For enemy reaction, please visit: The Copper & Blue
Well, for playing the worst team in the NHL, the Wild actually played hard. The forecheck was outstanding, the team defense was strong, and they were physical. Even Nick Schultz showed he had enough at one point and got physical in front of Harding, and then gave the ref what for. Passion, intensity, two things the team has lacked recently. If only all 82 games were against the Oilers.
James Sheppard played what could be the best game of his year, even his career. Of course, that's not saying much. With Casey Wellman watching from the press box, Sheppard had to feel the heat tonight. He still finished with no points and a -1, but had 11:30 TOI, which is better than normal. He missed the net on one shot in the third period, though in fairness, he may have been aiming for a net in International Falls, we just don't really know.
The only real, glaring issue is the Wild are still going into a Lemaire-like game when they have a lead, and especially in the third period. This is usually something teams do when trying to play for the playoffs, so maybe the Wild truly believe they have a shot, though they may be the only ones. You want proof of how the team plays with a lead? They out shot the Oilers 24-16 through two, and ended up being out shot 35-28.
Once again, if not for stellar play from Josh Harding, the Wild really do not win this game. Solid forechecking is back, now, if they could only learn to stay on the gas through 60 minutes.
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars:
1. Josh Harding (33 Saves)
2. Martin Havlat (1G, 1 A)
3. Andrew Ebbett (1G, 1A)
Five Six Questions to Answer:
1. Harding looked bad in his first of four starts, and has since played well. Which Harding shows up tonight? The stellar one. If it were March 3rd tomorrow, Harding would have a new home in Philly.
2. The Oilers are the worst team in hockey. Can the Wild avoid another embarrassing loss? They sure can.
3. Will Casey Wellman or Justin Falk make their NHL debut, and if so, how will they look? Zanon played, so Falk sat. Probably a smart move to sit Wellman until he can at least get a practice in with the team.
4. It's no longer if Latendresse will score, but how many, so: How many goals will Guillaume Latendresse score tonight? None. What's up with that?
5. Will John Scott get to dance with Stortini, or does neither team really care any more? Well, they got into in the first, but no fight.
Bonus Buddha Question:
6. Do the Oilers want Taylor Hall, or Tyler Seguin? I would say Hall is still a better fit.