Tag Archives: Devan Dubnyk

2017 Playoff Preview – Minnesota Wild vs St. Louis Blues

It’s Playoff Season! It’s time for the intensity to go through the roof!

The Minnesota Wild have waited 6 months for the playoffs to arrive. That’s what it’s all about, right? Nobody cares about the regular season. There aren’t any big statements about who wins the regular season other than only 8 of the 28 teams who’ve received the President’s Trophy for the best regular-season record have gone on to win the Stanley Cup. That’s a pretty big statement, huh?

Really, this is what we’ve all been waiting for. The regular season can be fun and obviously, there’s an importance to the regular season but there’s just nothing like the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’re biased, of course, because we love hockey but we still believe there’s nothing like it. The physical toll it takes on teams and players to win 16 games over four 7-game series of hockey is just extraordinary. The quest for 16 wins starts tonight for the Minnesota Wild as they play the St. Louis Blues in the first round.

The Wild upset the Blues in 2015 when the Blues won the Central Division and the Wild were a Wild Card team. That series went Wild (Away), Blues (Home) Wild (H), Blues (A), Wild (A), and Wild (H). The tables have now kind of been turned yet Mike Yeo is still the underdog. He’s been on the winning side of an upset in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He has that experience. He also knows the majority of the players on the Wild roster.

Some might look at Bruce Boudreau and question his playoff (& Game 7) results. He’s only made it to the 3rd round once, in 2014-15, losing to eventual champion Chicago Blackhawks. For some reason, he hasn’t fared well in Game 7s (1-7), either. Every one of those was at home, too.

So, is it his coaching philosophy? Does it work in the playoffs? Coaches can have a huge impact on a team, in the system they run, in the lines they put on the ice, in the way they treat the players, in the adjustments they make during a game and a series, and in the game plans they set up for each game or series. All that being said, it’s up to the players to execute the system and the game plans. You win with players. A coach can’t score, block a shot or make a save from the bench.

Minnesota Wild

The Wild scored the 2nd most goals in the entire league and had 12 players score more than 10 goals for a total of 218 goals. They have more players that can score goals spread across all 4 lines. They also were very good defensively with a very mobile defense that prioritizes getting the puck out of the zone. Until March, Devan Dubnyk was considered one of the top choices to win the Vezina Trophy given to the best goalie in the league. He and the Wild did struggle during the month of March but they appeared to have gotten their game back in April. They’ll need a good series from Dubnyk to win.

The Wild were also the best team in the Western Conference (Pittsburgh was the only team ahead of them) in even strength 5-on-5 situations so staying out of the box will be a big part of taking control and winning this series. They have a good penalty kill but, of course, you’d rather not test it.

St. Louis Blues

The Blues had 10 players score more than 10 goals for a total of 179 goals, with Vladimir Tarasenko scoring 39 of those 179 goals. Tarasenko is, of course, that superstar player that can make or break a series. He knows how to find time and space and he has one of the best shots in the league. The Blues were 5th in 5-on-5 scoring but only had a +9 differential when even strength.

The Blues are a hard team to judge because of the coaching change. They looked like a team that wouldn’t make the playoffs under Ken Hitchcock. They even traded away one of their top defenseman in Kevin Shattenkirk. Fortunately, they caught fire under Mike Yeo, which Wild fans can associate with as they were very excited a couple years ago with their team under Mr. Yeo. Their defense and goaltending were great down the stretch, making them a tough opponent in the playoffs.

#TheX Factor

The Minnesota Wild have home ice advantage for only the second time in franchise history. Home ice should be an advantage. Every team would take playing at home over playing on the road but once the puck drops, it might not matter that much other than the Wild getting the last change so they can get the matchups they want against the Blues top lines. The crazy State of Hockey fans may have something to say about that, though.

