Tag Archives: Minnesota Wild

Broadcasting Beauties on NBC

Canada has “Hockey Night In Canada”and the United States has “NHL on NBC”. When it comes to sheer games being broadcast over the course of a season, Hockey Night is clearly the victor.

With that being said, hockey fans in America have been the beneficiary of some fantastic games this past week. That is if they happened to tune in.

While Jared Spurgeon may not be unanimously considered to be within the top 100 goal scorers in the league, he absolutely dazzled the fans with this insane hand-eye coordinated thing of beauty.

My goodness, perhaps the Twins ought to give this guy a call to add some depth to their batting order.

Alex Ovechkin is no stranger to grand stage theatrics. The “Great 8” has been notorious for getting fans out of their seats and into the action right away. With a matchup last Wednesday against bitter rival Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, sparks were sure to fly. Especially when a specific milestone was within reach for my generations most lethal goal scorer.

Just 35 seconds into the game, Ovechkin’s toe drag-roof job set the tone for the rest of the night as the Caps cruised to a 5-2 victory. His early tally was his 1,000 NHL point. At just 31 years old and no prior injury concerns, Ovechkin has the opportunity to conjure up some instant magic.

Just 5 nights later, Crosby and Ovechkin would exchange pleasantries again. This time in Pittsburgh. The Caps leaped to a 3-0 lead early in the second, but the lead didn’t last as the Penguins riffled 6 straight goals before the start of the third period. Remarkably, the scoring didn’t end there for either side. As the Caps would tie the game at 7 late in regulation, only for the Penguins to take the decisive second point in overtime.

Your final score, 8-7.

When two original 6 teams face off against one another, it’s often must watch television. In the case of the Bruins vs. Red Wings game this past Wednesday, I’d certainly have to agree. Following an embarrassing defeat at the hand of the anemic Islanders, the Bruins looked for a confidence building team victory in Detroit. Boston’s young guns shinned early as Frank Vatrano nailed two goals and Brandon Carlo’s missile saw the Bruins up three goals on Detroit. An answer from Dylan Larkin cut Boston’s titanic lead to just two. Shortly there after, Patrice Bergeron’s deflection put the Bruins back up by three.

While three unanswered goals by Detroit would tie the game at 4 a piece, McQuiad and Nyquist would each score for their respective teams to force overtime. 5 pulse pounding minutes later, a shootout would decide who would possess the all important second point in the standings.

Detroit sent the hometown fans off with an excellent group victory. For Boston they continue to lick their wounds and search for an answer to their struggles. Emerging discussions about the future dealings of the head coach are once again at the forefront. With time being the only indicator of what course of action will be followed through on, a win against Chicago could prolong the process.

Embed from Getty Images

While it may be old news now, the Montreal Canadiens got smoked by the Minnesota Wild last Thursday, 7-1. I’ll admit, entering this season there were some questions I had in regards to their locker room chemistry. Those concerns were quickly squandered. Montreal looked like the real deal for a significant portion of this season. Attribute it to the lingering affects from the World Cup of Hockey or the pressures of playing in Montreal. But Carey Price has looked aside himself this past month. Granted Montreal currently is in sole possession of first place in the Atlantic, you need to play your best hockey at this juncture of the season. Expect Montreal to make it to the spring tournament, and be a nightmare matchup for whatever team they get in round one.

Embed from Getty Images

On the other hand, aside from filling the net against Montreal, Minnesota has also been filling in the win column. Playing arguably their best hockey since becoming a professional team. Since acquiring Parise and Suter in the same offseason, Minnesota has had their eye on a Cup. With the changes that have been made to tweak the roster in the last 365 days, that dream is looking attainable.

 

Advertisements

‘Wild’ Expectations

Despite their wretched start to the season, the Boston Bruins have rewarded their fan base recently with noticeably strong play. During this time, their penalty kill and power play have improved mightily. Tuukka Rask has returned to his Vezina Trophy caliber self. Zdeno Chara’s plays have silenced even his most formidable critics. Lastly, the bottom portion of the lineup has contributed offensively.

Despite the improvements in various fields, one burden hangs over their heads: their inability to get valuable points against playoff caliber teams.

62 seconds separated the Bruins from taking at least one point away from the Canadiens in Montreal. Obviously Paul Byron squandered those hopes. The loss, albeit a crippling one, did prove one thing: Boston can hang with the best of them.

Minnesota handled Boston easily in their matchup on October 25th, 5-0. Tonight marks Boston’s 6th matchup against a team that made the playoffs last season since their trouncing against the Wild. A small portion to digest, sure. But it makes for an interesting narrative.

