Good morning from beautiful Raleigh, where it's an awesome day and always a great trip to Canes country.
One of my favorite stops.
Tonight, the two least penalized teams in the NHL go at it, and although the Canes have 12 points in 15 games, they actually average the seventh-most shots in the NHL, allow the second-fewest and have the best shot differential in the NHL.
Carolina ranks 28th in goals per game (2.00), 22nd in goals allowed (2.87), 27th in goal differential (-13), 28th in shooting percentage (6.5%) and 28th in power play efficiency (11.5%).
Devan Dubnyk vs. Cam Ward
The Wild, 2-0 without Zach Parise and 7-1 at home, begins a four-game road trip tonight that continues to Dallas, Pittsburgh and Boston. Despite the injuries, this is a game the Wild must get if it expects to have an above .500 road trip.
The lines are mostly what they ended last game, which surprises me a bit because I could see coach Mike Yeo having to shuffle up the third and fourth lines and maybe the second if things get off to a hairy start tonight (and Wild, even though it's 2-0-2 here in the past four typically get outplayed here). I had an awkward, lighthearted exchange with Yeo about the third and fourth line because perhaps I insinuated my opinion a tad too much.
Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Nino Niederreiter
Thomas Vanek-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville
Ryan Carter-Charlie Coyle-Jordan Schroeder
Chris Porter-Erik Haula-Christoph Bertschy
On the third line, Yeo said, "Obviously there’s speed on one side and I would say that was probably Schroeder’s best game. It looked like he was actually, instead of trying to defer to other people, it looked like he was going to try to make plays and carry the puck and use his speed. Hopefully he can continue that. Carter obviously a defensively reliable guy. An up and down winger, someone who will go to the net and get in on the forecheck."
Bertschy and defenseman Gustav Olofsson were recalled from AHL Iowa after the Baby Wild's loss in Grand Rapids last night. Neither was at the morning skate because of the travel, which is why it's weird to me the Wild didn't just call em up yesterday.
If Olofsson were to play, it would be the first time in franchise history that the Wild's had a player make his NHL debut in three consecutive games, accoding to the Elias Sports Bureau (Bertschy vs. Tampa Bay, Kurtis Gabriel vs. Winnipeg).
However, Olofsson could just be defenseman insurance tonight with Nate Prosser having missed two games ago with a sore back and Matt Dumba playing on a bum foot.
However, it appears as if he won't debut tonight.
However (two howevers in a row), it would make sense to me for Olofsson to debut in Dallas. That will be a skating game and the Wild will need to get that puck up the ice quickly on transition. After Yeo praised Prosser and Christian Folin after Tuesday's win vs. the Jets, I can't see him changing the blue line tonight unless somebody is unable to play because of his health.
Also, with defenseman Marco Scandella still away from the team tending to a family matter, it makes sense t have an extra Dman on the road just in case. Yeo didn't know if Scandella will be back with the team in Dallas.
Yeo on Bertschy being called up again: "I thought he played well. Much the same as what we talk about with these young kids in training camp, I just want to see improvement and growth in their game and them understanding the pace of the game at this level and them finding their niche as far as how they can complement our group. For his first game, he got better as the game went on. Obviously made a bit of a line switch, but I thought he responded well to it. He showed that he competes hard, he’s a small guy but he’s going to finish checks and he’s got the speed to get in on the forecheck but also to break some plays."
On calling up Olofsson: "Similar to what we’ve seen from him, his game is not going to change from what we saw in training camp. He’s a guy with poise, thinks the game well, is in the right positions. Very poised with the puck and his execution level is obviously very high because of that."
On not calling up Mike Reilly, who has two goals and three assists in 15 games and is an Iowa-worst minus-14: "This is nothing against reilly. It’s just what we did for this game. I can’t say for sure, but I'm very certain that he’ll get a good opportunity at some point."
For the Wild to call up two players, it
must have invoked a Long-Term Injury exception with Justin Fontaine and Tyler Graovac to spend over the salary cap.
As you read above, Yeo liked Schroeder's game against Winnipeg and wants more of that from No. 10, who has no points in five games this season. Schroeder said he's been watching a lot of video of his shifts. You can read that in tomorrow's notebook in the paper.
I tweeted this out yesterday, but the Wild has had a chance at an empty-net goal in eight games this season and
is one of two teams with Buffalo to not score one is the only team that hasn't scored one. Yes, the Wild has won each of those games, but since 2012-13, the Wild is the third-least efficient in these situations (not to say winning the game, but scoring the goal), according to war-on-ice.com. Since 2012-13, the Wild's the best in the league at not allowing an empty-net goal though.
Yeo doesn't know why his team can't score em.
"I appreciate that guys aren’t icing pucks, guys aren’t selfish about it (referring to Thomas Vanek trying to get Jason Pominville his first goal last game), … but we’ve had cracks at it. We get over the red line, we’re taking shots and just missing the net. I’d like to think it’s going to turn. I don’t think it’s something that our guys aren’t trying to score. It’s not like we’re not aggressive with it, but certainly it would make for some quieter ends to hockey games, that’s for sure."
Lastly, I did a lot of talking to Yeo and Devan Dubnyk and Chuck Fletcher and others around the league the past two days about all the talk about either bigger nets or trimming down the goalie equipment again.
I cannot see bigger nets coming. First of all, this whole topic was a 15-minute conversation at the GM's meeting and suddenly became this large focal point afterward. I think in a lot of ways this is just trying to freak out the goalies so they're more for trimming down the equipment.
Even Dubnyk said today he'd change the equipment "all day" before making bigger nets, calling it a very bad idea. I've gathered a ton of interesting yarn on this subject and this will be in Sunday's paper.
I know since I mentioned it on a recent podcast that a lot of you have been waiting for my notebook on Brent Flahr watching Karill Kaprizov vs. Joel Eriksson Ek (whom I just noticed is a dead ringer for Kim Johnsson in the media guide), but I've got it in the can and it'll be a rainy day notebook sometime soon.