Category Archives: Hockey In Minnesota

Minnesota Wild Game Recap – at Blues – October 13th, 2016

Minnesota Wild Game Recap - St. Louis Blues - October 13th, 2016

Game 1 on the road vs the St. Louis Blues

As the 2016-17 season opens, the Minnesota Wild are all about the excitement of new coach Bruce Boudreau. For the most part though, this is the same team save for the additions of Erik Staal, Chris Stewart and the most recent addition of Teemu Pulkkinen off waivers from the Detroit Red Wings.

The biggest change on the ice is the first line. The only holdover from last year’s 1st line is Zach Parise. Newly acquired center Erik Staal and former linemate Charlie Coyle now join him on the top line for the Wild. They started Game 1 and in the first 30 seconds, Erik Staal made a physical play to force a turnover in the neutral zone. The puck ended up getting wrapped around to Charlie Coyle who made a nice move to get a pass to an open Marco Scandella at the middle of the blue line for a quick little slapshot producing the first “almost” of the night when he hit the crossbar with a loud PING. So close…but still just “almost.”

That would end up being the theme of the night for the Minnesota Wild, almost. They also had 3 breakaways (Zucker, Staal & Parise) and were stopped every time. Staal’s breakaway maybe should’ve given him a penalty shot, to which the official told coach Bruce Boudreau, “He had a chance.” as the reason a penalty shot wasn’t called. That “chance” wasn’t complete because of the penalty thus it should’ve been called a penalty shot.

The Goals Against

The St. Louis Blues scored the first goal and, unfortunately, the “almost” theme could be used here as well. Jason Zucker almost got the puck out of the zone but it was kept in at the blue line, creating a chance to catch the Wild scrambling to get back into a good defensive formation.

Alex Steen puts the Blues up 1-0 in the 1st period

Zac Dalpe made a good physical play to get the puck loose from Alex Steen at the right half boards but Rob Fabbri picked up that loose puck and, with speed going into the corner, he made Wild defenseman Mike Reilly go too far towards him allowing him to make a move back to front of the net. Reilly got enough of him to force the puck loose but, Dalpe failed to stay with Alex Steen and he would get to the puck for a quick shot to the upper right corner for his 1st goal of the season and a Blues 1-0 lead.

I’m not sure Devan Dubnyk should be faulted very much for this goal. Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin does a good job of taking away the pass behind the net to Paul Stastny but Stastny makes a good play to go around the net to be a threat on the backdoor. When he did that, Brodin has no choice but to cut in front of his goaltender, taking Dubnyk’s view of the puck away for a split second and not allowing him to come out towards the shooter to cut down the angle leaving more net to shoot at for Alex Steen.

Nail Yakupov gave the Blues the lead back when his slapper from just inside the blue line to Devan Dubnyk’s left went in off Duubs’ glove. Dubnyk said postgame that he didn’t see the puck come off Yakupov’s stick. Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon had the blade of his stick there to deflect the shot but that either blocked Dubnyk’s view of the puck and/or deflected off Spurgeon’s stick. Dubnyk needs to stop shots from that far out a large majority of the time.

On the Blues 3rd goal, a 3-on-2 results when the third Wild forward in on the forecheck gets too low trying to get to a loose puck and the loose puck is won by the Blues. That started the odd man rush. They may have been fine but the newest Wild player, Teemu Pulkkinen backchecked down the middle but started coasting and then reached to try to break up the cross-ice pass to Magnus Paajarvi. If he keeps skating and takes that pass away, it changes the whole play.

You should never feel comfortable with your backcheck. Don’t just get within reach of the play or the player, get to the play and/or player so you can disrupt it and help your team.

The Blues executed that 3-on-2 to perfection. Patrick Berglund drove to the net forcing Matt Dumba to try to cover him and Magnus Paajarvi. He can’t leave Berglund in front of the net all alone yet he can’t cover both of them so he’s stuck between a puck and a hard place. See what I did there?

