The Minnesota Wild strolled into Canada in hopes of putting a putrid effort against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday behind them. Unfortunately the Wild’s opponent tonight was the Winnipeg Jets, who seemed for much of the game to be a class above the Wild in all phases. The Wild fell tonight in a game that was probably exciting for Jets fans, but it had the State of Hockey crying uncle. After 2 early goals for the Wild, the Jets would score 7 unanswered and finish the Wild off with a 7-2 victory.
Jared Spurgeon was scratched from tonight’s game due to illness. At least that’s what we thought right up to puck drop when the Wild’s twitter account dropped this little gem on us.
So, the night started off with not some of the best news, and it would only get worse for the Wild. The Jets looked to take control of this game early. They seemed to be controlling play when a nice step up play by Gustav Olofsson on the Wild’s blue line led to an odd-man rush. Charlie Coyle fed the puck cross ice to Jason Zucker who drove the net and made a nice little move to beat Connor Hellebuyck and put the Wild up 1-0.
Coyle would get another breakaway and Zack Mitchell would finish off a big rebound for a goal, but the Jets Head Coach Paul Maurice thought something looked fishy and challenged the play. Coyle lifted his back leg off the ice when crossing into the zone and was offsides, so the goal call was overturned and the Wild’s lead remained at 1.
Chris Stewart would get that goal back however, scoring his 7th of the season and a first in quite some time. Stewie was able to sneak in on the weak side. Matt Cullen gained control of a loose puck after a battle Marcus Foligno was fighting behind the net jarred the puck loose. Cullen saw the wide open Stewart and fed the puck. Stewart had nothing but twine in front of him on a can’t miss goal to put the Wild up 2-0. One could say that’s when the wheels came off, but the Wild didn’t look like they were much in this game from the opening draw.
The Jets were quicker tonight. Their forecheck was working well and they had several chunks of the game where they were able to maintain the offensive zone. The Wild, for their part in all this had the worst time trying to clear pucks out of their defensive zone all night. No vision, no awareness, and give credit to the Jets here for playing a stifling brand of hockey that kept the Wild searching for answers all night.
Thirteen players for the Jets would register points tonight, with Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, and Kyle Connor scoring a goal and 2 assists a piece. Bryan Little scored for the Jets, Joel Armia scored a goal tonight, Mathieu Perreault found the back of the net and so did Jacob Trouba. Dustin Byfuglien was held without a goal, so he’s still at least looking for his 1st of the season, and this seemed like the type of game that everyone on the Jets squad would score a goal.
The Wild have now lost their last 2 games to the number 1 and 2 teams in the division by a combined score of 5-14. If these were measuring stick games, the Wild just don’t measure up. It’s becoming increasingly clear that this team is just not where it has been in recent history. Gustav Olofsson looked decent tonight, making that play to start the scoring in the game and later making a huge block on the penalty kill and would finish the game topping 20 minutes of time on ice.
The B-side tonight was Kyle Quincey. He played terribly all night, and when he had finally had enough, he finished with a bang by gaining 2 minor penalties for roughing and a 10-minute game misconduct simultaneously. He would finish the game with 16 minutes in penalties, a minus-3 on the day, and just 13 minutes and change in time on ice. Quincey as of late has been, to put it mildly, bad. If he finds the ice any time soon it will be disappointing to say the least, because he definitely needs a little time to think about it.
There was plenty of blame to go around. Alex Stalock wasn’t having his best game, but far from the top 100 list of reasons the Wild lost. Matt Dumba was a minus 3 on the night as well, and the only person on the team that seemed to be shooting the puck was Daniel Winnik who finished with a team leading 5 shots tonight.
It wasn’t just those individuals though. The Wild as a team finished with just 19 shots to the Jets 28. As a team the Wild won just 42% of the faceoffs, they gave up 2 power play goals on 5 kills, and had 29 minutes in penalties. All told, it took a team effort to lose as bad as the Wild did tonight. Outside of some early puck luck this game was all Jets, and they deserve all the credit in the world for dismantling the Wild as they did.