Following Wild games, Content Coordinator Evan Sporer will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at the Wild's 3-1 loss against the Winnipeg Jets at Xcel Energy Center.
The last time the Wild and Jets played, a 5-3 Wild win in Minnesota, it was the Wild's speed that was so evident all game long.
Minnesota played a north-south style that led to a number of transition opportunities, breakaways, and a Jets defense that was left chasing.
On Friday, it looked more like a game with the Jets' DNA than the Wild's for the first 50 minutes of the game.
"We didn't play with the puck well, didn't do what we needed to do, and it kind of played into their game," Ryan Carter said.
It was a physical, in-your-face game with a clogged up neutral zone and lots of dumping the puck in at the offensive blue line.
"It's tough to play when you feel like you're chasing the puck all game," Zach Parise said. "It's tough to make plays; it's tough to get shots when you never have the puck. It made it a tough game."
In a continuation from the Wild's loss on Wednesday against the Canucks, Minnesota wasn't as crisp with the puck, missing on its outlets to start its exits, and not being able to play up to the pace it is most effective at.
"It's what we need right now, to be honest with you," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "It might sound funny, but I look at the first part of the season, and I think our record was a little misleading. There were a lot of inconsistencies in our game."
Minnesota started to get to its game midway through the third period, and was able to draw to within 2-1, but couldn't get any closer.
"The earlier part of our year you get away with that stuff, and you try to show the video, you talk about things, maybe it gets a little bit better," Yeo said. "But when you're winning games, those things don't really sink in.
"We're playing the same game that we were at the start of the year, but the league gets better, and right now we’re not getting away with those things."
The Wild allowed a power-play goal for the sixth time in seven games when Mathieu Perreault got free in the right circle.
Winnipeg worked the puck around the zone, forcing the Wild to chase. As it made its way from the bottom of the left circle, to the blue line, and then over to the right side, Minnesota's PK square tried to stay in position in front of the puck.
But as Dustin Byfuglien passed to Perreault, he got lost in a soft spot between Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter. As Perreault carried the puck down low, he was too far away for Koivu to make a play, while Suter was defending two Jets skaters in front. With Perreault in the in-between area, he took advantage of the space, walked the puck down, and snapped a shot.
A very welcome sight for the Friday game was the return of Parise. Having missed the past eight games with a sprained MCL, Parise made his return to the Wild lineup after getting medically cleared and participating in his first full practice on Thursday.
Parise didn't wait very long to get involved, starting the game and sticking his nose right in the middle of things, displaying that tenacious style Wild fans have grown so accustomed to.
"I felt fine, hopefully better tomorrow, but for the first game in a while, it was okay," Parise said.
The pace Parise plays at is contagious for the Wild, and he specifically forces teams into doing things quicker than they'd like, and more often than not, less effectively.
"As far as physically I felt fine," Parise said. "I felt a little behind in the conditioning, but I was kind of expecting that."
Without Parise, every line except Koivu's line saw some sort of tweak. With Parise coming back, the Wild tried new configurations in the first period, with Parise centered by Mikael Granlund (like before) with Charlie Coyle to his right (something new).
Yeo elected to go back to the Wild's former line of Parise, Granlund, and Jason Pominville in the second period. That put Coyle with Thomas Vanek and Erik Haula. Overall, there was a bit of juggling, which can be expected as the Wild get healthier and continue to add forwards into the mix (Justin Fontaine is expected back soon, possibly as soon as Saturday).
Yeo tried Parise with Coyle and Vanek in the third period. Later Parise took shifts with Koivu and Jason Zucker, and ultimately, Yeo kept tinkering and prodding looking to find a spark.
Seven days after Christian Folin played at TD Garden for the first time since he did so in college in 2014, another piece of his past from UMass Lowell found its way back to Folin.
Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck made his NHL debut on Friday. The top-end prospect was Folin's River Hawk teammate for both of Folin's seasons at Lowell. The pair played a major role in Lowell's success, leading the school to its first two conference championships.
"One of my best friends, so it was fun to see him out there today," Folin said. "I lived right next store, so it's a pretty close relationship."
During Folin's successful college career, UMass Lowell was known for its stubborn defense: Lowell allowed the fewest goals per game in the nation Folin's sophomore season, and the fourth-fewest his freshman season.
"It's fun for him, but we didn't really challenge him enough," Folin said of Hellebuyck's debut. "He's a good goalie, but we didn't put up too many shots."
Read more about Folin at UMass Lowell