Tag: Jason Pominville

Poll: Will Minnesota’s power play improve this season?


The Wild’s power play was so bad last season that, at one point, Zach Parise had to ask fans to stop booing the club when they had the man advantage.

Minnesota’s power play was clicking at just 15.8 efficiency at the end of the regular season – good for 27th overall.

Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek finished second and third in points behind Parise, but both struggled in man advantage situations. Vanek scored just five of his 21 goals with the man advantage – his fewest in a season. Pominville scored three goals on the power play – his lowest full-season total since his rookie campaign (2005-06).

Speaking with Mackey and Judd on ESPN radio in Minnesota last week, Wild head coach Mike Yeo said his coaching staff has spent part of the offseason working on improving the team’s power play.

“We’ve spent a lot of time for sure, between (assistant coach) Andrew Brunette and myself, looking at different schemes (and) tactics that we can try to get the players a better chance to have success with,” Yeo said. “I think it’s got to be a personnel thing, just in terms of the combinations that we use and how we deploy them, probably a 1A, 1B. Making sure those two groups have competition against each other. I think in a lot of ways, for us, it’s a mentality (and) it’s a philosophy.”

According to Yeo, there’s one area of the power play that needs improvement on last season.

“We’re a skilled team, but we’re not the most skilled team,” said Yeo. “Most successful power plays around the league are still shooting power plays and the most successful power plays have the best net-front (presence). I think of all the areas, I think our net-front has probably been the worst part of our power play. That’s an area we have to improve.”

OK, time to vote:

Wild’s biggest question: Who will step up at center?

Mikael Granlund

In addition to whether Devan Dubnyk can replicate his 2014-15 season, one of the biggest questions surrounding the Minnesota Wild heading into this season is at center.

According to NHL.com, Wild centers were amongst the least productive in the league last season combining for 49 goals. Captain Mikko Koivu led the way with 14 goals while Mikael Granlund accounted for just eight goals.

In order to improve in this area they’ll need more from Granlund – the 23-year-old, who centered a line with Jason Pominville and Zach Parise last season, will be expected to contribute more offensively.

“I don’t think anybody anticipates Granlund to be an eight-goal, 40-point guy for the rest of his career,” GM Chuck Fletcher said after signing Granlund to a new two-year, $6 million deal in July. “He is going to take off here over the next two years.”

The Wild also believe Charlie Coyle can be a full-time center. Speaking with Mackey and Judd on ESPN radio in Minnesota last week, Mike Yeo said Coyle would start the season at center.

Coyle scored 11 goals and 35 points in 82 games last season.

“You look at a guy like David Backes, for instance, he’s a centerman, he’s pretty much a fulltime centerman right now, but he spent a lot of time bouncing around,” said Yeo. “I like (Coyle’s) improvement at center last year, in particular, in his defensive game, I know he’s a real reliable guy especially to have a big body like that. You can throw him out there against an Anze Kopitar, who is (6-foot-3) and (225-pounds), you know he’s not going to get out-muscled down low. That’s a real valuable thing to have.

“What’s important for him now is if he can take another step offensively playing that position.”

More will also be expected of Erik Haula. The 24-year-old, who signed a two-year extension earlier this month, took a step back last season. Haula scored six goals and 15 points in 46 regular season games during the 2013-14 season. He added four goals and seven points in 13 playoff games.

Last season, Haula managed to score just seven goals and 14 points in 72 games.

“Just because he had a bit of a down year last year, we’re certainly not ready to give up on him because we’ve also seen the flip side,” said Yeo. “We’ve seen what he’s capable of and it’s just a process that these young kids have to go through.”

The Wild also lost Kyle Brodziak in free agency. The 31-year-old was amongst the top-scoring centers in Minnesota last season with nine goals.

Related: Looking to make the leap: Mike Reilly

Wild ’15-16 Outlook

Zach Parise

When looking at the Minnesota Wild, it’s easy to see their potential, but without making any major additions over the summer, are they in a position to get past the second round for the first time since 2003?

To a decent extent, Minnesota’s fate rests on Devan Dubnyk’s shoulders. This is a team that was in a free fall when he was acquired and his stellar play helped right the ship. Minnesota doesn’t necessarily need him to win the Vezina Trophy, but if he struggles mightily, as he did in 2013-2014, then Minnesota could be in serious trouble. Of course Darcy Kuemper and perhaps even Niklas Backstrom could step up to fill the void in that scenario, but Backstrom is 37 years old with a history of injuries while Kuemper is coming off of an erratic campaign.

Part of the reason why so much rides on Dubnyk though is because Minnesota’s offense hasn’t been anything to write home about. Which is a shame because in theory, Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek, and Mikko Koivu should make for a great core and when you throw in promising youngsters like Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, and Charlie Coyle, the potential is there for the Wild to be more than a middle of the road team when it comes to offensive production.

