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Wild gut out OT win; Red Wings still climb to top East wild card spot

Mar 23, 2014, 10:27 PM EST

Time will tell if the Minnesota Wild and Detroit Red Wings can gut their way to the postseason by the close of 2013-14, but they played a playoff-caliber game on Sunday and both improved their chances in the end.

Widened lead for Wild

The Wild redeemed themselves with a 4-3 OT win after losing in regulation 3-2 on Saturday. They didn’t let two Gustav Nyquist first-period goals fluster them enough to let this one slip away.

Matt Moulson was credited with the overtime game-winner, giving him 21 goals (four of them game-winners) this season. The 30-year-old has 46 points in 65 games played … pretty nice work for someone who’s been traded twice in 2013-14.

The Wild had lost four of their last five and only won two of nine games (though they collected points in four of those contests thanks to OT or shootouts) coming into this one, but now they have a beefier lead over the rest of the pack for the West’s top wild card spot. Their 85 standings points in 72 games played give them a comfortable cushion in front of Phoenix, Dallas and the rest vying for positioning.

Far from settled East

Even with this overtime defeat, the Red Wings should probably feel pretty solid about this weekend, taking three of a possible four points against a challenging opponent in the Wild. It continues to be the Jimmy Howard and Nyquist show, it seems:

Detroit can also feel nice about the fact that they jumped from the second to first wild card spot out East because they reached 80 points in two fewer games than the wilting Toronto Maple Leafs.

Take a look at the updated East standings with Saturday’s Red Wings – Maple Leafs in Toronto looming pretty large:

source:

  1. purpleguy - Mar 23, 2014 at 10:46 PM

    Only Brodziak could have missed that open net in the first period.

    • lordfletcher - Mar 23, 2014 at 10:59 PM

      If it were possible to form Brodziaks ability to be in the right place at the right time… Heaters shot and all star status… Wild would actually have a hell of a player but instead they’re left with $10 million in worthless cap hit till summer.

      Sign Moulson and let Vanek go to highest bidder!

    • mp1131211 - Mar 24, 2014 at 3:45 AM

      I don’t know. If it was Heater, he would have missed AND fallen down.

  2. clarke16 - Mar 23, 2014 at 11:20 PM

    They really need to take a hard look at trading Koivu this summer. Should be able to score a solid right-handed top 4 D-man in return and maybe a prospect/two. Way overpaid -vs- his production and from a leadership perspective–the *C* belongs with the natural leader–Pominville…

    Moulson looks like he could fit in here. I say–sign Moulson if his demands aren’t excessive and make a reasonable play for Vanek as well. They desperately need a couple of more players who can put the puck in the net and build three solid scoring lines. Assuming solid goaltending–that’s the only way you extend into the playoffs in today’s NHL…

    • mp1131211 - Mar 24, 2014 at 3:47 AM

      Thumbs down for the Pominville and Vanek comments. But totally agree with the Koivu trade.

      • clarke16 - Mar 24, 2014 at 11:27 AM

        Pominville is the best two way player on that team. In addition–he’s a high-integrity consummate team player who makes everyone on the ice around him better while he’s out there. Why do you think Yeo has spent most of the season teaming every underperforming forward on a line with Poms?

        This guy is a winner through and through. Best pick up Fletcher has made–and, locked up at only $5.5M/yr, also a way better value than, of course, Koivu–and Parise and Suter as well.

        Mark my words–he’ll be the next Captain of this team.

  3. slaugin - Mar 24, 2014 at 12:21 AM

    There are better options out there in the offseason than Vanek IMO

  4. pwshrugged - Mar 24, 2014 at 12:33 AM

    3 points from a home-and-home this late in the season is a pretty good outcome, I think.

    Wings seemed to slip into cruise control in the 2nd. The Wild looked completely outmatched until the PP they scored on. They took that momentum and really had the Wings reeling. Really impressive effort by the Wild, all in all. Good game.

    Now comes the real important 3 game stretch for the Red Wings – if they can beat Columbus and Toronto this week, well, that would help settle things a good bit.

    • polegojim - Mar 24, 2014 at 11:50 AM

      Yes – Beautiful effort…. even if playing at FULL strength!

      These young Red Wing kids are battling it out with top-talent lines… and giving them all they want… and more. I’m pleased to see all the disparaging ‘Griffin’ commenters eating their words.

      3 points out of a possible 4… nicely done indeed.

      Babcock = Jack Adams winner.

      • pwshrugged - Mar 24, 2014 at 1:07 PM

        I think Doc and Pierre were 100% right – if Babcock takes this team to the playoffs, that is the absolute embodiment of what a “Coach of the Year” should be.

        Honestly, the Kid Line is carrying the team right now. Helm’s line looks good, but the top line is looking worn. I’m not sure if it’s Legwand, or just some end-of-season fatigue on the elder statesmen Franzen and Alfie, but the top line just hasn’t looked good lately. And while the Kid Line might be a defensive liability, they’re by far our most inspired offensive players right now.

        We’ll see how they bounce back in a must-win game against Columbus tomorrow, after a tough loss.

      • polegojim - Mar 24, 2014 at 2:35 PM

        Franzen definitely was off last night… slow, missplayed pucks, bad passes… but Alfie has been pretty good over the past few weeks.

        As you mentioned, the ‘Kid Line’ should really be #1.

        Looking forward to some Columbus payback tomorrow.

  5. rebekah319 - Mar 24, 2014 at 12:49 AM

    Stop with the Mikko Koivu bashing!! It’s enough already!! It’s super annoying. He is the team leading goal scorer on this team. Has been nothing but great ( minus being out for 2 months) he is the captain for a reason and I love how fans just jump on him like he does nothing. He does everything! They are not trading him.

    • clarke16 - Mar 24, 2014 at 1:33 AM

      Team leading goal scorer on this team? Despite being redundant–you’re completely misinformed unless somehow Koivu’s 9 goals exceeds Pominville’s 27 tallies on your abacus…

      Actually–I like Koivu. He’s a good player–just not great…and that’s the way he’s paid. So, he’s holding the team back by tying up all those resources that could be allocated with better value in other needed players. It’s not to the same degree obviously–but he’s not unlike Heater in that respect. Time to move that asset while it’s still worth something and turn it into some other badly-needed, better value pieces to keep this team on the upswing to contend for a cup.

      • mp1131211 - Mar 24, 2014 at 3:55 AM

        She means he has the most goals out of anyone in Franchise history. Because few players have been on the team as long as him- what? maybe PMB and veilleux?- and he has consistently put enough goals in the net to be the leader there. Definitely not the most productive player on the current roster.

    • mp1131211 - Mar 24, 2014 at 3:48 AM

      When was the last time you commented on anything but to defend Koivu?

    • 101starmymedic - Mar 24, 2014 at 10:05 AM

      Regardless, every time Koivu gets the puck I get excited because he makes sh!t happen.

  6. fightingwild - Mar 24, 2014 at 9:49 AM

    My god people, enough with the trade Koivu crap, he has a no trade clause & it certainly is not as easy as saying Koivu we want to move you to get him moved. He would have to approve it, he only goes to a team he wants to go to. Plus if all you geniuses that say he sucks & has a lousy contract then why in gods name would another team take it? I mean in the common fan such as yourselves see his deficiencies then don’t you think highly paid proffessionals of all these teams would seem them as even more glaring? Koivu is not & will not be going anywhere. End of story.

    • clarke16 - Mar 24, 2014 at 11:48 AM

      So–like because half the other players in the NHL have a no movement clause in his contract–that means he won’t go be moved? You’d be better served to become better informed about why agent’s attempt to insert *no movement* verbiage into contracts and what it effectively means…

      Secondly–like the Wild when they offered him that excessive contract–different teams are at different stages of the building process. Koivu was paid like a superstar at the time because he was about all the Wild had. They needed him as a foundation piece to build around. They are no longer in that stage. Other teams are…and would probably find his contract acceptable for the same reasons the Wild did at the time. Finally, look at how the team played in his absence. They jelled–without him.

      Whether you like the idea or not–for these reasons I can pretty much guarantee you that Fletcher has at least discussed this idea internally. He’s no dummy. You don’t wait to trade a declining asset you don’t need so much anymore–until it’s all used up.

      • guitarhunterdude - Mar 24, 2014 at 2:36 PM

        The problem is that we don’t have anyone who could replace Koivu. If we trade him, we have one top-six center in Granlund and then a black hole on the second line with either Coyle or (doubtfully) Haula, neither of which are anywhere near good enough to be your second-line center. We have no top-six centers in our prospect pool, and I highly doubt we’d get a second-liner in return for Koivu. If we could somehow trade him for a young center prospect, I think it would have been done already.

