Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 2-1 loss against the Edmonton Oilers:
The Minnesota Wild was set back by a slow start and, despite a strong push, couldn’t overcome a hot goaltender. The Wild fell behind the Edmonton Oilers, 2-1, in the first period and couldn’t solve netminder Ben Scrivens. Minnesota outshot the Oil during the next 40 minutes, 28-10, but Scrivens helped steal the game for the visitors.
For the first time this season, Wild netminder Devan Dubnyk lost to his former team. Tonight the goaltender didn’t get the goal support thanks to the play of his contemporary. Scrivens was named the game’s Second Star, but was clearly the Oilers’ most important player on the night.
Moments before puck drop, news broke that the Wild acquired a forward for depth up front, but we’ll touch on that trade a little later in the Takes.
With the number of injuries that have hamstrung the Wild lately, the club has relied on different players to step up each game. Tonight, the combination of Charlie Coyle, Thomas Vanek and Jordan Schroeder was the team’s best line. The trio brought energy and offensive chances throughout the contest and combined for the club’s lone goal in the first period. The line was buzzing in the offensive zone and Marco Scandella threw a puck on net. Coyle and Schroeder converged on the rebound, with Schroeder eventually moving it out front to Vanek for a tap-in. It was the type of effort the line brought all evening, but wasn’t rewarded for as the game progressed.
In the second, Vanek had a breakaway opportunity, faking a slap shot and trying to slip it through the legs of Scrivens, but the netminder tracked the puck and shut the wickets. In the third, Schroeder recorded a couple of grade-A chances on loose rebounds, but was turned away by the netminder. The line combined for nine shots, many from in close because of effort, but was bested by a hot goalie.
Before the game, the Wild placed defenseman Jared Spurgeon on Injured Reserve, retroactive Feb. 18. The blueliner will not join the team in Nashville, but Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo hasn’t ruled him out for the team’s Saturday game in Colorado, although he’s doubtful with the lack of practice time.
With Spurgeon on the shelf, the Wild’s youngest defensemen, Matt Dumba, has elevated his game. Tonight, he added a physical element to the backend, mixing it up with the Oilers on more than one occasion. In junior hockey the defenseman built a reputation as an explosive hitter, but with the size and speed of the NHL game, he’s limited trying to line up opponents for big hits in favor of going for positioning.
Since rejoining the Wild after a stint in the American Hockey League, the blueliner has picked up an impressive move on the breakout. Twice tonight, he retrieved pucks in the defensive zone and used his speed and the net to evade an Oilers forechecker. When the blueliner turns the corner with a full head of steam, he’s able to make a play with his feet moving, which puts the opponent back on its heels and gives his forwards room to operate coming out of the zone.
Watching from the press box, there are few instances throughout the course of a game that scare me more than when a door swings open for line change as two players are battling for the puck. All kinds of bad things can happen that I’d rather not think about, nor detail. Tonight, we had such an instance, but luckily there was no harm done.
In the first period, Oilers forward Rob Klinkhammer and Wild defenseman Christian Folin raced for a loose puck in front of the Edmonton bench. Folin rubbed Klinkhammer out and the door, not properly latched, popped open. Thankfully, it was ajar just enough for the Oilers forward to slip through the crack, as if he was casually going for a line change. While the timing on the play could’ve been horrendous, it turned out well for the Wild’s photographer, Bruce Kluckhohn, who snapped this action shot from his spot between the benches. Bruce always shoots with one eye through the lens and one on the ice.
Trade Deadline Day is the NHL’s version of cramming for a college final exam by pulling an all-nighter. It is always an exciting time for the National Hockey League, especially here in Minnesota. General Manager Chuck Fletcher must have an unlimited minute and data plan on his cell because he has been one of the NHL’s most active architects at the deadline. This year, he’s been operating a little earlier, first acquiring Dubnyk in January and now picking up a depth forward.
Tonight, the Wild acquired forward Sean Bergenheim and a 2016 seventh-round draft pick from the Florida Panthers in exchange for the Wild’s 2016 third-round selection. With three forwards on the shelf (Ryan Carter, Matt Cooke and Jason Zucker), Fletcher said that he wanted to add depth up front among the ranks. With the Wild again embroiled in another close race to the postseason, it should be another exciting Trade Deadline Day (shameless plug: come to Wild.com on Deadline Day for our famous NHL trade tracker). To end the media scrum, Fletcher said his phone would be on and he’d be accepting calls for the next six days (and constantly charged). He then cracked, unless it’s a call from someone in the media.