For casual observers, the Minnesota Wild’s checklist might boil down to “stopping Nathan MacKinnon.” After falling behind 2-0 in their first-round series against the Colorado Avalanche, the Wild pointed to a broader goal: to find a way to slow down the Avalanche.
Both Norris-level defenseman Ryan Suter and Wild head coach Mike Yeo preached the need for Minnesota to avoid losing out on the speed and transition battle.
This is just a shot in the dark, but a change of locale might just help the Wild alleviate their problems.
One might assume that the high elevation in Colorado may benefit the Avalanche’s speedy young scorers – MacKinnon included – that much more. The series shifts to Minnesota in Game 3 and 4, so the Wild get the last change and the atmosphere they’re accustomed to.
That’s not to say it will all be easy. MacKinnon and the rest of Colorado’s strong scorers (Gabriel Landeskog and Paul Stastny have been fantastic, too) aren’t likely to fall off the map altogether in Minnesota. Maybe most notably, the Avalanche have been fantastic on the road; they generated identical home and away records of 26-11-4 this season.
Still, a change of venue might be a big positive for a Wild team likely grasping for optimism (and gasping for air).
Devan Dubnyk already showed signs of having a hot start to 2016-17, but Thursday made that point abundantly clear.
For the second straight game, Dubnyk generated a shutout, with the Minnesota Wild beating the Buffalo Sabres 4-0 in this instance.
It’s not as if Dubnyk is just leisurely turning aside the occasional chance, either; he made 38 saves to blank Buffalo and needed to stop 65 shots on goal considering the 27 he turned aside in a 5-0 win vs. Boston.
Ryan Suter said that Dubnyk bailed his teammates out during the second period, as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo reports.
He’s now allowed just 10 goals in six games so far in 2016-17, with Taylor Hall‘s overtime-winner being the last shot to beat him. That came on Sunday:
More often than not, Dubnyk’s been making those saves so far in this young season.
There are plenty of differences between Alex Ovechkin and Patrik Laine, including obvious things like one being from Russia and the other from Finland.
Still, there are moments when Laine inspires comparisons to his idol, even this early in his rookie season.
Thursday presented one of those moments. It wasn’t just that Laine fired a 3-0 goal home for the Winnipeg Jets against the Dallas Stars with such moxie; it was also that he showed some swagger with a celebration afterward.
This GIF captures the moment brilliantly, while you can also watch the goal in video form.
Sure, there will be some grumbles from the “act like you’ve been here before” crowd, but this is brilliant stuff for the rest of us.
Early this season, Dmitry Orlov delighted onlookers and angered Matt Duchene with a mind-blowing, throwback hip check. People really seemed to enjoy it.
While you’d struggle to top that hit, Philadelphia Flyers forward Sean Couturier must have sensed the void in checks that almost seem to flip opponents, doing so against Anthony Duclair during Thursday’s contest.
Rate this as you will:
Want another look at the Orlov one for comparison’s sake or to chuckle in disbelief? Why not:
As much as this Tampa Bay Lightning – Montreal Canadiens means right now, losing Nikita Kucherov would hang a dark cloud over any result for the Bolts.
There hasn’t been an update yet regarding whether Kucherov is actually injured – or if this is a minor vs. significant issue – but there are concerns after he fell into the boards during tonight’s game.
You can see the fall in video form above the headline and also in this GIF from Stephanie Hail: