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Games against the Blackhawks are always a treat. Sure, they've owned the Wild lately, but the Wild and Hawks always find a way to make their matchups exciting. Of course right now, we would take the most boring games ever if they could give us wins. Turns out tonight's game wasn't all that exciting, nor was it a win. It was actually an eerily uneventful game.
The Wild started well enough, good pressure on the puck, nice passing and speed, but it seems the first line was doing most of the heavy lifting when it came to offensive zone possession. Devin Setoguchi, who had been scratched last game for missing a team meeting, had a taste of redemption by scoring on a rebound off a Marek Zidlicky shot (yes, it turns out he can shoot). This proves you need to TAKE SHOTS. Should be pretty basic. If the puck doesn't go towards the net, it certainly won't end up IN the net, right? Setoguchi needed this goal. Coming off a leg injury, he's done very well in his return, but he'll need to keep it up, because before the injury, he was slumping. That lead would be short lived, as Andrew Shaw (who?) scored to tie things up at one. Shaw, along with Jimmy Hayes, are recent callups that have been doing a pretty good job for the Hawks. Isn't it scary that they have so many good, young players?
The second period is where the wheels flew off, and I mean FLEW off. The aforementionned Hayes buried a perfect feed from Dave Bolland after Jared Spurgeon inexplicably left the front of the net to go after Bolland, clearing the way for Hayes, leaving Mikko Koivu confused. Never in a million years could he have expected Spurgeon to forget such a basic rule of defending: Cover the guys in front of the net, leave the guy behind the net alone, he won't score from there. 20 seconds later, in another ''fine'' piece of defending, the two d-men went towards a streaking Jonathan Toews, who fed Viktor Stalberg, leaving him all alone against Harding, who was unable to stop him. 3-1 for the home team. The game was basically already over then. The Wild had no legs, no puck possession, no drive. They were on their heels and managed to give two power play goals to the Hawks, who had only scored 2 in their last 31 tries. Dave Bolland had the Hawks fourth goal on a somewhat wacky miscommunication of sorts as Clayton Stoner was surprised to see the puck end up at his skates after Josh Harding chose to not freeze a rolling puck, instead whacking it at Stoner's feet. Bolland swooped in and had one of the easiest goals he ever scored. That was the end of Harding's night, in came Matt Hackett.
The third period...meh. Kyle Brodziak broke an 11-game scoreless streak (#signbrodziak) but the Wild didn't do much to suggest there would be any sort of a comeback. Sure, they did their signature ''Start playing when it's already too late'' bit, but it didn't amount to much. Hackett was a perfect 8-for-8 though, so there's that.
Yeo was P-I-S-S-E-D after the game, and why wouldn't he be? We're all mad about seeing this team fail so miserably all of a sudden. What their excuse? Can't be injuries, they were 1st in two categories at one point this season: Points and number of players dressed for at least one game... Granted, the Koivu injury is basically what started this tailspin, but even though he's the heart and soul of the team, there is absolutely no reason for the Wild to become a kid without his blanket whenever Koivu's gone.
In all seriousness, not many of us expected a win, but we sure expected better than this. I'm at a loss for words, really.
A few facts:
- We will be seeing Michael Cammalleri's ugly mug again as he was traded back to Calgary, along with Karri Ramo and a 5th round pick for Rene Bourque, Patrick Holland and a 2nd round pick. Now, while most people are saying the Habs were fleeced for some reason, they forget that while Cammy may get rejuvenated in Calgary, it was never going to happen in Montreal anyway. Also, Calgary traded youth they already don't have enough of for an overpriced, overrated player. Montreal got much needed size in Bourque, a mid-level prospect and a 2nd round pick, which will probably be high, because it's from Calgary. They also saved the money they took in with Tomas Kaberle. I actually don't think anyone WON the trade, but I'd say Montreal lost less.
- Here's a startling tweet from Russo: ''#mnwild 0-7-1 in last 8 on road (7 goals). 7 of next 9 on road, including next 3. At one time was leagues best road team.''
- What do the Phoenix Coyotes, the Detroit Red Wings, the Vancouver Canucks, the St Louis Blues, the Nashville Predators and the Colorado Avalanche have in common? Apart from being Western Conference rivals, they were all involved in a game that ended in OT/SO tonight. Yuck. Two more Western Conference games were in progress at time of writing.
The Bennett's Chop & Railhouse of the Game:
- Dave Bolland (2G, 1A, total domination)
- Jimmy Hayes (1G, 1A)
- Devin Setoguchi (1G, one of the only Wild players actually trying)
- The aggressive Wild showed up in the last game. Are they around tonight? Nope. I miss those guys.
- How does Koivu look with his newly minted All-Starness? Not his best game.
- Can the defense pull together and maybe NOT give up four goals? Well, they gave up five, which is technically not four....they were absolutely awful tonight.
- Who gets to be the hero (or goat) tonight? The defense is the collective goat, despite Josh Harding taking the bullet.
- How does Setoguchi look in his first game back after sitting in the corner? One of the best Wild players tonight. A timeout in the corner did him good.