The Goals For

Even though the Wild did not play well in the 1st period, Ryan Suter erased all of that by tying the game all by himself.
Ryan Suter ties the game at one with an unassisted goal.

Ryan Suter was tasked with defending Vladimir Tarasenko all night. On this play, Kevin Shattenkirk is behind his own net and passes to Tarasenko in the neutral zone. Tarasenko comes back into his own zone expecting to be able to pass it back to Shattenkirk but Ryan Suter disrupts the play by being on Tarasenko as soon as he gets the puck. Forcing a turnover, Ryan Suter gets a mini-breakaway and makes a great play by shooting a quick backhand shot knowing Shattenkirk is right behind him so he there wasn’t time or space to move to his forehand for the shot. The quick backhand shot was saved by Blues goalie Jake Allen but the rebound came right back to Suter for his 1st goal of the season and a tie hockey game.

Awareness is a great skill. Suter’s awareness of where Shattenkirk was on the play and a quick shot helped him score. On the other side of the play, though, Tarasenko turns to go out of his own zone heading up the ice after losing the puck, instead of stopping or turning back towards his own net. That left Ryan Suter all alone against his goaltender. He gets a minus one and some film study time for his work there.

Charlie Coyle gets the Wild within one on a great play and pass from buddy, Jason Zucker.

Charlie Coyle one-times home a sweet pass from Jason Zucker

Boudreau switches up the lines in the 3rd to try to get something going for his team. He put Zac Dalpe out centering Jason Zucker and Charlie Coyle and it paid off in getting the Wild within one with just over 7 minutes left in the game. Zucker won a battle in the neutral zone to try to get the puck deep and get in on the forecheck. His dump attempt hits Colton Parayko but Zucker keeps battling to get the puck loose then battles through a Nail Yakupov hit to keep the puck going into the left corner of the Blues zone. He takes a look as soon as he’s free from Yakupov and sees Charlie Coyle breaking to the net and hits him on the tape for Charlie Coyle’s 1st goal of the season.

You usually see it on every goal, the defending player is almost always late reacting to the offensive play. That’s because the offensive player is just trying to get open and knows where the puck is while the defending player is trying to cover the player or an area and they may not know exactly where the puck is at all times. That’s a big reason why defense is so hard. You can’t just watch the puck. If you do, you’ll watch the puck go into your net. On the other hand, you can’t just watch the player, either. You have to know where the puck is while also keeping a stick on the offensive player’s stick. Don’t just be within reach of the player because you won’t have enough time to react to get to their stick.

The Wild played their best hockey in the 3rd period and had chances to tie the game but couldn’t get it done. So, they lost their first game of the season. They need to learn from it and move on to the next game quickly.

“…we couldn’t get up to speed.”

Ryan Suter postgame interview - Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues - October 13th, 2016

Ryan Suter Postgame


The first loss of the season in the first game is not what the fans or the team was looking for last night. The main reason is they just seemed a step behind for most of the game. Like Ryan Suter said, they “couldn’t get up to speed” against the Blues. They looked like a team that was learning a new system and reacting to what they were seeing instead of reading the play, anticipating and reacting to their reads.

Mikael Granlund was relatively invisible out there. We didn’t really hear his name called other than when he got drilled into the stanchion by Colton Parayko.

Their power play had 5 chances and got very little out of those 10 minutes on the man advantage but…

Believe it or not, there are some positive things to take away from this game. It’s never a good thing to lose or fail but you can learn from it and get better because of it.

The Wild penalty kill did not allow a goal even if they allowed some great chances. The team got better as the game went on and played their best hockey in the 3rd period and gave themselves a chance to tie the game late. That’s all you want is a chance to get points every night. They know they will need to play better and they will play better.

They shut down Vladimir Tarasenko. Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon appeared to be the defensive pair tasked with the job of shutting down one of the premier forwards in the National Hockey League and they did it. Suter made him look silly on his goal and took him out of the play a few times.

