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Wild Recaps – at the Anaheim Ducks – December 8th, 2017

After a disappointing loss in Los Angeles on Tuesday, how would the Minnesota Wild come out against the Anaheim Ducks? The Ducks are kind of in the same predicament the Wild have been in, a team with a lot of injuries trying to hold on in the race for the playoffs early in the season. They had big injuries to two bigger players though. Both Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler have been out for all or most of the season. The Wild are in no position to think any game will be easy, either. They have to figure out how to play now.

In Tuesday’s loss to the Los Angeles Kings, the Wild led 2-1 going into the 3rd period and they allowed the Kings to score 4 goals in a 5-2 loss. That, of course, didn’t go over well with the coach. They looked like they were afraid to play with a lead and all they wanted to do was protect it. They were trying not to lose instead of trying to win the game.

Every team will have moments like this throughout a season that will help them improve and be the team that reaches their potential. The Wild have had too many of these moments so far this season. Is that because the roster changed so much or the injuries they’ve had to endure? Who knows but, regardless of the reason, they need to figure things out quickly because points will be at a premium for the 54 games remaining this season. Last season, it took 94 points to make the playoffs in the Western Conference (95 points in the Eastern Conference.)

This season, it might take more than that because of the number of good teams who will be in the chase. The Wild have 29 points in 27 games with a record of 13-11-3. At roughly a point per game, that would leave them around 87 points. Winning 35 of the remaining 54 games would put them at 99 points. I’m sure they don’t want to be a Wild Card team but, Nashville was a Wild Card team last season and made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals so there’s something to be said about just making it to the dance. Obviously, to do that, they’re going to have to figure out how to play the game the right way with confidence and consistency against any and every opponent on the road and at home.

Did they take a step in that direction tonight? It was a pretty even game in the 1st period but Anaheim would get on the board first with a goal that Wild G Devan Dubnyk said was “gross” as he felt he should’ve stopped the sharp-angle shot from Kevin Roy (Wah not Roy) that squeaked through his five-hole just after a power play ended.

On the highlight above, the announcer says Dubnyk doesn’t battle to see the shot but you can tell he’s peaking around Antoine Vermette to see the shooter. It just gets through his five-hole. The key is where his goalie stick is located. The position of a goalie’s stick is forgotten about when goalies go down or when they move from side-to-side. It’s not easy because of the length of the paddle of the stick and because of where a goalie wants his blocker positioned.

The puck slides just under the heel of Dubnyk’s stick.

Devan Dubnyk didn’t like that he let that goal in. You have to wonder if Vermette standing in front of him played a part in his save attempt. Do goalies try to adjust knowing a player is in position to tip a shot? That has to be very difficult to do so we would imagine they’d focus on the puck and try to make themselves as big as possible to take away a tipped shot. Could Dubnyk’s defense have helped him out on this goal? Maybe.

Angle 1

Angle 2

The biggest thing here is the position of Wild D Matt Dumba’s stick. He’s taking away the passing lane to Anaheim Ducks F #25 Ondrej Kase in the slot but Wild F #26 Daniel Winnik is right next to him so Dumba could put his stick in the shooting lane instead and take away the shot. Can the Wild penalty-killers, or specifically Winnik, talk during the play and tell Dumba to take away the shooting lane? It’s basically 4-on-4 with Bieksa not being much of a threat at the point and the Wild should be able to adjust quickly if the puck is moved there.

The theory is to take away the more dangerous shot which is the player in the slot so this certainly isn’t terrible coverage. You’ll gladly take a sharp-angle shot over a shot from the slot and Dubnyk is probably going to stop that shot the majority of the time. He & the Wild have to figure out how to get rid of the soft and/or flukey goal that seems to happen to them almost every game.

The Wild tied the game after giving up a scoring chance in the 2nd period where Nino Niederreiter covered the wrong player on the backcheck. The replay starts at 2:59 of the video at the top of this article. Nino goes to the puck carrier and Kevin Roy gets the puck with nobody defending him and he tries to pass for the tip-in instead of shooting. That pass goes wide & wraps around the corner to Nino. He passes to the puck up to Mikael Granlund, who’s able to skate through left side of the neutral zone unchecked because of a lazy change by 2 Ducks (the Grey Duck & the Goose.)

When Granlund enters the offensive zone, he has Staal wide to his right & #6 D Ryan Murphy skating underneath him & then heading down the left side. Give credit to Murphy for skating down the left side. Anaheim D #26 Brandon Montour has to account for him and that gave Granlund time and space to find Jason Zucker coming off the bench and Montour didn’t have enough time to react to Zucker receiving the pass, holding it for a second and then go around Anaheim G John Gibson and shooting backhand into the upper right to tie the game at 1-1.

Nino passed to Granlund then changed for Zucker so….2 assists on that play?

So, Nino Niederreiter was credited with the 2nd assist on Jason Zucker’s goal because he passed it to Granlund. The great thing though is he wasn’t even on the ice when the puck went in the net AND….when he went for the change, Jason Zucker was the player that came on for him. Shouldn’t that be 2 assists or at least a +2 for the play?

