Tag: Nino Niederreiter

Zach Parise

Wild ’15-16 Outlook


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.

Everyone’s ripping Vanek again


Hey, remember that game Thomas Vanek played for Montreal in last year’s Eastern Conference Final? The one where everyone teed off on him?

Because we’re getting a bit of deja vu.

With Minnesota trailing its series with Chicago, 3-0, a headline in the StarTribune reads: “Vanek’s vanishing act a glaring flaw for Wild.”

And, of course, there have been the tweets…

Vanek has no goals in nine playoff games — obviously not the production the Wild were hoping for when they signed him to a three-year, $19.5 million contract.

“Scoring goals is a big part of winning games and he’s a game breaker,” said GM Chuck Fletcher after convincing the former Gophers star to come home.

Tonight, with the Wild facing elimination, Vanek, the “game breaker,” will skate on the third line with Kyle Brodziak and Nino Niederreiter.

“I’d like to see that line be effective below the top of the circles,” coach Mike Yeo said, per NHL.com. “It’s not a team that has given us a lot of free ice from the top of the circles out, so how we play below the top of the circles, how we get down low, how we move our feet down there, is going to be important.”

Wild’s Parise: ‘There’s got to be something more we can do’


One goal in the last two games. That’s all the Minnesota Wild has been able to produce against the Chicago Blackhawks and goalie Corey Crawford following the series opener.

On Tuesday, Crawford was sensational in a shutout over the Wild. The Blackhawks once again pushed their Central Division foes to the brink of elimination and a possible sweep thanks to a 1-0 victory in Game 3.

So far in this series, Crawford has stopped 90 of 94 shots faced.

“Crawford’s a star against us,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said, as per the Pioneer Press. “He’s Brodeur. He’s Roy. He’s everybody against us. We’ve got to find a way to solve that.”

From basically start to finish on Tuesday, the Wild controlled puck possession, with 65 shot attempts by the end of the night, according to hockeystats.ca. No goals to show for it all, however. And now Minnesota faces a quick exit in this series.

“Frustration that we couldn’t score. That’s about it,” said Zach Parise, as per NHL.com. “We didn’t score one, so I don’t think we did enough. There’s got to be something more we can do.”

Added Nino Niederreiter: “As of right now, it’s definitely frustrating.

“We had plenty of chances to win this hockey game, I feel that we played a really good game. We played solid and we had enough chances. Now we have to find a way to regroup and we got to win [the] next game.”

Stewart (upper body) will not play tonight


Chris Stewart will not play tonight in St. Paul. The Minnesota Wild forward is out with an upper-body injury. His status is reportedly “day-to-day.”

Stewart could be replaced by Jordan Schroeder, who was skating on a line with Mikko Koivu and Nino Niederreiter this morning, but coach Mike Yeo wouldn’t confirm that.

Schroeder appeared in one playoff game versus the St. Louis Blues, but otherwise has not played this postseason.

The Wild trail their series with the Chicago Blackhawks, 2-0.

Is this the year it all comes together for Minnesota?

Devan Dubnyk

When the Wild signed forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter to matching 13-year, $98 million contracts, it was a statement that Minnesota expected to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup in the near future.

In their first year together they ended Minnesota’s four-season long playoff drought. In the Wild’s second campaign of the Praise/Suter era, they won their first playoff series since 2003. In both postseason runs though, they were eliminated by Chicago and if the Wild are to take another step forward this year, they will have to finally get the better of the Blackhawks in their upcoming series.

The biggest change this time around is goaltender Devan Dubnyk. Before acquiring him from Arizona, the Wild seemed to be on their way to having a disappointing campaign. Minnesota had lost six straight games and had given up seven goals twice in that span. From Jan. 15 onward, Minnesota posted a 28-9-3 record with Dubnyk starting in almost every contest.

Dubnyk earned a 1.78 GAA and .936 save percentage in 39 regular season games with Minnesota, which led to him getting a Vezina Trophy nomination. Although the Blues had some success against him in the first round, they couldn’t beat him consistently and that was a big part of their downfall. Contrast that stability in net with what Minnesota experienced in the 2014 playoffs when goaltending injuries were a big part of the story.

Of course, it’s not just about him. Zach Parise, Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, and Jason Pominville all had a strong series against St. Louis. The Wild will certainly need that kind of offensive depth going forward because there’s one thing they should be painfully aware of at this point: the Blackhawks are an immensely talented team and it takes everyone chipping in to beat them.