        All of that said, Koivu is still a possession monster, and I like him more than any of our forwards not named Parise, even though he’s been slowing down. I think he’s still dealing with some lingering issues from that knee injury, and playing with a fellow slow guy in Moulson has made him (and that line) pretty ineffective. Unpopular though it may be, I think switching Parise and Moulson would be the best course of action (as well as switching Coyle and Niederreiter). Getting a goal-a-game from one line has been nice, but having nothing from the other line has been really hurting the team lately. I think Granlund-Pominville would still be very effective with Moulson, and Parise-Koivu-Niederreiter would be a much better, faster combo than Moulson-Koivu-Coyle.

      • mp1131211 - Mar 24, 2014 at 3:44 PM

        “I like him more than any of our forwards not named Parise,”

        Why because you don’t like forward that score more than Koivu?

        And “fellow slow guy?” Moulson already has 4 goals in 10 games. 40% ain’t bad!… and one a game winner. Come on! You might like Koivu better, but it certainly is not because he is out performing the other forwards.

      • guitarhunterdude - Mar 24, 2014 at 4:45 PM

        Koivu’s scoring at a faster rate than Pominville, Granlund, Niederreiter, MP. And when I said “slower,” I was talking about skating speed. Having two below-average skaters on the same line makes that lack of speed an exploitable weakness. If he had at least average skaters on either side, they wouldn’t be a fast line. but they wouldn’t be as slow as they have been. I’ve been pleased with Moulson. But pairing him with Koivu is hurting them both, I think. They’ve been pretty much shut down five-on-five.

  7. clarke16 - Mar 24, 2014 at 3:02 PM

    You make some valid points about the lines… A Granlund/Pominville/Moulson line would be worth experimenting with–as would a Parise/Koivu/Niederreiter combo… However, I think you may be living in the past if you truly believe Koivo (and Parise) are more valuable to this team than Pominville. In addition, I see more potential in Coyle than apparently you do. He clearly belongs at Center and, while he needs to develop more consistency to his game in the neutral/offensive zones–there is no doubt he has the ability to grow into a very respectable #2 Center on this team. The flashes are there. He’s still young, but gaining very valuable experience. Yeo knows it’s there. That’s why he’s leaning on Coyle so hard right now…

    Finally, your argument about Koivu’s trade value is counterintuitive. If no one in the league would trade a #2 Center for him–then how can you justify your belief that he’s the second best forward on this team?

    • guitarhunterdude - Mar 24, 2014 at 3:39 PM

      I think you’re undervaluing Parise and Koivu a bit because they’ve been hurt this year. They’ve put up points at nearly the same rate against tougher competition. Pominville’s very good, and is having a great year, but I’d take Parise or Koivu over him. Pom has played much softer minutes and hasn’t been as much of an all-purpose workhorse as those two; he’s also shooting a fair bit above his career percentage (thanks to Granlund, I’d say) and that would inflate his scoring totals a little.

      I’ve seen nothing from Coyle to suggest he’s top-six center material. He’s strong along the boards, but has very little vision in the offensive zone, has struggled in the faceoff circle too. Overall, I’ve been unimpressed by him outside of his board play. He’s looked pretty similar to Haula, with the benefit of being handed great minutes and linemates. Niederreiter has been far more productive in much tougher minutes with much worse linemates, and yet he’s getting less ice time, seemingly just because Coyle is big. Size is about all he’s brought to the table this year, two solid recent games notwithstanding. Coyle (and moreso Heatley) getting ice time over Niederreiter is one of the biggest reasons I’m starting to want Yeo gone, actually. It’s not so much about Coyle being bad as it is about Nino being very good (arguably better than Granlund, when he’s had the opporitunity. Not as productive offensively, but he’s been extremely solid in every facet of the game). Coyle looks to me like a solid second/third-line tweener winger, who could probably fill in at center in spot duty.

      I still say Koivu’s the second best forward on this team, but he’s also 31 years old, has had injury issues, is losing his skating ability, has a NMC, and is a bit overpaid. All of that puts a serious damper on trade value.