They had a physicality to their game, too. Erik Haula getting a roughing penalty protecting his goalie in front of the net. Marco Scandella reacting to a big hit on Mikael Granlund.

They have the first game out of the way and know a little bit more of how Bruce Boudreau and the entire coaching staff goes about their business.

I expect a completely different team come tomorrow night when the Minnesota Wild hold their Home Opener at the Xcel Energy Center at 6pm on Fox Sports North.

Thanks for reading! Let us know your thoughts in the comments, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page and always….

Bring The Clutter Every Day in Every Way

Team Guy Eulogy – Is the Magic Crusade Over?

Team Guy Eulogy - Is the Magic Crusade Over?

If it’s over, I enjoyed every second of it!

Exactly 4 years ago today, I received a call from Scott Meyer asking if I had time to write up a press release announcing Shane Wagner as the new head coach of a struggling Minnesota Junior Hockey League franchise, the Hudson Crusaders. Scott had just taken over ownership of the Crusaders and my junior hockey career was about to begin.

At the time, I didn’t even know what junior hockey was or that it even existed. Junior hockey was never really a big deal in Minnesota or, at least, big enough for me to notice up until that point. I’d heard of the St. Paul Vulcans but never took an interest in them or what they were about. Minnesota was known for it’s high school, college and pro hockey because, first, there’s a lot of it, and second, because it gets the most coverage.

Once I had seen junior hockey, it made perfect sense as a way for players to continue their careers after high school, develop into better players and advance to college hockey. If you think about it, the majority of players need junior hockey to keep playing competitively so, it’s sad that junior hockey doesn’t get more coverage in Minnesota. It can be very good hockey with very good players who can go on to play at the highest level of college hockey and even go on to have careers in the pros.

I was asked what I wanted my title to be, Director of Media Relations? Equipment Manager? I was willing to take those jobs but wanted to know what those jobs entailed before saying yes. So, not worrying about a title, I would just start helping the Hudson Crusaders wherever they needed.

I was soon given the name of Team Guy since I would end up doing a lot of different jobs for The CRU – game presentation, helping on the bench making sure the players had water, backup sticks & various supplies for the game, driving to away games (sometimes quite the adventure), keeping score online, updating the social media sites, writing articles for the website, updating player stats (players LOVED that), going to league meetings & conference calls as The President (El Prezidente), etc… I was almost the announcer for one game but he showed up just in time. Who knows where I might be if that happened? Haha. Did you think it was a “legal hit?”

The next season, the Minnesota Magicians would embark on their inaugural season and once again, I would get the call to see if I was interested in being the Team Guy for the newest NAHL team. This was a different animal, though. After spending a season with a Tier III Junior Hockey team, I would find out quickly that Tier II hockey is a much more serious deal.* This was big time to me. We’re talking about a league with players that regularly go on to some of the top teams of the Division I college level.
*That is not to say Tier III hockey isn’t serious. A lot of those players are working just as hard to make something out of their hockey careers. I just don’t think it is every player on every team, though.

I would learn a lot that first year with the Magicians, mostly about laundry but also about what it takes to be an equipment manager. There’s a lot of things you need to know how to do and how to do fast to do the job right. The players are there to perform and their equipment needs to be ready for them by and during practice and game time.

I was the Team Guy for both teams in that second year and that made it pretty tough since the majority of junior hockey games are on Friday & Saturday nights. It was difficult to be there for one team while at the same time knowing I couldn’t help the other team and the players as much as I wanted to. They knew I’d be there if I could but in my opinion, it still wasn’t enough.

For four seasons I was the Team Guy/Equipment Manager for the Hudson Crusaders and/or the Minnesota Magicians and I always did it for the players. I did the best I could to make sure when it was game time, they could concentrate on playing the game. They shouldn’t have to worry about any of their equipment. Their mind should be on the task at hand, playing the game and winning. I hope I succeeded in showing every player how much I cared about helping them achieve success.

