Busy day at Xcel Energy Center.
-- It started with the Jarret Stoll pickup off waivers. If you didn’t read, I spoke to him during my drive down to the arena for the game and here is the link with the final Stoll story.
“We’re excited to have him,” Zach Parise said after tonight’s 6-2 thumping of the Vancouver Canucks. “You can never have enough depth at center in this league. With how good he is at faceoffs, he’s a righty on draws, a great penalty killer, so I think he’s going to fit in really well. Plus, he’s won a couple Cups, that never hurts either.”
-- Also, I did a notebook item on the Thomas Vanek-Mikko Koivu-Jason Zucker line and how coach Mike Yeo hoped it would spark Vanek and Zucker particularly.
Vanek, who had no goals or points in the previous six games, had his first four-point game with the Wild tonight, Koivu his fourth career four-point game and first in almost five years. Zucker, who had no goals or points in the previous 10 games, scored a goal.
“They had a lot of life right from the start,” Yeo said.
Added Koivu, “As a line tonight, it just seemed that it was going in and the puck was finding the net. You want to stay on it.”
-- Random items from the game (the final game story with quotes can be seen at startribune.com/wild in a little bit):
1. The Wild had its second penalty kill-less game in four games and 13th all-time. That's one way to fix a broken PK, which to be fair, has been better lately.
2. I expected the fourth-liners to have strong games and to play hard tonight because barring health, one would assume Stoll would enter for one of those guys Thursday against the Rangers. Fourth-line center Erik Haula, who has no points in the past 12 games, makes the most sense, but he has been playing pretty good lately.
Yeo said the Wild will have an optional practice Wednesday, meaning Stoll won’t have a full practice on his first day. The Wild’s coming off a big win and has points in eight straight games (5-0-3), so the question will be whether Yeo changes the lineup. Yeo said he would meet with his coaching staff and make a decision. He also tossed in there that he thinks Stoll would be motivated to face the team that just threw him on waivers.
I’d think he debuts, but we’ll see.
3. Yeo indicated this morning that he thought the Wild was readying to break out offensively. He thought it almost happened in San Jose on Saturday night during that 2-0 win.
Why he think this?
“Our play without the puck, I’ve said it before, it’s all connected,” Yeo said. “And our play without the puck has been better and because of that we’ve had the puck a lot more.”
4. I thought Charlie Coyle had another solid game tonight and Yeo said he has felt this way for three weeks. Coyle drew two power plays that led to Vanek’s game-opening goal and Parise’s second consecutive winning goal. He had three shots and was a horse.
The Wild went 3 for 5 on the power play, by the way.
5. Darcy Kuemper will be overshadowed, but he’s now 3-0-2 in his past five games after tonight’s 29-save effort. He has allowed six goals, four in regulation. The Wild has allowed seven goals in the past seven games, four in regulation.
“He’s playing for something right now,” Yeo said. “We’re happy for him. You score six goals, it’s not a story, the goaltender, but he made a couple really big saves early in the game.”
We’ll see if Yeo comes back and rides the hot hand of Kuemper against the Rangers. The Rangers are struggling right now, so it may make sense to try to go for the jugular and use the goalie that’s playing every game, not the one that may be rusty after not playing since Dec. 5.
6. On the game, Ryan Suter had some funny lines in the game. Parise, who had three points and eight shots (34 shots the past seven games) said, “It was fun. It felt like we had the puck a lot, we had a lot of shots, a lot of good scoring chances. The power play moved it around really well.
“It's something we wanted to ... here ... start this homestand the right way.”
7. All four lines looked good tonight, and a lot has to do with how well the defensemen are moving the puck up with short, quick passes. Sometimes it seems the Wild only gets one line churning at once, so it was nice to see the Granlund line and Koivu line going tonight.
How important is it for that to continue?
“That’s ideal,” Parise said. “That’s the way you draw it up and that’s the way you want it to work out. You want to have scoring depth. It’s hard to maintain for a full season. At times one lines going, one’s not. But when it comes together the right way and the power play comes together, you get games like that. Hopefully everyone feels good about the offensive side now and we can continue to pop a couple more in.”
8. Nate Prosser had another solid game and late in the game he crushed Derek Dorsett in a fight. Dorsett wanted a piece of Prosser all game and the two chirped at each other from their respective penalty boxes after coincidental minors in the second period. Late, Dorsett boarded Prosser and the Wild defenseman stood up for himself. Like I said, Prosser got Dorsett with a couple big shots.
-- The Wild’s now 11-3-1 at home, the 11 home wins tied for third in the NHL.
-- The Wild’s 8-game point streak is its longest since a 10-game run (8-0-2) from Jan. 20-Feb. 14 last season.
-- The Wild’s 14-2-2 when scoring first and 10-0-1 when leading after two periods (the Dallas OT loss in late November being the lone blemish).
-- The Wild has allowed a season-low seven goals in December (5-0-2) and five goals in 21 regulation periods this month. In seven December games, Dubnyk and Kuemper have combined for a .960 save percentage and three shutouts.
-- Vanek is the 13th player in Wild history to hit four points and it was his highest total since five since Jan. 30, 2013.
-- Parise had his 300th assist tonight. Jason Pominville has a point in seven of eight games since breaking out of the 21-game goal drought. Matt Dumba played his 100th game tonight and had an assist.
Talk to you after practice Wednesday.