In last weeks entry, I noted that Bruins fans need to relish in the smaller victories. Anytime they can beat a playoff caliber team, the moral should improve. Similarly to how the Patriots beat up on other AFC East teams. It’s not until they go outside their division that you see how good or bad they are in specific areas.

Judging purely off the eyeball test alone, Boston is a demonstratively better team than in the beginning of October. Despite this months loses to the Rangers and the Canadiens, Boston has controlled the pace of play in the games in between. It should be noted that this all came against teams that didn’t make the playoffs last season.

Embed from Getty Images

October 25th marked what could have been the pinnacle of the Bruins season. Decimated by injuries, they turned to Malcolm Subban. It was his first start since he was held out to dry against St. Louis last season. To say the least, the year didn’t change much in the result department.

Boston will take on the 8-6-1 Wild tonight at 8 in St. Paul Minnesota. Much healthier, much more focused, and more than ready to get two points against a frequent flyer playoff team.

Tonight isn’t just another game on the schedule, it’s a measuring stick for the rest of the season. Minnesota is a team built from the ground up, eerily similar to Boston; stout goaltending, impressive defense, and four lines that run regularly.

In these particular games, a blow out is the furthest thing from expectation.

Tonight, I expect a high level of competition on both sides. These are two teams that desperately need two points to pull ahead in their divisions and conferences.

Embed from Getty Images

With the regular season still in it’s infancy, these valuable points are very much up for grabs. Boston has proved one thing on the season so far, they are more than capable of beating up on the less fortunate teams. Now, it’s time to prove they’re still a perennial playoff contender.

However, they’ll most likely have to do it without Tuukka Rask and David Pastrnak, who both missed today’s practice.

 

Fanning The Heat-er

Come October 2016 it will have been a decade since the beginning of Dany Heatley’s back to back 50 goal campaigns.

Today, the 35 year old “Heater” as he was once called amongst his teammates, is a member of the Nurnberg Ice Tigers of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga. If you haven’t heard of them, you aren’t alone.

What I find most interesting isn’t necessarily where Dany Heatley is, but how he got there.

Prior to his exodus from the NHL, Dany was renowned as one of, if not the leagues most dangerous scorer. 372 goals and 791 points in the NHL alone back that notion up. But how can one player experience such a fall from grace? It wasn’t a gradual one either, Mr. Heatley’s fall from relevance crashed harder than the Cincinnati Zoo’s twitter profile.

In order to properly gauge the scope of the situation you must start where it all began.

Embed from Getty Images

Dany’s time in Atlanta was a tale of two entirely different personalities. In his maiden season, he lead all rookies in points with 67 and was second in scoring behind teammate, Ilya Kovalchuk. Winning rookie of the year in 2001 was the cherry on top to what looked like the beginning of a promising career.

2002 saw him put up 89 points, good enough for 9th in league scoring. It was his best year he would have with the Thrashers.

2003 was a reality check for the super star in the making. In late September 2003, Dany lost control of his Ferrari, slammed into a wall, splitting the cabin in half, and ejected himself and teammate Dan Snyder from the car. Heatley suffered injuries to which he would recover. Snyder wasn’t so lucky, suffering from a skull fracture he would die 6 days later under intensive hospital care. The recoil was disastrous to Dany’s career.

Embed from Getty Images

In an attempt to leave the horrific memories of the fatal car crash behind him, Heatley requested a trade from Atlanta following the lockout season of 2004-05.

Heatley was traded to Ottawa for Marion Hossa. From there what was seen in Atlanta was a mere preview for what was to come north of the boarder.

Senator nation quickly adopted the Heatley, Spezza, Alfredson line as the most lethal in the game. Heatley scored 50 goals and recorded 103 points for 4th in the league.

One year later Heatley tallied yet another 50 goal campaign, just two shy of Vinny Lecavalier’s 52 for the league lead.

The offensively lead Senators battled to the Stanley Cup final in 2007, falling in 5 games to the Anaheim Ducks.

2007-08 was good but not great for Heatley, 41 goals and yet another trip to the playoffs. While they lost in 4 games to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The sky appeared to be the limit heading into 2008-09 despite a disappointing follow up to their Stanley Cup appearance.

However, 2008-09 wasn’t the jump start season the fans were hoping for. Hitting just 31 goals over that span, Heatley would yet again request a trade. Ottawa obliged him.

