How Wild got the most out of Calen Addison, with the help of Captain Jared Spurgeon

street. Paul, Minnesota – About a month and a half ago, Wild Coach Dean Evason had a little heart to heart with the rookie defenseman Caline Addison.

Addison, 22, is offensively talented – tasked with running the top power-playing unit – but was in danger of being dropped from the lineup. It wasn’t good enough at its end.

Evason’s message was simple: forget about being insulted. Your insult will always be there. Focus on the defensive zone. Really click and stick to it.

Yes, one last thing:

Watch #46.

Players are the best teachers, Evason said, and there was no better example for Addison than Wild Captain Jared Spurgeon, a 5-foot-9 defenseman who is very reliable on his end. He is a great two-man and a master penalty killer. He is from Edison can Be, at least that’s the hope.

“You’re older than him, probably, right? Evason said. “Now watch what he’s doing on the ice. Watch what he does from the ice. Watch how he prepares. How does he act when he makes a mistake? How he behaves when he is successful. If you were to model yourself after a younger defenseman, he’d be the one to pick.”

It took some growing pains — until a healthy “wake-up call” scratch in early December. But Addison seemed to have seen the light, and there is no greater example than his performance in the Wild’s 5-1 win over the New York City Lightning Wednesday night at the Excel Energy Center.

Addison assisted on the Wild’s first two goals, and his play on the third became “the turning point in the game,” according to the Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman. Addison danced along the blue line with the puck, showing poise and skill, then slammed an over-the-shoulder shot Brian Elliott. It was a move that showed confidence. “For any D-man,” Addison said, “the further your feet move, the harder it is for them to defend.”

But it was a first period play that really indicated Addison’s growth in the most important area of ​​the game. Pat Maron, a 6-foot-3, 234-pound forward and three-time Cup champion, served it up for what seemed like 15 seconds. Go from one side of the grate, to the back of it, to the other side. But Addison cornered him, forcing Maroon to wrist him from the right circle. “I mean, I wouldn’t outsmart him,” Addison said. “Just stay put.”

This is what Spurgeon does well.

“I think he’s just learning the game,” Spurgeon said of Addison. “It’s all about systems and situations that you can put yourself in so that you can get more physical and aggressive. As you’re younger, it takes time to learn those things and it’s been great lately. It’s a confidence thing.”

It’s inspiring for the Wild (22-13-2), too, as they’ve won eight of their last 10 games, and this might be the most impressive of the season. They have achieved great victories over the first place stars Tornadoes and even leather Winnipeg. But Tampa Bay would make three straight trips to the Stanley Cup Final, including two championships. And while the lightning was probably tiring on the back end from back to back, the blizzard delayed their arrival in the Twin Cities until after 2 a.m. the wilderness was, for the most part, in control.

“They’re a really good team,” Captain Lightning Stephen Stamkos He said.

“A big, strong, heavy team,” said coach John Cooper.

The Wild will see the Lightning again in two weeks in Tampa, winner of the Vezina Cup Andrei Vasilevsky – Sick on Wednesday – it is likely to be in the network.

“You always compare yourself to those teams that go all the way to the end,” Spurgeon said. “They’ve been there for a while, so to be able to put in an effort like that, it’s great for us.”

This was a team effort. Kirill Kaprizov, expected to be named an All-Star Thursday, was amazing, scoring twice and almost hitting a third with a “how did he do it” shot. “Just another day in Kirill’s life,” Poldy died sarcastic.

Joel Erickson Ek The game started with a goal, which made it a lightning rookie Nick BurbixAnd the An Elk River native plays in front of nearly 300 family, friends, and former teammates at St. Cloud State. The penalty was nearly perfect, eliminating a four-minute power play late in the second/early in the third.

But it all started with Philip GustafsonHe stopped a slick glove on Brayden Point on an early rush in the first period and stopped another Nikita Kucherov later in the game. He didn’t give up a lot of rebounds. He was in control. “Very well against a team like this, obviously, the elites are elite shooters,” Evason said. And he made it look easy, right?

Well, until the very last minute, when Gustafsson fell ill and left the match, he headed into the tunnel and, as Evason bluntly put it, “barred his brains.”

You could argue that one of the more significant developments recently is Addison’s two-way play. After Evason’s talk, the Wild had planned to scratch him in a November 25 game against Winnipeg, but fell ill Jonas Broden It was a reprieve before Addison finally sat on December 9 in Edmonton.

“It got to the point where, ‘Well, if you’re not going to do it, you’re going to have to sit and watch and hope it gives you a wake-up call,’” Evason said. “And I did. He played very well in defense and still has the offensive side.”

The scratching did not sit well with Addison. It motivated him though.

“That sucks. It bothered me,” Addison said. the athlete. “It would upset anyone. We’re all competitors. We have a job. We’re all competing to be in the squad every night.”

Addison has always prided himself on not being a lonely horse. Sure, he’s talented at moving the puck and creating a power play. But the best defensemen, preferring him, including Drew Doty (and Spurgeon), powers on both ends of the ice. Addison said he focused on being better with his stick, closing gaps faster and knowing when to keep it simple. “There are no soft plays, no soft bowl passes,” Addison said. “Bad things only happen when you make a quiet play. That’s what I learned.”

As for watching Spurgeon, Addison said he’s been doing it since before he turned pro. He admires how Spurgeon always appears in the right places, and stands up for the big guys.

“I watch it every day,” Addison said. “Every movement on the ice, every play he makes. He’s one of my role models even before I met him. Now I’m going to be his friend. I’ve learned a lot…

“He’s younger than me and defends as well as anyone in the league. So there’s no reason why I can’t do that.”

Addison’s situation is another example of how there is still development in the NHL level. It is mostly performed in the AHL, where Evason has a lot of experience. But while some leads, like Marco Rossi, would get their spice in Iowa, Addison’s tough love came out on top.

“I think a lot we forget that while they’re in the NHL, they have to be taught,” Evason said. “They don’t know (everything). We don’t know everything. I train in the NHL and I’m constantly learning every single day. Things to do, how to act and act, education is no different.”

However, the approach can vary if you’re in the AHL vs. the NHL, and it depends on the player.

“You go through experiences as a coach, you remember again, ‘Well, did this work for a guy? Evason said. “Maybe a guy sits outside, maybe pats a guy on the back and lets him play through it. It’s easier (in the AHL) for us, there’s less exposure. TSN, ESPN, whatever channel, TNT, they’re not going to cover it every night and everyone in the world He watches it.”

But on Wednesday, on TNT’s nationally televised game, Addison shined. The crowd had extra buzz or juice, and it wasn’t just the ’80s night playlist. The opening showdown at 8:52pm probably helped, too. “With the late start, I hope they get lubricated at the start of the game,” joked Evason.

Spurgeon was pumped for Addison, you could tell. As Evason said, coaches can yell at players until they’re “blue in the face,” but when peers they respect provide input and inspiration, it carries more weight.

As for Evason who said he told Addison to watch Spurgeon, the captain laughed.

“Don’t listen to that,” he said with a smile.

(Photo by Calen Addison: Bruce Fedek/USA Today)

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