The X-Factor for Each Team

Which player for each team can be the game changer, the player that can change the series for their team? For the Minnesota Wild, it’s Charlie Coyle. He’s built for the playoffs. He needs to play his game, be physical and shoot the puck. If he does that, he’ll make this series easier for the Wild to win. For the St. Louis Blues, it’s Ivan Barbashev. He’s centering the top line as a rookie in his first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If the stage isn’t too big for him, he can make a huge impact in this series. He had to do better in the faceoff circle to start off with. 40% isn’t going to cut it in the Playoffs.

ClutterPuck Dropped

This should be a fun series but we’re going with the Minnesota Wild in 6 games. They just appear to have more depth offensively and have played very well defensively against the Blues, and Vladimir Tarasenko, this season.

Enjoy the series and all of the first-round series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and remember….

Bring The Clutter Every Day in Every Way

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

Minus/Plus

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….

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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?

You’ve…Been….CLUTTERPUCKED!!!

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Who is Going WILD in Minnesota in 2015-16?

Who is Going WILD in 2015-16?

Will the Minnesota Wild take the next step to become a Stanley Cup contending team?

The Minnesota Wild will be primarily the same team for the 2015-16 season. The same team swept in the 2nd round of the playoffs by a familiar opponent, the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. Down 3-0 after the 1st period of Game 1, they came back with 3 goals in the first 10 minutes of the 2nd, and I’m sure most fans thought “Here we go. This is the team I remember!” Once they came back though, Chicago adjusted and turned it up a notch and the Wild lost that 1st game on a late 2nd period goal.

From that moment on, the team we saw go on that great run to make the playoffs seemed to disappear. As if all the hard work to get into the playoffs and get past the St. Louis Blues in round 1 had taken its toll. The energy and confidence in their game was gone. They looked tired physically and defeated mentally. It was difficult to watch.

So why should we expect a better Wild in 2015-16?

The Wild were 18-19-5 with 40 games to play. That’s not the worst record to have in 42 games but it was how they got there that had everyone throwing the season away. From December until January 13th, they went 5-10-4 after starting 13-9-1. They were getting worse, not better and a 41 points in 42 games pace does not a playoff team make.

The Wild have solved their goalie situation. Darcy Kuemper was thrust into the starting role at the beginning of the season and he, like the team, started off well but wasn’t ready to be a number one goalie this early in his career. Niklas Backstrom, once again, was battling through injuries and wasn’t really an option so the Wild rode Kuemper until they realized he wasn’t the answer. He looks to have that ability but needs more time. Not many people thought a little trade for Devan Dubnyk, the backup in Arizona, would make a difference but the Wild would finish with 100 points and make the playoffs as the first Wild Card team and the 7th seed in the Western Conference. Devan Dubnyk re-signed with the Minnesota Wild for 6 years/$26 million in July.

Every player who played over 20 games is still on the roster except for Kyle Brodziak. He played in 73 games, providing a bottom-6 role last season. Now, every role is important and though most people weren’t big fans of Kyle Brodziak, he played his role well. That being said, the Wild have other players and prospects that should be able to step in and fill the spot vacated by Kyle Brodziak signing with the St. Louis Blues as a free agent.

They chose not to bring back Chris Stewart, Sean Bergenheim and Jordan Leopold. They brought back Nate Prosser and Ryan Carter and added Mike Reilly from the Minnesota Gophers. So the core of this team is still here. There’s very few players that have to come in and learn Mike Yeo’s system.

The Wild have youth on their side. They have players ready to take the next step in their careers and help this team be successful. Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker, Nino Niederreiter, Matt Dumba, Marco Scandella, Jonas Brodin, Erik Haula, etc… Now they just have to do it.

In the next week, we will #BringTheClutter with articles about who could be Going WILD this season. The season starts in just 8 Days!!! EIGHT DAYS!!! ONE WEEK from tomorrow!!! ARE YOU READY???

You’ve been….CLUTTERPUCKED!!!!

Thanks for reading!

Bring the Clutter! Every Day! In Every Way!!!

Minnesota Wild Roster at the Beginning of Free Agent Frenzy

 

Cap Space for the Minnesota Wild from GeneralFanager.com

Cap Space for the Minnesota Wild from GeneralFanager.com

The Minnesota Wild’s 2014-15 season ended with a sweep from the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. A lot of people reacted saying the Wild had a long way to go to become contenders in the NHL and need to make big changes to get there.

