clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Wilderness Walk: Wasted Opportunity Edition

New, comments

Last night's game against the Jets was meaningless. It didn't have to be, but playing time decisions rendered it so.

Michael Keränen made a sick pass to Jared Spurgeon for a PPG last night. Too bad we couldn't see more from him.
Michael Keränen made a sick pass to Jared Spurgeon for a PPG last night. Too bad we couldn't see more from him.
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Wild won last night's game 4-3. It did not matter.

This game wasn't ever going to be meaningful, and with any stakes whatsoever. It was pre-season, so the game doesn't count in any standings. Thomas Vanek was out for the Minnesota Wild. Dustin Byfuglien, Evander Kane, and Jacob Trouba were absent from last night's contest. Terrible Ondrej Pavelec was in net, meaning that scoring 4 goals was basically like scoring two against a normal goalie.

The Jets recognized the fact that the result of the game was irrelevant, leading them to do a very smart thing. Nikolaj Ehlers is the Jets' 2014 first-round pick, and he's dynamic. He's got amazing speed, great skills, and a good shot. The Jets are trying to figure out whether to keep him in the NHL this season, or send him back to Juniors. How are they going to figure out if he belongs in the NHL?

They played him. And they played him a lot. He got 18+ minutes last night, playing with Andrew Ladd almost the entire night (Ladd only got 20 more seconds than Ehlers). Ehlers got more ice time than Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler. This paid off, as Ehlers looked really good, notching an assist. The Jets have much more information on players on their roster bubble for having played Ehlers that amount.

The Wild came into yesterday's game looking to evaluate three players in particular: Mathew Dumba, Gustav Olofsson, and Michael Keränen. I had hoped that in a meaningless pre-season game, we'd get to see them get playing time that they may not get in a regular-season game, just to evaluate how they handle it. Did that happen?

No. Dumba played 15 minutes (with 2 on the power play), Olofsson played 13 minutes, with no special teams time, and Keränen got 9 minutes, with less than a minute on the power play. At even strength, Dumba was paired with Olofsson. Why? Why on earth wouldn't Mike Yeo experiment? Put Dumba with Ryan Suter! Play Olofsson with Jared Spurgeon! Put Keränen on the second line! Let's evaluate based off of 18-20 minutes of ice time in all situations, instead of limited ice time.

Didn't happen. Dumba managed to impress, even with his limited ice time, but Keränen and Olofsson? We don't really know much more about them than we did yesterday morning. The Jets lost the game last night, but I feel they gained more information on their prospects than the Wild got on theirs.

Oh, and for some reason, Yeo played Joel Richlicz for only 5 shifts, after playing him over a prospect like Jason Zucker, Jordan Schroeder, or Brett Bulmer. But don't worry- we gained a lot of information on how fun he is to have on the bench! Don't just fight, Jason, learn a gorram joke or two!

On to the Walk.

Wild News

Parise family embraces life's good moments during tough times | Star Tribune- Thoughts go to the family of former North Star (and father of Zach) J.P. Parise, who has long been diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer.

Wild's power play gets off to a fast start, doesn't let up | Star Tribune- Zach Parise said on the Wild's Power Play: "Systematically, it's the same. Just a little more movement, a little more attack-the-net mentality rather than play around the perimeter." Oh, so it's incredibly different, then.

But as Ger pointed out last night, the Power Play gets a lot of rap for being (relatively) good under Yeo.

Chew on that.

Postgame: Wild scores 3 power-play goals in win over Winnipeg; Dumba, Keranen impress | Russo's Rants- Russo's blog write-up on it, with quotes about how awesome Dumba is, and how he's making a strong, strong case to make the roster. Dumba needs to make the roster, and if he doesn't, it's a crime.

Wild Forward Lines This Season- Gone Puck Wild- Ben speculates about line combination.

TSN.ca's 2014-15 NHL Season Preview: Minnesota Wild - Article - TSN- TSN previews the Wild, and also likes Mat Dumba.

Minnesota Wild preview: Fifth in Central | USA Today- Yeah, I don't know about that. I think they're 4th in the Central at worst.

Tom Powers: Wild need protection for their high-end talent - TwinCities.com- Tom Powers: Lazy idiot. I mean, there are times that toughness is needed, like when you've got a guy like Nazem Kadri running Niklas Backstrom. That wouldn't have happened if the Wild had some guys to deter that stuff- Wait. What? You mean to tell me that both Zenon Konopka and Clayton Stoner were playing in that game? Well, they certainly put a stop to that behavior, and held Kadri accountable. What?! No? They didn't fight- Charlie Coyle had to stand up for the team and fight Joffrey Lupul? The hell were they doing? OK, well, at least that fight put an end to that behavior. Are you kidding me? Kadri later got thrown out of the game for concussing Mikael Granlund?

Next time anyone tries to tell you about how toughness is needed on the Wild, you can show them that Maple Leafs-Wild game. It means almost nothing.

Off the Trail

Comedian Will Arnett at Leafs practice | ProHockeyTalk- The Maple Leafs clearly saw another Tweet from Ger last night, and did him one better. Could Ger be the next NHL Hire?

And by the way, Arnett is brilliant in David Cross' BBC television show "The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret". It's on pretty much every streaming service, so you should watch it. If you're on the fence, here's a (NSFW) segment that is amazing.

Jaden Schwartz Signs 2-Year, 4.7 million Deal With Blues | theScore- Another RFA crisis solved! But Jaden Schwartz missed, like, 10 days of camp. Is he no longer a Blue at Heart?

The Team of 18,001: 2014-15 Outlook: Pacific Division- Giles previews the Pacific Division.

Heatley: "I fit in with those Ottawa guys, I can fit in with [Getzlaf and Perry]." | theScore- Dany Heatley was also good when he was in Ottawa, which may have had something to do with that.

Puck Daddy’s NHL 2014-15 Emoji Preview: Calgary Flames | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- Puck Daddy looks at Calgary.

2014-15 NHL season preview -- Philadelphia Flyers' Michael Del Zotto in make-or-break season - ESPN- Del Zotto would still have been fun to have on this team.

Markstrom clears waivers, Canucks cut 11 | ProHockeyTalk- There was fan speculation that Jacob Markstrom could maybe be claimed by the Wild, but the Wild wisely passed on having a third one-way goalie on their roster that has struggled as mightily as Markstrom has.

Penguins coach says Kapanen could crack opening night lineup | ProHockeyTalk- This is probably partially motivated by the fact that the Penguins are up against the Salary Cap.

Flames worry that Markus Granlund suffered a concussion | ProHockeyTalk- Unfortunate for the younger Granlund, who has Calgary excited.

Lighting Defenseman Anthony DeAngelo Sent Down Despite Dan Boyle Comparisons | theScore- DeAngelo is absurdly talented, the knock on him are character issues. It's good to see him get positive attention in Tampa. I tend to root for guys who get labelled as attitude/character problems.

Lack of NHL stats in an information age is mind-boggling | New York Post- It's also not baseball, where it's essentially an individual sport. If two players play with each other all the time, it's hard to distinguish which player's perfomance has been better, while hitters in baseball can be measured accurately, even if they bat next to each other in the order.

At Barclays Center, Islanders Fans Discover Seats With Obstructed Views - NYTimes.com- Well, at least Islanders fans have that Cal Clutterbuck trade to fall back on (I assume they got Clutterbuck for nothing).

Hockey gods giveth, then taketh away from SHL goalie Bernhard Starkbaum (Video) | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports- That goalie's had a roller coaster couple of weeks.