8

The Nation Notebook: Wild in tough, Snow’s security, and KHL shenanigans

The Nation Network Notebook is a regular feature that rounds up interesting news, stories, and rumours from around the NHL that don’t quite deserve their own article. 

The playoffs have begun! The Blues have taken a 3-0 in their series against the Wild. The NHL says Garth Snow is doing okay. Matt Calvert gets a game off for his cross-check. One KHL team might be doing whatever it takes to win.

MINNESOTA’S BLUES

The Minnesota Wild looked like contenders for much of the season, but yesterday’s loss against St. Louis makes it incredibly hard to see them moving past the first round of the playoffs. The Wild are outshooting the Blues by a wide margin (115-78), but can’t figure out Jake Allen. Allen has a .974 through three games, so it’s hard to see any team winning much against a goalie that hot.

This might be the worst outcome for the Wild. They got a great season from free-agent signing Eric Staal, and traded a lot for Martin Hanzal, but they’ll be hard-pressed to make history as the fifth team to come back after going down 3-0 in a series. The Wild also have a difficult time keeping this team together with the expansion draft looming over their heads. They can’t possibly protect all their defencemen, and Jason Pominville currently has to be protected under his no-move clause, leaving an important forward like Jason Zucker or Erik Haula vulnerable to Vegas. It made sense for general manager Chuck Fletcher to go for it. Dubnyk was having a fantastic season and Bruce Boudreau is a top-tier coach, but this couldn’t have gone any worse for Minnesota.

Meanwhile, suddenly this series is interesting! I’m not sure how many people were actually committed to watching this matchup, but now hockey fans can see if Minnesota can do the improbable, or possibly get swept after loading up at the trade deadline.

SNOW GETS THE OK

Garth Snow’s job is reportedly more secure that many thought. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman discusses how the New York Islanders hired someone to survey the league about the job Snow has done, and the reports came back positive.

I’m not sure it’s the best idea to ask your direct competitors how well your general manager is doing, but maybe I’m being overly cynical. This decision comes at possibly the biggest crossroads in recent Islanders history. After missing the playoffs, the Islanders either need to to extend John Tavares or accumulate whatever assets possible for him, while still ironing out their arena situation and upgrading their roster.

This comes after they already removed the interim tag from Doug Weight, which would have suggested Snow was already fairly safe as you would expect most general managers to choose their own head coach. There were outside options. Dean Lombardi is recently available. He has two Stanley Cup rings, but also two anchor contracts he gave to Dustin Brown and Marian Gaborik. Clearly Garth Snow has some supporters around the league, and maybe now within the Islanders organization

CALVERT GETS A GAME

Columbus forward Matt Calvert got a 1-game suspension for his cross-check on Pittsburgh forward Tom Kuhnhackl in game two of the series. Calvert sat out game three yesterday, and probably got off with a light sentence compared to if this were to occur during the regular season. The cross-check was retaliatory and viscous, with Calvert giving Kuhnhackl another shot for good measure after his stick breaks during impact.

Initially, it seemed like there wasn’t going to be any suspension, which would have been shocking even taking into context the suspect officiating that tends to occur during the playoffs, but better heads prevailed and Calvert at least got some sort of punishment to show you can’t just break your stick on an opponent when you get angry.

KHL EXTRA SCOUTING

According to Sport-Express’ Igor Enko, coaches from Metallurg Magnitogorsk apparently found listening devices in the coaches’ room during their series against SKA Saint Petersburg, suggesting there might be some form of a Russian Bill Belichick in the KHL.

I’m not sure what a team that went 48-8-6 with Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeny Dadonov, and Vadim Shipachev, the latter two have been long rumoured to be coming over to the NHL, needs to do any more to win over there, but I also kinda admire the extra effort. SKA won the series 4-1 to win the 2017 Gagarin Cup, so maybe the potential bugging paid off?

It appears there won’t be any comment about the situation, as of yet.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Chuckie’s head should roll if the Wild get sweeped.

    It is a lot easier for the likes of Stall and Suter to whack nd hack little Johnny than it is to do the same to Terror.

    Wild gone in 4. It couldn’t have happened to better bunch of boys.

    • Anton CP

      I think that Boudreau is a very good coach that he is so good to a point that his team overachieved and GM did not fix the potential weaknesses within the team.

  • Ronr68

    Minnesota can’t win because a loser is a loser, and Boudreau is a loser. He can’t win in the playoffs, as has been proven over and over again. The wild has been shaky the last 20 games of the season and mostly rode a hot goalie.

    • Rugbypig

      Yeah and Allen posting a .974 save % with the Wild at 117 shots in 3 games has nothing to do with it.
      Being outshot and dominated at 39 shots/game and still winning is riding a hot goalie.
      The only loser in this is the original poster.

  • Fred-65

    As I understand Minnies time may not have arrived yet. From all reports Minnesota are loaded with quality prospects so there best days are maybe ahead of them.

    ( I don’t know what happened with my last attempt suddenly gone and posted before I could complete)