If you’ve paid attention to the Minnesota Wild at all the past couple of seasons, chances are you’ve already heard about defenseman Mathew Dumba.
Dumba was the Wild’s first-round pick in 2012, seventh overall, out of Red Deer and was selected in hopes of becoming an eventual stud on a Minnesota blue line that desperately needed one. Now two years later, the Wild have Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin leading the way, and Dumba has gotten a taste of what the NHL is like after playing 13 games last season before being sent back to juniors.
Now that he’s grown up, his time in junior hockey is at an end. In 26 games with the Portland Winterhawks last season, he had 24 points. He added another 18 points in 21 playoff games and showed that not only was his defensive game strong, but his ability to generate offense was as well.
That kind of development is what the Wild are hoping will turn him into a regular on the Minnesota blue line right away. Outside of Suter and Brodin, the rest of the defense leaves the door open for Dumba to jump in.
Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella, and Keith Ballard make up what will likely be part of the next three spots. That leaves Dumba, Jonathon Blum, Stu Bickel and rookie Christian Folin to compete for the other starting spot, as well as the reserves.
As it is, Ballard and Blum bounced in and out of the lineup last season with Blum going between the AHL and NHL regularly. Bickel spent all of last season in the AHL and Folin is fresh out of UMass-Lowell in Hockey East.
If nothing else, the opportunity is there for Dumba to seize the day and make the team right out of training camp. At 20 years old, it may be daunting for the Wild to add another young guy to the blue line, but if his skills are up to it and his development won’t suffer – it may be his time to shine.
Well, that was quite a third period.
For the Boston Bruins, it was disastrous. For the Tampa Bay Lightning, it propelled them to a critical victory in the playoff race.
Nikita Kucherov completed the hat trick with a pair of goals in the final period and Jonathan Drouin scored what would eventually be the winner, as Tampa Bay snapped its own three-game losing streak in a 6-3 victory, putting the Bolts within three points of the final wild card spot — held by the Bruins — in the Eastern Conference.
The Drouin goal — his 18th of the season but first since Feb. 19, a span of 13 games — is probably one Tuukka Rask would like back.
Drouin teed up the slap shot from the faceoff circle, beating Rask under the left arm.
And just like that, the Bruins have lost four consecutive games. On Saturday, they face the New York Islanders, another team looking to catch Boston in the wild card race.
Read more: Remember this stretch if Bruins settle for a wild card spot (or worse?)
The Islanders are only two points back of Boston.
Despite the win, there was bad news for the Lightning during this game, as defenseman Jason Garrison left with an injury.
The play occurred behind the Lightning goal, Garrison appearing to get his left leg rolled up from behind by a Bruin. Garrison had to be helped off the ice by Anton Stralman and Brayden Point and headed back to the Bolts’ locker room.
The team announced during the second intermission that Garrison sustained a lower-body injury. He did not return to the game.
As promised, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin rocked a pair of custom skates in honor of Russian Heritage Night on Thursday.
On his right skate, he paid tribute to the United States with a custom design, and paid tribute to his home nation on his left skate while taking the pre-game warm-up prior to facing the Columbus Blue Jackets.
He’ll be auctioning off the skates, as well.
From CSN Mid-Atlantic:
The skates were painted by noted custom shoe artists Nick Avery and Polo Kerber, whom Ovechkin personally selected. The skates feature the U.S. and Russia flags as well as the Capitol Building and Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral.
Sidney Crosby has made news lately for his goal scoring and his use of the stick.
He speared Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly below the belt the other night, and on Thursday he delivered a slash to Senators defenseman Marc Methot, who has since not returned to the game.
The slash rendered a finger on Methot’s left hand bloodied and injured. It certainly didn’t look good as Method (calmly) skated to the bench.
There was no call on the play.
Updated: Methot won’t return to this game.
Toronto’s talented rookies were back at it again Thursday, as William Nylander and Auston Matthews combined to set up the Maple Leafs’ first goal versus the New Jersey Devils.
Nylander added the second assist on the power play goal, giving him 35 helpers on the season.
That’s significant for a couple of reasons: He extends his point streak to 10 games, which sets a new Leafs rookie record. And the assist reportedly secured him another entry-level bonus: