The Wild were better in the second period, but they still couldn’t figure out Connor Hellebuyck, who ended up making 30 saves for his second straight shutout.
This is the third year in a row that Minnesota has been bounced in the opening round. In 2016, they were eliminated in six games by the Dallas Stars and last year they watched St. Louis take them down in five.
Even though they finished the year with over a 100 points, it’s another disappointing end for Bruce Boudreau’s squad. It’s tough to envision them making major changes to the roster because Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are under contract for six more years. It’ll be interesting to see what they can do to shake up this roster or their staff. General manager Chuck Fletcher has some work to do this summer.
As for the Jets, they move on to face the winner of the Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche series. Winnipeg definitely looked explosive in Game 5, and they’ll need to keep rolling if they want to reach the Western Conference Final.
NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 NHL season continues with Friday night action between the Nashville Predators and Minnesota Wild at 8 p.m. ET. To watch the online, click here.
Both the Predators and Wild will be getting some late Christmas presents over the next few weeks. Injuries have sidelined some of their biggest names, but now they’re getting close to full health.
For Nashville, they’ve been without defenseman Ryan Ellis all season due to off-season knee surgery. He was cleared for contact practice and could be back in their lineup sometime next week. A roster glut will mean general manager David Poile will have to lose a player to make room, and Adam Vingan of The Tennessean speculatesCody McLeod or Miikka Salomaki could find themselves the odd-man out when Ellis is ready to return.
Minnesota will get goaltender Devan Dubnyk back this weekend as they play a home-and-home with the Predators. Dubnyk missed six games with a sprained MCL, but returned Wednesday night to backup Alex Stalock even as he admitted to still experiencing some pain in the knee.
“It’s kind of been where it’s manageable,” Dubnyk said via Mike Russo of The Athletic. “There’s zero hesitation on any plays. I’ve gone through just about every motion that I’ll do and there’s no hesitation. I know the maximum amount of pain I’m going to feel if I get it and it goes away, so it’s not something I’ll be thinking about.”
Zach Parise began his road back to the NHL on Thursday night with a conditioning stint with Iowa of the AHL. After missing the entire season so far with a back injury, the veteran forward played over 15 minutes and recorded one shot on goal and one assist. He’ll continue to get back to game shape with the hope of a return with the Wild next week.
The Detroit Red Wings raised eyebrows when they protected Jimmy Howard in the expansion draft instead of Petr Mrazek, and things haven’t really turned around since then. Rumors are starting to swirl that a seemingly inevitable split might be brewing in the form of a trade.
The Athletic’s Craig Custance reports (sub required) that teams are calling the Red Wings – though not “banging down the door” – regarding Mrazek, and Custance reasonably asserts that Detroit should play him a bit more to try to raise his standing.
If you consider how much Mrazek’s reputation has slid, Custance’s opinion can really only be denied by a franchise that … is in complete denial?
Mrazek, 2012-13 to 2015-16, 94 games played (via NHL.com): 46-30-8, nine shutouts, .920 save percentage.
Mrazek, 2016-17 and 2017-18, 60 games played (also via NHL.com): 20-25-10, two shutouts, .899 save percentage.
Quite a disparity between Good/Early Mrazek and Bad/Recent Mrazek, eh?
Things get more interesting when you note that TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that, given the right offer, the Red Wings would be willing to retain salary with Mrazek. That’s crucial with Mrazek carrying a $4M cap hit heading into restricted free agency. Custance reports that Mrazek might cost a suitor a third-round pick, although salary retention might bump the asking price to a second-rounder.
Rather than ruminating on the Red Wings’ poor handling of Mrazek/unwillingness to truly embrace a rebuild, it would be more fun to picture the most enticing or interesting destinations for the puzzling puck-stopper.
Please note that these aren’t confirmed potential destinations, this is just for entertainment purposes. For the record, the Red Wings would be foolish to let Mrazek walk for nothing, even if they don’t get quite the level of draft pick they’re reportedly hoping for.
Feel free to add in other teams that would make sense to you and/or the respective GMs.
Right now, the Penguins have approximately $670K cap space and Cap Friendly projects their trade deadline space at $3.1M, so this would likely be a retention situation.
