Separated by roughly 500 miles and set to become divisional foes next season, Winnipeg and Minnesota already had the makings for a pretty healthy rivalry.
Now, there’s more.
On Friday, the Wild traded forward Devin Setoguchi to Winnipeg for a 2014 2nd-round pick, and Setoguchi is already talking about the chance to play his former club.
“It was always said that the rivalry was going to happen between Winnipeg and Minnesota. Now it’s going to grow even bigger for me,” Setoguchi told the Winnipeg Sun. “We probably play each other seven or eight times and that’s going to make it more fun and make it even more (significant) for myself when we play those guys.”
What’s more, Setoguchi didn’t even hear about the trade from the Wild brass.
Down in Mexico to attend the wedding of teammate (now former teammate) Clayton Stoner, the 26-year-old winger found out he’d been dealt after another ex-mate, Zenon Konopka, showed him on his iPad.
To be clear, Setoguchi didn’t sound disappointed or angry at the trade, or how it transpired.
In fact, he sounded downright excited at the possibility of playing on the wing opposite Evander Kane when the season opens in the fall.
“If I do get that opportunity, obviously it’s pretty exciting,” Setoguchi said. “He’s a pretty special player, a pretty electric player.
“He’s a pretty good player and he can do a lot of things other than just shoot.”
The Wild were better in the second period, but they still couldn’t figure out Connor Hellebuyck.
This is the third year in a row that Minnesota has been bounced in the opening round of the postseason. In 2016, they were eliminated in six games by the Dallas Stars and last year, they watched as St. Louis took them down in five.
Even though they finished the year with over a 100 points, it’s another disappointing year for them. It’s tough to envision them making major changes to the roster because Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are under contract for six more years. It’ll be interesting to see what they can do to shake up this roster or their staff.
As for the Jets, they’ll face either the Nashville Predators or the Colorado Avalanche (the Preds are up 3-1 in their best-of-seven series). Winnipeg definitely looked explosive in Game 5, and they’ll need to keep rolling if they want to reach the Western Conference Final.
With their season on the line on Friday night the Philadelphia Flyers are making a change in goal.
Michal Neuvirth, who has played just 59 minutes of NHL hockey since Feb. 18, will get the Game 5 start in goal when they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Neuvirth replaced Brian Elliott in Philadelphia’s Game 4 loss on Wednesday night after Elliott gave up three goals on 17 shots, the second time he was benched in the first four games. The Flyers have already used three goalies in this series with Elliott, Neuvirth, and Petr Mrazek all getting playing time. None of them have played well.
Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers, William Karlsson of the Vegas Golden Knights, and Ryan O’Reilly of the Buffalo Sabres have been named as the three finalists for the 2018 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, the NHL announced on Friday. The award, voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, is given “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”
The winner will be announced during the NHL Awards show in Las Vegas on June 20.
The Case for Aleksander Barkov: The Panthers center certainly has the “high standard of playing ability” part down with a season that saw him lead the team with 78 points and finish tied for third in goals with 27. Barkov played the fifth-most minutes (1,743:32) among NHL forwards and only picked up seven minor penalties. This is the second time he’s been named a finalist in the last three seasons.
The Case for William Karlsson: Karlsson had a monster of a season with 43 goals and 78 points during the Golden Knights’ historic first year. In playing 1,534:47, the 25-year-old forward racked up only 12 PIMs. Should Karlsson win, he would become the first player to win an end-of-season trophy for a team in its inaugural season since Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers won the Byng and Hart Trophy and in 1979-80.
The Case for Ryan O'Reilly: O’Reilly missed one game this season and logged 1,686:10 of ice time for the Sabres. He recorded only one penalty all season, way back on Oct. 24 versus Detroit, a slashing call. His one penalty is the fewest among NHL players who suited up for at least 41 games this season. He’s a previous winner having taken home the trophy in 2014 while a member of the Colorado Avalanche.