The Vegas Golden Knights came back to tie the best of seven game playoff series vs the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night. The Wild have out-chanced the Knights all series long so nobody in the Wild locker room is panicking. Still, there’s been one obvious weak spot in the top-6 through two games and his name is Marcus Johannson.
Head Coach Dean Evason’s has Johannson on Kevin Fiala’s 2nd line unit because of his speed. Unfortunately, speed only takes you so far when you can’t protect the puck and Marcus is a turnover machine right now. So, what’s the fix?
Do you slot Zach Parise back into the top-6? Maybe…
There is no way that Zach Parise can be worse than Marcus Johansson has been in these two game. Please, Dean, Please, put Zach in for Johansson next game #mnwild— Zeke Boyat (@ZBwildnation_HW) May 19, 2021
The only #mnwild skaters to have a worse Game Score than Marcus Johansson last night were Nick Bjugstad and Nico Sturm. He was directly responsible for the game-winning goal. His last good season was in 2016-17. He's a UFA. Dunno why he's an untouchable fixture of this lineup.— Tony of the USS 10KRinks.com (@OhHiTony) May 19, 2021
Evason on potential line changes in Game 3: "We'll go through it, obviously. We chatted last night with Billy and the staff and we went over the tape here this morning …We'll evaluate, no different than any other game in the season." #mnwild— 𝗝𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗶 𝗣𝗶𝗲𝗿𝗰𝗲 (@jessi_pierce) May 19, 2021
Parise certainly deserves a chance to get back into the lineup. But, that’s been the case for weeks now. These aren’t the first two games in which Marcus Johansson has struggled.
But, Minnesota Wild 2019 1st round pick, Matt Boldy could be an even better option, if skating and playmaking ability is what Evason and Guerin are looking for on that 2nd line, opposite Fiala. Michael Russo (The Athletic) asked Evason about a Boldy call-up this morning and whether or not it’s something the front office is thinking about. They have.
Conveniently, Boldy is scheduled to arrive at TRIA Rink today as part of a new taxi squad of players coming up from the Iowa Wild, whose season ended earlier this week. He, along with Calen Addison, Louie Belpedio and a few others have been dubbed the “Black Aces” and will be eligible to play through the rest of the Minnesota Wild playoff run, should Evason and Co. need them.
As I’ve reported the Black Aces/taxi squad guys will begin skating on own at TRIA when home. Asked if he could envision Matt Boldy making NHL debut at some point, Evason said if it warrants it. He noted that NSH used 18/19 forwards the year it went to Cup Final when he was there— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) May 19, 2021
#mnwild Black Aces will report to Minnesota on Wednesday and skate at TRIA during the playoffs.— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) May 17, 2021
Likely callups now that Iowa’s season is over include: Matt Boldy, Hunter Jones, Louie Belpedio, Calen Addison, Connor Dewer and of course my favorite Floridian Brandon Duhaime.
In other words, Matthew Boldy is now just feet away from skating next to Fiala on the TRIA practice ice as early as today. From everything I’ve seen and the smart people I’ve heard/read, Matt Boldy can’t be any worse than Marcus Johansson. That should give Evason the opportunity to replace his struggling second-line wing without having to choose Zach Parise as his replacement.
For Guerin and Evason, who clearly have something out for Parise, that feels like a win/win. Here’s what EliteProspects.com says about Matt Boldy.
Boldy is a highly skilled winger. A finesse player with impressive creativity, a quick release and fine playmaking ability. Not the fastest of skaters, Boldy’s hockey sense and overall skill level still allows him to be reliable offensive threat.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan