The Minnesota Wild's problems began in the first period.
Stop me if you've heard this one- the Wild were getting the better of the chances, but weren't able to cash in on the power play. Two opportunities in the first period, and the Wild were 0-for-22 on the man advantage.
And then Jonas Brodin was hit. Hard. Into the boards. Head-first. Rangers Winger Chris Kreider received a Game Misconduct for boarding Brodin, giving the Minnesota Wild a 5-minute power play. 0-23.
But this ended up not seeming to matter, as the Wild got on the board due to a Nate Prosser (of all people) goal to start the scoring, followed by Matt Cooke a minute later. Two even-strength goals, which looked to temporarily at least bail out the power play.
And then the Wild got handed another 5-minute major, as John Moore caught Erik Haula in the head with an elbow. 5 minutes later, the Wild were 0-24. That's where they ended up finishing on the night. 14 minutes of PP time, not a single goal to show for it.
But again, this didn't seem to matter when Pominville scored a goal from Mikael Granlund, putting the Wild up 3-0. At this point, the Wild had out-scored their opponents by a factor of 20-4. This number was bound to regress eventually, and every Wild fan who had even a passing familiarity with advanced statistics knew it.
What we didn't think was all that regression would happen in one period. It started when Kevin Klein and (NHL-leading goal-scorer) Rick Nash put goals past Darcy Kuemper. A one-goal game. Jason Zucker would appear to stop the bleeding seconds later to put the Wild up 4-2, but then goals by Derrick Brassard, Anthony Duclair, and Mats Zuccarello would put the Rangers ahead for good. The Wild would pull their goalie to be up an extra skater in the final seconds, but you know how this goes. Granlund couldn't wrangle a chance down low, and the Wild blew what seemed to be a sure two points.
It's easy to see the result of the game, and be upset, and you very well should be. This was a complete collapse by the Wild. Even the positives of this game- Hey! The Wild scored 4 Even-Strength goals!- is tempered by the reality that they gave up 5. But despite the Kuemper meltdown, the Wild still managed to create more scoring chances than their opponent at even strength, which will in the long run lead to victories.
It's getting to be old hat to say that the Power Play is responsible for these losses, and it needs to improve, and it absolutely does. Whether that involves merely getting lucky, or actual system tweaks, I'm not sure. But if the Wild were able to convert even one chance on the man advantage tonight, they come away with at least one point, and probably two.
It was a freak game. And only one game. The Wild were the better team, with a goalie that went from being Patrick Roy to Dan Cloutier in 20 minutes flat.
Looking forward, Jonas Brodin returned to the game, but he's not out of the woods. He hit his head on the boards, and it can take a while for concussion symptoms to manifest. Wild fans will have to keep an eye on that- the suggestions in the media are that if Brodin is to miss time, Stu Bickel is the call-up. It's important to note that Jonathan Blum would serve as a more suitable Brodin replacement, if needed.
As for Erik Haula, he did not return, and it wouldn't be surprising if he were to miss time. It's already been reported that Brodziak will make a return to the lineup. If Haula is out for some time, the Wild are looking at a possible Michael Keränen call-up. My early guess for lines if Keränen gets a call-up would be:
Parise - Granlund - Pominville
Vanek - Koivu - Zucker
Keränen - Coyle - Niederreiter
Cooke - Brodziak - Fontaine
But it's too early to tell if Haula will miss time, or if Keränen will be re-called from Iowa so quickly.
Tomorrow, the Minnesota Wild continue their road trip, going to face-off against Boston at 6 PM. A tough game indeed. Sleep tonight off, Wild fans. A win tomorrow will alleviate a lot of the misery you suffered tonight.