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Wild miss Belanger?

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Old
03-26-2010, 12:49 PM
  #1
Surly Furious
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Wild miss Belanger?

The Wild seem to have lost the mojo they found through December, January and February. I was looking at their shots on goal leading up to the Olympics:

38, 42, 36, 30, 31, 38, 41

After the Olympics it became:

21, 29, 29, 11, 22, 33, 20, 17, 20, 21, 19, 21

For a team that is supposed to be fore-checking and putting pressure on the opposing defense, this doesn't look like a recipe for a successful playoff run, and so it hasn't.

Among other things, I think replacing Eric Belanger, who for his faults was fast and reasonably talented, with Shep, who is slow and has limited ability so set people up, has been a major factor.

The Wild went from a team with 3 effective lines, Koivu Mittens Bruno, Brodziak Latendresse Havlat, Belanger Clutter Nolan, to a team with just two NHL quality lines. I was looking at Clutterbuck's numbers: he had 19 shots in February in 6 games playing mainly with Bela and Nolan. In March, since spending a lot of time with Shep, Earl, and Boogie, he had 7 shots in 11 games, although he did chip in 3 last night. Nolan's numbers are similar: 17 shots in 6 games during February, 13 in 12 games in March.

What about the other lines? Well, Mittens had 14 shots in February, 25 in March, LaTendresse 19/27, and the others on the top two lines all show about the same number of shots a game.

I know shots don't tell the whole story, but on a team with few snipers, you need quantity to score.

Would the Wild have made the playoffs with Belanger? Probably not, although they were inching toward it until the break.

Just a thought.

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03-26-2010, 01:07 PM
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Honestly, I think the decline in SOG probably has more to do with not having Johnsson on the roster vs. Belanger. Getting the puck up the ice has been incredibly painful to watch at times post-trade.

I don't think Johnsson is worth $4.5m, but for his faults, he by far was their best puck moving defensman. 75% of the game will be played in their own zone if they get rid of Burns.

Edit: I sort of wandered OT bringing up Burns... I've just read a lot on this board about wanting to trade him. That would be a disaster unless they're able to bring back a defensman similar to Burns or Johnsson.


Last edited by UMD05: 03-26-2010 at 01:09 PM. Reason: A.D.D.
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03-26-2010, 01:40 PM
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mnwildgophers
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I don't think that the shots are because of Belanger, but our lines did take a hit when we traded him away as you alluded to in saying that we went from 3 NHL lines to pretty much 2 lines. We have been scoring a lot of our goals if we can get in and forecheck and forcing turnovers.

The second goal (Havlat's) comes to mind in what we need to do. I think that Gillies will still end up being a good player since everywhere I've read that he is supposed to quick and checks hard. If he's standing in front of the net and going hard on the forecheck, I think he'll be a great forward for us.

Moving Burns would be a big mistake if you ask me because him with Barker is a great combo. Watching those two on our blue-line is great. Zanon and Zidlicky are also a great pairing, and our power-play hasn't been great this year, but I attribute that to having not that good of snipers on the power-play like a Heatley or Stamkos. Those guys have such a monster one-timer it's hard to stop it. Those goes also come at a great premium since we probably won't be able to get one of those types of players unless we draft one.

I trended off topic there a bit, but I think the biggest thing is that we need to get our forecheck going, I just don't think we have the horses to keep it up, and maybe our top forwards also had to play 6 games in the Olympics, which wasn't easy.

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03-26-2010, 02:12 PM
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BigT2002
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Change the title to miss Belanger and Johnnson and you have it right on the money. I underestimated Kim a lot because you can't get a forecheck going until it gets down ice and he was a master at it. Same with faceoffs, only one guy can actually take them now and win on a consistent basis and we all know who that is.

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03-26-2010, 02:22 PM
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Awright, I'll give Kim his due, although the Wild did play one of their best games of the year after he was traded, the 6-2 drubbing of Vancouver. It also would be hard for me to say that Barker has been THAT ineffective. What the Wild have failed at IMO is not getting the puck down the ice, it has been keeping it there, with the exception of the top two lines (although that has been iffy in some games as well.)

I watched the Caps Penguins game the other night, and Belanger looked pretty good, and set up the Caps third goal with speed and and a nice dish. I guess that is what got me wondering.

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03-26-2010, 02:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bookman View Post
Awright, I'll give Kim his due, although the Wild did play one of their best games of the year after he was traded, the 6-2 drubbing of Vancouver. It also would be hard for me to say that Barker has been THAT ineffective. What the Wild have failed at IMO is not getting the puck down the ice, it has been keeping it there, with the exception of the top two lines (although that has been iffy in some games as well.)

