Advance warning, this blog may be as blah as the game.
I don’t have much more to say that I didn’t put in the game story.
Part of the reason, as we were working the room for postgame interviews, I happened to glance at the board and noticed the Wild canceled practice Friday. So suddenly I went into work-ahead mode to gather yarn on a Mikko Koivu story I plan for Saturday’s paper.
The Wild captain has been great the past dozen games and not coincidentally the Wild is 9-1-2 in that stretch to again be two back of a playoff spot and five back of the Jets with three games in hand. It’s a shame practice is scrapped because they were practicing at St. Thomas Academy on Friday, and it would have been a perfect opportunity to do a Jordan Schroeder story from the house that Jordan Schroeder built.
But Koivu’s a pretty decent story and coach Mike Yeo went on and on about him after the game. I also got some great anecdotes from his longtime pal Stephane Veilleux, so you can read all that Saturday.
Tonight, in a 2-1 win over Florida, Koivu assisted on goals by Jason Pominville and Zach Parise and Devan Dubnyk, in his 12th straight start, made 26 saves, including eight on the Wild’s 5 for 5 penalty kill that is a perfect 22 for 22 in eight games since the All-Star break.
The Wild is 7-0-1 since the break and 7-0-2 in its past nine, meaning it’ll have a chance to tie the franchise-record 10-game point streak if it wins or gets a point Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Yeo wasn’t overly ecstatic by the way the Wild played, saying its puck management was “very poor.” But Yeo felt this game was a trap game after playing four games in six days, three in four and not having a “hatred” of the Panthers the way it did after a string of games against Calgary, Vancouver, Chicago, Colorado and Vancouver.
So Yeo was happy the Wild found a way to win.
Special teams was huge with a power-play goal and perfect PK.
“Best penalty killer is always your goalie,” Yeo said of Dubnyk, who continues to swallow pucks and constantly come out to play pucks to allow his defensemen to clear or get on transition. His puck-handling ability has been a huge reason for this turnaround.
Parise now has 22 goals, which is 12th in the NHL. He has eight power-play goals, which is tied for 11th.
Pominville, who had a 12-game goalless drought as of Monday, has three goals in the past three games. It was our first look at the new liberalized puck off a skate rules. I tweeted no chance the goal would count because I had yet to see the new rule in action.
This goal, as an NHL executive confirmed to me, would have disallowed last year. Pominville never had a distinct kicking motion, but he turned his skate to intentionally redirect the puck.
Asked if he thought it would count, he said, “I had no idea. I think there’s a new rule, right, where you kinda can kick it?”
I guess so as I learned the hard way because my many of my Twitter followers tore me to shreds. I took it like a champ, well, except for the three 10-year-olds who called me names and now no longer follow me.
Awesome Star Tribune Guys Night Out before the game. More than 350 people came and my thanks to Bill Butters, Brad Maxwell, Jack Carlson and Steve Payne for joining. Loved the questions I got from Wild fans.
That’s it for moi. Please check out the gamer for more details and the game notebook, both on startribune.com/wild.
No practice for the Wild on Friday. Barring news, no blog, as I write my Koivu feature and my Sunday package on the Evander Kane trade and how it affects the Wild.