For the enemy perspective, please visit Five For Howling
I won't mince words here. Before the game, the Wild and Yotes were both sitting with 59 points, #7 and #8 in the conference respectively, with the Wild two games in hand in regards to the Yotes. Needless to say this was one of the more important games of the season, if not THE most important so far. The Wild needed to come out like they did against the Avs and sustain it for longer than 2 minutes.
What we were treated to was one of the poorest efforts of the season, bar none. Absolutely no energy at all. Niklas Backstrom is the only Wild player to have shown up, and thank the stars for that. He came up huge once again tonight, making some beautiful saves throughout the game, but a Martin Havlat turnover early in the 3rd period cost Backstrom his shutout streak that he had built up to a team record 157:13, dating back to January 25th against the Blackhawks, where he had robbed the Hawks of two points. Even though he shouldn't need to, I have nothing wrong with Backstrom being the Wild's best player at every game, but he should NEVER be the only one playing well. I can't even pinpoint a player other than Backs that had a good game for the Wild. I'm serious. It took around 40 minutes for the Wild to have as many shots as PHX had in one period, which isn't really surprising, but the entire game was in the defensive end, except for the powerplay, which was horrible anyway. Ugly passes, non-existant scoring chances, Bryzgalov could've been sitting on a chair in his crease and it wouldn't have made a lick of difference.
You might be telling me '' They've still got 30 games to make it right.'' True, but the Wild just lost an advantage they had over the Yotes, which were the games in hand. They still have 2 games in hand, but are now 2 points behind. Also, it's much better to protect a playoff spot than to chase after one, and we know that full well. The Wild were on a roll, so there is no explanation for this game other than they didn't want it enough, or they were relying too much on a white-hot goaltender. Total lack of Sorry Tom tonight, they better get it together fast, because in this Western Conference, all it takes is a few losses in a row to be on the bottom of a hill that's tough to climb.
I think Fletch may need to get some offense towards the deadline, because waiting for Guillaume Latendresse could cost us the playoffs. The Wild have been shutout twice in the last three games, and we have no real problem with defense and goaltending. Losing tonight against a game that broke a scoreless streak of 132:07 in the current conference situation is just unacceptable. Color me unhappy and let's hope this was but a hiccup in a nice run for the Wild, and that they can bounce back quickly.
- Taylor Pyatt's goal in the third period ended the Coyotes' scoreless streak at 132:07 and Backstrom's team record shutout streak at 157:13
- Despite a brilliant 40 save performance by Backstrom in a 1-0 loss in which he absolutely robbed the opposition several times, someone judged it simply wasn't enough to award him one of the three stars of the game. It's quite trivial, but that's just plain stupid.
- I am enraged by the Wild's non-effort tonight
Hockey Wilderness 3 stars:
1) Niklas Backstrom (By far the best player on the ice, 40 saves, 1 GA)
2) Sami Lepisto (very solid defensively, kept Havlat from clearing the zone, then fooled everyone by faking a shot and passing it over to Taylor Pyatt, who scored the game winner)
3) Taylor Pyatt (GWG.)