St. Paul's Brodziak a key factor in Wild win over Oilers
The Minnesota Wild (8-7-2) picked up its first regulation victory on the road this season on Thursday against the Edmonton Oilers (7-7-3), and Wild head coach Mike Yeo pointed to St. Paul native Kyle Brodziak as one of the main reasons for the team’s 3-1 victory at Rexall Place.
“To be honest with you, I thought this was one of Brodziak’s best games of the year,” Yeo said. “I thought he was really strong and I thought it was a good team effort all around. As much as anything else, we stayed with our game.”
Brodziak got the start at centre for the Wild with about 30 friends and family watching from the stands, and while he didn’t end up on the score sheet, he contributed to the Wild’s victory with a number of great passing plays, five shots on goal, a plus-1 rating and a 60 per cent effort in the face-off dot.
“We knew coming in they’re a team that plays with a lot of energy. They’re a young group that has a ton of skill and we just couldn’t get away from our game plan,” Brodziak said after the game. “That was our focus going into tonight was just sticking with our game, and it really showed at the end.”
While Brodziak is coming off a career high season in terms of point production, and has only managed a goal and two assists so far this season, Yeo noted that is just as integral to their success as ever.
“His role on the team hasn’t changed, his value to our team hasn’t dropped at all. He’s a huge piece to the puzzle, that’s why we resigned him last year,” Yeo said, referring to the three-year, $8.49 million contract Brodziak signed with the Wild in February of last season.
“He’s a guy that brings momentum to your team. He’s a guy that plays a real valuable role and he knows what his identity is . . . The goals haven’t been going in for him this year, but we know if he continues to go the way that he is that they’ll come.”
Brodziak said it is always nice to come back to play in Edmonton, as he always has friends and family come out to see him take on the team that drafted him.
“I’ve got lots of buddies that will be here, my mom and step-dad and Pierre and Sue (DeMoissac) and a bunch more family from St. Paul,” Brodziak said after the morning skate, adding, he still treats it like any other game.
“Edmonton is a divisional game so every time we play them it’s a huge game and I’ve just got to treat it like every other day.”
While the Oilers managed to pressure the Wild early, holding Minnesota to only three shots in the opening frame before Ryan Smyth grabbed the lead for the Oilers early in the second, Brodziak pointed out that it is part of the Minnesota game plan to take over the game in the third period.
“The way we play, the plan is to take over in the third. We play what we feel is a pretty hard-nosed working game and we feel like if we keep with that for a full 60 minutes a lot of the time we wear teams out by the time we get to the third,” Brodziak said. “That’s what our plan is, we’re not going to change it and we’ve just got to make sure we stick with it every game.
After Matt Cullen posted his first goal of the night by beating Devan Dubnyk over the glove to tie the game after two, the Wild picked up the pace in the third.
Devon Setoguchi slipped his third goal of the season past Dubnyk to give the Wild the lead two minutes into the third, and Cullen notched his second of the game to add some insurance with six minutes remaining.
While Brodziak put forth a great performance in the game, things ended on a sour note for him as Oilers forward Taylor Hall took Brodziak’s line mate Cal Clutterbuck out of the game in a knee-on-knee collision.
“I honestly didn’t see it, I still haven’t seen it. The first thing I did was asked the refs if it was dirty, they said yes. They thought it was anyway. You just hope he’s alright and hope it wasn’t intentional,” Brodziak said after the game.
“When (Clutterbuck) was leaving the room he gave a bit of a thumbs up, so hopefully that’s a good sign. You don’t like to see that. I know the game happens really fast and there are some things that you can’t really control, and we just really hope that’s the case.”
Hall received a five-minute major for kneeing and game misconduct on the play, and later received a two-game suspension from the league.
The Wild followed up the victory with a 3-1 road loss to the Calgary Flames on Saturday, and will take on the Flames in the second game of a home-and-home in Minnesota on Wednesday night.