MINNESOTA WILD AT OTTAWA SENATORS
6:00PM Central, Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, Ontario
TV: Fox Sports-North
Radio: KFAN 100.3 and affiliates
Streaming: Fox Sports Go app
Well, Wilderness, Sunday’s game was… uninspiring, wasn’t it? I hate saying this about my beloved Wild, but it was simply outclassed by the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. The Wild had no punch offensively, making things way too easy on the guy who has run away with the Vezina lead so far. And on the back end, it had no answer for Patrick Kane, who was back to pulling his old magic tricks against the Green ‘n’ Wheats. LOVE that guy [SUPER LOUD FART NOISE]!
The Wild has now gone from four straight wins to two straight deserved losses, a nice little microcosm of how this season has gone in the State of Hockey. Just when you think things are heading into a deep abyss, the Wild finds a way to win a few and restore some semblance of faith. On the flip side, just when it starts to make its followers believe that an extended run could be coming, it dives right back into a hole.
The good news is that the Wild now gets a couple of struggling opponents in a row. This is a great chance to reset before Minnesota has to face the league’s best in Tampa Bay in its final game before the Christmas break.
The Wild is making a brief stop north of the border in Ottawa tonight, where Matt Duchene’s white skates await.
The Ottawa Senators have made a lot of noise this season, and probably not in the way that fans of the team would have hoped. It’s almost weirdly forgettable that Ottawa is fresh off of a run all the way to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, where it fell in double overtime to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Think about how close they were! Double OT! Instead of carrying that surprising postseason success back into the regular season, Ottawa’s current campaign has been filled with off-ice drama.
First, there was the big three-way swap-a-palooza in which the Sens essentially jettisoned top-six centerman Kyle Turris in order to (supposedly) upgrade for Duchene. But Duchene, who had ten points in fourteen games before finally finding his way out of Colorado, has had just five points in seventeen games in Ottawa. There must be an adjustment period associated with going into the Jacques Lemaire-ian 1-3-1 trap that Head Coach Guy Boucher employs, but still… fans had to be hopeful that Duchene was the missing piece. He has yet to demonstrate that.
Then came the news that Erik Karlsson, quite possibly the best defenseman of the current generation, won’t be giving any hometown discounts when his contract ends after next season. “When I go to market, I’m going to get what I’m worth, and it’s going to be no less, no matter where I’m going,” the Orlando-Bloom-look-alike superstar recently stated. I love it! He’s spoken like a true pirate-looking player! Take what you can, and give nothing back! Erik Karrrrrrrlsson!
Topping it all off, Melnyk actually went so far as to hint that the Senators, who have shockingly been dealing with attendance issues, could relocate. Oh! And! And! Melnyk made those comments during the festivities of the NHL 100 Classic, a recent outdoor game designed to celebrate the history of hockey in Canada. Dude, WTF?!
The Sens are 11-13-7. Ouch.
Joel Eriksson Ek, who fans have been clamoring to see get a better chance to play with skilled linemates, found himself in a top-six role to start the game with Eric Staal and Mikael Granlund Sunday. Like many of his teammates, the young Swede had little impact on the offensive end of the ice, though, and by the third period, he was right back down in a checking role. I like this kid, and I think he has a remarkably bright future, but I am starting to feel that letting him dominate in Iowa for a fairly long stint might be what he needs.
I do also believe that before Bruce Boudreau makes a personnel decision, he insists on giving a guy a good opportunity to show what he can do, as was the case with Kyle Quincey before the maligned defenseman landed on waivers. It resulted in his team losing 7-2, but hey… the guy got his chance to show what he could do, and he didn’t do it. If players don’t take advantage of their opportunities, Boudreau gives Chuck Fletcher no choice but to send them down, move them on, etc. Sunday may have been that chance for Eriksson Ek, and he didn’t take advantage. He badly needs an impactful game tonight.
Speaking of guys who need an impactful game, Marcus Foligno saw his second healthy scratch in as many weeks for the Wild. Michael Russo reported recently that Boudreau has made it clear he isn’t happy with the physical forward’s play. After the “Pomella for Folennis” trade this offseason, Fletcher received plenty of ire for his haul in the deal, as folks all around Hockey Wilderness were throwing shade at the style of game that Foligno brings.
It’s no secret that many of the writers and commenters here prefer a game that revolves around skill and speed, and Foligno is supposed to be a straight-line banger type. I personally see the value in a guy that can bruise opponents to create space, but once that space is created, a good play then needs to be made with the puck. The issue with Foligno is that he has not only been making bad plays with the puck, but he also hasn’t even been noticeably doing the bruising! So, he’s found himself in the pressbox a couple times and seems to have also nestled himself into Boudreau’s doghouse. The offseason trade is looking worse and worse.
What’s with Boudreau pulling the goalie with more and more time left on the clock when his team is down? I hate this tactic. Absolutely hate it. If you have enough momentum that you’re confident in pulling your goalie with four minutes left, then you probably have enough momentum to score a goal without an extra skater. I’m sorry to tell you, but no team is good enough to comfortably control the puck for four or five straight minutes, and it’s highly likely that the opposition will get at least one shot on goal in that timeframe. You’re almost guaranteeing that your team will allow an ENG and eliminate any chance of getting back in the game by yanking your netminder so freaking early.
For the love of everything holy, somebody get Mikko Koivu a goal please!
No—Zach Parise or Devan Dubnyk. Jared Spurgeon returned last game and saw 23:20 of ice time.
For Ottawa, Gabriel Dumont recently injured his ankle, Mark Borowiecki is concussed, and Chris Wideman is likely to miss the remainder of the season with a hamstring injury. This is all per Rotoworld.
The Gamethread will post at 5:30PM Central. Below are the projected lineups, thanks to DailyFaceoff.com.
SUTER // DUMBA
BRODIN // SPURGEON
REILLY // PROSSER