Embed from Getty Images

With 39 goals in his first go around with the San Jose Sharks, Heatley once again found chemistry with the best that the Sharks had to offer. Marleau, Thornton, Heatley made up the go to line for the Sharks. Propelling San Jose to the Conference final against the Chicago Blackhawks. If you know a thing or two, you can probably figure out that San Jose lost the series. Chicago swept the Sharks, scoring a goal late in the fourth game on the power play with Heatley in the box.

2010-11 was the beginning of the end for Heatley. Experiencing a career low in goals with just 26, while not horrific numbers by any means they are a far cry from what was expected of him. Following the conclusion of the season, it was revealed that he was playing with multiple nagging injuries in his second full season.

Embed from Getty Images

Ultimately Heatley fell out of favor with the San Jose Sharks. Especially since they were still on the books for his 7.5 million dollar cap hit. The writing was on the wall, “Heater” was beginning to fade away.

When the Minnesota Wild were willing to take risk on him, San Jose pounced on the opportunity.

53 points as a member of the Wild was not good enough to carry the team to the post season.

With a lockout yet again cutting into another season in 2012-13, Heately managed only 11 goals and 10 assists. Later in the season, Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s hit on Heatley put him on the shelf for the remainder of the season. Time became his number one enemy.

2013-14 was Heatley’s first glimpse towards his impending reality. 9 goals and 10 assists in his first 55 games to start the season. In the latter half of the same season he found himself kicking a can on the fourth line. Following that demotion, he was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career.

Minnesota made it to the playoffs in 2013-14 against the Chicago Blackhawks. Heatley was inserted into the lineup not only for his experience, but as a spark. While he was effective in certain areas, it wasn’t enough to pull the upset.

Embed from Getty Images

Signing a one year deal with Anaheim the following off season, Heatley would never suit up for a regular season game. Later in the year his rights were traded to Florida to help them stay within the realm of the salary cap. He was immediately assigned to Florida’s minor league team where he would finish the year. He only put up 20 points in the AHL.

Embed from Getty Images

With 32 points in 46 games in Europe last season, it would appear as if Heatley has found his home. Such is the conclusion of so many stories as they pertain to their NHL counterparts.

With all of that, Heatley remains the most peculiar. From 2004-2010 he was one of the best in the business. Regardless of previous successes, it took just three seasons to bury his old reputation. For the four time all-star and former rookie of the year, his fall from grace was anything but gradual or sustained.

While Dany Heatley may not be a regular NHLer anymore, he lives through his parody account on twitter. Besides, ‘who recorded back to back 50 goal seasons in 2006 and 2007’ makes for an interesting trivia question.

Just a lesson for you kids out there, nothing is guaranteed tomorrow.

 

Central Division All-Time Greatest Rosters

The third installment of the greatest all-time NHL rosters for all 30 franchises is finally taking us out west. The Central Division has seen only 3 of its 7 franchises win Stanley Cups before, but could any of these teams’ all-time teams win a cup? Let’s head to Middle America, and Canada, and see the rosters for the 7 Central Division franchises.

Embed from Getty Images

1. Chicago Blackhawks:

Forwards

Bobby Hull-Stan Mikita-Steve Larmer

Denis Savard-Jonathan Toews-Patrick Kane

Dennis Hull-Jeremy Roenick-Tony Amonte

Patrick Sharp-Pit Martin-Bill Mosienko

Defense

Chris Chelios-Duncan Keith

Douglas Wilson-Robert Murray

Brent Seabrook-Moose Vasko

Goalie

Tony Esposito

Are you surprised at how good this team is? If you answered yes to this question then you do not know hockey and I hate you. Chicago has become the powerhouse of the NHL in the last 7 years, and I see no reason why that will change in the next 7 years. So when your second line has Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on it, that means you have an incredible team, and that’s exactly what we have with the Blackhawks all-time greatest roster. The first and second lines are basically interchangeable, Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita are household NHL names of the past, and Kane, Toews, and Denis Savard is one of the scariest lines in an NHL all-time greatest season. Jeremey Roenick is on the third line, this offense is pretty stacked with endless talent. Defense is no different. Chris Chelios and Duncan Keith will hold the fort down real tight for the Hawks on the back end. Keith, a former Conn Smythe winner, will add some offensive flare as well. Best part of this roster, there is a guy named Moose on it, unreal. Tony Esposito has over 400 career wins for the Blackhawks, so don’t even argue with this decision. I thought slightly about Ed Belfour and Corey Crawford, but they don’t even come close to comparing to Esposito. I have one of those Tony Esposito action figures above my bed, and he protects me at night, so I have faith he can protect the Hawks net in an all-time greatest season.

