Rumor Roundup: Buyouts could be coming for Wild, Flyers after first-round exit

Thomas Vanek (Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

As more NHL teams become first-round casualties of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs, the more speculation grows over their offseason moves.

After yet another roller coaster season for the Minnesota Wild ended in an early playoff exit, GM Chuck Fletcher faces some tough decisions. The biggest, of course, is deciding if interim head coach John Torchetti returns on a full-time basis. After that, Fletcher could shake up his inconsistent, under-performing roster.

With only around $12 million in available salary-cap room for 2016-17, it’s expected the Wild GM will buy out the remaining season of disappointing left wing Thomas Vanek. The 31-year-old is owed $7.5 million in actual salary, though the cap hit is $6.5 million. Read more

Crossbar camera shows Wild were fractions of an inch from late game-tying goal

Jared Clinton
Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 1.11.26 AM

The NHL installed crossbar-mounted cameras before the post-season began, and Game 6 of the first-round series between the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild made it clear exactly why the cameras were a necessary addition.

After the Stars took a 4-0 lead heading into the third period, the Wild clawed back to make the contest 4-3. Dallas pulled ahead shortly thereafter thanks to a fortunate bounce that resulted in their fifth goal, but Jason Pominville’s marker with less than five minutes remaining brought the Wild within one to set up a frantic finish. And in the final minute, Minnesota came a mere fraction of an inch from forcing overtime.

With the Wild net empty and Minnesota pressuring the Stars, the puck was worked below the goal line and back out front where Nino Niederreiter knocked the puck into the pad of netminder Kari Lehtonen. At first, it appeared the puck came nowhere close to crossing the goal. However, the play was reviewed and showed the difference between the Wild tying the contest and falling one goal short of knotting the score was less than half an inch: Read more

Unmatched offense helps Stars advance, but defensive issues need to be cleared up

Jared Clinton
The Stars celebrate Alex Goligoski's goal (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

When the Dallas Stars took a 4-0 lead into the third period of an elimination game, it looked like the Minnesota Wild were going to be booed off the ice in their final game of the season.

But this is the run-and-gun, don’t-look-away Stars that have been one of the most exciting teams in the league this season for reasons both good and bad. Dallas’ goaltending has been unreliable all season and their defense, while improved, has still shown it needs some work before they become the type of two-way squad that can win by smothering the opposition defensively or blowing opponents away with their high-powered offense. And in Game 6 — a game which the Stars hung on to win 5-4 to eliminate the Wild — Dallas showed both sides of their game.

After taking a 4-0 lead to the second intermission, Dallas began to fall apart after an unnecessary penalty by winger Antoine Roussel. Minnesota blueliner Jared Spurgeon stuffed a puck home on the power play and 16 seconds later Jonas Brodin scored to bring the Wild within two. Minutes later, Spurgeon scored on another Wild power play to bring the home side within one: Read more

Mikko Koivu ties it late, wins it in overtime as Wild beat Stars to force Game 6 in Minnesota

Ian Denomme
Mikko Koivu celebrates his OT winner.

The injury-riddled Minnesota Wild weren’t supposed to pose much of a challenge to the Dallas Stars. Sure, the Stars don’t get much respect despite having the best record in the Western Conference and being the highest scoring team in the league. But few pundits gave the Wild any hope of keeping up with the Stars. They haven’t won anything yet, but they’re giving the Stars all they can handle.

Mikko Koivu scored late in regulation to tie the game, then scored the winner in overtime for a 5-4 Wild win on Friday night. The series is heading back to Minnesota for Game 6 on Sunday with the Stars leading 3-2.

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Watch Charlie Coyle show off his awesome hands before scoring great goal

Jared Clinton
Charlie Coyle (Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Minnesota Wild center Charlie Coyle had the best season of his young career in 2015-16, but it could have been even better had he not stalled at 21 goals with 18 games remaining in the campaign.

Even with the hiccup, though, Coyle still managed 21 goals and 42 points — both career highs — but his goal-scoring woes continued into the post-season. The 24-year-old’s goalless drought heading into Game 4 of the first-round series against the Dallas Stars had reached 21 games, and he was looking for anything to spark his scoring touch. He may have found just the thing Wednesday night as he scored an outstanding goal on a partial break in the second period of Game 4.

After breaking up a play at the Minnesota blueline, Coyle streaked up ice with Jason Zucker on his right. Zucker, with one hand, pushed the puck ahead to Coyle, who fought off Alex Goligoski’s attempts to slow him down before throwing down a slick backhand deke to score his first goal of the post-season: Read more

Wild lose special teams battle against Stars and fall behind 3-1 in series

Jared Clinton
Colton Sceviour celebrates in front of Devan Dubnyk (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

With how impressive the Dallas Stars’ offense has been all season, the last thing the Minnesota Wild wanted to do was trade punches with the Central Division champions. But even in a game where the Wild held the Stars to only one even strength tally, the Stars offense still found a way to connect and the defense stepped up in a big way when it mattered most.

For the second consecutive games, Minnesota’s defense smothered Dallas and offered little in the way of time or space for the offense to operate. The Wild limited the Stars to only 18 shots on goal at 5-on-5, did their best to lay down and block shots where possible and were all around keeping the attempts to the outside. But twice in the game, Minnesota committed infractions that saw them go a man down, and both times Dallas connected on the power play.

Through the first three games of the series, that type of penalty kill play had been atypical of the Wild. Minnesota entered Game 4 tied for third in the playoffs with a 92.3 percent penalty kill percentage and only allowed Dallas’ top-five ranked power play to connect once on 13 attempts. When it mattered most, though, the Wild floundered, and maybe that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Minnesota entered the post-season with the 27th-ranked penalty kill in the league, and only the Arizona Coyotes, Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames fared worse, and on Wednesday night, the Wild were simply outmatched by a deadly Stars power play. Read more

Wild erase early two-goal deficit, take Game 3 as offense finally solves Stars’ defense

Jared Clinton
Mikko Koivu (Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Through the first two games of the first-round series against the Stars, the Wild had scored only managed one goal against a Dallas defense that had been mediocre all season and masked by the offensive power of the Stars. But Minnesota’s offense finally found its legs Monday, drawing one game closer to evening the series with a 5-3 victory.

The Wild couldn’t have found the back of the net at a better time, either, because in the early stages of Game 3 it appeared it was going to be a long night for the Xcel Energy Center faithful. Minnesota came out flat in their first home game of the series and watched as Patrick Sharp scored two goals in the first 4:10 of play to give the Stars an early 2-0 lead. The Wild slowly began to piece it together as the period wore on and were finally rewarded with 50 seconds remaining in the period. Chris Porter scored Minnesota’s second goal of the series to cut the Stars lead in half, and while it wasn’t exactly the floodgates opening, Porter’s goal helped the Wild break through.

Six minutes into the second frame, Erik Haula, playing his second game since returning from a lower-body injury, scored on a clever deflection while driving the net to even the score. Haula’s goal would be followed by yet another late-period Wild goal, this one coming off the stick of Jason Pominville with 47 seconds remaining in the frame to give Minnesota their first lead of the series. Read more

Controversial goal helps Stars edge Wild in Game 2

Dhiren Mahiban
Referee Brad Meier signals for a Dallas Stars goal against the Minnesota Wild after a review in the second period in Game Two. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

During his postgame media availability Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk was still fuming over Antoine Roussel’s second period goal.

The Stars forward gave Dallas a 1-0 lead 3:54 into the middle frame as the puck directed off his skate, off the back of Dubnyk and into the net.

The goal was initially waved off, but after officials conferred with Toronto, it was ruled a good goal.

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