Jared Spurgeon treated us to an absolute defensive masterclass on Thursday night.
We’re a bit late getting to this but, given just how good the moment was, we couldn’t not comment on what exactly Jared Spurgeon did for the Minnesota Wild in their 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday because it was something, let us tell you.
Spurgeon, who was announced as the Wild’s Captain during the offseason, has long been seen as a real leader for this franchise on the backend, and he’s arguably one of the most underrated defensemen in the entire National Hockey League.
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While he’s off to a slow start in 2020-21 with three points (0 G, 3 A) in 13 games with a -4 rating, you have to really watch Spurgeon on the ice to see that he brings a lot more to this team than just offensive production. He just does the little things well and he’s a leader on and off the ice for this Wild team.
He can also play in all situations, he can play on the power play and on the penalty kill, he can log big minutes – he’s averaging 21:58 of total ice time through 13 games this season – and he can lay the body on and is incredibly responsible in his own zone.
Then there are the plays that just really take your breath away if you are a hockey purist, the type of play that doesn’t grab all the headlines but really stands out if you are a bit of a puck nerd and appreciate the finer details of the game.
And that exact kind of play took place on Thursday night, highlighting and perfectly hammering home just how important Spurgeon is to the Minnesota Wild when he’s on the ice and why he doesn’t get enough credit throughout the NHL.
Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon provides penalty kill masterclass
With the Wild ahead 2-zip against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday and seemingly in control, they nearly shot themselves in the foot by giving up a 5-on-3 power play. Kevin Fiala took a minor penalty for holding the stick, quickly followed by teammate Marcus Foligno who sent a clearing attempt into the lower-bowl.
With both in the box for Minnesota, the Anaheim Ducks power play went to work and looked to take full advantage of a 65-second 5-on-3, the perfect opportunity to chip into that deficit and haul themselves back into the contest.
However, while the intention was there, the execution wasn’t and the Ducks clearly didn’t count on coming up against Jared Spurgeon, who proceeded to teach a lesson in how to kill a 5-on-3 penalty and, not only kill it, but absolutely shut it down.
He may as well have had three sticks given the work he did, using his stick to break up a pass and divert it out of the zone, using his body incredibly well to block the second zone entry and once again clear the zone, before again using his stick to block the passing lane and again getting the puck out of the defensive zone.
I mean, just watch the below clip to fully appreciate what Spurgeon was able to do:
It was elite defending at its very best and every single coach in the NHL should be firing up that above clip and using it in the video room with their penalty killing units, because that’s exactly how you defend and then successfully kill a 5-on-3.
It was just sensational play from Spurgeon who used a lethal combination of his high hockey IQ, his long reach and his body to frequently frustrate Anaheim’s power play and ensure that his team emerged from a 5-on-3 unscathed, playing a huge role in the Wild going on to win the game 3-1.
And, what makes that sequence even more impressive was the fact that Jared Spurgeon was playing in his first game back since Feb. 2 after going down hurt and testing positive for COVID-19, so he probably wasn’t at full tilt but he was still able to display an abundance of leadership and effort to stay with the puck and clear it out of the zone on three separate occasions to literally kill a 5-on-3 power play single-handedly and prove why he’s an incredible player in his own zone.