Embed from Getty Images

2. Colorado Avalanche:

Forwards

Michel Goulet-Joe Sakic-Milan Hejduk

Alex Tanguay-Peter Forsberg-Dale Hunter

Anton Stastny-Peter Stastny-Paul Stastny

Valeri Kamensky-Matt Duchene-Gabriel Landeskog

Defense

Ray Bourque-Adam Foote

John Michael Liles-Rob Blake

Sandis Ozolinsh-Erik Johnson

Goalie

Patrick Roy

The Colorado Avalanche franchise is the only franchise in all professional sports to win a championship in its first season after a relocation. The Avs won the 1996 Stanley Cup Final in their first season after moving from Quebec. They were known then as the Quebec Nordiques for those of you who are new to the beautiful sport of ice hockey. This team is a sneaky very good I think. The top line is the top line for a reason. Joe Sakic is a hall of famer who could play hockey with the absolute best of them. The second and third lines are basically even when it comes to skill. The third line is a Stastny trio of Anton, Peter, and Paul, and they are all deserving of being on this team. Who wouldn’t want to see the three of them all together on a line? Crazy people, that’s who. Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog are both young studs of the NHL right now, and they have potential to be superstars, and maybe even hall of famers themselves when it’s all said and done. Why didn’t I have Nathan MacKinnon on this roster? Well I think he is still too unproven. If we do this again in 5 years he might be the center if the third line. Ray Bourque may have only played one full season in Colorado, but he was the heart and soul of them winning the 2001 Stanley Cup in the final game of Bourques illustrious career. With goalie there was zero contest, Patrick Roy is the goalie for the Avs all-time roster. I know there is some serious hostilities between Roy and The Avalanche right now, but that does not change what he did for them on the ice. He lead the Avs to their 2 Stanley Cups, and kept them a powerhouse team from 1995-2003. This Colorado franchise will definitely compete for a playoff spot, maybe even more?

Embed from Getty Images

3. Dallas Stars:

Forwards

Brian Bellows-Mike Modano-Dino Ciccarelli

Brendan Morrow-Neal Broten-Dave Gagner

Jamie Benn-Bobby Smith-Jere Lehtinen

Joe Nieuwendyk-Timothy Young-Bill Goldsworthy

Defense

Sergei Zubov-Darryl Sydor

Craig Hartsburg-Brad Maxwell

Derian Hatcher-Trevor Daley

Goalie

Marty Turco

The Dallas Stars, formerly known as the Minnesota North Stars, won their only Stanley Cup in franchise history in 2000 over the Buffalo Sabres. That team was led by American born centerman Mike Modano. Mike Modano will be called on to lead this all-time greatest team as well. Modano, the highest scoring American in NHL history with 1,359 points has a solid supporting cast around him with Brain Bellows and Dino Ciccarelli on his wings. Some other notable names on the offense are Neal Broten, Jaime Benn, and Joe Nieuwendyk. Jaime Benn has turned himself into a superstar in the NHL over the last few seasons, and look for that to continue, Should Benn continue to produce at the rate he is over the next few seasons he will see himself as the left winger next to Modano someday. Defense is a slight concern for me. I don’t believe that Sergei Zubov and Darryl Sydor are worthy enough as compared to some of the other defensive units we have seen so far on this list. But nonetheless, they are the two best Dallas has to offer. The Stars will have to rely on the franchise’s all-time wins leader to keep the puck out of the net. Marty Turco was an absolute stud in the mid-2000s, and if he should play to his best abilities than the Stars all-time team should be alright in an all-time greatest season.

Embed from Getty Images

4. St. Louis Blues:

Forwards

Brian Sutter-Bernard Federko-Brett Hull

Keith Tkachuk-Garry Unger-Pavol Demitra

Alex Steen-Vladimir Tarasenko-David Backes

TJ Oshie-Pierre Turgeon-Red Berenson

Defense

Al Macinnis-Chris Pronger

Rob Ramage-Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk

Goalie

Curtis Joseph

Here is a very interesting team if you ask me. The St. Louis Blues came into the NHL during the first expansion in 1967, and they have yet to win a Stanley Cup. I have absolutely zero feelings towards the Blues, they could win a cup and I wouldn’t be happy nor upset, they have always just blended in for me. But I do think that their all-time roster has a chance to do some damage. Brett Hull is probably the greatest Blue there has ever been, so look for Hull to be the captain of this team. He will lead the offense along with Brian Sutter on the top line. Keith Tkachuk is another great player to watch as well. Tkachuk will play big time power play minutes on this team and definitely be a big time contributor to the offense. The thir line is made up of a bunch of current, or very recent Blues players. David Backes is shipping up to Boston this season to hopefully help turn the big bad Bruins ship around, but he is definetly deserving of a spot on the St. Louis all-time roster. The defense on this team is incredibly solid as well. Al Macinnis and Chris Pronger are a great first defensive unit to have on any team. The other two lines are highlighted by current Blues point men Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk. CuJo, of Curtis Joseph is the second all-time wins leader in The Lou, but he is by far the greatest goalie the Blue have ever had. Give CuJo one more year in St. Louis and he has the all-time wins record for them in the bag.

Embed from Getty Images

5. Nashville Predators:

Forwards

Steve Sullivan-David Legwand-Martin Erat

Scott Walker-Jason Arnott-JP Dumont

Paul Kariya-Cliff Ronning-Patric Hornqvist

Colin Wilson-Greg Johnson-Mike Fisher

Defense

Shea Weber-PK Subban

Kimmo Timonen-Roman Josi

Ryan Suter-Ryan Ellis

Goalie

Pekka Rinne

Let’s clear the air before we get started here, I LOVE the Nashville Predators. The Boston Bruins will always be my main chick, but I am very open about the Preds being my side piece. With that said, this team isn’t looking too good, offensively. David Legwand was the best forward that the Predators ever had, but he cannot compare at all to some of the other first line centers we’ve seen on this list. Now right to defense, and that top pair of Shea Weber and PK Subban. PK hasn’t a damn shift for the Predators yet, but he is in his prime, and coming from the Canadiens for who other than… Shea Weber. Weber is by far the best defenseman the Predators have ever had, but look for PK Subban to try an dethrone him in the coming years as he leads the Predators to their first Stanley Cup. The defense on this team is great if you ask me, they are a solid unit that can lock down the points and score goals when need be. Also, when Pekka Rinne is between the pipes, you have a shot in any game. Pekka Rinne is a Finnish Phenom who is going to someday lead my Preds to the Holy Grail of hockey. As for the way the Predators will fair in an all-time greatest season, well they need some work. They can compete and drop a few upsets here and there, but they aren’t going too far, that’s a guarantee.

Embed from Getty Images

6. Minnesota Wild:

Forwards

Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Marian Gaborik

Andrew Brunette-Pierre Marc Bouchard-Jason Pominville

Kyle Brodziak-Wes Walz-Brian Rolston

Mikael Granlund-Charlie Coyle-Pascal Dupuis

Defense

Ryan Suter-Filip Kuba

Brent Burns-Jared Spurgeon

Nick Schultz-Marek Zidlicky

Goalie

Niklas Backstrom

Uh oh. This is a team in for a long season in an all-time greatest roster season. It’s not the players fault either, there are some really good players on this list like Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, and NiK Backstrom, but the Wild haven’t been around since as long as I’ve been alive. Hockey returned to Minnesota in 2000 after the North Stars headed south for Dallas, but the Wild have been pretty irrelevant for the most part of their existence. They have never made it to a Conference Finals and have only made the playoffs a handful of times, and the majority of those trips have been recent. Brian Rolston, Charlie Coyle, and Nick Schultz are all very good players, but they should never appear on an all-time greatest team. This team would honestly struggle in the NHL right now with this roster. Marian Gaborik was pretty solid for a few seasons but he can’t compete against Joe Sakic, Mike Modano, and Bobby Hull. The hardest decision for this team was goalie. I wanted nothing more than to put Manny Fernandez in net for the Wild, but after looking at the stats and what each goalie has accomplished for the Wild the choice became more clear, Niklas Backstrom was the guy. He leads the franchise in wins all-time, but I guarantee he will be passed by Devan Dubnyk someday. So for now the Wilds all-time greatest team is a cellar dweller in an all-time greatest roster season.

Embed from Getty Images

7. Winnipeg Jets:

Forwards

Vyacheslav Kozlov-Bryan Little-Ilya Kovalchuk

Andrew Ladd-Marc Savard-Blake Wheeler

Dany Heatley-Nik Antropov-Marian Hossa

Evander Kane-Patrik Stepan-Jim Slater

Defense

Dustin Byfuglien-Zach Bogosian

Toby Enstrom-Ron Hainsey

Jacob Trouba-Yannick Trembley

Goalie

Ondrej Pavelec

0-82.