A route of the Panthers, a tough, physical loss to the Calgary Flames, Matt Dumba and Mikko Koivu injuries, a bad loss to the San Jose Sharks, Parise/Coyle/Nino line, and more are discussed in this edition. Wild analyst Peter Ripka, along with new contributor Jeff Hartfiel, answer questions from Rambling On god-king Erik Ritland.
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The Wild's best defenseman, Matt Dumba, is out for at least a week with an upper-body injury. How does his absence affect the team? What will they need to do to make up for his absence?
Peter: I wouldn't say best, but if you go by what modern fans of the NHL consider best (offensive ability), then I suppose he is.
With that being said, he leaves a big hole on the team, as they don't have someone with the threatening shot on the back end that he posses. The best thing they can do to make up for his absence is to call up an offensive defenseman or to utilize a fourth forward on the power play.
Jeff: Matt Dumba is a valuable part of this team, no question about it. He isn't perfect by any means. For example, he occasionally turns the puck over at the wrong times, which has costed the Wild.
But with Dumba in the line up it brings a different dimension. He is someone other teams have to account for, and while he is out players like Seeler, Pateryn, and even Brodin need to step up. When one of your main guys is out like a Dumba, everyone needs to elevate there game to help fill the hole until he returns.
The Wild beat the Panthers 5-1 (the Doors score...) last Thursday. Did the Wild play well or are the Panthers just horrible?
Peter: The Panthers aren't horrible, but their defense leaves a lot to be desired. They are either young and don't know what to do or are old and slow, there is no middle ground. The Wild did play well, but I think they exploited a teams poor defense.
Jeff: It was a little of both. The Wild played a very good game and Florida didn't seem to show up. Any win is a good win no matter who it's against. Florida has plenty of talent, and I can see them hanging around once they get going (and get healthy). Can't take any team for granted no matter where they are in the standings. Go out play your game and leave it all on the ice.
The Parise/Coyle/Nino line has done well in Mikko Koivu's absence. Do you think they should stay together once he returns?
Peter: If this question was ask prior to the Sharks game I would have said no. But after the Sharks game I think it is best to have Mikko centering Zach and Coyle. Nino looked like he didn't know what he was doing a majority of the game.
Jeff: Any time you can get Coyle and Nino going that's a good thing for the team. Having a player like Parise with both could definitely motivate them. Parise's motor is constantly going, and that's what both Coyle and Nino need to be valuable contributors to this team.
Coyle and Nino need to get going for the Wild to go anywhere. And if they can't, they might be on there way out the door. I've heard and seen both there names in trade rumors. I believe they will move Nino first just due the fact the Wild need right handed shots, which is what Coyle brings.
Only so many line combinations you can do to get Nino and Coyle going. I say as long as they are playing good hockey, keep the line together.
A still Mikko-less and Zucker-less Wild narrowly lost to Calgary 2-1. First, with all the verbal jabs and fights, do you imagine these teams having something of a rivalry now? What do you think of the altercations?
Peter: A rivalry between us and a team from Alberta? Is that a joke? I guess it is a semi-better possibility than the fabricated one we had years ago with Vancouver.
Honestly, the altercation took away from the game. With the Flames players going after Dumba in the first period like he had some debt to pay for a legal hockey play because one of their players thought it was smart to skate through the high slot with his head down.
Jeff: Lets start with the altercations. I was definitely expecting some fireworks between them, considering what happened last game was still fresh in there minds. I expected a physical game, but was a little surprised by the amount of fights. Some of it came off as personal, and I believe the Wild wanted to flex there muscle, to show they won't be pushed around and that it's not okay to go after our captain.
As for the rivalry aspect, anything is possible, especially with the way those two games played out. But now they don't play till later in the season. If my memory serves me right, last time we had a rivalry with a Canadian team it was the Canucks, which I believe also started with a cheap shot at Koivu. So it could very well end up being a entertaining rivalry for years to come.
Jordan Greenway got his fifth goal of the season against the Flames. What do you think of the play of the Greenway/Staal/Granlund line as of late?
Peter: I think it will work in the short term. Unfortunately, Granlund and Staal playing a different kind of game than Greenway. He is a much more cycle-in-the-corner, strong on the puck type player, like Koivu and Parise. As opposed to Staal and Granny who are more finesse players.
Jeff: I am a big fan of Greenway. Since he was brought back up from minors after being sent down for a slow start, he has shown a whole lot more of what he can do, and it isn't just on the score sheet either. It is getting in the dirty areas and getting the puck, something Coyle and Nino should take note of. It is parking himself in front of the net and being a screen, using that big frame of his.
Pairing him with Stall and Granlund seems like a great idea. He has someone like Stall to learn from, and he can definitely learn a lot from Stall, which is great for Greenway. Having Granlund as a facilitator with him is even better. All you need is a little room and Granlund will find you. Having a leader and veteran in Stall and the hands and eyes of Granlund will help bring out his best.
Other than the fights and physicality, how did the Wild play against Calgary?
Peter: They played solid team defense even after losing Dumba after the first. The Flames are one of the best defensive teams and are among the hottest teams period lately. I thought it was a good showing they could build off of... and then the Sharks game happened...
Jeff: The Wild played a very physical game against Calgary and it was up for grabs the whole time. Wasn't a perfectly played game, but it could of been won. You don't realize sometimes how much a player means to your team until they are not in the line up. With Koivu and Zucker both out of the line up for the Flames game, then losing Dumba in the first period, I think the Wild did a pretty good job sticking with Calgary till the end.
The Wild followed their loss to the Flames with a 4-0 loss to the Sharks. Were there any problems out of the ordinary, that is, other than not hustling, not starting well, not finishing opportunities, and shaky goal-tending?
Peter: Like I've said for years, this team needs a bonafide finisher. That was basically the issue. Goaltending wasn't the problem, bad team defense and not finishing were the big keys.
Jeff: They just seemed to be tired and didn't have there legs under them. The Calgary game took a big physical toll on the team and they came out flat and fell behind. You can't fall behind to a team like San Jose, they are too good.
Any other thoughts on the Sharks game or the Wild's current 1-2 skid?
Peter: Really the biggest thing I remember from the Sharks game was their first goal, where Suter seemed to be lost and ended up impeding Dubnyk's attempt at the save.
Jeff: At the end of the day, consistency is the biggest issue with this team. The Wild need to stop with the excuses and come out and execute and play their game. Players need to step up.
Peter Ripka is the original Rambling On podcast co-host and has been a contributor since its inception. He’s currently the Wild analyst, a position he’s held for several years. A Wild and Twins season ticket holder, his writing combines the passion of a fan and the insight of a beat writer.