      • mp1131211 - Mar 24, 2014 at 3:59 PM

        Wild style of play is changing. This team used to fall apart when they brought physical play to the ice. It used to be the Clutterbuck style of physical play in which offense, namely positioning and passing but shooting too, came second to focussing on making huge hits. Now, they are developing lines that are naturally bigger and more solid and physical so that the focus does not shift away from good offense. Look at Neiderreiter- a big guy that is always engaging the other team physically during play and after the whistle. But not necessarily known for huge hits.

        Watching the Wild this year is a lot more exciting. Puck movement has improved a lot and no one stands around out of position while the puck cycles around the boards until the other team gets it and carries out of their zone. Koivu might be a strong puck handler, but his play was best when the rest of the team stood on the fringes. Now that the other pieces are coming in strong, his inability to find those tiny passing lanes, both when he has the puck and when he doesn’t, is showing. Or maybe he’s slowing down a bit…

        Unlike rebekah thinks, this is not to say Koivu does *nothing* or has done something to warrant a stripping of the C. It is just that the chemistry of the team is changing and Koivu represents and is a product of the old format.

  8. clarke16 - Mar 24, 2014 at 4:12 PM

    I respect your opinions–as wrong as they may be… :)

    I’ll just say this: As my friends in NJ accurately pointed out when Parise came to the Wild–he’s not an initiator. He’s a clean up guy. A high-effort rink-rat garbage-goal scorer. He’s only as good as the players around him delivering the puck to the front of the net. He’ll never be the guy who you load everyone up on his back and you ride to the cup. His injuries have nothing to do with that. See his career playoff stats for further reference. I cringe when I see him on a breakaway. That said–Love ‘em on the Wild. You need players like him–but to say he’s more valuable than a guy like Pominville who is exactly the opposite?! The only way you could be more wrong is if you were to go completely full-tilt and make the claim that Koivu was also better. Wait! You did that, too… LOL. And again, your final paragraph is completely contradictory. There isn’t a GM who doesn’t like to store his head up his azz who would trade Poms even-up for Koivu in a million years… Just because someone is paid a lot more doesn’t make them WORTH a lot more, eh?

    • guitarhunterdude - Mar 24, 2014 at 4:35 PM

      You need players of both styles to have a successful team. Jack-of-all-trades guys like Parise and Koivu, and creative, offensively gifted guys like Pominville and Granlund. When one set of guys is shut down, the other set is usually able to find some kind of weakness to exploit.

      You can’t “load up” on one player to win the cup. You need good, team-wide contribution, and Parise and Koivu both help their linemates bring that more than Pominville does.

      I basically just said that nobody would trade for Koivu, and listed several reasons why. I also said he was overpaid…how did you translate that as somehow making him more valuable? He’s a better player simply because he is; salary has nothing to do with it. If anything, I should rescind my “overpaid” comment; he’s paid pretty much on par with your typical first-line center.

      I’m not sure what you thought you read, but I’m sure you read it wrong.

      As for who I would take on my team, right now? I’ll take the .8 point-per-game (.78 this year) first-line center with top-30 possession numbers over the .7 point-per-game, top-six winger with lower (but still good) possession numbers. Koivu drives his line; the PPG line has been primarily driven by Parise (who was also a possession driver in Jersey, and has continued that here).

      The ideal player is, of course, when you can combine the two. That’s when you get a guy like Toews, Datsyuk, etc. Pominville’s a nice player, but Koivu and Parise consistently keep their lines on offense more than Pommer does, and that’s what’s been shown to win games consistently.

      • guitarhunterdude - Mar 24, 2014 at 4:36 PM

        As an addendum….I’m not comparing Parise or Koivu to Crosby/Toews/Datsyuk. Not sure where I was going with my tangent about them.

      • clarke16 - Mar 24, 2014 at 4:50 PM

        While I agree with many of your comments, you see the big picture value of what Pominville, Parise and Koivu bring to the table much differently than what I see…

      • guitarhunterdude - Mar 24, 2014 at 5:01 PM

        Yeah, I guess so. They’re all good players. Parise and Koivu have slightly better production (though Pom is tops on the team in goals per 60 this year, I think) and have better possession numbers. Pominville definitely looks prettier.

  9. clarke16 - Mar 24, 2014 at 5:22 PM

    Let me ask you this: If you had to lose one player to injury for the rest of the season/playoffs–who would hurt this team’s chances the most to lose right now between Poms, Parise and Koivu? 1-3?

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