It was said earlier Saturday that a message was sent to the players "loud and clear." If anything, the message was just really loud, but incoherent and confusing. Mike Yeo decided to make Thomas Vanek and Jason Zucker healthy scratches into the game against the St. Louis Blues. Scratching two players that were said to be deficient defensively makes sense, but when those players are also the few that also help stir the drink offensively, the sub-optimal line-up was already offensively shackled.
Hockey Day 'Special' for MN, Special for Vets
Hockey Day Minnesota 2015 was memorable for all who took part in the annual event that has truly become a holiday for hockey fans across the state. But the mantra of HDM 2015 meant that much more for those in the military.
Vladimir Tarasenko, Jori Lehtera, and Troy Brouwer all netted power play goals. Paul Stastny potted and even-strength goal and that would be all she wrote. The Blues power play came into action Saturday night 0-for-19 in the last eight games on the power play, but, hey, the Wild penalty kill can oblige and break any teams' slump in that department. the first penalty came after Scottie Upshall ran into the elbow of Mikko Koivu. A bad call, yes, but it only took 32 seconds for Tarasenko to score on a nice feed through the penalty kill box and across the crease. Nate Prosser went off for roughing an eight seconds later, Lehtera scored. Stastny added his tally roughly seven minutes later.
The Wild, on the other hand, had seven opportunities with the man-advantage and only scored on one of them. One. One goal. In seven tries. The seven power plays probably artificially propped up the shot total for the Wild. Fifteen of the Wild's 39 shots on goal came with the man-advantage. It wasn't until after the Blues were already up 3-0 that the Wild decided to show some semblance of emotion. They crashed the net hard and finally Matt Dumba put the puck in the net.
This is to take nothing away from Brian Elliott. Elliott was superb in goal and stopped many great chances in point-blank range, especially in the second period. but even then, without a couple more finishers in the line up, who was actually going to score?
Devan Dubnyk, despite giving up four goals, made some incredible saves. With three of the four goals he gave up coming short-handed, it's tough to pin much on him. However, when the team is struggling, everyone needs to do more, and that includes the goaltender who is, on most nights, keeping the team in the game.
All-in-all, Hockey Day Minnesota was smashing success. Both high school games featured solid, fun hockey. The Golden Gophers, even in losing fashion, made the game entertaining. The Minnesota - Duluth Bulldogs swept the Colorado College Tigers, and Girls' high school hockey sectionals were taking place all over the state. Just because the NHL team is a heaping pile of cow dung, doesn't make the game of hockey any less wonderful to be a part of.
Happy Hockey Day Minnesota 2016.