Minnesota Wild 2-3 (OT) Detroit Red Wings
For the Detroit perspective, please visit Winging It In Motown
Ok, lets get this out of the way quickly. Yes, the officiating was poor. Yes, Tomas Holmstrom got away with a few kidney shots to the defenseman on the winning goal. Yes, the Red Wings were flopping all night long and yes, the Wild found themselves in a situation where the decisions of officials had a bearing on the outcome.
They did not deserve to be in this game and should be grateful that they earned a point.
Sure, they had a 2-0 lead early in the second period, but were so outplayed in all aspects of the game (aside from goaltending) that the score was shocking.
Great goal for Greg Zanon with a howitzer with 12 seconds left in the first. The goal broke a 136 game scoreless streak for Zanon and was his first ever in the Xcel Energy Center. The play was setup by a fantastic forecheck by Guillaume Latendresse. Then just 28 seconds later (00:16 into the second period), Cal Clutterbuck scored his first of the season, set up by an aggressive shift by Cal and his line mates, Colton Gillies and Kyle Brodziak. After that, however, the play was absolutely dominated by Detroit.
There was a period of about five minutes in the second period before Ian White's goal where the Wild were penned in their own zone, unable to clear or even sniff the puck. You could feel the goal coming, but since it was in the final minute of the period, you thought maybe the Wild would be able to clear the zone and get out alive. That feeling again came in the third period when the Wild couldn't clear, chased the Red Wings around, refused to play the body and Jiri Hudler tied the game. After that, the Red Wings just played keep away. It was a pretty ugly scene.
Officiating: Two very very touchy calls on Kyle Brodziak (hooking Niklas Kronwall on the hands, which of course led to Kronwall sprawled on the ice) and Nick Schultz (a ridiculously weak cross-check) gave the Red Wings 3:53 of a man advantage in the first period, and while the Wild did a masterful job on the kill, the momentum all went to Detroit, and they outshot Minnesota 36-10 after that. Add to that the horrible tripping call on Matt Cullen in the overtime when Justin Abdelkader flopped over Cullen's stick
Mike Yeo on the Wild being outplayed tonight: "Our system is built for games like this. Our system is built for teams like this. The guys just need to continue to work on it, and they're learning."
Again, the Wild are doing a good job of getting secondary scoring. The second and third lines are providing a lot of energy, creating opportunities and capitalizing on those chances. Why? Is it because of the focus on the top line? If the second and third line continue to pop in goals at this rate, does the top line stop seeing the top defensive pairing and the opposition's checking lines? Either way, when does the pressure from the fanbase begin if the top line doesn't put in a goal a game? Devin Setoguchi, Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley need to score, especially in a game like tonight. In the overtime, those guys were able to dominate the play and apply pressure on the Wings, but even then, didn't direct the puck on net. Something's off, but it's too soon to be overly concerned.
The Wild didn't deserve the point they got tonight. Not for all the money in the world. Every member of the team knew it, and the coach knew it. After the game, a visibly upset Matt Cullen gave all the credit to Harding, as did Greg Zanon and Mike Yeo. Harding was not as fast to take credit, but did say he was "happy with the way [he] played." Cullen admitted he was not happy with the call against him in overtime, but said "you can't take a penalty with two minutes left in OT."
Coach Yeo was not nearly as quick to defend his team as his predecessor was. He said that "everything we did tonight was in our control." The point was that the team did not execute, and got exactly what they deserved. He was quick to dismiss talk of shuffling lines, and repeated that the team did not play well. He said "If we played our best game, and Detroit took it to us, I'd be worried. We didn't do that." If nothing else, Yeo certainly gets his team, and knows they aren't where they need to be. When asked what went wrong he said "I know exactly what happened." That's a far cry from "I don't have the answers."
The game was in reach for the Wild. As mentioned in the game preview, if they got away from their game and took even a shift off, the Wings would make them pay. That's exactly what happened. The forecheck was working, the Wild were grinding them down, then they got a two goal lead and shut down. Everything fell apart, and they lost the extra point. The good news? They got one point. One they most certainly did not deserve.
The Bennett's Chop & Railhouse Stars of the Game:
Remember, when you begin and end your night at Bennett's, you're the star! Easy parking, drink and food specials and a free shuttle to and from the Xcel Energy Center. Check them out at http://bennettschopandrailhouse.com/.
See you back here on Tuesday against the Penguins.
- Josh Harding gets his first start in a game that counts in over a year. How does he look? Fabulous. Harding had good poise, good position, controlled rebounds, but ran into some tough breaks.
- Can the Wild defense keep up with the likes of Zetterberg and Datsyuk? Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella, Nick Schultz, Clayton Stoner and Greg Zanon did a good job playing positionally, leading the break and taking the body. However, Jared Spurgeon got worked hard by the size of Todd Bertuzzi, Tomas Holmstrom and Johan Franzen. Tonight wasn't on the defense.
- Will the start be slow like on Thursday, or did they learn the lessons? Not a slow start, but honestly, they played the whole game in a bit of a lull.
- Boston U vs DU tonight out east. Is that possibly more exciting than this game? Well, the game ended in an exciting fashion, but it wasn't exactly an exciting game.
- Is tonight the night Marek Zidlicky begins his 2011-12 season? Bad Zidlicky was out again tonight. I'd like him to go away.