I watched the Caps Penguins game the other night, and Belanger looked pretty good, and set up the Caps third goal with speed and and a nice dish. I guess that is what got me wondering.
Bela was pretty good and quick, but he looks good because he also has a ton of talent next to him which obviously helps. I don't mind see him doing well since I thought he was a pretty nice guy here.

Agree with keeping the puck down the ice and that we haven't been able to to keep it there. Barker I think has been decent, and I don't think we can judge this deal until we see what Leddy and Barker do in the next couple of years.

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03-26-2010, 03:00 PM
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I would agree that we miss Kim more than Belanger.

And, as far as Clutterbuck's performance, I think that has more to do with him being worn down and playing through injuries than it does not having Belanger to feed him.

I don't know, maybe it's me, but Clutterbuck hasn't been as noticeable as he was before he was out of the lineup due to injury. I give the guy credit, though, he still hustles every shift and tries to finish checks.

On another point, how has Zidlicky looked since he was re-signed? I don't think he's been nearly as effective with the puck. He has made some nice moves but I've noticed him more for his turnovers and bad defensive coverage. Not that he didn't have those moments before...but he seemed to equal them out with great offensive plays.

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03-26-2010, 03:05 PM
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I'm adding onto the Wild miss Johnsson a whole lot more than Belanger train of thought. It's just much harder to replace all the ice time Kim took up with quality defensive play and while Barker has been a steady addition he's not the puck moving defenseman Johnsson is.

Although with that said, mnwildgophers brings up a good point about the Wild going from three to two lines without Belanger as it seems if you can shut down the top-six you can win.

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03-26-2010, 04:33 PM
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We miss Belanger, but that's because there's not a quality replacement for him anywhere on the roster as of now. Fletcher did the right thing by dealing him, no doubt in my mind. This season is a building block for next season and beyond, might as well have gotten something for him.

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03-26-2010, 04:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djp4516 View Post
We miss Belanger, but that's because there's not a quality replacement for him anywhere on the roster as of now. Fletcher did the right thing by dealing him, no doubt in my mind. This season is a building block for next season and beyond, might as well have gotten something for him.
Yeah, winning faceoffs, killing penalties & getting 20 points early in the season is nice and all... but long term dumping him was the right move. He's replaceable.

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03-26-2010, 04:42 PM
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Wait? I thought Zidlicky > Johnsson

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03-26-2010, 05:10 PM
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Surly Furious
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UMD Bob View Post
Yeah, winning faceoffs, killing penalties & getting 20 points early in the season is nice and all... but long term dumping him was the right move. He's replaceable.
Don't think I disagree. I think getting a 2nd for him was brilliant.

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03-26-2010, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by thespeckledkiwi View Post
Wait? I thought Zidlicky > Johnsson
Zidlicky is much more valuable than Johnsson to this team based on what we have in the minors and elsewhere on the roster. It was the right move. The brain farts are super annoying from Zidlicky, but the guy puts the puck in the net from a position where we have close to no production.

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03-26-2010, 05:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thespeckledkiwi View Post
Wait? I thought Zidlicky > Johnsson
He is for the Wild; however Zidlicky-Zanon can't play all sixty minutes.

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03-27-2010, 01:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Bookman View Post
Don't think I disagree. I think getting a 2nd for him was brilliant.
I figured he'd be worth only a 3rd, but him playing so well as a really useful PKer and high faceoff man helped his value I think.

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03-27-2010, 04:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thespeckledkiwi View Post
Wait? I thought Zidlicky > Johnsson
As Gopher stated, he is for this team because no one else on the blueline with exception of Burns is able to actually produce any type of points off of it. Let me put it this way, if we take away Zidlicky and we don't count Barker's 20 points, the next closest D in points relation is Schulz and Burns at 17....and Burns has only played 40 games this season compared to Nick's 70+. So that just shows how terrible we are on the blueline after losing MAB. Nick breaks more sticks trying to shoot it at the blueline than anyone else in the league I swear.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mnwildgophers View Post
I figured he'd be worth only a 3rd, but him playing so well as a really useful PKer and high faceoff man helped his value I think.
Well, technically it was a very low 3rd round pick considering at the rate Washington is going, they'll easily be the ECF.

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03-27-2010, 05:53 PM
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thestonedkoala
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Didn't we have Foster?

Seriously, giving 4 million to Zidlicky when he only has put up 5 points with a nice whopping -9 +/- is insane.

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03-27-2010, 10:56 PM
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Surly Furious
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No, running Schultz or Zanon out there on your powerplay is insane.


Last edited by Surly Furious: 03-28-2010 at 01:12 PM.
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Old
03-28-2010, 12:01 AM
  #19
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At least it isn't Hnidy anymore.

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