Souhan: Playoffs are turning Granlund into a steely veteran

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 7, 2014 - 1:23 PM

As a prospect, Mikael Granlund became known internationally for his lacrosse-style, behind-the-net, stuff-in for a goal.

In the last series, he became known for skating through three Avalanche defenders, launching himself horizontally, and somehow stuffing the puck in for an overtime game-winner in Game 3.

Late Tuesday night, Granlund no longer looked like the baby-faced kid who seeks a starring role on YouTube. Stitches jutted out of a red gash on his chin. “Last game,’’ he said, dismissively, when asked about it.

He was still dripping sweat, his mullet-quality hair flopped in all directions, and he wore the red bar of courage on his forehead – the mark left by the helmet when the player wearing the helmet is involved in contact.

He even spoke like a veteran, rejecting questions about his goals. “I will enjoy this game and then move on,’’ he said.

The face of the future is now the face of the present. Granlund scored two goals as the Wild beat the Blackhawks, 4-0, at Xcel Energy Center, and his buddy Erik Haula, another fresh-faced Finnish finisher, scored the first.

Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominville and Matt Moulson on Tuesday went another game against the Blackhawks without a goal. Zach Parise scored with 2:35 remaining on the power play, to end the suspense.

The veterans’ scoring was not needed, and while Haula and Granlund dominated the scoring column, fellow youngsters Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle and Justin Fontaine, battled all over the ice.

The Wild’s empty-net goal came on passes from Coyle to Niederreiter and then Granlund, a glimpse of the future present.

“Uh, well, obviously we have a lot of young guys, we have our roles, and obviously we need to step up,’’ Granlund said. “Every player on this team needs to play at a high level.’’

Granlund speaks a lot like former North Star Neal Broten, whose sentences always contained the words, “Uh, well, ya, well.’’ Like Broten, Granlund seems drawn to the big moment.

The Wild’s rebuilding plan was two-pronged: Sign name players to jump-start the team, and develop a quality group of young players. Defenseman Jonas Brodin was the first Wild youngster to emerge as a standout, last year. This season, and especially in these playoffs, the team’s young forwards have surpassed his contributions.

Niederreiter won Game 7 of the first round at Colorado with an overtime slap shot. Granlund won Game 3 of that series with his gravity-dismissing goal. Haula, with his speed and intelligence, has temped as the Wild’s best player for stretches of these playoffs. Coyle has scored three playoff goals. And Fontaine, a grinder, announced his presence on Tuesday with a saucer pass for an assist and plenty of checking.

The victory means the series will shift to Chicago for Game 5 on Sunday.

Whenever the series does end, Wild coach Mike Yeo might want to rent himself out as a motivational speaker. So many of his moves during the playoffs have paid off, whether shuffling lines and spurring clutch performances out of everyone from Dany Heatley to Haula, or striking the right tone in his press conferences.

One important reason the Wild beat Colorado is that Yeo did not complain about missed calls that might have cost his team’s games, even when those calls threatened to end his season. His team responded.

In Round 2, Yeo has been peppered with questions about his starting goalie, Ilya Bryzgalov, and with questions about who will inevitably replaced Bryzgalov after a breakdown. “This is the guy,’’ Yeo said on Sunday after the Game 2 loss.

Tuesday, Bryzgalov earned a shutout.

  • related content

  • Souhan blog: Takeaways from Game 3

    Tuesday May 6, 2014

    Lots of hockey heros

  • Wild climbs back into series with four-goal 3rd period burst

    Wednesday May 7, 2014

    Ignited by the ‘Flying Finns’ Erik Haula and Mikael Granlund, the Wild rolled during the third period to cut Chicago's lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1.

  • Wild notes: Ballard cracks lineup in place of Prosser

    Wednesday May 7, 2014

    Despite having not played since sustaining a groin injury March 17, Keith Ballard dived headfirst into the second round of the playoffs Tuesday night as the Wild won 4-0.

  • Photo gallery: Game 3: Wild 4, Chicago 0

    Wednesday May 7, 2014

    Wild shutout the Blackhawks on home ice 4-0 to go into Game 4 down 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

  • Minnesota Wild center Mikael Granlund celebrated after he scored a goal in the third period of Game 3.

