Nico Sturm returns to Minnesota and gives his old team a lesson in north-south hockey

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Dean Evason didn’t mince words after the Wild squandered a late 2-0 lead Sunday night before losing 3-2 to the San Jose Sharks in a shootout.

He said the savages got what they deserved, calling it a “stupid loss”.

“We played so east-west, so sweet. Not easy,” said the Wild coach. “All clichés.”

It was somewhat ironic that Evason lamented the Savages’ east-west play, particularly in the third period after Mason Shaw scored Connor Dewar’s first shorthanded goal of his career in what should have been a two-goal lead in the stranglehold down the hall one of the Wilden’s north-south players of recent years celebrated sending the Sharks into overtime with an equalizer four minutes before the end of regular time.

Nico Sturm, who just signed a three-year, $6 million contract last summer, has six goals and just so happened to find a home in San Jose at the same time as Tyson Jost, the forward he was a captain for last season Colorado Avalanche was traded. may play out of the wild.

Jost has had no goals and three assists in 11 games after last season’s underwhelming play at Minnesota with a solid preseason and has been scratched in two straight games and four overall this season despite having ample opportunities to play in the lineup.

We’ll see how the wild handles this situation, but you can bet that Jost is very strong in the trading block and may be at risk of being abandoned if he doesn’t change his overall game dramatically and quickly.

He’s tough to boot now with Ryan Hartman sidelined long-term, Jordan Greenway suffering a setback with a left shoulder now injured three times and Brandon Duhaime working his way back from injury. Now there’s a chance Duhaime will return as early as Tuesday in Nashville, but it’s not like the savages in the NHL or Iowa have a ton of forward depth to frivolously throw away underperforming forwards like Jost.

Shaw is here to stay. He’s now demanding that waivers be shipped back to Iowa, and the Savages won’t take that chance. In fact, in the last 24 hours, Shaw received the same welcome news that Matt Boldy received from GM Bill Guerin in January: You can move out of the hotel and find yourself a seat.

“I’m definitely more comfortable now,” Shaw said Sunday night. “I feel like I’ve reached a point where I’m not just surviving out there. I can contribute to profits. I want to be a part of this real evil. So every night is a fresh night and a fresh start and an opportunity and I’m just trying to make the most of it.”

Let’s see if Jost gets another chance in Nashville. Much will depend on Duhaime’s health, but there’s a chance Shaw could face additional disciplinary action for a high check that knocked Sharks defender Radim Simek out of Sunday’s game.

He says he was just trying to finish his check and had no ill intent, but the league was trying to find a better angle for the hit. Even if Shaw gets away scot-free, there’s always a chance Jost could come in for Joseph Cramarossa, who conceded two penalties on Sunday night, including an unwise offense that forced the Wild to concede their 15th straight power play in the dying minutes before extra time kill.

Filip Gustavsson, who had conceded three goals in his two previous starts, was toying with his fourth straight shutout as Calen Addison was high-stick for the second time in the game. There was no call for the game and moments later Addison’s “guy”, Steven Lorentz, scored with his own rebound. Just over two minutes later, Sturm charged down the right flank and placed a perfect shot through defender Jon Merrill’s legs, which Gustavsson missed.

“Just an honest, really honest hockey player,” Sharks coach David Quinn said of Sturm. “He plays the game the way it needs to be played. He is long, he is delicate. He has effort, second and third effort in all three zones.”

Sturm, 27, played with extra juice on his third return to Minnesota since joining the Avs. He ran alongside former Wild forwards Nick Bonino and Luke Kunin – the trio joking that they were the line the Wild didn’t want. But Sturm said he didn’t experience the anxiety he faced last season upon returning to Minnesota and was just excited to play Turnquist in front of his girlfriend Taylor’s family. He says he doesn’t have hard feelings for the Wild and said Guerin was actually one of the first to send him congratulations after winning the Stanley Cup with the Avs in June.

“I think I was put in this place,” said Sturm about the cup win. “I have no hard feelings towards this organization. I’m grateful they gave me the opportunity to establish myself in the National Hockey League. … I’ve moved on and I’m enjoying where I am in my career right now.”

Sturm never explained why he turned down what both sides of the negotiation say, a five-year extension believed to be worth $2.5 million annually. However, it’s likely he eyed the opportunity in Minnesota with Hartman, Joel Eriksson Ek, Freddy Gaudreau and an incoming Marco Rossi in the middle and figured he’d be pinned to the fourth row indefinitely.

But the Wild could certainly use a North-South player, one who skates like Sturm and is an actual height (6-foot-3) like him at the moment.

For some bizarre reason, this team, lacking in skill in the lineup beyond Kirill Kaprizov, Mats Zuccarello and Boldy, loves to keep doing inexplicably pointless things on the ice. When they were 1-0 up after Gaudreau’s goal, it felt like a game where the Wild were playing around too much, especially on the power play, and were looking to get San Jose back in the game. It should have worked 2-0.

But it wasn’t.

“They came with momentum because we were feeding them turnovers and not doing the right things that came out of our zone,” Evason said. “They got better and better as the game went on, but we also gave them opportunities to get better.”

Eriksson Ek, a big part of the Wilds’ 15-a-side 15 penalty kill in the last four games, said this was a game the Wilds needed to win – plain and simple – and it was clear that players were going to be aggressive press.

The Wild have mostly corrected their defensive play. They have given up 27 goals in their first five games and 17 in their last 10. But in the last five games, the Savages have scored just seven times.

It will be interesting to see if the Wild’s two top offensive players – Kaprizov and Zuccarello – pay the piper and soon be temporarily separated. Zuccarello is in a tough series of games throwing away pucks aimlessly, and Kaprizov has also been way too cute lately.

And when Evason laments east-west hockey, he often talks about it. Last year, when they were “not playing hockey properly,” he separated the two linemates hanging by the hip. They got the message and Kaprizov in particular was boosted and the team started winning as Kaprizov and Zuccarello produced.

Of course, on a team that lacks depth rating, it’s difficult to separate the two most talented players with unmatched chemistry. Still, Evason doesn’t understand that this team as a whole needs to get too cute.

“I have no idea because we’re not that good, are we? We’re not,” Evason said frankly about a team that’s unusually 2-4-1 at home. “We’re not skilled enough for that to happen to us. we are gloomy We should be proud of that and I think we are. And it’s not all. There are people in our lineup who play right and lines and defensive pairs who play right and get rewarded for it.

“Certainly our power play is the reason for that. We’re trying to refine things instead of bringing pucks to the net and doing what we did.

It was definitely Kaprizov, Zuccarello and sometimes Boldy on Sunday.

So Evason expects the game to simplify.

Shoot the puck. Go online. Get some dirty targets. pay the price

“If you’re struggling to score goals, don’t say, ‘Let’s just pass east to west, let’s pass back, let’s do Spin-O-Rama, let’s throw pucks over the blue line,'” he fretted Evason. “You don’t say that. you don’t do that, do you? We can score a goal like that and it will be nice. It’ll be on TV and stuff. But most goals are scored that way, quite simply, and the quicker we learn that, the more success we will of course have.”

(Photo above: Matt Krohn / USA Today)

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