Jason Pominville

Parise says fans should stop booing the Wild power play

24 Comments

Zach Parise totally understands booing the Minnesota Wild’s power play.

Still, he also reminded fans about something in an interview with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: such jeering isn’t improving anything.

“It doesn’t help,” Parise said.

” … They’re frustrated, and I understand that. And they have a right to be frustrated. We’re frustrated, and then when we get booed, we get more frustrated, and then it snowballs.”

Parise, 30, showed a sense of humor regarding the struggling special teams unit, joking that they sometimes feel like booing themselves.

A quick look at the Wild power play

Power plays often ebb and flow, something the Star-Tribune points out. Even so, it’s tough not to be worried about a power play that has only produced seven goals and converted on nine percent of its chances, with only a Buffalo Sabres unit of potentially historic poorness* being less effective.

The more important question is: how much of this is based on bad luck?

To break that down, let’s consider chances more than results. (Stats via War on Ice).

The Wild have generated 133 shots for on the power play, tying them with the Islanders and Maple Leafs for seventh in the NHL. If you change the dynamics of the experiment a bit and look at averages (shots for per 60 minutes), they slip a bit to 14th (53.03 per 60). The point is that they seem to be producing a decent number of chances.

More bounces to come?

Sure, not all shots are created equal, yet the low shooting percentages of certain Wild forwards inspire visions of a better future. Thomas Vanek has only scored on 5.1 percent of his shots. Jason Pominville’s success rate is just 5.9 (and, unlike Vanek, he’s shooting as much as ever). Mikko Koivu’s been even less lucky with a 4.5 percentage.

Those are three key Wild forwards who should see more puck luck over the long haul, and Minnesota’s power play might reap the benefits.

***

Not that long ago, the word “regression” made Wild fans queasy. In the case of the 2014-15 team’s power play, it actually argues for better days, even if the unit only upgrades to merely average.

In other words, Wild fans should give Parise & Co. a break.

* Buffalo only has five power-play goals, good for a 6.8 percent success rate. The Sabres allowed three shorthanded goals, which means their PP’s a pathetic +2. Yikes.

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

16 Comments

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

11 Comments

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

2 Comments

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

16 Comments

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.