For Phoenix perspective, call the Winnipeg Free Press. I kid, I kid. Head over to Five For Howling
Honestly, it's difficult to even put into words what happened here this evening. The Wild showed flashes of brilliance, long periods of ineptitude, and some sustained normalcy. It was the anti-Brian Rolston (never too high, never too low). When they had it, they had it. When they didn't they just flat out didn't.
For the first ten or so minutes, the Wild had the keys, the map, and everything but the shovel to bury ton Coyotes. Six minutes of power play time had them at six SOG early, with some solid chances, and trying to find a way to beat Jason LaBarbera. It just was not to be, as the Coyotes goaltender continued to shut the door all night.
JovoCop, in a rather disciplined game, opened the scoring with a late first period goal. This, after a terrible clearing attempt by Andrew Brunette. As we all know, late period goals never come back to haunt a team, right? Right. Had they hunkered down, and came out in the second tied at zero, would this have been a different game? Maybe.
Scottie Upshall made the Wild pay for continued poor play with another goal at the 5:43 mark of the second, after sustained pressure by the Coyotes, and the first SOG for the Wild not coming under the five minute mark of the period. The Wild would then escape to the locker room, having turned a bit of the momentum back in their favor going into the third.
Battling hard, as is the norm once the Wild figure out their backs are to the wall, they cut the lead in half on a nice hard working (Sorry Tom) effort by Patrick O`Sullivan led to a rebound that Matt Cullen buried for his first even strength goal of the year.
The mighty momentum was all on the Wild's side at this point. The fans were re-energized, the team had some hop in their step, and there was hope yet again in Saint Paul.
The roller coaster would continue, though as a Scottie Upshall shot would take a very awkward bounce off of Marek Zidlicky and bury itself behind Jose Theodore. Call it the Wild's luck, call it the hockey gods ensuring the late period goal in the first was not forgotten. Call it what you will, what it was is a momentum killer.
Down 3-1 late, Brent Burns put in his own hard work (Sorry Tom), after saving a goal while Jose Theodore was out of position earlier, Burns would battle for the puck behind the net, get the puck to Martin Havlat, who then fed Mikko Koivu a pass that my grandma could have buried.
Again, the fans were energized. The Wild called a time out, yanked Theodore for the extra skater, and the final flurry was on. On a breakout for the Yotes, Zidlicky would save a goal, but it just was not to be tonight. Lauri Korpikoski (Cory Koskie?) would drive the nail in the rest of the way, and the come back that never was died.
Hard to find too much fault here. This was a classic bad bounces, mixed with some brain cramp moves leading to goals that the Wild just could not fight back from. The shots on goal finished 36-35 in favor of the Coyotes, so the Wild had their chances. They simply didn't finish them. Thirty or more shots on goal in three straight games for the Wild, but the chances aren't there, and the defense just is not there.
Still not sure how many nights they can push the 40 shots against before they start to realize they need to limit those chances.Still a ton of questions surrounding this team, who have now lost three in a row, and five of the last six.
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars
1. Jason LaBarbera (33 saves)
2. Scottie Upshall (2G, 1A, +2 in just 13:04 TOI)
3. Brent Burns (1A, 22:44 TOI, 1 Save)
- How does Bouchard look in his triumphant return? Expectations were low, but once he got on the Cullen / Havlat line, he looked really good. Butch is back.
- Over / under on Wild shots is again set at 20. Can they win with fewer than that? They put 35 on net. The law of large numbers should kick in eventually, right?
- The Wild didn't completely hose up the second period against the Flames. Is the curse broken? Eh. Still not there in the second period. Need to be better.
- Can Team Mikko get going again? Indeed. Koivu had a goal on the night, though he still looks like he is missing a step.
- Can JovoCop resist the temptation to maim someone? JovoCop was well behaved tonight. Good for him. Someone buy him a cookie.