The end of every season is difficult because you most likely won’t see a lot of those guys ever again and you spend more time with them than anyone else in your life. That’s why they say it’s a family because that is truly how team sports are and, I believe, how they need to be to do something special. Every player has to care about every other player and they have to play for each other.

“We’re a family, Herb!” – Miracle

So you can imagine how difficult it is if this is the end of my career in junior hockey. I had the best seat in the house (standing room only, though) and I enjoyed every second of it. It was very fun to be a part of a team again. I made some friendships that I hope will last the rest of my life. It’s cool to be able to see players currently playing college hockey that I know and had the pleasure of doing just a small part in helping them get there.

Thank you to everyone I’ve met along the way and, always….

Bring The Clutter!!!

Every Day In Every Way!!!

P.S. – I still work at the Richfield Ice Arena so if you are there, look for me and say hello!

Team Guy Eulogy - Is the Magic Crusade Over?

This says all you need to know about the importance of helping out the team!
Thanks, CJ!
“But, Robb, the light’s still green…”

Yeo Fired – Minnesota Wild Fire Head Coach Mike Yeo

Minnesota Wild Fire Head Coach Mike Yeo

Minnesota Wild Fire Head Coach Mike Yeo

The Minnesota Wild have told Mike Yeo he’s no longer their head coach. After losing their 8th consecutive game and their 8th consecutive home game Saturday afternoon, General Manager Chuck Fletcher had very little choice to make a change now. Firing the head coach is the easiest change an organization can make to put a little fire into the players, no pun intended.

Players not performing or playing “the right way” can only go on so long before a move has to be made. Mike Yeo seemed to be trying anything and everything to motivate his players. The Wild gave the impression it was working as they showed signs of breaking out against the top teams in the league in their last few games, the St. Louis Blues, the Dallas Stars and the Washington Capitals. They would always find a way to lose though, which is what happens when teams and players lack confidence in their game.

It’s surprising the Minnesota Wild are in this situation after ending the first half with 52 points in 41 games, on pace for a franchise record season. At first glance, that’s very good but a deeper look reveals this team has been anything but consistent this season. Their monthly records are 7-2-2, 4-5-2, 9-3-2, 3-7-3 and 0-5-1 so far in February. Remarkably, their longest win streak is only 3 games. They’ve won 3 straight 4 times.

What does it mean when a team has their worst stretch of hockey after their best stretch of hockey? It could be many things and coaching might not even be on the list. Is it the team leadership? Is there a problem in the room? Do they not like the system? Do they not like each other? Is it possible they didn’t like the coach? Did bringing in Adam Oates rub the coaching staff & the organization the wrong way? Was it ever talked about and buried? Whatever it is, they need to figure it out, talk about it, fix it and bury it and move on. With 27 games remaining and 5 points out of the last playoff spot, literally The Time Is NOW!!!

The 2015-16 Minnesota Wild has enough talent to be in the upper echelon of the NHL. They’ve shown how good a team they can be many times this season. They’ve dominated some of the best teams in the league for stretches but they always find a way to lose in the end. They’re a very fragile team. Players are now trying to do too much individually thinking they have to do more to get out of this slump.

The greatest hockey player ever wouldn’t be the greatest player ever without the rest of his team. It is a team game, not an individual game. Players have to trust their teammates to make the plays that are best for the team. Play as a team! Play for your team! Play for each other! Start small! Win battles! Win shifts! Win 5 minute stretches! Win Periods! Win Games! WIN NOW!!!

We’d love to hear your thoughts so Bring The Clutter in the comments, on Twitter, Facebook and/or Google+!


Bring The Clutter!!! Every Day!!! In Every Way!!!

If you don’t know what that means, go HERE to find out!

Minnesota Wild – Broken at the Break? What do they do now?

The Minnesota Wild will try to get out of a scoring and winning drought as the NHL All-Star break ends.

Are the Minnesota Wild broken? If so, can they be fixed?