That’s what they were last season though, in part because Koivu regressed while Granlund, Niederreiter, and Coyle weren’t able to make meaningful offensive improvements compared to their 2013-14 campaigns. Perhaps that will change this season though and if it does, that would certainly take some of the pressure off of the Wild’s goaltending.

As far as their defense goes, Ryan Suter is expected to once again play in nearly half of every game. Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella, and Jonas Brodin are projected to make major contributions too, but the X-factor is 21-year-old Matt Dumba as he should play a bigger role in his sophomore campaign after being limited to 15:00 minutes per contest last season.

The makings of a contender are there. It’s just a question of if everyone will click this time around.

Hudler edges out Datsyuk to win Lady Byng Trophy

2015 NHL Awards - Show

Jiri Hudler had a career season with 31 goals and 76 points in 78 contests. Along the way he only accumulated 14 penalty minutes and that helped him secure this year’s Lady Byng Trophy.

Among the top-20 scorers, he had the fewest PIM. Pavel Datsyuk, who has won this award four times, was a close second though with 648 votes to Hudler’s 700. There was a big drop off after that as Anze Kopitar just got 379 points. Hudler’s teammate, Sean Monahan, was the only player outside of the top three with at least 10 first-place votes (13).

Here are the voting results for the award, cutting off at the top 10:

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)
1. Jiri Hudler, CGY 700 (52-13-12-8-5)
2. Pavel Datsyuk, DET 648 (29-28-24-10-12)
3. Anze Kopitar, LAK 379 (11-18-20-13-4)
4. Daniel Sedin, VAN 267 (6-10-15-18-8)
5. Sean Monahan, CGY 232 (13-5-8-7-6)
6. Jason Pominville, MIN 205 (8-10-7-5-5)
7. Matt Moulson, BUF 150 (4-8-6-6-6)
8. Logan Couture, SJS 148 (3-6-2-16-18)
9. Ryan O’Reilly, COL 139 (2-8-7-6-10)
10. Patrick Kane, CHI 130 (3-4-8-8-8)

Here’s a list of the Lady Byng Trophy winners and second-place finishers since 1990:

Year Winner Runner-up

2015 Jiri Hudler, Cgy. Pavel Datsyuk, Det.
2014 Ryan O’Reilly, Col. Martin St. Louis, NYR
2013 Martin St. Louis, T.B. Patrick Kane, Chi.
2012 Brian Campbell, Fla. Jordan Eberle, Edm.
2011 Martin St. Louis, T.B. Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
2010 Martin St. Louis, T.B. Brad Richards, Dal.
2009 Pavel Datsyuk, Det. Martin St. Louis, T.B.
2008 Pavel Datsyuk, Det. Martin St. Louis, T.B.
2007 Pavel Datsyuk, Det. Martin St. Louis, T.B.
2006 Pavel Datsyuk, Det. Brad Richards, T.B.
2004 Brad Richards, T.B. Daniel Alfredsson, Ott.
2003 Alex. Mogilny, Tor. Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
2002 Ron Francis, Car. Joe Sakic, Col.
2001 Joe Sakic, Col. Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
2000 Pavol Demitra, St.L Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
1999 Wayne Gretzky, NYR Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
1998 Ron Francis, Pit. Teemu Selanne, Ana.
1997 Paul Kariya, Ana. Teemu Selanne, Ana.
1996 Paul Kariya, Ana. Adam Oates, Bos.
1995 Ron Francis, Pit. Adam Oates, Bos.
1994 Wayne Gretzky, L.A. Adam Oates, Bos.
1993 Pierre Turgeon, NYI Adam Oates, Bos.
1992 Wayne Gretzky, L.A. Joe Sakic, Que.
1991 Wayne Gretzky, L.A. Brett Hull, St.L
1990 Brett Hull, St.L Wayne Gretzky, L.A.

Video: Blackhawks hold off Wild to take series lead


Jason Pominville might lose sleep over this one.

Late in the third period, with the Minnesota Wild pressing for the tying goal to send Game 1 into overtime, the puck took a fortuitous bounce off the end glass and eventually found its way to Pominville in a prime shooting location. But the puck was rolling, and Pominville sent his shot well wide of the net, with goalie Corey Crawford beat.

The host Chicago Blackhawks held on from there for the 4-3 victory and a 1-0 series lead over the Wild.

Earlier on, it looked like this game might turn into a blowout. The Blackhawks, in front of their home crowd, erupted to beat Devan Dubnyk three times on eight shots, taking a 3-0 lead into the intermission.

But the Wild battled back. Jason Zucker, Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund scored within a span of 9:30 into the middle period, getting Minnesota back into a tie game. Dubnyk did his part, making a spectacular save on Patrick Sharp to ensure the Wild didn’t fall further behind when still trailing by two.

However, Teuvo Teravainen’s first career playoff goal — a wrist shot from the side boards that got by Dubnyk — with under a minute remaining in that frantic second period stood as the winner.