The scoring shows the players on the ice for the Wild as Murphy, Staal, Zucker, Dumba, Granlund and Dubnyk so how is that scored for the +/-? Do 6 players get a +1 on that play? Goalies don’t accumulate plus/minus stats.

Anyways, sorry for the sidebar, back to the game. Just 2:09 later, Wild F #59 Zack Mitchell* gave his team a 2-1 lead by putting in a rebound off a Nate Prosser shot from the right point. Mitchell was in on the forecheck behind the net and Daniel Winnik picked up the loose puck and send it back to Prosser at the right point. When Mitchell saw that happen, he did what any good offensive player does, he went to the front of the net. He tried to tip the shot but missed but he kept battling, along with F #17 Marcus Foligno, found the puck and put it in the empty net. He battled for position with Cam Fowler, who hooked him the entire way, and won.
*If you didn’t know, Zack Mitchell was a helluva player in the Guelph Storm of the OHL for 5 seasons and he has 16 points (5 G, 11 A) in only 11 games for the Iowa Wild this season so we shouldn’t be too surprised to see him playing well.

So, here the Wild were with the same situation they had in their previous game, a 2-1 lead heading into the 3rd period. Did they learn from their mistakes? Well, they certainly didn’t sit back and rely on their defense in this 3rd period. They stayed aggressive on the offensive end, trying to increase the lead instead of just protect it. Low and behold, the fluke goal would hit them again when Adam Henrique scored on a great pass by Corey Perry while he was lying on the ice.

Corey Perry was taking the puck to the net and he got a step on Wild D Ryan Suter. At the same time, Matt Dumba was battling recently acquired F Adam Henrique for position as Henrique was driving to the net. Dumba saw Perry get around Suter so he abandoned Henrique at the side of the net and went to Perry. Suter was still able to get to Perry and knock him down but Perry slid into Dumba knocking him down. The puck was still close enough to Perry’s stick so he could still hit the puck off the wall behind the net to Henrique, who had skated around to the other side of the net, and he was able to grab the puck on his forehand behind the net and move it to his backhand in front of the net and sneak it in past Dubnyk and the reach of Joel Eriksson-Ek. There was a little puck-watching there by Ek as well.

Once again, the Wild gave up the lead in the 3rd period but this time it would be a different outcome. They responded with some chances of their own and the game went to overtime. The Wild have started 1 forward and 2 defensemen in overtime in an attempt to change things for the better and it’s been working. Matt Dumba would score his 2nd straight OT Game-Winning Goal with a great play to fake a one-time and then skate in on Anaheim goalie John Gibson, go around him and put the puck in the net for the 2nd point and another Wild victory:

Can the Minnesota Wild keep it going against Brent Burns and the San Jose Sharks? They are 6-2-2 in their last 10 including a 5-0 shutout of the Ottawa Senators last night. Brent Burns hasn’t been the same player from last season, either. He has 16 points on 2 goals and 14 assists and he’s a minus 9 in 28 games so far this season. He’s shooting just as much but they aren’t going in nearly as often as his shot percentage is only 1.8% compared to 9.1% last season. That doesn’t mean the Wild should go easy on him, though. He does have 4 points (1G, 3A) in his last two games.

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Will Charlie Coyle Go Wild this season?

Will Charlie Coyle Go Wild this season?

Will we see this reaction a lot this season from Minnesota Wild fans?

Charlie Coyle was the main acquisition back in 2011 when the Minnesota Wild traded defenseman and fan favorite Brent Burns to the San Jose Sharks. The trade never would’ve happened if Charlie Coyle was not included as part of the first big blockbuster trade made by Chuck Fletcher. The trade also included Devin Setoguchi and the Sharks 2011 1st round pick (28th overall, the Wild chose F Zack Phillips.)

Devin Setoguchi was the big name when the trade went down, having come off three straight seasons of 20+ goals (31, 20, 22 from 2008-2011) and being a factor in the playoffs for the San Jose Sharks. Devin looked ready to be a top 6 player on a growing Minnesota Wild team. Turns out Mr. Setoguchi may have been a product of the players around him in San Jose as he couldn’t live up to that top 6 role for the Wild. He scored 32 goals & 31 assists over 2 seasons & 117 regular season games for the Wild and ended up being traded to Winnipeg for a 2014 4th round pick after the 2012-13 season. Maybe it just wasn’t a good match of player and team.

Setoguchi never realizing his potential with the Wild just reaffirmed Charlie Coyle being the main player in the trade. When the Wild acquired him, Charlie had just finished his freshman season of college hockey with the Boston University Terriers of Hockey East. He won New England & Hockey East Freshman of the Year* scoring 26 points on 7 goals and 19 assists in 37 games. He also played for Team USA in the 2011 World Junior Championships, helping them win a Bronze Medal and tying for the team lead in points with 6 on 2 goals and 4 assists.
*In his 1st collegiate game, Charlie scored a goal and had an assist in a 4-3 win over Wisconsin. Us Minnesotans like that! Yeah, CHARLIE!

