Just last month it looked like the Minnesota Wild were pretty severely trending in the wrong direction and on their way out of the playoffs. From Feb. 1-19 they were 1-6-3, a stretch that saw them fall down to the second wild card spot, where they held a narrow one-point lead on Arizona, Colorado and Chicago.
It resulted in them being sellers, to a degree, during trade deadline season. After Nino Niederreiter went out the door in mid-January, Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund followed as Wild GM Paul Fenton gave his team a bit of a new look. Minnesota answered with a five-game winning streak, which was ended by a shootout loss to Nashville on Sunday night — and they lost again to the Predators in a shootout on Tuesday night.
On both occasions, Ryan Johansen scored the winner and Wild starting goalie Devan Dubnyk is taking exception to how he scored both goals. On Sunday, Wild backup Alex Stalock was in net and argued that Johansen pushed his pad into the net on the shootout move.
On Tuesday night Johansen again scored a controversial shootout goal, with Dubnyk protesting after the game that he believed the Predator had come to a stop in front of the net. As you can see on both of his shootout goals, Johansen slows right down in front of the goalie, verging on a complete stop, before making his move.
“To me, he’s completely stopped. It’s frustrating,” Dubnyk said after the game, per Michael Russo. “That’s two games in a row. He shoves Al’s pad in the net. If he’s not stopped, he’s not stopped. But I don’t understand how you come in and stop at the top of the crease and stand there and stickhandle and wait. If you want, I mean, I don’t mind shootouts but if you want some example of why maybe not, there’s one. That’s two games in a row. It’s a mockery. We’re trying to make the playoffs. Obviously, I’m frustrated because we’re on the wrong side of it, but you got a guy standing at the top of the crease not moving, stickhandling back and forth. And then I’m down and out and he stands there and looks at me while I’m trying to lift my pad up. Still waits, shoots the puck in the net. I don’t know what that is.”
As far as the rulebook is concerned, all that’s important to keep the shot alive is that the puck (not the skates) has forward momentum.
“The puck must be kept in motion towards the opponent’s goal line and once it is shot, the play shall be considered complete.”
It does appear that Johansen is moving, ever so slowly, towards the net, and doesn’t ever come to a complete stop.
And of course, moving through your shootout attempt without much speed isn’t against the rules. Jason Allison became famous for his slow-motion moves, Dan Boyle got attention for his own slow attempt in 2015 and Patrick Kane has done it a number of times, including this one against the Wild (goalie Niklas Backstrom) in 2011.
With the success Johansen has found moving slowly, you can expect him to keep the move in his arsenal. He’s 3-for-3 in the shootout this season.
“I’ve tried a lot of different things over the years and that seems to be the only thing that kinda works for me, so I guess I gotta keep doing it,” he said.
The good news for the Wild is that they’re unlikely to get to a shootout for a third consecutive game. The bad news is they’re next game is against the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are seemingly unbeatable and coming off a 5-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets.