Generally speaking, rivalries are born in the post-season and through on-ice run-ins, but a border battle may have been sparked following coaching decisions in Sunday evening’s pre-season tilt between the Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center.
After the first frame, the Wild had total control of the game and ended the first period with a 4-0 lead. By the time the contest was halfway through, Minnesota had taken a commanding 6-0 lead. With Winnipeg reeling late in the third period, fights began to break out and a late-game power play for Minnesota led to Wild coach Mike Yeo icing his first power play unit in a blowout.
The move by Yeo to ice his stars against a Jets team that was already being beaten soundly didn’t sit well with Jets coach Paul Maurice, who spoke to media post-game and pointed out the tactic by Yeo.
“You get into those games and they’re going to keep putting out good players,” Maurice said. “Like when they’ve got an 8-1 lead. And they’ve got a power play. The best is coming out. In an exhibition game.”
When Maurice was asked if he was frustrated with the Wild’s play, Maurice sarcastically stated that wasn’t the case and that, “it was just an honor to be in the same building with them tonight.”
Yeo admitted that he was icing his top guys on purpose late in the game, adding he was “pretty upset,” by the actions of Anthony Peluso, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo. Peluso picked up a cross-checking call late in the game, but Yeo felt the Jets’ grinder was taking liberties and throwing his body around recklessly, which resulted in Yeo’s icing of stars on the power play.
Those waiting to see if this is the start of a new rivalry won’t have to wait long. In less than a month, the Wild will head to Winnipeg to take on the Jets. If there’s any lingering animosity, things could boil over early in front of a raucous MTS Centre crowd. And if they do, here’s hoping the Wild and Jets meet in the post-season.