Here is your stream of consciousness postgame blog after Tuesday’s 4-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers:
1. If you didn’t see the previous blog, I am doing a Russo’s Rants Q and A Sunday column this week. If you have a Wild question, please read the instructions on the previous blog and ask your question in the comment section to possibly be included Sunday. Just an fyi: the Wild has Wednesday off, and I am out of town until Sunday night due to an obligation.
So, Rachel Blount and Kent Youngblood will have you covered until I return for Monday’s practice. I will have a cool feature in Thursday’s paper and of course my Sunday column.
2. The Matt Dumba hit on Lauri Korpikoski. Yes, it was high and there was some head contact, but I’m hearing when you slow it down the principle point of contact is not the head and therefore I think the NHL will deem it a good hockey hit and he won’t be disciplined.
3. Obviously, as always, please read the game story and game notebook on startribune.com/wild for further details.
As I said a few times on Twitter, the Wild needed to stop getting into a track meet with the Oilers and start taking advantage of their blue line by getting pucks deep and forechecking the heck out of them with cycles.
The last 10 minutes of the second period, the Wild did just that with the Zach Parise-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville and Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Nino Niederreiter lines and the defensemen doing just that.
It didn’t result in the tying goal, but you just knew it would have the desired effect in the third. The Oilers’ blue line is undermanned and not very good, and they did look worn down even when Darnell Nurse gave the Oilers a 3-2 lead 3:38 into the third.
But the Wild returned to getting pucks deep and forechecking and it ultimately paid off. Koivu won a big puck battle and eventually spun and fired a puck that deflected at the net and went right to Ryan Suter who beat Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to the backdoor for the defenseman’s second goal on the night and his first multi-goal game since his Jan. 4, 2014, hat trick against Washington. Koivu extended his point streak to seven games on the goal, his longest since March 2013.
Then, 43 seconds later, Charlie Coyle, elevated back to third line with Thomas Vanek and Justin Fontaine after a second-period, fourth-line demotion, responded with the winning goal. Coyle intercepted Eric Gryba’s rim (after the defenseman stood behind the net trying to figure out what to do for what felt like an eternity) and after one near scoring chance, Coyle scored by dragging Anton Lander to the net and burying Vanek’s cross-crease pass with a backhander.
Read the game story for the quotes, but Coyle felt the need to deliver and coach Mike Yeo was very happy with his response. Yeo rewarded Coyle late, too, by putting him out in the final minutes.
“Whether I was or whether I wasn’t [sending him a message], I think the main thing out of that story is that he responded. That’s what you want from players You want players to have an edge and push back, and I think he showed some pride,” Yeo said.
Read the gamer for more of why Yeo demoted him in the second.
4. The Parise-Granlund-Pominville line had a lot of offensive chances, but the line continues to be disjointed with Pominville still searching for his first goal nine games into the season. Pominville is fighting it now. He’s swinging and missing on pucks, having trouble catching pucks and seems to be gripping his stick into oblivion. It’s a shame because he looked so good before camp and early in camp.
It’s amazing Parise has seven goals because Granlund and Pominville don’t have an even-strength point in the past six games. That is not good for two top-6 forwards and the Wild will have to figure this out.
Maybe one possibility would be when Tyler Graovac returns maybe late next week putting Coyle at right wing on that line and seeing if Vanek and Pominville can recreate some magic with Graovac or Erik Haula (Graovac may need to be eased back in on the fourth line).
5. The Wild hasn’t lost consecutive regulation games this season and Devan Dubnyk, 33-11-2 with the Wild, still hasn’t suffered consecutive regulation losses in a Wild uniform. That is pretty unbelievable for a guy who has started 45 games (and played 46).
6. Suter, who couldn’t buy a goal for much of last year, was rewarded for two. He’s been consistently good all season, has been taking more shots and finally got rewarded.
He joked he probably won’t have a shot now the next 10 games, but he’s feeling good about his game and Yeo is happy he was rewarded tonight because Yeo has felt with the type of chances Suter has been getting, he’s been quite unlucky to have no goals.
7. Vanek made the beauty pass to Coyle and made a great play to set up Scandella’s third career power-play goal.
“His game’s been coming along,” Yeo said. “I’m starting to see a lot of things you think of Marco doing when he’s playing his tpp game. His speed, his ability to get into the play. When Marco is on his game, he’s a horse for us” with his skating ability, ability to beat guys one-on-one, separate guys, execute with the puck and defend.
Scandella said it was good to be on the power play (Dumba’s still not on either unit), but Scandella said the key tonight is, “Our forceheck is really effective, and once we got to it, we were keeping pucks in the zone and getting a lot of zone time.”
Anyhoo, lots more in the paper.
That’s it for me. Like I said, I am out of town for the next little bit, but check out my feature in Thursday’s paper on #oneofus (not a player) and my Sunday column. Rachel and Kent will take you from here.