Scouting the Wild

  • Updated: April 16, 2014 - 10:49 PM
hide

Wild center Kyle Brodziak

key players

Ilya Bryzgalov

Bluntly, the positional goalie must stand and deliver. The Avs are loaded with firepower, so he is going to have to make some big stops. Other than the regular-season finale, Bryzgalov has been brilliant since taking the No. 1 reins from the injured Darcy Kuemper. He became the first goalie in Wild history to get a point in his first 10 starts (7-0-3). His best stretches throughout his career have come while playing behind sound defensively-structured teams. When his teams get loose defensively, it’s been disastrous.

ø Ryan Suter

He might need an oxygen mask attached to the bench in the Mile High City. The NHL’s time-on-ice leader by almost 2 ½ minutes (29:24 per game) will be tossed over the boards by assistant coach Rick Wilson over and over … and over again. In Game 1 last year vs. Chicago, Suter logged more than 41 minutes. The Wild’s No. 1 defenseman in every facet of the game will be critical to his team’s success against the Avs’ prolific shooters.

Mikko Koivu Ø

The Wild’s all-time leading scorer has scored 15 goals against the Avs, including a tying goal with six seconds left this season that led to a shootout victory. But no Wild forward gets more ice time than Koivu and plays in more big situations, and last year he went scoreless in the playoffs. Koivu wears the captain’s ‘‘C,’’ so the pressure is on.

must step up

ø Kyle Brodziak

The much-maligned third-line center had a miserable eight-goal season offensively, but he did his job defensively (an even plus-minus rating). He’ll need to do his job this series. Coach Mike Yeo plans to use his checking line, which includes Matt Cooke, often against dominant Avalanche forwards like Nathan MacKinnon. It’ll be incumbent on this line to get pucks deep and “defend” in the offensive zone. If Brodziak can chip in offensively, that’ll be a bonus.

breaking it down

Offense

The Wild ranked 24th in goals for (2.43 goals per game) and 29th in shots per game (26.6), although since going 23-10-7 since Jan. 2, it improved both. Like Koivu, much pressure will be on Zach Parise (29 goals), who scored one goal in last year’s playoffs. First-line right winger Charlie Coyle (12 goals) entered the playoffs playing his best hockey of the season, and a lot will be asked of the second line. If Yeo plays his cards right, he could get some mismatches with Jason Pominville (30 goals), Matt Moulson and Mikael Granlund, who is expected to return from injury. It’ll be imperative to get pucks deep and go on the forecheck. Trading chances with Colorado is not a recipe for success.

Defense

The seventh-best in terms of goals against (2.42 per game) and fifth-best in terms of shots against (27.7 per game) will have to be stingy. The top two pairs will be leaned on heavily. Suter and partner Jared Spurgeon, who has had a combination of brilliant and nightmarish games in Denver, will be the shutdown pair. The often-overshadowed Marco Scandella had a strong season. Jonas Brodin has largely been up and down. Clayton Stoner, the Wild’s most physical defenseman, should play a big role.

Goaltending

It’s remarkable the Wild finished with the NHL’s 11th-best record considering Niklas Backstrom, Josh Harding, Kuemper and Bryzgalov all have held the No. 1 role at different parts of the season. Bryzgalov has playoff experience with 38 games, but he has been at the controls of a few playoff flops. The Wild better hope the rug doesn’t get pulled from under Bryzgalov’s mastery since his March 4 acquisition from Edmonton.

Coaching

  • related content

  • Wild pins playoff hopes on Bryzgalov

    Thursday April 17, 2014

    Labeled eccentric and divisive in the past, Ilya Bryzgalov has been rock-solid for the Wild leading up to the playoffs.

  • Wild captain Mikko Koivu

  • Wild defenseman Ryan Suter

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Arrieta 2 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: D. Axelrod 7
NY Yankees - LP: S. Kelley 2 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 3
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: Y. Petit 4
Tampa Bay - LP: K. Yates 4 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 5
Atlanta - WP: M. Minor 6 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 1
Cleveland - WP: C. Carrasco 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Danks 2
Minnesota - WP: A. Swarzak 11 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: B. Chen 5
Texas - LP: R. Mendez 2 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 4
Oakland - LP: R. Cook 3 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: F. Salas 4
Atlanta 24 FINAL
Jacksonville 14
Detroit 23 FINAL
Buffalo 0
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 35
Kansas City 14 FINAL
Green Bay 34
NY Jets 7 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
St. Louis 13 FINAL
Miami 14
Carolina 10 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
New England 13 FINAL
NY Giants 16
Washington 24 FINAL
Tampa Bay 10
Baltimore 22 FINAL
New Orleans 13
Chicago 13 FINAL
Cleveland 33
Denver 27 FINAL
Dallas 3
Minnesota 19 FINAL
Tennessee 3
San Francisco 40 FINAL
Houston 13
Arizona 9 FINAL
San Diego 12
Seattle 31 FINAL
Oakland 41
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ottawa 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close