The Minnesota Wild have 6 points in their last 10 games (2-6-2), 9 points since the calendar turned to 2016 (3-7-3) and have scored only 23 goals in those 13 games (16 in the last 10). The lack of scoring (and winning) has them out of a playoff spot with 33 games left in the 2015-16 NHL season.

A scoring slump or a slump of any kind always gets fans asking for a coaching change. Minnesota Wild fans are very familiar with a slump in the middle of the season as it’s happened pretty much every season since Mike Yeo has been here. Does that mean he should get fired? Is it the system? Is he putting the players in situations where they can have success? Or is it the players squeezing the sticks too hard and letting their minds screw with their confidence, making them think twice about how they play the game?

I subscribe to the latter. We’ve seen this team go on a tear before so we know what they are capable of doing against any team. It’s amazing that players who get paid millions of dollars can still have the confidence in their game swayed by a lack of success. The big question is how does the coach get them out of this mental funk they are in?

Almost every team & every player goes through a slump at some point during a season. Look at the Montreal Canadiens, who were dominant at the beginning of the season. They won their first 9 games and 18 of their first 22 games. Now they are 24-22-4, 3 points out of a playoff spot. The Dallas Stars are currently struggling a bit, 3-6-1 in their last 10 games.

The only teams that seem to have avoided a slump are the teams at the top of each conference, the Washington Capitals and the Chicago Blackhawks, or maybe only the Capitals? The Blackhawks had a somewhat rocky start to the season adjusting to some new teammates but have righted the ship with great leadership and the league’s leading scorer, Patrick Kane. A 12-game winning streak will solve a lot of problems but…that streak was followed by 3 losses in 4 games so…what should we take from that?

Even one of the greatest, if not the greatest, hockey players in the last 10 years, one Sidney Crosby, has struggled this season. In his first 9 games of the season,  Sidney Crosby had only 3 points on 1 goal & 2 assists and those points came from one game so in 8 of his first 9 games he didn’t register a point. This is a player who has averaged 1.33 points per game for his career. He didn’t even make the All-Star game which seems unfathomable. The Sid also appears to have gotten his game back with 41 points in 47 games or since those first 9 games, 38 points (16G, 22A) in 38 games and on a current 7-game scoring streak.

I’ve been around hockey for a long time and usually a team and/or a player in a slump needs to go back to basics and simplify their game. They need to free their mind so they just play the game, not thinking about it too much. In my opinion, you never want a player thinking twice about what they are doing during a game. No “Should I go? Should I pass? shoot?” or any question in what they’re doing. That causes hesitation and then the play is past you or the shooting/passing lane is gone.

This is why I don’t think it’s a coaching problem with the Minnesota Wild. They just need to get back to their game and trust what they are doing, trusting their game as a team and as individual players. Shoot the puck! Be the Wild team you know you can be! The Time is Now!!!

One thing that might need to happen is breaking up that top line. Mike Yeo seems to have the utmost confidence in Zach Parise, Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville. Nobody can really complain about #11 as he brings his game every night but the lack of scoring from his two linemates is affecting his production. If they, the line or just 64 & 29, don’t start producing, Mr. Yeo will have to make some changes. There’s just no way around it.

Pominville, Granland used to sound like an exciting place to visit, where goals were achieved and apples were available for free. Now, Bring It On Down to Pominville sounds like some sort of punishment and Welcome To Granland doesn’t sound as welcoming of a greeting as it used to.

One player who seems to be Going Wild is #3 Charlie Coyle. Did you think Charlie would Go Wild this season? I did!

No matter what, it should be an interesting 33 games for the Minnesota Wild.

Will the Wild get back to winning or will this slump continue to the point where we may see the end of the Mike Yeo Era in Minnesota?

We’d love to hear your thoughts so Bring The Clutter in the comments, on Twitter, Facebook and/or Google+!


Bring The Clutter!!! Every Day!!! In Every Way!!!

If you don’t know what that means, go HERE and find out!

2015-16 Minnesota Wild Preview – The Time is NOW!

