The final score was certainly not indicative of how Thursday night’s game played out between the Wild and Coyotes. Phoenix ended up with the better Fenwick numbers (23 SOG + 10 MS Wild = 33; 28 SOG + 21 MS Yotes = 49) but to the eye, all their shots were coming from the blue line or the perimeter. Minnesota seemed to be possessing the puck much more than Phoenix, so I’m surprised the numbers came out the way they did. I think part of it is a score effect—to start the third period, the Wild were up 4-1 and Phoenix played very aggressively while Minnesota sat back a bit to end the game.
I tried my hand at tracking scoring chances this evening, and while it was my first effort, I checked them against the PBP after the game:
|Period 1||Period 2||Period 3||TOTAL|
- Mike Yeo has continued to shake up the lines, going with yet another new combo for tonight’s game: Parise-Koivu-Coyle; Zucker, Cullen, Setoguchi; Bouchard-Granlund-Heatley; Rupp-Brodziak-Mitchell. These lines seemed to work well…Cullen and Setoguchi looked better than they have in some time, and Heatley was being fed good passes in the slot the whole evening. Being able to roll out four lines will help a lot on back-to-back nights like this week, and if the rookies continue to chip in, the Wild’s depth could help them out down the stretch.
- Nicklas Backstrom’s gave up three goals, but one was a weird redirect off Tom Gilbert’s stick on a strange hop, another was a crazy hop off a dump-in from the red line that took two funny hops, and the third came in the last minute of the game after Phoenix had pulled their goalie. I wrote a while back about watching a Quality Start melt away in front of my eyes, and tonight felt very much the same. Backs has been playing quite well as of late, and tonight’s numbers will drag his recent success down a bit but he has been doing his part to help the team along.
- Speaking of rookies, Zucker and Brodin are making the most of their minutes. Zucker has three goals so far and Brodin has stepped up to the challenge of playing on the top pair. Only Justin Schultz is skating more minutes per night, and Jo-Bro is not making a lot of mistakes.
- Not a rookie, but Jared Spurgeon has looked decent since returning from his injury. Pairing Suter with Spurgeon failed miserably, but he is doing alright on the second pairing with Gilbert.
- The Fox Sports North announcers cited a stat in the first period that they called “Attempted Shots” and it was certainly higher than the shots on goal at the time, so I am curious if they don’t have someone counting Fenwick or even Corsi…I’m going to try to look into it.
I’m not a true believer in momentum, except that the team has been playing better over the last couple of weeks, and they will need to play well as a team to take on the Ducks on Friday. Anaheim is in the “due-for-a-regression” spot that the Wild were in last year, so we’ll see if that starts this week. Backstrom will probably get the night off, so we’ll see if Darcy Kuemper can continue his stellar play and keep the Wild rolling along.