As goes Mikko Koivu, so go the Wild. Koivu's game winner came on the power play from Martin Havlat at 14:08 of the first period, and the game was pretty much over at that point. Yes, I said from Martin Havlat on the power play. Havlat continues his solid play and the Wild scored a power play goal, all on the same shift. Will wonders never cease?
Havlat continues to bounce from line to line, which for many players and teams that would create chemistry problems, but for Havlat and the Wild right now, it's paying off. Maybe it gives him a chance to get away from other teams' checking lines, or maybe it allows him to play a bit more freewheeling, but either way, until he finds a connection with a couple of guys, I love the way things are working out over the last month and change.
I'm not going to hold Guillaume Latendresse's point-less game against him. It was his first game back in Montreal since the trade, and he was probably playing a bit tight. Even so, Lats is still bringing it on every shift, playing tough with the puck and getting himself in position to create problems. The scoring will come, I can smell it.
It was great to see Robbie Earl use his speed and get back on the scoresheet. There isn't a player on the Wild's roster right now that uses his opportunities as well as Earl, and that's ridiculously painful for me to say about the former
Diver Badger. His opening goal really set the tone tonight.
Speaking of guys working hard and having it pay off, I just smile every time Cal Clutterbuck scores, and it isn't because I love the fact that the Wild score, it's because he earns everything he gets. This guy works his ass of each and every shift, leaves everything on the ice, is great off the ice and seeing him succeed is a thing of beauty.
Speaking of guys I love to watch, Owen Nolan has been snake-bitten lately. The Irish God of War just can't buy a break, and needs to get healthy in a hurry. Granted, I wasn't expecting him to match his performance of last season, but he needs to get on a roll here, and it'll only make things better for the Wild as they enter the middle of the season.
It's also nice to see the defense gelling. Greg Zanon, Nick Schultz and Clayton Stoner were fantastic tonight. Zanon has to have the best positional defense of anyone the Wild have ever had. He's seemingly always in the right spot to stop a shot. Schultz has completely turned his game around from the beginning of the season when he was trying too hard, and being abandoned too frequenly, and Stoner didn't look like a rookie out there tonight. He played a solid defensive game, and the best part ... you didn't notice it at all. That's what you want from a defensive defenseman.
This team is fun to watch right now, and they're back to being respectable. Now if they keep this up, maybe we can talk about adding a piece or two instead of trading off Andrew Brunette and Owen Nolan.
Please read the game recap over at Habs Eyes On The Prize
Hockey Wilderness Three
Questions to Answer
- Can Lats get payback? He did get a standing ovation, but alas, no points in 14:34.
- How is Pouliot liking life in Hamilton? Apparently he still has that wrist injury, so they'll likely see Benoit Pouliot in Montreal eventually, but it's not looking great for them so far.
- How will Clayton Stoner react to getting his first call-up? Stoner didn't give up a goal, so that's a positive, and according to many, he looked decent on his first NHL game.
Mike Cammalleri has always eaten the Wild alive. Does that continue now that he's out of the West? Nope! Great to see the Wild keep him off the board.
- How crappy is it that my first chance to watch a game on my new TV, and FSN is going standard def? Lame. I didn't get a chance to watch tonight, so I didn't get to see the reportedly horrible SD feed by FSN.