Monday, March 10, 2014

Chalk Talk: How Does Matt Moulson Score?

Last week, the Wild acquired Matt Moulson in a trade with Buffalo. Prior to last year's lockout shortened season, Moulson had put four consecutive  30+ goal seasons on the board. That might be the quietest streak of consecutive 30+ goal seasons, you will ever come across.

A big reason for Moulson's success is his ability to stand in front of the net, or the "dirty area" if you will. He has become quite the asset to have standing around the net, as he has become very skilled at deflecting shots or putting rebounds into the net.

Lets break out the chalk talk, for a closer look at how dirty Matt Moulson gets (click on the links above the photos for the video replay of the goal).

Goal One

In the final seconds of a power play, and the period, the Sabres are making one last effort to get a goal here. Tyler Ennis is holding the puck at the left point, and decides to take it down low given the amount of space there is on the side boards. Moulson (circled) is standing in the low slot area with two defenders and teammate behind him.

As Ennis gets behind the net, Moulson has moved literally a foot from his previous position, and positions himself between all four Devils penalty killers here for either a pass or rebound from an attempted wrap-around.

Ennis does indeed try a wrap-around, and Schnieder makes the save but kicks the puck out right out front. Moulson, hardly moving from his original position, corrals the rebound and fires it home for a goal to give Buffalo the lead.

Here in an empty net situation, Moulson finds himself with some space behind the net as the puck is fought for up along the side boards. Note all the space around the net where Moulson is standing.

The puck manages to make its way down to Moulson, who now has time and space to with crash the net or make a pass out front.  Moulson decides that taking the puck to the net is the best option here.

After being stuffed on his first shot attempt, the puck kicks back out to Moulson who buries it home. He is taking a check from one defender, while the other tries to block the rebound shot and yet Moulson still gets the puck to the back of the net.

Here on a dump in, Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk takes his time retrieving the puck from the corner. Matt Moulson hustles into the zone as the Wild forcheckers take up the sideboards behind him.

As Moulson collides with Shattenkirk in the corner, he forces the Blues defenseman to thrown a pass around the boards. You can't see him in the photo, but Mikko Koivu is standing along the boards on the left side here waiting for the puck. After the puck goes up to Koivu along the wall (Charlie Coyle, who is circled, is opposite Koivu in this photo), Moulson moves to right out front of the net in case Koivu decides to snap a quick shot off.

Koivu does indeed snap a quick shot off, and Moulson is right there in front of Brian Elliott to redirect the shot into the net.

As you can see, Moulson has made a nice living around the crease. He is a player the Wild sorely need, as they fight for a second consecutive playoff berth. The team has tried Dany Heatley as a guy to sit around in front of the net, but that has as successful.

This is what you should expect from Moulson on a nightly basis.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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