VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – Round 4 of the Granlund vs. Granlund sibling rivalry will take place Tuesday night at Rogers Arena, but for the first time, Mikael and Markus Granlund’s parents will get to watch them play an NHL game live.
Minna and Vesa Granlund arrived in Vancouver to visit the younger, Markus, and planned the trip around Tuesday’s Wild-Canucks game.
“I hope they just enjoy the game. I think they’re going to root for both of us,” the Wild’s Mikael Granlund, a little less than 14 months older than 23-year-old Markus, said before going to dinner with his folks and brother Monday night.
Like the Koivu Bros. storyline early in Mikko’s career whenever he faced his older brother, Saku, the Granlunds aren’t overly enthused whenever asked to discuss the topic. They both say “it’s not a big deal anymore” and that going head-to-head has lost its luster since the original clash in 2014.
“Of course, it was cool to play against him in the NHL. Still, it’s just a game,” Markus said. “You play against your brother or somebody else, it doesn’t matter.”
The Wild is 3-0 in Granlund vs. Granlund showdowns, but this will be their first meeting since Markus was traded from Calgary to Vancouver in February.
In three head-to-head meetings, Mikael has three assists, is plus-1, has five shots and is 19-for-35 (54.3 percent) in the faceoff circle. Markus has a goal and assist, an even rating, four shots and is 10-for-20 in the circle.
In 261 career games, Mikael Granlund has scored 36 goals (.137 per game) and 146 points (.559 per game). In 124 career games, Markus Granlund has scored 21 goals (.169 per game) and 40 points (.322 per game).
The scouting report for Markus seems very similar to Mikael.
“He’s smart, he’s competitive, he’s able to play center or wing for us, he’s one of our key penalty killers and he’s good on the power play,” Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said. “So he’s filled a big role this year.
“In the summer, he came back and said, ‘I want to be a top-six player,’ and he wanted to push himself to get in that role.”
Markus is playing on the Canucks’ second line on the left side of Michael Chaput and Loui Eriksson. He has scored five goals and nine points in 22 games, including an overtime winner. He also scored the shootout winner Saturday to defeat Colorado coincidentally the same night Mikael couldn’t extend the Wild’s shootout in St. Louis.
Markus, drafted at Xcel Energy Center in the second round by the Flames in 2011, has loved his time in Vancouver, calling it a “good spot.” He lives in the Yaletown neighborhood of Vancouver and talks to his older brother a few times a week, usually not about hockey.
He’s happy to finally establish himself as an NHLer.
“I think I’ve been playing really good,” he said.
Similarly, Mikael Granlund, a first-round pick in 2010 who played on a line with Koivu and Jason Zucker, is in one of his best stretches with the Wild. He has 13 points in the past 16 games and has earned coach Bruce Boudreau’s trust in all situations.
“He’s very smart. I didn’t realize how smart of a player he is and how slippery he was,” Boudreau said. “He looks like he’s caught in traffic all the time and then he knows how to wiggle out of it. He’s good, but his hockey sense is really good. It’s hard to beat guys that know the game.”
No rush on Olofsson
Judging by Monday’s practice, defenseman Gustav Olofsson’s season debut won’t come against the Canucks.
Boudreau noted that Monday was the first time he has really seen Olofsson other than one period at the prospect tournament in Traverse City when he injured a knee.
With 12 points in 21 games with Iowa, Olofsson is tied for ninth among AHL defensemen in scoring.
“And here’s a guy who had no training camp, so he’s just starting to get hockey-ready,” said Boudreau. “But he looks like a typical Swede — very mobile, tall, thin and I’m sure he has good hockey sense.”
If Olofsson plays on the road trip, barring injury, Nate Prosser would likely come out and left-shot defenseman Jonas Brodin would move to his off side.
• Teemu Pulkkinen was named AHL Player of the Week after scoring five goals and two assists in four games. Iowa was 3-0-1 last week.