1 — Penalties really boned them.
I’m certainly not one to complain about officiating, so this will be placing more blame on the players themselves. It is one thing to get completely rolled over because of some egregious miss by the referees, but Minnesota gave up extremely timely penalties, and handed one of the league’s most dangerous (if not the most dangerous) power play units ample opportunity to come back from a three-goal deficit. Which, of course, they did.
The Leafs’ second and third goals were on the man advantage, and even the best penalty-killing team couldn’t really control their chances. It was inevitable. Only the Carolina Hurricanes have been shorthanded for more time than the Minnesota Wild this season. If they truly want to contend, that is somewhere that will get absolutely exposed later in the season.
But...they don’t call penalties in the playoffs anyways, so does it matter?
2 — They played an entirely different game, but still got a stable result.
It might have been playing bad teams for their last little bit, but the Wild seemed to really try and stretch out the play. There were no periods of dominating their way into the offensive zone with a clenched fist, but it was all just a sort of peppering and squeaking by any defender, in hopes to set up a strong chances.
The Wild just looked different and it could have totally been playing a team that they have not faced in a very long time and trying to feel them out, while also that team being very good, but there just appeared to be more of a traditional mindset for getting their scoring chances. Simple, crashes towards the net and getting those in-deep chances that were grew accustomed to during the 2019-20 season. Quality over quantity in every way.
3 — Complete domination from the “GREEF” line, that we should be used to by now.
No line that played a significant amount of time for either team controlled more of the play than the trio of Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson Ek, and Marcus Foligno. With 59.09 percent of the shot attempts and an astonishing 77.51 percent of the expected goals at 5-on-5, against a team that has been at the top of the league in both categories for the majority of the season, is just another display of the calm, cool, and collected line getting the job done.
They were able to sustain so much pressure, that I wouldn’t be surprised if they also were in the offensive zone for almost a half hour.
It wasn’t just the Leafs in general, but this line was given the sole duty of shutting down Auston Matthews and whatever wingers were sent out there with him. And they did exactly that. When Matthews was on the ice against the Wild’s line, Minnesota had the advantage in every single category that is publicly available. They scored more goals (2 to zero) had more shot attempts, shots on goal, unblocked shot attempts, expected goals, high-danger chances, scoring chances, etc. etc. etc. I can list them forever—Matthews was completely shut down by Joel Eriksson Ek and his handy wingers.
4 — Stars got to strut their stuff in the shootout to earn the win.
The 60 minutes of regulation was frustrating, but against one of the league’s best, the comeback felt inevitable (with the penalties). So there is simply just nothing better than Mats Zuccarello and Kirill Kaprizov putting on a show for us to cap this off and give the Wild the second point.
what a move from Zucc pic.twitter.com/52TfsGnT0k— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) December 5, 2021
Ah, hell ya.
Kirill just making it look EASY pic.twitter.com/7PVlCvDqad— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) December 5, 2021
Oh, that’s the good stuff.
The Wild are going west to face the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday and maybe they’ll be hard-matching against Connor McDavid the same way they did with Auston. Good luck Connor.