can get Spurgeon back and do the same with the defense...

Here's some random thoughts about the players and lines:

  • Charlie Coyle looked very good in his first game. His skill set is higher than I remembered or imagined. Soft hands, gets in the right places in the offensive zone, good shot, tries to make plays. Kid does NOT look like the overmatched big forwards the Wild drafted in the past.
  • Coyle's line with Bouchard and Cullen, not bad. Bouchard looked excellent as the Phoenix defenders gave him a little too much respect and had a couple great shots that just missed. Cullen didn't have a great game, maybe still fighting the injury?
  • Granlund had his best game yet. He didn't look nearly as slow or weak on the wing. I was afraid the D would play him tight and physical (as they have all year), but they gave him a bit of room and he started to slow the game down a bit and make some plays. Came very close. I saw really for the first time all year that he can be a very good offensive player in this league, but it might take a lot longer than expected for him to figure out what he can and cannot get away with. He's smart and highly skilled, but I think his lack of speed is going to make that transition harder than we hoped.
  • Setoguchi had a good bounce back game as well. I liked, but did not love his game. He had shifts where he was aggressive and got the puck, but then could not hold it along the boards to make plays, especially when pressured by the defender. Konopka was surprisingly effective on that line. Nobody was taking shots on Granlund and he nearly kept up ragging the puck, although he did lose the puck or break down plays several times. Makes you wonder if you can find a tough, physical, skilled center for Granlund?
  • By the way, the average even strength time on ice for the Parise-Koivu-Heatley line was over 15 minutes, for the Granlund-Cullen-Setoguchi and Mitchell-Brodziak-Clutterbuck lines nearly 13:30 a piece, and for the Bouchard-Coyle-Cullen line a little over 12 minutes.  So don't get too up in arms about which line is second, fourth, etc.
  • Koivu and Parise were EXCELLENT. Koivu was a beast tonight. That puck possession ability of his, where he can skate through hits and checks? Best all year. Had some great shots and plays. Parise relentless as ever. Great goal. Heatley...struggled. Looked slow and lost the puck too often. It's got to be frustrating for him as he's a highly skilled guy but seems the body is breaking down and with well below average speed he gets neutralized. I can see him slipping down the lineup.
  • "Third" line...lets just call it fourth. Loved what Mitchell did with more ice time, showed his speed and ability to force turnovers and draw penalties (and let's be honest, his penalty should have gone the other way with that hold). Clutter was fine. Brodz is really struggling. He seems like someone who really needed to play hockey during the lockout. After playing well in an increased role last year, he should have gone to Europe and developed that offensive game more.
  • Remember when Suter was going to be our #1 defenseman? It's Brodin. Five games into his career as the youngest defenseman in the NHL and he's been the best defenseman nearly every night. Remember when we were worried about his offensive game? He picks his shots SO WELL and puts them on net. They will go.
  • Suter was fine. I really thought he was a defensive defenseman, but he's just pure offense and transition. I thought he is showing EXCELLENT chemistry with Brodin. Neither are physical and perhaps it will take time for their net presence to develop, but I love that they can move the puck to each other and make that good first pass. Especially Suter to Brodin in the D zone for the breakout pass.
  • Gilbert played strong, he might be our most physical defenseman. Surprising as I thought he was an offensive defenseman primarily. Stoner was okay, didn't embarass himself.
  • Falk that was a dreadful game. Nearly every shift he did something incredibly stupid. Turnovers, bad passes, bad decisions, turnstile defense in his end, ugh. Scandella was okay.
  • Backstrom was alright. Made some good stops and gave up his usual jump out of the net and give them a free goal move. He's another player who looks like he really missed playing during the lockout.

So next game...I kind of want to see the same lines? Kind of liked the four lines, bruiser between the skill forwards, speedy checking line, etc.  But where does Rupp fit in?  Does anyone need to be "sent a message" again?  I'm very much looking to see how this team rebounds at home.

