Minnesota Wild 1-4 Nashville Predators
For the Nashville perspective, please visit On the Forecheck
Well, that was not a pretty goal. Even after Chuck Kobasew redirected a Martin Havlat pass home to bring the game to 2-1 in the third period, the Wild had difficult mounting any kind of offense all night, and even set a new franchise record by giving up two empty net goals for the first time in team history to seal the loss.
The absence of Marek Zidlicky was felt all night. The Wild had to put Cam Barker on the ice far too often tonight, and it showed with his -3 performance. If this is the way things are going to continue with Zidlicky out, the drop to the bottom of the Western Conference is not far away. Right now they have only Brent Burns who can provide any momentum with the puck in transition, and he's simply not enough.
The big question tonight, however, has more to do with effort than it does with production. Mikko Koivu and Antti Miettinen carried the load tonight, doing everything in their power, and then some, to try to spark this team, but they cannot do it alone. When Mittens and Mikko combine for 10 shots on goal, but the rest of the team amasses only 12, it's simply not enough. The Wild were getting worked off the puck, not forcing turnovers, making sloppy passes and losing the battles. One positive, however, is that they did not beat themselves with lazy penalties. In fact, they only took one minor tonight, but it came as a result of Brad Staubitz being out of position and it cost him, as he only ended up with 3:27 TOI. When a team is shorthanded, and the defensive forwards are being worked over like they were tonight, they need to be able to rely on the guys on the roster, and it was clear tonight that Staubitz was unreliable, which isn't surprising looking at his season stats.
Want to know why Nashville won? Ask Patric Hornqvist:
"It was a solid game and everybody worked hard for each other. When we do that it's going to be hard to beat us," Hornqvist said. "It's a great feeling in the locker room, and was all the time on the bench."
Yeah, hard work. Sorry Tom, but that's the key.
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars
- Can Havlat score some points against his favorite victim? Yet another assist for Martin Havlat on a pretty goal for Chuck Kobasew.
- How will a depleted defensive corps look without Zidlicky? Trouble getting anything working all night. And with news that Zidlicky will likely be out longer than two weeks, things don't bode well.
- Can Brent Burns score... yet again? Afraid not.
- How many show for a New Year's Eve early game? While technically a sell-out, there were less than 13k in the third period according to Russo.
- Can the Wild avoid getting booed for two games in a row? Nope. The boos once again rained down on the home town squad.