The Minnesota Wild, led by Antti Miettinen's two goals and one assist, defeated the hated vaunted lame duck Atlanta Thrashers, 4-2, in front of the team of 18.
So, did we answer any of our questions?
- Will Marian Gaborik step it up tonight?
- Can the special teams continue their good play?
- Which Martin Skoula shows up?
- Will the lines stay static into the second period?
- Can anyone stop Kovalchuk?
1. Marian scored one goal, but led the forwards in ice time and really put the pressure on the Atlanta defense. On the power play, his unit controlled the ice, setting up shot after shot, only to be stonewalled by Kari Lehtonen, or to lose the puck thanks to horse**** Atlanta ice.
2. Wild power play 1/5. Wild PK 4/4. Nicely done boys. Could have easily had two additional PP goals if not for exceptional play by Lehtonen and a couple horrid bounces on the slop that passes for ice in the Southeast.
3. Martin Skoula wasn't noticeable. That's a good thing. Keep it up 41.
4. What is going on in Jacques Lemaire's head? It's been two games and he's not shifting everything around? I mean, yeah Nolan went out in the second and PMB got to experience the new Delta Airlines a bit before the others, but things have been pretty static thus far (even the Gaborik - Sheppard - Veilleux line, which I hate).
5. No. To quote Dan Patrick, you cannot stop Ilya Kovalchuk, you can only hope to contain him. Well, contain him, they did. One goal on two shots. That's not a problem. If Kovalchuk scores 82 goals, one per game, he'll have a great season, and the Thrashers will finish below 80 points, because nobody else on that team can score.
HW Three Stars:
- Antti Miettinen (2G, 1A, 4 PIM in the 3rd period. Let's not do that again)
- Andrew Brunette (1G, 1A)
- Mikko Koivu (2A, +3)
So, where did Belanger go? Is he going to vanish already? Well ...
Eric Belanger looked to his left and right Tuesday night and saw new faces.
"I lost my whole line," he said.
First it was left winger Pierre-Marc Bouchard, scratched because of a bad back. Then it was right wing Owen Nolan, who left in the first period. Their absence did more than decimate the Minnesota Wild's second line; it threw everything else into disarray.
On the injuries, from Twin Cities.com
Bouchard is scheduled to fly back to Minnesota today so he can rest his back, assistant general manager Tom Lynn said. Nolan has a lower body injury that will be re-evaluated today. Lemaire said he thought the team would call Cal Clutterbuck up from Houston, but Lynn said that decision would be made today.
If Nolan is out, they'll need somebody. The team played short handed down the stretch, primarily because Lemaire didn't think Colton Gillies or Benoit Pouliot could be trusted. Gillies played just 10:17, and Pouliot was on the ice for just 9:52.
Coach John Anderson said the Thrashers appeared "discombobulated" in loss to Minnesota Tuesday at Philips. Goalie Kari Lehtonen let four slip in, while making 22 saves.
What do the NASCAR folks think?
Game story from the AJC sports section:
If Atlanta’s NHL team lost in regulation for the first time this season and nobody came to see it, did it make a noise?
The muffled thud emerging from Philips Arena on Tuesday night was the sound of the Thrashers falling back to the ice after a 1-0-1 season-opening weekend.
They lost 4-2 to the Minnesota Wild before a crowd announced at 11,843 but probably was closer to half that size when you account for the no-shows. It was the first time since March 2004 the Thrashers announced a home crowd smaller than 12,000.
From the AJC blog section:
Whoo-Hoo!! We Aren’t On This List
Tom Van Riper of Forbes.com has put out his list of The Ten Sports Franchises Most Likely To Move. There are three NHL teams making this list and Atlanta is not one of them.
From a different section of the AJC
Thrashers coach John Anderson prefers his players to skate the puck across the blue line, but tonight that message changes a bit. The Minnesota Wild makes a living off defense, specifically the neutral zone trap. So Anderson’s message to his team is, I’d rather have you chip the puck forward and make the Minnesota players have to turn to get it than to have turnovers that can lead to offense for the Wild coming the other way.
Those redneck rubes wouldn't know a neutral zone trap if it banged their sister on a Dale Earnhart memorial throw rug. Morons. Who allowed hockey in freaking Atlanta? It failed once, it'll fail again. Seriously, second home game and they draw 11,000? Pathetic. SHUT IT DOWN BETTMAN!!!
Unfortunately, there isn't any video of the post-game coverage. Sorry.
Up next: @ Florida Panthers, Thursday 10/16 at 6:30 CDT. Plenty of good seats available.