The numbers don’t lie. Minnesota is one of the best defensive teams in the NHL. Just don’t call the Wild passive. New coach Mike Yeo hates it when people make that assumption.
“Just the word passive really irks me,” Yeo told ESPN. “There’s nothing passive about the way we play. I don’t think teams that are playing against us are going to be under the impression that we’re a passive team. We always have somebody pressuring the puck. We like to do it where we have good structure and we’re protecting certain areas and we’re taking away certain options.”
Minnesota forward Kyle Brodziak concurs, telling Puck Daddy that the team doesn’t get enough credit for playing aggressive hockey. The Wild doesn’t trap, he maintains. That’s just its unshakable reputation.
“It’s a different style than what Jacques Lemaire would be coaching,” said Brodziak. “Mike preaches being aggressive on the forecheck. You look at other teams that are playing more defensively, and I don’t think they’re as aggressive. We’re playing our best when the first guy’s going after the puck as hard as he can. We want to put pressure on teams.”
After 28 games, the Wild is 18-7-3 and first overall in the NHL. Only two teams – Boston (2.04) and St. Louis (2.11) – are surrendering fewer goals per game than Minnesota (2.14).
On the other hand, only five teams are scoring fewer goals per game than the Wild (2.39). Thus, all the tightly-fought contests, like Tuesday’s 2-1 win in San Jose.
In fact, Minnesota hasn’t won by more than two goals since Nov. 8, a 3-0 victory over Calgary. And it’s won 10 times since then.
Sustainable? Let’s hear it in the comments section.
Teuvo Teravainen has played both center and right wing over the course of his brief NHL career.
Now, he’s got a new position — left wing — and a pair of shiny new linemates to boot.
Teravainen will open the year playing alongside captain Jonathan Toews and right wing Marian Hossa, per the Sun-Times.
The move could be a boon for the young Finn. Several ex-Chicago wingers thrived playing alongside Toews and Hossa, most notably Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp.
It’ll be interesting to see what kind of production Teravainen, who just turned 21 last month, can manufacture on Chicago’s top line. His numbers from last year weren’t spectacular (nine points in 34 games), but he did a solid job of racking up points en route to the Stanley Cup, with 10 in 18 games.
It’ll also be interesting to see how long he sticks with Toews and Hossa.
Head coach Joel Quenneville has been known as a frequent user of the line blender, often switching up his combos at at moment’s notice.
That said, Quenneville is hoping to find some stability with this new-look group.
“[Teuvo will] play there to start the season,” he said. “Hopefully, all year.”
Pretty cool story out of Texas, where Mattias Janmark, the 22-year-old rookie that’s played a grand total of nine games in North America, has defied the odds to make the Stars’ opening-night roster.
“It’s a great story,” Dallas GM Jim Nill said, per the Morning News. “We really only planned to have him here for maybe two preseason games and then send him back. But he just kept being one of the best players out there, and he changed our minds.
“It’s a great example of what you can do if you just play hard.”
Nill acquired Janmark, 22, from Detroit at last year’s deadline as part of the Erik Cole trade. Nill was familiar with the Swedish forward from his time with the Wings — he was part of the front office team that drafted Janmark in ’13 — but didn’t think the deal would pay such immediate dividends.
As for Janmark, he didn’t even think he’d be in North America this year.
He has a contract with SHL club Frolunda, where he scored 36 points in 55 games last year. Given he’s barely played in the AHL — a few games with Grand Rapids, a few with Texas — Janmark figured he’d be back in Europe this season.
His strong play in the exhibition season changed all that. Janmark beat out two of Dallas’ touted prospects — former AHL rookie of the year Curtis McKenzie, and ’12 first-rounder Radek Faksa — for a roster spot, and showed good chemistry with third-line center Cody Eakin.
Janmark also performed well on a line with Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky.