Even as the Minnesota Wild continued to pile up points in the standings in recent weeks, coach Bruce Boudreau was still concerned with some of the trends he had seen developing over the past few games.
He had to be pretty happy with the way his team played on Sunday night in his first game back in Anaheim since he he was fired by the Ducks after the 2015-16 season.
The Wild were 2-1 winners on Sunday night thanks to a clinical defensive performance that completely shut down the Ducks offense and helped Minnesota win for the 14th time in the past 16 games.
The win also allowed them to keep pace with the Chicago Blackhawks in the Central Division race. After Sunday the Wild remain two points behind Chicago for the top spot in the division but have still have four games in hand.
Keep in mind that Boudreau has won seven division titles in his seven full seasons as an NHL head coach, as well as his first partial season in Washington. The only year he did not win a division title in the NHL is the 2011-12 season when he was fired after 22 games in Washington and finished the season with Anaheim.
The loss for Anaheim snaps what had been a three-game winning streak and prevented them from moving into sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division.
After giving up at four goals in four consecutive games and five of their past six the Wild were not only able to limit the Ducks to just a single goal on Sunday, but also only 24 shots on goal. Ryan Suter, one of the featured players in Sunday’s game, had an especially strong performance in his 29 minutes of ice-time and was a key cog in the Wild’s defensive dominance.
Defensemen Matt Dumba and Jared Spurgeon provided the goals for the Wild in the win, while Ducks forward Ryan Kesler scored their lone goal.
Dumba’s goal tied the game during a 5-on-3 midway through the second period and it did not please Ducks goalie John Gibson. During the play Gibson’s mask had been knocked loose and he was clearly trying to get the attention of the referees to get a whistle. They did not oblige. Gibson did not get his whistle until Dumba’s one-timer ended up in the back of the net.
Another bold move by GM Marc Bergevin, another statement from Montreal Canadiens president/CEO Geoff Molson.
However Molson actually feels about the franchise’s decision to let Andrei Markov leave for the KHL, he provided quite the goodbye letter regarding the 38-year-old defenseman. One can’t help but wonder how Molson feels about Montreal’s overall makeover, whether you believe Mark Streit is really “replacing” Markov or not.
Anyway, that will need to wait. In the meantime, here’s the very kind statement from Molson to Markov:
“On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Andrei for his great contributions during his 16 seasons as a proud member of the Montreal Canadiens. Arguably one of the best defensemen in franchise history, Andrei was a model of dedication to the great game of hockey. A respected figure around the league and among his teammates, Andrei demonstrated leadership both on and off the ice. Andrei’s commitment to our franchise was second to none, proven by his overcoming three serious and potentially career-ending injuries. I would like to wish Andrei the best of luck in the next step of his career, and happiness with his family.”
Speaking of Canadiens all-timers, Larry Robinson had plenty of nice things to say about Markov, too.
Markov, Habs officially part ways.
Markov is headed to the KHL.
The Buffalo Sabres might have signed Evan Rodrigues back in 2015 in part because he enjoyed so much success as a college linemate with Jack Eichel at Boston University, but the undrafted forward seems like he’s making a case that he’ll be a part of their future in his own right.
The Sabres handed Rodrigues a two-year deal that is two-way in 2017-18 and one-way in 2018-19. Whenever he’s at the NHL level, it’s worth $650K per season.
Rodrigues debuted in 2015-16, scoring a goal and an assist in two games. He managed to play in 30 regular-season contests for the Sabres last season, collecting six points.
He’s shown quite a bit of improvement at the AHL level, in particular. After collecting 30 points in 72 games for the Rochester Americans in 2015-16, he scored 30 again in 2016-17, although he only needed 48 contests to do so. Rodrigues isn’t quite Matt Moulson to Eihel’s John Tavares just yet, but it’s possible that he might at least development into a regular NHL player.
Buffalo’s work isn’t done for the summer just yet, as RFAs Zemgus Girgensons and Nathan Beaulieu still need deals.
Andrei Markov wanted to play his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens. With that option officially off the table, Markov announced that he’s headed for Russia and the KHL.
“I didn’t see myself with any other NHL team,” Markov said during a conference call wrapping up his lengthy stay with the Habs. “I didn’t see myself wearing another jersey.”
(At least not the jersey of another NHL team.)
The 38-year-old also noted that he hasn’t closed the door to a return to Montreal. That makes sense since it seems like it was largely the Canadiens’ decision to part ways with Markov, essentially replacing him with Mark Streit at a heavily discounted rate.
Beyond the comforts of home, Markov was almost certainly motivated to play in the KHL because of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The veteran blueliner did not mention which KHL team he’ll end up playing for. There were some rumblings that Markov might sign with the Florida Panthers, but that turned out to not be true.
If it’s a one-year deal, a return to the Habs is at least feasible in 2018-19. Considering his age, it sure seems like this is the end of Markov’s lengthy run with the Canadiens, though.
One of the Isles’ feel-good stories from last season wrote a new chapter on Thursday.
Connor Jones, the undrafted 26-year-old that made his NHL debut in April, has signed a one-year, two-way extension, the club announced.
Jones certainly earned his way to the show. He spent four years at Quinnipiac before catching on with the Oilers, spending time with both their AHL and ECHL affiliates before jumping to the Isles organization in 2015.
Though he’s not an offensive producer — just 19 points in 58 games with Bridgeport last season — Jones emerged as a good energy guy that proved an effective penalty killer.
With AHL Bridgeport, he also played alongside his twin brother, Kellen, who was in attendance as Connor made his NHL debut in April.
Connor would go on to play four games for the Isles, averaging just under 12 minutes per night.