Minnesota Wild 1 - 4 New-York Islanders
For the enemy perspective, please visit Lighthouse Hockey
Hoooo boy, this one was a doozy. The Wild were out of a playoff spot before tonight's game, and with tonight's embarassing outing, the margin for error is growing thin.
Now, I missed the first 30 minutes of the game due to a night class, but when I saw the 3-0 Isles lead, I was shocked, but then again, the Isles, while one of the statistically worst teams in the league, are nothing to scoff at. With guys like John Tavares, Michael Grabner, Kyle Okposo, Blake Comeau, Frans Nielsen and recently acquired Montoya stepping it up, they've become quite dangerous, especially since they basically have nothing to lose now. Seems I haven't missed much in the first 30: A couple of Comeau goals, an Okposo goal, the pulling of Niklas Backstrom after just 3 goals as opposed to the 8-9 it usually takes before Coach Richards decides he's done for the night. The biggest event I missed though was the Trevor Gillies headshot on Cal Clutterbuck after he boarded Justin Dibenedetto. Now, I haven't seen the hit yet, so I can't talk much about it except that it has people talking about him getting a call from Colin ''The hammer'' Campbell. Gillies just recently ended his 9 game suspension, so I'm betting... that Campbell will not even take that into consideration while spinning the Wheel of Justice! Clutterbuck did get back in the play after staying down a while, but I wouldn't be all that surprised if it shook up his marbles a little bit. Let's hope it doesn't end up being a concussion. Andrew MacDonald added a back-breaker goal in the second period to make it 4-0.
Third period started without Andrew Brunette on the bench. This is bad. Really bad. It usually takes a lot to keep this guy off the ice. He would return with around 7 minutes to play, but he's banged up. The Wild managed a goal off a pretty play set up by Martin Havlat and Pierre-Marc Bouchard which would be finished by John Madden, but it was a rather meaningless goal, just a twinkle of positivity. In fact, the increasing chemistry between Havlat and PMB is about the only thing we've had going for us in the last two losses. From what I saw tonight, the Wild played some pretty poor hockey. Bad passes, falling down all over the place, too many penalties and they just looked tired, which is exactly what I said about the last game. The Islanders ran them over and the players I enumerated above (apart from Tavares who was basically a non-factor tonight, thank God) were dominant and handed the Wild a second loss in a row.
In a real head-scratcher, Clutterbuck throws an absolutely clean hit on Justin DiBenedetto in the second period(these two do not like each other much, I reckon), which got Zenon Konopka all riled-up and Brad Staubitz stepped in to fight Konopka. Normal so far, right? Well the head-scratching begins when the refs decided Staubitz and Konopka would get 5 fo fighting and Clutterbuck (who threw a CLEAN HIT) got 10 minutes for inciting... WHAT? Russo explained that it's because Clutterbuck was being a little motormouth while referee Stephane Auger was trying to break the fight up. The inciting penalty in the rulebook goes a little something like this: rule 75.4 (iii) (iii) Any player who, after warning by the Referee, persists in any course of conduct (including threatening or abusive language or gestures...) designed to incite an opponent into incurring a penalty. (Stick tap to @tjdonelon). Since this happened away from the viewers'...view, we all stood puzzled for a while, but I guess it was a deserved penalty. It was the first time I've ever seen that call made as far as I know.
In short, the Wild sucked, Andrew Brunette is hurt, Backstrom's been shaky in the last two games, they've fallen further away from a playoff spot, and there's another game to play tomorrow night. Yeesh. This was certainly a night to forget, and the Wild need to win one, fast.
NYI's Michael Grabner, who is making a strong case for the Calder trophy, was named the NHL's rookie of the month, after recording 16 points in 14 February games.
The Houston Aeros were leading 7-0 after two periods while I was writing this. Maybe they could come and play the next few Wild games?
The Islanders fired 41 shots on goal. Niklas Backstrom allowed 3 goals on 19 shots before being pulled in favor of Jose Theodore, who allowed 1 goal on 22 shots.
Hockey Wilderness 3 stars:
1) Blake Comeau (2 goals, 6 shots)
2) Al Montoya (33 saves, stifled the Wild.)
3) Kyle Okposo (1 goal, 1 assist, 1 ass-whooping on the Wild. He was all over the place.)
Honorable mention: Frans Nielsen (3 assists)
1. Playing a squad full of no names, can the Wild show some killer instinct? Short answer: No. Long answer: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.
2. Can the Wild find a way to shut down Tavares? Surprisingly, yes. Too bad he's not the only one in need of shutting down anymore in Long Island
3. Will any Okposo
nut jobs fans wax poetic about what he would mean to the Wild? Haven't heard or seen any, but with tonight's performance, I'm betting there are some.
4. The Wild need this one, on so many levels. Can they pull out the easy victory it should be? Hell no. I don't agree with Bryan that it was a should've-been-easy game. This is a different team than it was in the beginning of the season.
5. Does Backstrom have to win this one on his own, or does someone else show up? Someone else did have to show up: Jose Theodore. For Backstrom. It still didn't give the Wild a win. Theo did well though.