At least Martin Havlat looks game ready.
The Wild tonight could only amass 18 shots. Things aren't still aren't looking so good for the new system. However, it's hard to tell if it's injuries to regulars that is having this effect, or if it's because the guys aren't grasping the system very well. In the first, the Wild played its best period of hockey in the preseason. They looked like they had captured the essence of the new offense with nine shots and two goals (one by James Sheppard on a great feed from Martin Havlat and one by Brent Burn, rocketing home a slapper from a nice pass from Greg Zanon), but things unraveled in the second.
The second period was a flashback to December of 2008. Guys were out of position, the team was scuffling to clear the zone. Passes were ineffectual. Players tried to do too much and they were penned in their own zone.
The worst part of the preseason has to be the injuries, but injuries happen in the NHL and teams need to overcome them in order to succeed. Everyone on the ice needs to be on the same page, or at least in the same playbook. As Michael Russo stated however,
Richards said he’s using St. Louis and Chicago as a measuring stick, and the Wild has a lot of work to do. He wants the Wild to take a page out of the Blackhawks’ book. Chicago’s forwards pursue the puck relentlessly, Richards said, while the Wild continues to have one forward go and two hang back — a staple of yesteryear, he says.
This is disheartening. The Wild are still getting lazy and falling back into old habits.
Speaking of injuries, Kim Johnsson left the game with a leg injury of some kind. The team has not released the extent of his injury, but Todd Richards indicated that it might be a result of Johnsson's first back to back games of the year. If this is the case, it could be a groin, or just soreness. Let's hope that's all it is. Johnsson is going to need to be 100% this season. He'll be one of the go to guys on the blue line. He'll be responsible for leading the break and using some of that offense he had in Philadelphia, before losing it in Lemaire's system.
And speaking of Philadelphia (nice segue, huh?) the Wild end the preseason against the Flyers, then rosters need to be in place by 2pm on Wednesday.
The final cuts will be interesting. The Wild is $797,000 of the $56.8 million cap with 24 players, one more than they’re allowed. But Derek Boogaard probably starts the season on IR to get to 23, but that doesn’t solve the cap problems - Russo
Hockey Wilderness Three
Questions to Answer
- Will Martin Havlat be booed or cheered? I'm not certain what happened here.
- With no Danny Irmen and no Robbie Earl, does Andy Hilbert actually make the squad? I think he does. He's put in a fantastic camp.
- Is anyone else sick of watching the Houston Aeros, and can't wait to see the Wild actually take the ice? I definitely want to see the regulars.
- Will there be less confusion amongst the Wild tonight? For one period, yeah.
- Why have the Wild played 5 games and the Blackhawks only 3? They are playing exhibition games in Switzerland, then starting the season there against the Florida Panthers.