Tag: Jason Pominville

David Krejci, Mikael Granlund

NHL on NBCSN: Bruins, Wild try to find their footing


NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Boston Bruins host the Minnesota Wild at the TD Garden at 7:00 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

It’s unlikely that many pundits picked the Boston Bruins to face the Minnesota Wild in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final – at least not against each other – yet both teams came into 2014-15 with high hopes. They’re currently hitting some bumps in the road early on, though.

For the Bruins, it’s a time of opportunities and challenges.

With Zdeno Chara on the mend for at least a month, rising defensemen Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton gain the chance to prove that the B’s future isn’t so grim without “The Big Z.” Krug, for one, told CSNNE.com that he’s eager to show that he can handle increased minutes and responsibilities.

“When your name is called you do whatever you can to help the team win. The goal is always to build trust between me and the coaching staff,” Krug said. “I think they’re definitely starting to show a little more trust in me, and it’s a challenge that I really enjoy.

“We understand that we’ve got guys in here that can play those big minutes and fill the void. A game like [the win vs. the Leafs] shows that we can do it, but it’s about everybody stepping up rather than just one or two guys.”

It’s probably accurate to say that Hamilton stepped up the most in Boston’s first post-Chara game (a 4-1 win against Toronto), scoring a goal and two assists.

Deep down, scoring has been the biggest issue for the Bruins so far in their 5-5-0 start. While Chara’s absence leaves a crater behind on defense, Claude Julien is still searching for answers, including finding the right fit for the David Krejci – Milan Lucic line.

The Wild try to pick themselves up after a tough loss

Before Monday’s third period meltdown against the New York Rangers, Darcy Kuemper only allowed more than one goal in a single period in 2014-15. The Wild’s late-game struggles spotlight the perils of assuming too much from the first few weeks of any season, as despite a massive +12 goal differential, Minnesota’s record is just 4-3-0.

Despite boasting an enviable array of offensive threats including Zach Parise, Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville and Mikko Koivu, the Wild haven’t been able to notch a single power-play goal so far this season. They’re a pitiful 0-for-24 so far, which is a number that would be even more troubling if the team hasn’t been so dominant in other areas. In these past seven games, the Wild have only allowed one power-play goal, one shorthanded tally and nine even-strength goals.

The two teams don’t have the deepest histories, yet Niklas Backstrom has been a Bruins buster.

As NHL.com notes, Backstrom is 4-0-1 with great individual stats (.969 save percentage, .98 GAA) in five career games against Boston. Considering Kuemper’s tough night and the back-to-back games, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Finn possibly face off against fellow countryman Tuukka Rask tonight. The question is: could Backstrom start to push Kuemper for reps with a strong performance?


Considering the two teams’ recent histories, Wild – Bruins hints at a grinding, low-scoring battle … on paper. These two teams are just starting to carve out their identities in 2014-15, though.

Rangers score five third period goals to top Wild

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 10.45.23 PM

Derick Brassard, Anthony Duclair and Mats Zuccarello had third period markers as part of a five-goal outburst from the Rangers to edge the Minnesota Wild 5-4 Monday night.

New York’s comeback was a historical one:

Duclair’s goal was his first in the NHL.

Kevin Klein and Rick Nash added the other Rangers goals. Nash’s team-leading ninth goal gives him points in seven of nine games.

Nate Prosser, Matt Cooke and Jason Pominville scored second period goals to give the Wild a 3-0 lead after two periods. Jason Zucker added his team-leading fifth of the season to give the Wild a 4-2 lead in the third, but Minnesota was unable to fend off New York. 

After registering just eight shots combined through the first two periods, the Rangers had 12 in the third period.

Darcy Kuemper made 15 saves in the loss while Henrik Lundqvist stopped 26 saves for the win.

Wild forward Eric Haula was the recipient of an elbow to the head from John Moore during the second period. He left the game and did not return. Wild coach Mike Yeo did not have an update on Haula.

Moore was assessed a match penalty and ejected from the game.

In the first period, Chris Kreider was tossed for his hit from behind on Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin. Brodin left the game briefly, but did return. Kreider was assessed a major for boarding and a game misconduct.

Senior Vice President of Player Safety, Stephane Quintal, who on Monday handed out his first suspension since taking the job, was in attendance at Madison Square Garden.

Wild forward Zach Parise had some work done to his face after taking an inadvertent high stick from Rangers’ defenseman Marc Staal early in the second period.

With Haula’s status in doubt, beat report  Michael Russo expects Kyle Brodziak to be in the lineup when Minnesota visits Boston on Tuesday.

The loss halts the Wild’s win streak at two games while the win was New York’s fourth in five games.

Searching for first power-play goal, Yeo divides units into young vs. veterans

Mike Yeo

The Minnesota Wild have won two of their first three games, but one area that they’ve struggled in is the power play. So far they’re 0-for-11 and are actually negative overall if you factor in the shorthanded goal that they’ve allowed.

Wild coach coach Mike Yeo attempted to address that during yesterday’s practice by creating two new power-play units with one compromised of veterans Thomas Vanek, Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Mikko Koivu, and Ryan Suter and the other consisting of the young Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle, Jonas Brodin, and Jared Spurgeon.

The fact that Yeo has separated his players based on their age was intentional.

“They’re really comfortable with each other,” he told the Star Tribune. “Sometimes the young kids go out there with an older guy and they defer.”

It seems fair to call the Koivu group the first unit given the talent on it, but it sounds like Yeo also wouldn’t mind if this division created some friendly competition between the veterans and younger players.

