Eight games into the season, nobody on the Minnesota Wild has more than three goals, but nine players have scored at least twice, and seven more have done it once.
Indeed, it’s been a very balanced attack that’s helped the Wild to a 5-2-1 start. They smoked the Sabres, 4-0, last night in Buffalo. Four different players got goals, including defenseman Ryan Suter.
“That’s how we have to win,” Suter told reporters. “We don’t have the superstars. We need everybody on the team participating.”
It’s interesting that Suter would mention the lack of superstars, because that’s the exact same message head coach Bruce Boudreau was pushing when he took the job in May.
“As much as I like Ovechkin and Getzlaf and Perry, you don’t need those guys to win,” Boudreau said. “You can do it the old-fashioned way. You do it as a team.”
It’s only been eight games, so the Wild still have a lot to prove. They were outshot, 38-22, last night, and their possession stats propose the possibility that an unsustainably high shooting percentage and great goaltending from Devan Dubnyk (4-1-1, .944) have been the real keys to their winning start.
“He’s carrying us right now,” d-man Matt Dumba said of Dubnyk, “so we’ll ride that wave.”
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with getting great goaltending, and the Wild shouldn’t have to apologize for burying their scoring chances either. Puck possession isn’t everything in hockey, and at any rate, possession stats don’t have the greatest predictive power so early in the season.
For now, Boudreau’s superstar-less group gets the benefit of the doubt.
The Wild host Dallas Saturday and Buffalo Tuesday before hitting the road for games in Denver, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Ottawa.
Tonight, the Carolina Hurricanes will get to do what every other NHL team has already done this season — play a game at home.
And they’re pretty stoked about it.
“Outstanding,” head coach Bill Peters said about finally getting to their home opener, per the Raleigh News & Obsever. “It’s outstanding to be at home.”
The ‘Canes opened the year with a six-game road trip, in which they went 1-3-2 (culminating with Tuesday’s 4-2 loss in Detroit.) At first glance, that might seem like a disappointment — securing just four of a possible 12 points — but there were some positives.
For one, Carolina knows it could’ve, and should’ve, snagged a few more points. The club had 3-0 leads on Winnipeg and Vancouver to start the trip but blew both, and ended up losing in overtime.
In Philly on Saturday, the ‘Canes had a 2-0 lead early in the second period before the Flyers scored four unanswered goals, and went on to a 6-3 win.
Offensively, the club has looked good, paced by the trio of Victor Rask, Jeff Skinner and Lee Stempniak. Those three often played on the club’s top line during the trip, and Rask emerged as the club’s leader with seven points through the first six games.
The hope for Peters and company is that the return to PNC Arena will change the negatives around. Tonight’s game against the Rangers is the first in a stretch where Carolina will play eight of 11 at home.
Tuomo Ruutu has found work.
After spending training camp and the exhibition campaign in Vancouver on a professional tryout, the veteran Finn has agreed to join Swiss National League A side HC Davos, the team announced on Friday.
Ruutu, 33, caught on with the Canucks after a 13-year career in which he played 735 games for three different teams — Chicago, Carolina and New Jersey. Injuries limited him to just 33 games for the Devils last season and, to be fair, several seasons prior as well.
Ruutu had only appeared in 186 of a possible 246 games over the last three years.
In his prime, Ruutu was an energetic winger that could bang and crash, as well as score goals. He netted a career-high 26 with the ‘Canes in ’08-09, and scored 15 or more five times in his career.
Though he lasted nearly the entire preseason with the Canucks, Ruutu was dropped just prior to the start of the regular season. Another veteran forward that attended camp on a PTO — Jack Skille — did manage to score a one-way deal from the Canucks, however.
Yesterday, we passed along news out of Winnipeg that veteran center Bryan Little would be out another month with a lower-body injury.
Today, the Jets have made a roster move to fill the void.
Dano, 21, has been an interesting figure the last couple of years. He burst onto the scene as a rookie in Columbus in ’14-15, scoring 21 points in 35 games while looking like a promising young talent.
As such, he was one of the key pieces the Jackets had to part with in the Brandon Saad trade with Chicago — but Dano struggled to find similar form in the Windy City. He played just 13 games under head coach Joel Quenneville, scoring two points, and was shuttled off to Winnipeg at the deadline as part of the Andrew Ladd deal.
Dano appeared in 21 games for Winnipeg last year, scoring eight points. But he failed to crack the team out of training camp this year and was dispatched to the minors, where he’s racked up a pair of assists in six games.
Dano could be in line for some immediate action. The Jets, 4-1 winners over Dallas last night, are back in action this evening as they take on the Avs in Colorado. On Sunday, Winnipeg is back in action again as it hosts Buffalo at the MTS Centre.