If any team understands the value of having a Plan B in net, it’s the Penguins. Now, Tristan Jarry‘s been quite proficient (.919 save percentage), but with Pittsburgh in win-now mode for the near future, it might be worth bringing in Mrazek as insurance for Matt Murray. Both of the Pens’ runs required two goalies to shoulder the burden, after all.
There’s reason to believe that the Czech netminder could be a good stylistic fit, too, as his athleticism may come in handy for a team that can be a bit, um, leaky in the defensive end.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have Arizona.
Perhaps the Coyotes still believe in Antti Raanta, yet this season hasn’t gone well, in part because the former Rangers backup suffered some unfortunate injuries. Even if they do, the Coyotes might see some logic in getting a few months to look at Mrazek, possibly setting the stage for an ideally cheap platoon of Raanta – Mrazek?
Custance describes Mrazek as a rental, in part because of the nature of his contract. Even so, what if the Coyotes got some time with him, liked what they saw, and then simply convinced him to take less than $4M per year with an extension? Stranger things have happened, and the Coyotes could use all the help they can get.
Mrazek also tends to get love from “fancy stats” folks on occasion, and Coyotes GM John Chayka sometimes gets lumped in with such methods of thinking. So maybe he’s eyeballing Mrazek as we ponder hypothetical teams.
Wild GM Chuck Fletcher is under a lot of pressure as he’s reportedly needing a new contract, and now occasional-meal-ticket Devan Dubnyk is considered week-to-week. Money is tight in Minnesota, but even with a winning streak in mind, they likely want a little help beyond Alex Stalock.
Really, management might see some parallels between Dubnyk and Mrazek. Both goalies quietly put up nice numbers on shaky teams, only to see things fall apart. Dubnyk revitalized his career; maybe Mrazek could do that in helping Minny secure a playoff spot?
Theoretically, the Wild might just need Mrazek the most.
OK, this entry’s a little bit stranger, but hear me out.
So, what if one or two of these rebuilding/in-between franchises wants to test things out with Mrazek? Maybe the Red Wings could earn a better return in taking on Varlamov or one of those Philly goalies, even though they’re signed through 2018-19.
(In the case of Neuvirth/Elliott, their salaries might not even be much of an issue as slightly expensive backups if Detroit finally cleans house, or merely begins to clean house.)
Much like with the Coyotes, these teams would likely be most interested in deciding if Mrazek could be a part of the future. We’ve seen Flyers GM Ron Hextall take on Steve Mason in a similar situation as a reclamation project, and that worked out quite well, at least at first.
(Philly’s current winning streak would probably put such thoughts on the backburner, but still.)
Look, I had to mention the Oilers, as you can’t picture trades without at least penciling a token Peter Chiarelli groaner.
There’s at least some logic to the prospect of Edmonton nabbing Mrazek, too.
Cam Talbot‘s struggling mightily, and with his $4.167M cap hit expiring after 2018-19, he’s not necessarily guaranteed to be Edmonton’s guy any longer. Especially since Edmonton needs to make every buck count after doing the opposite for so many years.
What if Mrazek could get hot and save Edmonton’s season, or at least give Talbot time to get things together? Surely that’s worth (checks notes) way too much? Uh oh, someone take the phone away from Chia …
Mike Zibanejad led a New York Rangers comeback against the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, just as head coach Alain Vigneault finds himself on the hot seat.
Down 4-2 at home to the Golden Knights, the Rangers came roaring back in the final 20 minutes with four unanswered goals. Zibanejad led the comeback with three points, including the winning goal.
He also adds to what has been a terrific start to his season. With three points tonight, he now has 13 points in as many games and has been one of the few bright spots on a Rangers team looking to climb the Eastern Conference standings.
Highlight of the night:
Nikolaj Ehlers showed off his patience and stickhandling skills with a beautiful move to the backhand on a short breakaway against Wild goalie Alex Stalock. The play that resulted in the breakaway though … not Matt Dumba‘s finest moment.
Factoid of the night:
A comeback win for the Rangers and a milestone victory for Henrik Lundqvist, who stopped 30 of 34 shots faced against the Golden Knights.