  • The Wild’s Charlie Coyle tried to steal the puck from Chicago’s Patrick Kane during the first period Tuesday night.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee 12/18/14 7:25 PM
Jacksonville
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Atlanta 6:00 PM
Cleveland
Phoenix 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Dallas 6:30 PM
Detroit
Utah 6:30 PM
Miami
Orlando 6:30 PM
Boston
Brooklyn 7:00 PM
Toronto
Memphis 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Milwaukee 9:00 PM
Portland
Houston 9:30 PM
Denver
Indiana 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Ottawa 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Boston 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Dallas 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 0 1st Half 20:00
Ball State 0
SIU Edwardsville 6:00 PM
Campbell
St Francis-PA 4 1st Half 17:42
Duquesne 0
North Florida 0 1st Half 18:40
Florida State 2
Catawba 6 1st Half 16:34
George Mason 11
Ferrum 0 1st Half 20:00
High Point 0
Hampton 0 1st Half 16:41
Illinois 7
Gardner-Webb 6:00 PM
Jacksonville
Longwood 1 1st Half 17:30
Miami-Ohio 3
Arkansas State 12 1st Half 15:15
Miss State 9
Tennessee 11 1st Half 15:22
NC State 8
NC A&T 2 1st Half 16:00
Ohio State 13
Manhattan 0 1st Half 16:31
Pittsburgh 4
Robert Morris 6:00 PM
Toledo
Char Southern 2 1st Half 17:20
Wofford 3
Kennesaw St 0 1st Half 20:00
Youngstown St 0
Barber-Scotia 2 1st Half 17:51
NC Central 9
Detroit 6:30 PM
UCF
Liberty 6:30 PM
UNC-Wilmington
TX A&M-CC 7:00 PM
Denver
Ark-Pine Bluff 7:00 PM
Houston
UT Martin 7:00 PM
Illinois State
Milligan 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Abilene Christian 7:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
USC Upstate 7:00 PM
Memphis
Alcorn State 7:00 PM
Murray State
Central Mich 7:00 PM
Northwestern
Georgia State 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
TX-Pan American 7:00 PM
Saint Louis
Ill-Chicago 7:00 PM
SMU
Texas State 7:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
SC State 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
Missouri State 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Chicago State 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Morehead State 7:00 PM
Green Bay
Northern Colorado 7:00 PM
Nebraska Omaha
Winthrop 8:00 PM
Auburn
New Mexico St 8:00 PM
Baylor
San Diego St 8:00 PM
Cincinnati
Eastern Mich 8:00 PM
Michigan State
Loyola Marymount 8:00 PM
Stanford
Incarnate Word 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Northeastern 9:00 PM
Cal Poly
Central Arkansas 9:00 PM
New Mexico
Howard 9:00 PM
Pepperdine
Portland 9:30 PM
UNLV
CS-Northridge 10:00 PM
Oregon
Grambling St 10:00 PM
Washington
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 34 2nd Half 10:37
Chattanooga 44
Florida A&M 21 1st Half 2:26
Southern U 32
Oklahoma 21 1st Half 7:18
(13) Duke 29
Savannah State 15 1st Half 4:42
Auburn 27
Northern Colorado 6:00 PM
South Florida
Northwestern 6:00 PM
UNLV
NC Central 6:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Drexel 6:00 PM
Quinnipiac
Arkansas State 6:00 PM
Kent State
Youngstown St 0 1st Half 20:00
Robert Morris 0
Siena 6 1st Half 15:27
Sacred Heart 4
Vermont 0 1st Half 20:00
St Francis-NY 0
(1) South Carolina 11 1st Half 15:42
Hampton 6
Fla Gulf Coast 2 1st Half 19:43
Bethune-Cookman 0
Texas Southern 2 1st Half 18:07
Houston Baptist 3
NC A&T 0 1st Half 20:00
Appalachian St 0
Cincinnati 0 1st Half 20:00
Northern Ky 0
Alabama State 0 1st Half 20:00
Georgia Tech 0
Morehead St 0 1st Half 20:00
USC Upstate 0
American Univ 0 1st Half 20:00
Manhattan 0
UNC Greensboro 0 1st Half 20:00
St Bonaventure 0
Arkansas-Monticello 6:30 PM
Northwestern St
Prairie View 6:30 PM
Sam Houston St
McNeese State 7:00 PM
(3) Texas
Yale 7:00 PM
Wagner
Oakland 7:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
Eastern Kentucky 7:00 PM
Alabama A&M
SIU-Edwardsville 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
McMurry 7:00 PM
TX-Arlington
Portland 8:00 PM
Eastern Washington
North Texas 9:00 PM
San Francisco

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close