2015-16 Minnesota Wild Preview - The Time Is NOW!

For the Minnesota Wild, The Time Is NOW!!!

The most anticipated season in Minnesota Wild franchise history is about to begin. They have a bunch of pieces in place to be a contender for the Stanley Cup. They just have to put all those pieces together consistently night after night, get home ice advantage and take it from there. Sounds easy enough, right? Yeah, easier said than done.

There’s a lot of pieces to put together for this Wild team. The good news is most of those pieces haven’t changed from last season. Usually teams get better as they play together more often and this team was the top team in the National Hockey League from January 15th to the end of the regular season last year with a record of 28-9-3. Can they be put it all together and be one of the top teams in the league for an entire season? That’s the big question.

A foundation of leadership was set when the Wild signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to matching 13-year/$98 million contracts on July 4th, 2012. Most people expected those signings to provide immediate results but it was the beginning of a team developing into a contender with that leadership combining with the depth the organization was building through the draft and trades. The time is now for that combination to become a Stanley Cup contending team.

Zach Parise and Ryan Suter had tough seasons last year, both losing their fathers during the season. Zach still put up decent numbers with 33 goals. Suter said himself after the season that it was “just a bad year.

Mikko Koivu had his worst season since his rookie year but he got it going in February & March. Thomas Vanek’s 52 points (21 Gs, 31 As) was his lowest point total since his rookie season back in 2006. Jason Pominville only scored 18 goals and missed on a lot of great chances.

There was a few young players like Nino Niederreiter, Jason, Zucker, Marco Scandella and Matt Dumba that had good seasons. For the most part though, there wasn’t any great performances by Minnesota Wild players last season and they still took this team to the postseason and to an upset of the St. Louis Blues in the first round. Getting swept in the 2nd round by the Chicago Blackhawks gave us a bad feeling on the season but it was another step just because of the way they performed in the second half and what they overcame. They aren’t looking to take any more steps.

The Minnesota Wild are ready to win this season. They have their number one goalie in Devan Dubnyk and capable backups in Darcy Kuemper & Niklas Backstrom. They have the leadership in the room and on the ice in Parise, Koivu and Suter and they have a bunch of young players ready to breakout and provide scoring and the depth a contending team needs to hoist the Cup.

Almost everyone on the team can be better this season, save for maybe Devan Dubnyk. We know Parise will bring 30+ goals and 60+ points. Pominville is good for 20+ and 60+, Suter had a bad season with 2 goals and 38 points when his career highs are 8 goals and 46 points. Vanek had a disappointing season and still had 21 goals. Is it completely out of the question that those players could all have better seasons in 2015-16?

Now pair that with better seasons from Mikael Granlund (8 Gs, 39 pts), Nino Niederreiter (24 Gs), Jason, Zucker (21 Gs), Charlie Coyle (11 Gs, 35 pts, +13), Marco Scandella (11 Gs, 23 points, 4 GWGs, +8), Matt Dumba (8 Gs, 16 points, 2 PPGs, 2 GWGs +13), Jonas Brodin (3 Gs, 17 pts, +21) and there’s still Justin Fontaine, Erik Haula and up and coming prospect Tyler Graovac.

This team was already one of the best defensive teams giving up the 4th least amount of goals, 4th least amount of shots against while having the best penalty kill in the league. The 27th ranked Power Play will change in scheme and in personnel. This team is ready to Go Wild in 2015-16!

Fun Fact:

Mike Yeo has coached the Minnesota Wild to a better record in each of his first 4 seasons.

Avoiding the streaks of bad, inconsistent play will go a long way into making this season the best in Minnesota Wild franchise history!

Do you believe The Time Is Now for the Minnesota Wild? Will they contend for the Stanley Cup in 2015-16?


As always, THANKS for reading! Please let us know your thoughts by commenting or interacting with us on Twitter, Facebook and/or Google+!

Don’t forget to…..

Bring The Clutter!!! Every Day!!! In Every Way!!!