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Five Takeaways From Wild Vs. Red Wings

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

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 victory against the Detroit Red Wings at Xcel Energy Center.


FIRST TAKEAWAY



With a black eye he received last week against the New York Rangers fading, Devan Dubnyk said after morning skate on Monday he doesn't have a tough look to him anymore.

Dubnyk also didn't declare that he was starting against the Red Wings, so it's hard to quite know what to believe.

Called into action after Darcy Kuemper was held out due to an upper-body injury, Dubnyk displayed more toughness on Monday night, turning in a 28-save, one goal against performance and earning his 15th win of the season.

"I knew (I was starting) when you were talking to me (this morning), it just obviously wasn't my place to be giving that news," Dubnyk said.

Given how Dubnyk said he felt during morning skate, playing his cards close to the vest was a logical move.

"The stitches might have just needed to stretch out a little bit, because this morning it was really every single play that I moved, or something pushed against it, it was shooting up my elbow and into my shoulder," Dubnyk said. "It's kind of a shock, it catches you off, and when I first got on the ice I was like I can't even put my hand in my blocker without it shooting up my arm."

Hours later, Dubnyk made a number of stellar saves, important ones with the Wild primarily playing in a tight game. 



Still scoreless in the first period, Dubnyk snared a Tomas Jurco wrist shot labeled for the top corner (VIDEO).  



Later in the first, with the Red Wings on the power play, Dubnyk kept out a Justin Abdelkader stuff attempt from the goal line, and then navigated some chaos in the crease with four Detroit skaters taking whacks. 





Dubnyk started on his side, made his way onto his back, and seconds later, the danger had been averted.

"[Dubnyk] played great, came up with some huge saves early, and kind of got us a kick-start," Coyle said. "That's [Dubnyk], and that's what we expect from him. It doesn't matter; he's a gamer."



He flashed the pad on a Tatar shot walking down into the slot in the second period, and more than anything, Dubnyk looked very comfortable both in his crease, and playing the puck.


The goalie isn't thought of as a tough player, but Dubnyk made an impression on his teammates with his bounce back.

"It says a lot," Mikko Koivu said. "The way you show that you have character is to step in, and even if you're not probably 100 percent, you want to be there. For the teammates that's a sign you want to see."

SECOND TAKEAWAY



The padawan has become the Jedi master. 



After scoring a highlight reel goal against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday (VIDEO) , Charlie Coyle said the inspiration for his move came from watching YouTube videos of Henrik Zetterberg when Coyle was a teenager. 



So with the originator of the move at Xcel Energy Center in town on Monday night, Coyle reached back into his learned bag of tricks, and turned in another dispy-doodle, how-do-you-do move leading to a goal and a 1-0 Wild lead. 


"I had some open space and he was coming up," Coyle said. "He didn't have the greatest gap and I was just thinking, 'let it rip' or something, but then he came up and it was just a reactionary thing."

After taking a cross-ice pass from Nino Niederreiter and entering the zone, Coyle charged ahead with speed. Taking on Brendan Smith one-on-one, Coyle lulled Smith into a comfortable defensive stance with the puck on his forehand, before jumping to the inside with a quick cut.

Past the defenseman, and only with Petr Mrazek to beat, Coyle roofed the puck under the crossbar (VIDEO) for his ninth goal of the season.


"That was (Pavel) Datsyuk's," Coyle joked after the game. "It was just something that happened, a simple move I guess, and it just went in."

It was just this morning Coyle said he and Niederreiter mesh so well because they each use their size to win puck possession. With a 50-50 puck up for grabs at the blue line, Niederreiter boxed out a Red Wing, and then fired the puck across to Coyle in open space. 



The goal, Coyle's third in his past six games, makes it worth repeating how much confidence Coyle is playing with right now. 

"They keep building, and they keep going," Head Coach Mike Yeo said of Coyle and Niederreiter. "They keep earning more, and obviously we need them to produce. We need them to be contributors to us both offensively and defensively, and they've definitely been doing that."

THIRD TAKEAWAY



It was after the Wild defeated the San Jose Sharks 2-0 16 days ago that Koivu felt the goals were coming. 



In the two games after, Minnesota scored a combined 11 goals. No word from Koivu on if a similar stretch is coming, but it certainly feels like the possession and zone time Koivu's line is generating is bound to pay dividends. 


"It was a good sign that we were starting to get chances more and more when it got later in the game," Koivu said. "For sure it's frustrating when you're not scoring, but at the same time, when you get the momentum and get chances that's a good sign, and usually that gets players going."

It's not like Koivu's line with Thomas Vanek and Jason Zucker isn’t scoring; the line has combined for four goals in its past five games. It's more that it feels like whenever the three forwards jump over the boards, the opportunities they create look as if they'll end in goals. 



To use Monday as an example, there was a sequence midway through the first period where Koivu hit a post, Vanek was thwarted on two sharp angle shots — one of which had Mrazek looking behind him — and it looked as if the shift would surely end in a goal. 





Early in the first, Vanek had a wheeling backhand shot from the slot that was stopped by Mrazek.

In all, the line combined for eight shots on goal, but none that eluded the Red Wings' goalie. 



But that feels like the next logical conclusion, or conclusions.



FOURTH TAKEAWAY



Likewise, as was the case before that offensive explosion after the San Jose game, the puck is not bouncing the Wild's way right now. 



The Wild has scored six goals in its past three games, but that number could easily be doubled. 



Two games ago against the Canadiens, the Wild had two plays go to review and ruled "no-goal," saying the puck did not cross the line. 



Fast-forward to the next game against Pittsburgh, and the Wild hit two posts. 



On Monday against Detroit, two more posts, and another no-goal on the ice that went to review, with a call that stood. 

The three reviews came down to a literal matter of inches. The posts were shots that could have also easily found their way to the back of the net. 



But the good sign amid the bad luck is that the Wild is generating those chances, and putting itself in spots where it can score.



Add in an outstanding performance from Mrazek on Monday, and it hardly looked like a game the Wild would score one goal in.



FIFTH TAKEAWAY



Really encouraging to see the Wild put the foot on the gas protecting a one-goal lead in the third period.



Score-effects is a concept in hockey to help dissect data based on different situations. When teams carry leads into the third period, they tend to take fewer shots. It makes sense: With 20 minutes separating you from two points in the standings, playing a more defensive game is instinctual, if not somewhat logical.



But there's another train of thought, and that's to play as if you were trailing. Force the other team to go 200 feet by pinning them in their own end, and don't simply concede more shots because you're protecting a lead.

"I don't think we were uncomfortable in the second period, but I think there was a point where we started to get a little bit frustrated, and started to push a little bit," Yeo said. "But I really liked the way we regrouped going into the third period. We could have scored four goals in the third period."

In the third period, the Wild took its most shots of any period on Monday (16), and outshot Detroit in the process. The Wild came close to scoring on many occasions, and simply didn't play on its heels, or play not to lose, up by a goal.

"We usually get in safe mode when we're up, and today we just kept going at them," Coyle said. "We came in between periods and said, 'let's keep this going, we're in control of this game, but let's not play safe, let's play smart,' and keep skating, and keep being aggressive."

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