In his sophomore season at BU, Charlie would only play in 16 games for the Terriers before making a decision to leave Boston University to join the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).

“Yes, I have made my decision to leave BU because I’m done being a student-athlete and I want to focus on just hockey,” Coyle said via text. “I was not failing out.”

“It was definitely a hard decision to make and I will miss my teammates and coaches. BU was a great place to be and I enjoyed my time there.”

Once he joined St. John, Charlie went on a tear, collecting 38 points (15 Gs, 23 As) in only 23 games. In the playoffs, he lead the Sea Dogs to the QMJHL President’s Cup and became only the 2nd American-born player to be named Playoff MVP scoring 15 goals & adding 19 assists in only 17 games.

Charlie played for Team USA at the World Junior Championships in 2012 as well but this time, they wouldn’t fare well, failing to make it to the medal round. I remember watching Charlie Coyle though and loving the way he played both ends of the ice, backchecking hard no matter what the score or how much time was remaining in the game.

The 2012-13 NHL season didn’t start on time due to a lockout so Charlie Coyle started the season in the AHL with the Houston Aeros, the Minnesota Wild’s minor league affiliate at the time. Head coach of the Aeros, John Torchetti felt Charlie Coyle was going to “make an impact on the Wild for two reasons: He’s no-maintenance, high-character and he’s so good, so willing defensively.”

Charlie Coyle - Poised to make an impact

Torchetti loved Coyle’s terrific skating, eagerness to go to the dirty areas, great release and, of course, the fact that he looked like a future top scorer but he didn’t think you could play in today’s NHL without the defensive component, and Coyle was his “most consistent, complete forward night in and night out since the start of the year.”

The NHL season began in January with a shortened 48-game season. The Wild called up Charlie Coyle for the 9th game of the season and put him on the 2nd line and moved him to the top line soon afterwards. He’d play in 37 games that first season and have only 14 points (8 goals & 6 assists) but would show flashes of being the power forward most of us expect him to be. He’d have several Beast Mode* shifts in the offensive zone where he’d possess the puck for 20 seconds or so and the opponent couldn’t muscle him off the puck or get it off his stick.
*I now refer to this as Coyle Mode as it seems to be something only he can do.

Since that first season, he’s been moved around to different lines playing center or wing. He’d have a better 2nd season in terms of points with 30 (12G, 18A) but his +/- suffered as he was no longer on the top line and was still adapting to the NHL game and Mike Yeo’s system.

In late January last season, Charlie Coyle scored an amazing goal on a breakaway in Edmonton. You have to see it to believe it. Words don’t do it justice but I’ll try. He forced a turnover in the neutral zone, getting a breakaway coming up the left side of the ice but he has two Oiler players chasing him down forcing him to keep going to the left of goalie Viktor Fasth so he just around Fasth behind the net and somehow moves the puck back towards the net with his backhand and has just enough room to get the puck in front and tap it in all while still moving.

on the fourth line trying to teach them to play a complete game saying he did this to give them a “chance to reset their game,” take pressure off and give them the mindset to get in on the forecheck, play in the offensive zone and simplify things in order to start feeling confident in their games again.

It worked pretty well. Charlie Coyle was playing his best hockey after the All-Star break. In 36 games, he had 16 points (6G, 10A) and was a +17 for plus/minus. Compare that to 19 points (5G, 14A) and a -4 in 46 games before the All-Star break.

There’s several reasons why Charlie Coyle is poised to Go Wild and have a breakout season for the Minnesota Wild:
He is 6’ 3” tall and weighs 221 pounds so he can be physical in on the forecheck. We’ve already seen him use that size to protect the puck and be a physical force in the offensive zone. He knows what to expect from a full season now, especially after going through two full seasons. He’s learned how to use that big frame to his advantage.

He’s improved defensively so he won’t be a liability when he’s out on the ice and coach Mike Yeo can rely on him to do the right things on the ice. That should get him more time on the ice.

He’s versatile. He can play center or right wing so he can fill different roles on different lines. He has been used on the power play and on the penalty kill in the preseason. He could replace Kyle Brodziak’s minutes in PK situations.

He’s improved his faceoff skills making him an option to be used in some situations where the Wild need a faceoff win in either zone.

He’s only 23 years old and his new contract kicks in this season. Last season he took the All-Star break to get his confidence back and he finished the season very well.

He led the Wild in preseason scoring with 8 points on 1 goal & 7 assists in 4 games played. Yes, it’s the preseason. I know but it shows progress.

What would a Charlie Coyle breakout season look like? How many points, goals & assists does he need to be considered Going Wild? I would say he should have 15+ goals & 35+ assists for 50+ points. That would definitely help the Wild take the next step for this franchise.  

So, do you think Charlie Coyle will Go Wild this season? Let us know in the comments, on Facebook, Twitter or Google+!

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