The Minnesota Wild are in a funk right now.
They’re 3-10-3 in their last 16 games, three points back of the final wild card spot in the Western Conference and just put key blueliner Jonas Brodin on IR with a broken foot.
So, clearly, the team and head coach Mike Yeo are hoping for better times ahead, and Yeo hopes they begin tonight when the Wild kick off a three-game homestand with a date against Central Division rivals Dallas.
It’s interesting that Yeo’s addressing the Xcel faithful, while also acknowledging fans are irked by the team’s recent play. The timing of these remarks comes with the Wild boasting a good record at home (14-8-3) but having really struggled on the road — Minnesota has just nine away wins this year, the fewest among all Central teams.
Of course, there could be other reasons Yeo’s trying to get fans pumped for the upcoming home swing.
The next three games at Xcel are of the measuring stick variety. Dallas currently sits third overall in the NHL and boasts the league’s highest scoring offense (the Stars have also beat the Wild three out of four times this season already).
After the Dallas game, there’s another big one — the NHL’s top team, Washington, comes to town on Thursday.
After the Caps game, Boston — 7-2-1 in its last 10 — takes on the Wild in a Saturday matinee.
Alex Ovechkin scored to join Wayne Gretzky and Mike Gartner as only players with at least 30 goals in each of their first 11 NHL seasons, and Matt Niskanen netted the game winner as Washington beat the Flyers 3-2 at Verizon on Super Bowl Sunday.
Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz replied for the Flyers, who suffered their second straight loss.
The win was the Capitals’ third in a row.
It didn’t always look as though Washington would emerge the victor, however. The Caps were out-shot 35-30 on the day and looked disjointed at times, finishing with 12 giveaways (Philly was credited with just five, for comparison’s sake).
But good teams find ways to win when they’re not playing especially well, and the Caps are a pretty good team — especially when Braden Holtby is on his game.
Holtby, atop many Vezina lists at the moment, had another terrific outing on Sunday, making 33 saves, perhaps none better than this one on Mark Streit in the second period:
Holtby’s counterpart, Steve Mason, had a solid outing as well, finishing with 27 stops.
Looking ahead, the Caps will now head out on a three-game Western Conference swing through Minnesota, Nashville and what promises to be a high-octane game in Dallas on Feb. 13.
The Flyers, meanwhile, will now kick off a three-game homestand against Anaheim, Buffalo and New Jersey.
Winnipeg forward Drew Stafford will meet with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for his high stick on Colorado’s Nick Holden on Saturday night, the DoPS announced this afternoon.
There was no immediate video of the incident available. Stafford wasn’t penalized on the play, which occurred during the third period; Holden finished the final frame with 10 shifts for 6:46 of ice time.
Stafford, 30, has a clean disciplinary history and hasn’t been fined or suspended during his 10-year NHL career.
Braden Holtby continued his Vezina-worthy campaign on Super Bowl Sunday with an outrageous pad stop on Flyers d-man Mark Streit, midway through the Washington-Flyers game on NBC.
Pretty impressive effort from “Holt-beast,” who currently sits first in the NHL in wins, with 32.
The Red Wings will stick with the tried-and-true duo of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg after the pair played well together in Saturday win over the Islanders, head coach Jeff Blashill confirmed.
More, from the Detroit Free Press:
“They did a good job,” Blashill said. “What did we call them – Eurotwins? I thought there were moments when you saw that, where they played off each other well.
“I told them this isn’t going to be a short-term thing, and I don’t know what long-term means, but we’ve got a good home stand here, let’s see if they can feed off each other. “
Blashill even used the the line, which had Justin Abdelkader on the right wing, against the Islanders top offensive threat, John Tavares.
“It was hard ice for them, but they did a good job,” Blashill said.
Detroit’s lack of offense has been a central theme this season, with Datsyuk recently imploring the team to score more goals. In yesterday’s 5-1 win, Datsyuk finished with a pair of helpers while Zetterberg fired two shots on goal.
Related: Wings not willing to sacrifice defense to generate more offense