If Saturday was a sign of things to come, Wild fans won’t have to yell, “SHOOOOOOT!!!” on power plays this season.
Right from the opening power play during Saturday’s exhibition game against the Winnipeg Jets, the Wild had a shooter’s mentality and ended with 10 shots and three power-play goals on four chances during a 4-3 victory.
“Systematically, it’s the same,” Zach Parise said. “Just a little more movement, a little more attack-the-net mentality rather than play around the perimeter.”
Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter and Jared Spurgeon scored the power-play tallies, but most notably the puck movement and shot selection were terrific during Minnesota’s first preseason win of training camp.
“The movement inside the zone, I didn’t feel like we were stationary or stagnant,” coach Mike Yeo said.
Defenseman Matt Dumba, 20, who is vying for a roster spot, added a dynamic element to the second unit. He was a threat to shoot and his smart pinch and skating ability helped set up Niederreiter’s goal. Dumba, who played 13 games last season, also showed his physical side, clobbering Nikolaj Ehlers and Carl Klingberg.
“It’s not an easy situation,” Yeo said. “These guys know that they’re under the microscope and they know that every mistake is being analyzed. To play the game without any fear, I give him credit.”
Michael Keranen, who tied for the Finnish Elite League’s scoring title last year, flashed his skill with two assists on the power play. Yeo didn’t like Keranen’s first two periods, but in the third, “he showed me a different level.”
Keranen will get another game, and Yeo wants to see a 60-minute performance from the 24-year-old.
Rechlicz gets his shot
Going with a veteran lineup, Yeo wanted some protection. So he played “the Wrecker.”
Joel Rechlicz, a 27-year-old bruiser from Milwaukee, has 26 games of NHL experience with the Islanders and Capitals and had 267 penalty minutes with the AHL Hershey Bears in 2011-12.
“I can sing the same tune that everybody else is here that’s coming in on a two-way,” Rechlicz said. “I’m here to try to make the team and do whatever it takes for the team. I play with a physical edge.”
Rechlicz, who played for the St. Paul Lakers in the Minnesota Junior Hockey League nine years ago, skated with Kyle Brodziak and Keranen. He played five shifts. “He’s fun to have on the bench, I know that,” Yeo said.
Thomas Vanek (upper body) and Keith Ballard (abdominal area) both skated on their own Saturday. Ryan Suter made his preseason debut. Gustav Olofsson sustained an upper-body injury in the third period. Niklas Backstrom stopped 14 of 17 shots for the win.