“I think that young group can really challenge the first group,” he said.

Minnesota is scheduled to play against the Los Angeles Kings at 3:00 p.m. ET today.

Sabres send Larsson to AHL


The Buffalo Sabres announced Friday morning that they’ve assigned forward Johan Larsson to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.

Larsson was injured during the first period of the Sabres’ 3-2 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs during preseason action on Sept. 29 and has been recovering from an upper body injury ever since.

Larsson, Minnesota’s second-round pick in 2010 (56th overall), split last season between the Americans and the Sabres.

In 28 games with Buffalo last season, Larsson had four assists and 19 penalty minutes.

The 22-year-old, who was acquired by the Sabres in the Jason Pominville trade in April 2013, had 15 goals and 41 points in 51 games in 2013-14.

Risk Factors: Minnesota Wild edition

Colorado Avalanche v Minnesota Wild - Game Six

From the same bunch of pessimists who brought you “Why your team won’t win the Stanley Cup,” PHT presents a new series called “Risk Factors,” i.e. three reasons to be worried about each NHL team in 2014-15.

Minnesota Wild

1. Goaltending. Obviously. When the dust settled on a dysfunctional offseason — one that included Darcy Kuemper’s lengthy contractual impasse, Josh Harding busting his foot kicking a wall, and Ilya Bryzgalov — the Wild emerged with an unexpected tandem to start the regular season: Kuemper and Niklas Backstrom, with no clear message on who’s the No. 1.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The Wild had hoped that Kuemper, still just 24 years old with 32 games of NHL experience, would be in AHL Iowa while veterans Harding and Backstrom backstopped the parent club. Granted, the Harding-Backstrom punch was far from a sure thing — both have a history of health concerns — but it gave Minnesota, at the very least, some depth and experience… not to mention the option of calling up Kuemper if things went sideways.

Now, that security blanket is gone.

And it’s left the Wild with a series of unknowns. Can Backstrom stay injury-free? Is Kuemper ready to play more than the 26 games he got last year? Will either emerge as the clear-cut starter? If not, can the Wild get consistent enough goaltending from a platoon situation?

Not even head coach Mike Yeo knows. Following a year in which five different goalies got games — Harding, Kuemper, Backstrom, Bryzgalov and John Curry — Yeo just wants some semblance of consistency in net.

“I would enjoy that a lot, that’s for sure,” Yeo said, per the Pioneer Press. “The one part I wouldn’t mind is if we have competition. If we have two guys — and we have had that in the past — pushing each other and both guys are performing at a high level where it’s a difficult decision as far as who you’re going to put in the net.

“If one guy were to really step up and win that position, there’s no question that makes our job a lot easier. But what I’m hoping for is that both guys are performing at a high level.”

2. Exhausted Ryan Suter. Earlier this summer, Brough asked if the Wild played Suter too much. It was a good and legitimate query; Suter, who turns 30 in January, averaged a league-high 29:24 TOI last season — overall he skated almost 200 more minutes than the second-most-deployed skater, Erik Karlsson, did for the Ottawa Senators.

It’s been this way since Suter landed in Minnesota two years ago. The organization seems to constantly teeter between two schools of thought: 1) We need to monitor his minutes and keep him from getting burnt out, and 2) We need him out there because he’s our No. 1 d-man and at his best when he plays a tonne.

Yeo adhered to the latter during last year’s playoffs.

“This is a guy that we’ve seen when he plays more, he plays better,” the head coach explained, per the Pioneer Press. “We’ll be aware of the schedule and we’ll make sure we’re managing him and his ice time how we need to in the games, but let’s not kid ourselves, he’s a great player.

“And when he’s fresh and we can have him on the ice, we want him there.”

There are inherent risks with playing Suter this much, of course. Fatigue is an obvious one, and so is injury — prior to starting last year’s opening-round series, the Avalanche made a point of saying they wanted to hit Suter as much and often as possible. During Game 3 of the Chicago series, Suter appeared to hurt his arm/shoulder in a tangle with Marian Hossa and while his minutes didn’t decrease in the following games, his performance did; Suter went minus-2 over the final two games of the series, recording just one hit and two blocked shots in the Game 6 OT loss.

3. Thomas Vanek’s bust potential. The former Golden Gopher did what everybody expected this summer by coming home to Minnesota, thanks to a three-year, $19.5 million deal signed on the opening day of free agency.

But is the homecoming a little too late?

Vanek is not, and I hate myself for using this term, a spring chicken. He turns 31 in January and is now five years removed from his last 40-goal campaign. The decline of goalscoring wingers as they get older is well documented, especially in Minnesota; Dany Heatley, who’s departure freed up the money to sign Vanek, experienced a sharp decline once he got on the wrong side of 30:


At this point, it’s worth mentioning Vanek’s lacklustre playoff with Montreal. While some were quick to offer the Austrian a mulligan for last season given its volatile and unpredictable nature — he was traded twice and played for three different teams — that didn’t take away from the fact Vanek was average at the most crucial time of the season. Michel Therrien benched and called him out during the second-round series against Boston and after Montreal was eliminated by New York in the Eastern Conference Final, Hockey Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur blasted Vanek for disappearing under adversity.

The Wild can’t afford for Vanek to underwhelm. Aside from committing a significant amount of cap space to him, the team really needs someone to step up and score — Minnesota finished 23rd in the NHL in goals last season, with 207, and 59 of those came from two players (Jason Pominville and Zach Parise).