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Lou Nanne: Wild Need Goalie Change

 

Lou Nanne told Sports Headliners this morning he believes the Minnesota Wild should change goaltenders for tomorrow night’s Game Six against the St. Louis Blues.

The Wild trail three games to two in the best of seven NHL playoff series and will be on the road Thursday night in a must-win situation. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has started the previous five games for Minnesota including last night’s 5-2 loss at Xcel Energy. “He just looked like he was fighting the puck a little bit and not controlling rebounds like he could have,” Nanne said.

In the series the 37-year-old Fleury, a former Stanley Cup winner with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, has a 3.04 GAA and .906 save percentage.

Goalie Cam Talbot was clearly the No. 1 goalie until Fleury was acquired in a late season trade from the Chicago Blackhawks. Nanne believes it’s overdue to insert Talbot into the lineup. “I just think maybe he might give them a shot in the arm,” Nanne said.

Talbot hasn’t played since April 28 and Nanne hopes a layoff won’t impact the 34-year-old if Wild coach Dean Evason makes a change at goalie. Can Talbot play at a high level Thursday night?

“You can never tell until he does it, but what are your choices?” Nanne said. “…I just wish he would have played earlier, that’s all. I just think Talbot was a guy that earned the spot…the way he played.”

Talbot started 48 regular season games for the Wild and was more than solid with a 2.76 GAA in a year that saw him play in the NHL All-Star Game. In the view of Nanne and others, Talbot’s season earned him the opportunity to start the series. But Nanne admires Fleury, too, and he realizes it’s difficult to decide on goalies when resumes of success are similar.

“I just like to see when you’ve got two good goaltenders, try to find the one that is really going to bring you through. It’s a tough decision. Nobody knows when it’s going to be right.”

Kevin Fiala, the Wild’s No. 3 goal scorer during the regular season and second in points, hasn’t found the net in the series. Nanne referred to Fiala as a “gigantic” key in tomorrow night’s game. “They need his help,” Nanne said.

Fiala appears to be pressing and not playing like himself. “He’s so anxious he’s not playing as smoothly as he did,” Nanne said. “I still believe in him. …Hopefully he’s going to come through next game.”

Kirill Kaprizov

In the loss last night, second-year left wing Kirill Kaprizov scored Minnesota’s two goals on power plays. He was in the mix most of the night with potential goals and playmaking despite St. Louis players trying to knock him on his butt or shoving a stick toward his face. “He was absolutely spectacular,” said Nanne who labels Kaprizov the franchise’s best player ever.

Considering the quality of the opponent, the pressure of the playoffs, the physicality and strategies of the game, Nanne said he’s never seen a player perform better than the 25-year-old Kaprizov did last evening.

Nanne has closely followed the NHL for more than six decades. Now the godfather of Minnesota hockey, he was an All-American defenseman for the Gophers, and later a player, coach, GM and president with the Minnesota North Stars who relocated to Dallas after the 1992-1993 season.

Worth Noting

Shortly after the Twins signed shortstop Carlos Correa to the highest average annual salary for an infielder in MLB history, team president Dave St. Peter told Sports Headliners how impressed he is with the All-Star’s character. The Puerto Rico native cares about his teammates and wants to help them, including young players he can influence.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today wrote Monday about the great start to the season Jeremy Peña is having as the rookie replaces Correa as the Astros’ shortstop. “Carlos has been great to me since the first day (two years ago) I met him,” Peña told Nightengale. “He helped me out so much. A mentor to me. …”

The 2022 Vikings’ draft has been second-guessed but received some praise Monday from Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz also with USA Today. He wrote about top 10 steals from the 2022 NFL Draft and he first profiled cornerback Andrew Booth, whom the Vikings selected late in the second round. Injuries have slowed Booth since high school but he could have the skills worthy of going in the first round.

Condolences to the family and many friends of former Golden Gophers defensive end Leon Trawick who passed away Friday. The Washington D.C. native was a sophomore contributor to the 1967 team that won the Big Ten championship and he later became a Minneapolis attorney.

A 1969 Academic All-Big Ten selection, Leon battled brain cancer and was in hospice before passing. An email trail from former U athletes praised him as a great friend.

Former Minnesota Mr. Basketball Tyus Jones, who has a home in the Minneapolis area, could be a coveted free agent this summer after impressing in the playoffs this spring and averaging a career-best 8.7 points in the regular season. The seven-year point guard makes minimal mental and physical mistakes. He could start tonight for the Grizzlies in the absence of Ja Morant, with Memphis trailing the Warriors 3-1 in their playoff series.

Lindsay Whalen, the U women’s basketball coach who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame September 10 for her legendary career as a player, turned 40 on Monday.

John Anderson

Legendary Gopher baseball coach John Anderson, now in his 41st season, will be 67 next Monday.

Anderson’s redshirt junior right-hander, Aidan Maldonado, is the co-Big Ten Pitcher of the Week. The Rosemount, Minnesota native pitched a career-high seven innings Sunday, allowing five hits and one earned run while striking out eight in a 3-1 win over Nebraska.

Peter King and his identical twin Richard were the first batboys for the Twins in 1961 after the franchise relocated from Washington D.C. Sorry to learn that Peter, from Prior Lake, recently passed away.

Phil Anderson, GM at North Oaks Golf Club and Dave Tentis, PGA head pro at Troy Burne Golf Club, offer their views on the Upper Midwest golf industry as the latest guests on the “Behind the Game” program seen on local cable markets and YouTube. The show is co-hosted by Agile Marketing owner Patrick Klinger and USHL commissioner Bill Robertsonhttps://youtu.be/fZsxVOVmoFk

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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