Minnesota is proving to be the prime example of how life in the Western Conference can be rough. Last month, the Wild were looking like a potentially tough team to draw in the playoffs. After losses in nine of their last 14 games and being shutout in their last two games and compile a total of 33 shots in both games, things are feeling down in the dumps and times are desperate.
The Wild get a dose of good news today as Michael Russo of The Star Tribune tells us that they’ll get forward Cal Clutterbuck and defenseman Clayton Stoner back in the lineup against Vancouver tonight. For Clutterbuck, it’ll be his first game since receiving a blow to the head that led to Islanders forward Trevor Gillies being suspended for 10 games.
Making things all the more intriguing for the Wild is that captain and top center Mikko Koivu is a game time decision to play. Russo gives his insight there.
The big question mark right now is Mikko Koivu. The Wild’s captain, head coach Todd Richards and medical trainer Don Fuller had a long talk on the bench after the morning skate. Koivu and Richards said he’s a gametime decision. Koivu said “we’ll see” when asked if he’d skate warmups. Richards said he will skate warmups.
Richards said they were just trying to map out a plan on the bench and “it’s real, real close” to Koivu returning.
I’ve got to think he’s in. It could do more harm than good if Koivu skates warmups and then there’s all of a sudden a dejection because Koivu’s jersey comes off the hanger.
We’re inclined to agree with Russo on this one. After all, when a captain is giving it a go in warmups that’s a bit different than just another guy in the lineup. Taking the captain out when the team is in desperate need for a win and four points out of the eighth spot going against the top team in the conference is the sort of psychological kick in the groin you shouldn’t be delivering when your team needs a lift in a big way.
We don’t want to go writing any teams off before they’re eliminated, but if Koivu doesn’t go tonight and Vancouver spanks the Wild, it might be time for Wild fans to start scouting prospects for the 2011 NHL Draft.
‘He doesn’t seem to get rattled’: Blues officially name Alex Pietrangelo team captain
Selected fourth overall in 2008, Pietrangelo has played 459 games for the Blues, with 51 goals and 255 points in that span. He takes over the ‘C’ from David Backes, who signed with the Boston Bruins as a free agent this summer, following the Blues’ run to the Western Conference Final.
“Watching him perform when the game is on the line, he doesn’t seem to get rattled,” said Blues GM Doug Armstrong of Pietrangelo, as per the club’s website.
“As the captain, you have to answer questions, the tough questions when games are over. I really like his personality, his demeanor to his teammates, to the coaching staff and to the media. He’s someone that has the respect of everyone.”
In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at the end of July, Pietrangelo praised Backes for the impact he had on the young defenseman as he was developing with the Blues.
“I think being so close with Dave over the five years he was captain, I’ve learned a lot from him just kind of sitting back and seeing how he operates on a daily basis,” said Pietrangelo.
“Not only on the ice but off the ice, which is a big part of it trying to keep the locker room together and doing the off-ice stuff.”
Arizona Coyotes fans anticipating Dave Bolland‘s debut for his new team will have to wait, and a long time, too, by the sounds of it.
On Thursday, the Florida Panthers traded the 30-year-old Bolland and prospect Lawson Crouse to the Coyotes in exchange for draft picks. Bolland, who has an annual cap hit of $5.5 million, played in only 25 games last season, scoring once with five points.
The move frees up plenty of cap space for the Panthers, while the Coyotes did well to pick up a young forward in Crouse, a former first-round pick who has yet to play in the NHL.
However, at the moment, Bolland is dealing with an injury that could keep him out of any lineup for quite a while. Perhaps the entire season.
#Coyotes' Chayka says Dave Bolland likely "won't be ready to play for the foreseeable future." Injured for the long term.
This latest development might add salt in the wound of Red Wings fans who wish the skilled but aging center was still playing for the Original Six franchise.
He has now scored his first goal since returning to the KHL. Another former NHLer, Ilya Kovalchuk, set it up off the rush. Datsyuk finished off the play with a slick backhander coming down the right wing.
At age 43 Jaromir Jagr was the oldest player in the NHL last season by more than four years.
You would have never known it when watching him play.
He was still a dominant top-line player and on many night was the best player on the team. His 66 points were more than any player in NHL history age 43 or older, and he finished as the team’s leading scorer.
While he has obviously slowed down from where he was during his peak years in the league when he was one of best players ever, he is still playing at a level that almost no other player in NHL history has been able to match at this age. And there doesn’t seem to be any sign of him dramatically slowing down in the near future.
So with Jagr back in the mix for another year, will he end up leading the Panthers in scoring once again even though he will be 44 years old? Jagr is one of just three players in NHL history that has ever finished as his team’s leading scorer over the age of 40, a list that includes only him, Gordie Howe and Teemu Selanne. He is the only player that has done it over the age of 43 and the only one that has done it for two different teams (New Jesrey in 2013-14 and Florida in 2015-16).
The one player that seems to be a significant challenger is Aleksander Barkov. He finished just seven points behind Jagr in 2015-16 (in 12 fewer games) and spent most of the season playing on a line with Jagr and Jonathan Huberdeau, a trio that was one of the most dominant lines in the league when they were together. But given how Jagr still seems to be in great shape and was still a 60-point player a year ago he is not going to be easy to overtake.