Well, that didn't exactly go smoothly did it? Not that anyone really could have expected a win, but I was holding out for an OT loss. But sadly, that didn't happen.
Frankly, from the drop the Wild looked very solid, their biggest issue was simply that they didn't pepper the rookie goalie Mike Brodeur with rubber as often as they should have. The first period was seemingly headed to a 0-0 tie until defenseman Anton Volchenkov took a slapper with under three minutes left and it hit a stick out front, going over Niklas Backstrom's shoulder. The Sens took a 1-0 lead into the intermission.
When the Wild came out for the second, the Wild looked flat, and this is essentially where the wheels fell off. Not even 30 seconds into the 2nd period, Milan Michalek threw a snapshot through Backstrom for a very soft goal. This was followed by less than crisp play by the Wild in the offensive zone, and a very strong forecheck and exceptionally strong puck possession by the Senators. At just over two minutes to play in the2nd period, Jarkko Ruutu put the garbage in the dumpster leading the Senators to a 3-0 lead heading into the 3rd period.
In the third, Backstrom had another soft goal go under the pads for a 4-0 lead. A decent shot by Erik Karlsson for his first career NHL goal. Congrats to you Mr. Karlsson. The Wild from that point on looked like a team that couldn't hear the horn soon enough. While they did get a goal from Martin Havlat when Nick Schultz' shot hit his shin guard and bounced in, it was a garbage goal which only had the moral victory of NOT allowing Mike Brodeur's NHL debut to be a shutout win.
Now, I know what you are thinking..."Mike, you haven't mentioned the Power Play." There is a reason for that dear reader, in order to talk about the "Power Play," first, one has to convince me that the Wild have one. Truthfully, this is a glaring issue for this club. One which cannot be overlooked, one which is very inconsistent. Is the philosophy wrong? Has no quarterback stepped forward to consistently run it? Perhaps the pass first mentality can't be broken? I have no answers, but if I am Richards & Co...this is my number one concern heading in to Monday.
All in all, the Wild played pretty damn well for the shenanigans which took place yesterday. Again, I was hoping for an OT appearance, to get a point, but alas, this didn't occur. As we look back, with all the circumstances which surround this game, only three things seem relevant/concerning:
1) Power Play - Ummm...wow. Beuller?? Beuller??? Frye??? Frye??? I would gladly have a better PP as my Christmas present.
2) Niklas Backstrom's confidence in his gear - The normally steady Backstrom looked very very shaky. Soft goals that he doesn't normally give up, pads that he recently determined as too old, and a helmet which he wore for a few years. It will be interesting to see how Nik plays the next few days.
3) Will the break-in period of gear slow down the progress - Hockey, being the animal it is, the next few games are going to be crucial to win some so that everyone gets comfortable in their equipment, and this insanely odd circumstance is well beyond us.
I have one more thing...as a parting comment...I am fairly certain that Greg Zanon is a cyborg. He had to run down the aisle after the high stick to simply replace his eyeball. Clearly his spare parts were not damaged in the fire.