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Hockey Wilderness
  • A Closer Look at Minnesota's Third Period Implosion

    Giles Ferrell

    After leading 3-1 going into the third period Tuesday night against Arizona, the Minnesota Wild came out for the third expecting a win considering their opponent had put up little resistance in the first two periods.


    But as we all saw unfold, the Wild coughed up the lead and the win against the Kachina jersey-less (in this game) Coyotes.


    So what happened in that third period to give Arizona the win? Lets look at the film and highlight some key points/plays for how the Wild ended up with an embrassing loss in St. Paul.


    20:00 -- Adin Hill takes over in goal, Antti Raanta out with LBI



    To begin the third period, the Coyotes threw Hill -- all five games of his NHL career with him -- in between the pipes as Antti Raanta left the game at intermission with a lower-body injury. Hill had just one prior appearance with Arizona this season, making one save in relief work. So the strategy for the Wild entering the period up 3-1 should have been put your foot on the gas and test this kid.


    [Narrator voice: They did not]


    19:59-17:10 –- Sloppy dump-and-chase work


    [videopress postid=45176]


    [videopress r4e4VZmJ]


    For nearly the first three minutes of this period, you can see the Wild are already content with just tossing the puck in deep and making the Coyotes go all the way up the ice. This is not a bad strategy if you are up 6-1. However, the Wild were only up 3-1 and were not retrieving these pucks they were so casually dumping in the Arizona zone. There was not one successful puck retrieval by the Wild in this time, as they never possessed the puck beyond the red line.


    17:05 –- Josh Archibald scores to bring the score to 3-2


    [videopress 2JFFTQwJ]


    Jonas Brodin called himself out after the game when he said he needed to be better, and this goal serves as the prime example. He first fires an errant pass that JT Brown has issues handling. Brown fires the puck out into the neutral zone in the vicinity of Eric Fehr, but Fehr can not maintain the puck as the Coyotes are able to deflect the puck back in the defensive zone at Brodin.


    Brodin, at his own blue line standing right next to Matt Dumba -- not great positioning, Bob! -- then coughs up the puck to Lawson Crouse, who gets the puck to Archibald who buries the shot from the slot.


    Bruce Boudreau decided to challenge this play, but as the replay shows it was not close at all. Maybe Bruce wanted to just give his team a timeout to change the momentum of the period? Or maybe he was looking for the shorthanded equalizer -- as the Coyotes had given up five short-handed goals in the previous two games (!!!) -- since his failed challenge put the Wild on the penalty kill.


    Either way, this was a curious decision by the head coach.



    15:30 –- Coyotes force turnover but Wild get lucky on offsides call.


    [videopress fFafTcbR]


    On that power play, Brodin is feeling the heat of the Coyotes as he gets the puck from Devan Dubnyk, so he quickly fires a pass up the boards to Zach Parise. Parise then tries to clear the zone, can not get it past the defenseman, and Arizona holds the zone for 18 additional seconds. Parise and the Wild catch a break as the puck leaves the zone and they get called for offside.


    13:30 –- Puck retrieval on a dump in leads to a shot attempt./strong>.


    [videopress qXsq5fhz]


    After the first three minutes of the period where the Wild were horrendous on puck retrievals, this was the first retrieval on a dump in thanks to one Nino Niederreiter. Niederreiter is able to tie up the Coyotes defender, Brown collects the loose puck and gets it to Fehr for a shot from the faceoff dot. The shot from Fehr was in the Antti Miettinen column, where it went out of play. But for the first time this period, the Wild showed a bit of life. Wow!


    13:04 –- Dumba and Brodin confusion lead to tying goal.


    [videopress 1D8jhNdO]


    There seemed to be confusion right at the beginning of this play from both Dumba and Brodin as to who should retrieve this puck. Brodin ended up chasing down the puck, but he loses the battle to Arizona's Brad Richardson who fires the puck right out front to Michael Grabner to score the tying goal. This goal just squeaks by Dubnyk too, to add salt in the wound for Wild fans. The game is now tied after a second period in which Arizona showed zero signs of life.


    11:30 –- Breakaway for Archibald leads to the winning goal.



    A Minnesota connection here (see below) leads to the go-ahead and eventual game-winning goal. Alex Goligoski fires an absolute laser of a breakout pass to Archibald who has split the defense and gets in on Dubnyk. I hae no clue what Dubnyk is doing here, as he comes out to challenge the shot but then stacks the pads? A weird, and costly, strategy for the Wild goaltender. The Wild are now losing in a game that should have been all but sealed up considering the first two periods.



    8:19 –- Jason Zucker turns the puck over at the blue line.




    With their best line out on the ice, the Wild look to be setting up for some sustained offensive pressure here just past the midway point of the period. Jason Zucker, who had a goal and a big hit earlier in this game, fires a pass out of the zone however and the Coyotes take the puck up the ice. Nothing came of that for Arizona, but this was significant because the Wild spent the next six minutes trying to get a significant offensive zone but could not.


    2:30 –- Wild finally sustain the offensive zone following Zucker's turnover.


    Yeah, it took nearly six minutes (woof) for the Wild to put a sustained offensive effort forth on the Coyotes defense. The Wild had some shots -- mainly via faceoff wins that were instantly gobbled up by Hill -- but nothing that cried out as a rally that would lead to the tying goal. Arizona did an incredible job of forcing the Wild out of the zone during that stretch, as their defense was smothering anything the Wild threw at them.


    2:03 -- Dubnyk off to the bench.



    1:39 –- Coyle nearly gives the puck away with Wild trying to tie.


    [videopress ddVsDUqM]


    Charlie Coyle out late in the game, with his team needing a tying goal. Nearly gives the puck away but gets lucky *sigh*.


    How much more leash does he have with Boudreau in these situations? Do you ever remember a clutch play/goal from Coyle?


    1:15 –- Timeout


    Interesting that out of this timeout, Dumba never got back on the ice. He only leads the league in goals scored by a defenseman...


    37.8 –- Arizona smothers Wild's last gasp. Game over


    [videopress FmHd90JU]


    Ryan Suter's shot at the 28-second mark is the last shot attempt for the Wild in this game. Mikael Granlund carries the puck back in with 15 seconds left, but the puck gets forced off his stick and the puck is cleared. Coyotes win 4-3, on a game they had no business winning.


    Arizona deserves credit for playing lockdown defense once it took the lead. There is a reason they are third in the league in goals allowed, and it showed in this third period.


    But Minnesota not putting their foot on the gas to begin the period is really what did them in Tuesday night. Just lackluster dump and chase hockey for that three-minute stretch really set the tone for Arizona that the Wild are just going to try and coast from here.


    Again, credit to the Coyotes, they pushed back and got a much-needed win. For the Wild, it's now a quick regroup and get back at it Thursday night against a much better Columbus team.



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