The 2014-15 Minnesota Wild was the best in the NHL in the 2nd half of the season, a team that was 18-19-5, written off by fans, critics and all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Then on January 14th, 2014, the Wild was reborn when GM Chuck Fletcher made a little trade for a goalie named Devan Dubnyk from the Arizona Coyotes for a 2015 3rd-round draft pick.

Of course, pretty much nobody thought this would change much for the Wild. Devan Dubnyk wasn’t a big name goalie by any stretch of the imagination. He had never been a part of a winning team in his 6 seasons in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers (5 seasons, 171 games played(GP)), the Nashville Predators* (1 season, 2 GP) and the Arizona Coyotes (1 season, 19 GP).

*The 2013-14 Nashville Predators did end the seasons with a winning record but Dubnyk was only there for 50 days before being traded to the Montreal Canadiens. The day he was traded to NSH, they were 20-21-7 and they were 26-26-10 when he was traded away.

Interesting that the day Devan Dubnyk arrived with the Wild, they were not a winning team either at 1 game under .500. Then the Minnesota Wild A.D. (After Dubnyk) began. Devan Dubnyk would start 38 consecutive games, not getting a day off until after the Wild had clinched a playoff spot. The Wild would go 28-9-3 AD and make the playoffs, upset the St. Louis Blues in the 1st round but be eliminated by Chicago in the 2nd round.

So, do they really need to make big changes to their roster or should they keep the core group and tweak the roster and give this team a chance to see what they can do in a full season with Devan Dubnyk in the cage?

Could they even make big changes to the roster? They don’t have a lot of room under the salary cap so the only way they could make changes is via trade. That would be difficult as well with a lot of players having No Move or No Trade clauses and a lot of money left on their contracts.

Yes, there’s some young guys that could be traded like a Jared Spurgeon and maybe some prospects but that probably wouldn’t be enough to make “big” changes. I’m sure Chuck Fletcher isn’t interested in going that route anyways. He’s been pretty adamant about keeping his young prospects in the fold.

The Minnesota Wild have just under $8 million to spend on free agents according to GeneralFanager.com and that’s without the eventual signings of Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula and Christian Folin. The Brown Fox always leaves some under the cap for injuries and trades too so don’t get too excited about the 1st day of the Frenzy.

Here’s a look at the Minnesota Wild’s Depth Chart, who might battle for spots and who might be options in free agency.

Depth Chart for 2015-16
Left Wing – Center – Right Wing
Zach Parise – Mikael Granlund – Jason Pominville
Jason Zucker – Mikko Koivu – Thomas Vanek
Nino Niederreiter – Charlie Coyle – Justin Fontaine
Jordan Schroeder? – Erik Haula – Brent Sutter?

In the battle: Tyler Graovac, Michael Keranen, Brett Bulmer, Raphael Bussieres, Grayson Downing, Jared Knight, Kurtis Gabriel, Zack Mitchell, Brady Brassart, Pavel Jenys, Christoph Bertschy

Free Agency Options: Ryan Carter, Kyle Brodziak, Chris Stewart, Curtis Glencross, Devin Setoguchi, Blair Jones, Eric Fehr

Defense
Ryan Suter – Jonas Brodin
Marco Scandella – Jared Spurgeon
Christian Folin? – Matt Dumba

In the battle: Mike Reilly, Jon Blum, Gustav Olofsson, Guillaume Gelinas, Dylan Labbe, Zach Palmquist, Alex Gudbranson, Hunter Warner

Free Agent Options: Jordan Leopold, Nate Prosser, Tim Gleason, Matt Irwin…

Goalie
Dubnyk
Kuemper
Backstrom

In the battle: Brady Hoffman, Stephen Michalek

THANKS for reading some Clutter today! Let us know your thoughts on the Minnesota Wild, the current roster, what they can or will do in free agency and anything else going on in hockey!

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