The Dreaded "Player's Only Meeting"

I missed the game last night (closed circuit to Nate/Tim/Jarick- one of you guys are on Game Hangover detail) but saw on Russo's blog that yes, only nine games in, there was a player's only meeting called after the 2-1 loss to the Yotes.

That's right, just nine games in. At least it wasn't 65 games in like the last few years, when clearly the season was lost. Still though; nine games was all it took for the players to stop and assess what sort of dysfunction that is taking place on a nightly basis.

The panic button has been hit.


Nothing like some good team building on a road trip, eh?

But what is there to be said? Not only does this team not score, they don't even shoot- the Top Line accounts for roughly 30% of the total team shots, and just four players have more than 20 shots. Did I see this right that it took 12 minutes before they registered a shot in one of the periods last night? 

12 minutes? I mean seriously...

We've reached the proverbial fork in road already folks- either this serves as a jumping off point, or that Minnesota continues its lackluster and uninspiring play and misses the playoffs again.


Zach Parise's 200th NHL Goal (VIDEO)

It may have taken six extra days, but the end result is number 200 for Zach Parise.

The Minnesota Wild forward scored his sixth goal of the season and 200th of his career against Phoenix Monday night in front of thousands at Arena. After taking away the puck in the Coyotes defensive zone, Parise turned around and sniped a wrist shot past goaltender Mike Smith 10:20 into the second period.

Unfortunately for the Wild, they find themselves trailing 2-1 after two periods despite the goal from Pairse,

This is actually the second time the Minnesota native has scored his 200th goal. Zach, who spent seven seasons with the New Jersey Devils before signing a 13-year, $98 million contract with the Wild in July, appeared to have scored against Columbus on Tuesday. It was initially ruled a goal, however, replays overturned the call on the ice.

The video of the goal above comes from friend of First Round Bust Felix Levasque (@fel0096).

Game Eight: The Hangover recap (Anaheim 3 - Minnesota 1)

In the Ugly Duckling album "Taste the Secret," there is an overlying concept of a fictional fast-food restaurant called "Meat Shake" where everything is made with meat. Even the french fries and fresh cookies they bake. Their signature meal is a meatshake made with meat, dairy cream, cheese and beans all mixed in a blender and served in a cup.

So why do I bring that up in a post about a hockey game? As disgusting as that sounds (or in the words of the Long Beach, CA hip-hop trio, "wait until you try it, you'll want it in your diet") to literally digest, Friday's game reminded me of what that taste would be like three days later.

2 Pennies on Today's Trade

Russo's latest entry on his blog basically stole my thunder- increased physical presence on a regular shift, Kassian's time here is now limited, Palmieri shouldn't be a surprise, etc.

- Minnesota finally got rid of Powe; after trading a 3rd rounder for him and immediately signing him to a three year extension, the team basically soured on him around the halfway point last year. Russo made insinuations that they'd love to get rid of his deal to free up space, and huzzah...there you have it. No offense to Powe, he is just one of those interchangeable parts you find in bottom-6/grinder roles. Best of luck to him though.
- Not only does moving Palmieri open up a contract, it also removes a potential headache and locker room poison in Houston. Don't quite get what his problem was this year (purely conjecture but I imagine its the feeling of entitlement about having a roster spot with the big club) but things went south in a hurry. At least we got...two picks out of the Marek Zidlicky trade.
- I get the immediate help in the physical size department, but we're talking a fourth line guy here. Mike Rupp won't help this team move the puck out of their own end, or cut down on the times they get hemmed in. Or generate shots. Or score goals. You know, the things that Minnesota isn't doing currently.
- We're likely at the end of the Matt Kassian era too, but I wonder what the next domino to fall is once Jared Spurgeon is healthy.
- The extra contract spot is got some value, whether it be another roster player picked up along the way, or used to sign some draft picks like Daniel Gunnarson, Raphael Bussieres, or Tyler Graovac. I'm inclined to think the latter.