For the enemy perspective, please visit Nucks Misconduct
This was a pretty scary match-up for the fans, seeing as the Wild are in the midst of a dive for five and the Canucks are the Canucks. Turns out this game wasn't the blowout many of us expected.
The first half of the period saw Vancouver out-shoot the Wild pretty handily, but the home team kicked into gear and started playing like a * gasp * ...hockey team! The top three lines all had some pretty good chances and instances of offensive zone pressure and Josh Harding was up to the task in his first game back from injury. It took almost an entire period for any animosity to show up between the Division rivals, but Dany Heatley pushed one of the Sedins and he snapped for some reason, attempting to hack Heater's head off with a vicious slash, that thankfully missed. This sparked a Nick Johnson - Kevin Bieksa fight with Alexandre Burrows taking an extra minor. Nothing for Sedin, who would've certainly been suspended if he had connected and would've been suspended regardless if Shanahan took making the game safer seriously. Red-hot Erik Christensen scored in the dying minutes of the period on that powerplay from a sick backhanded feed from Kyle Brodziak, who reached a new career high in points at 38 with the assist. Pretty nice way to accomplish a personal milestone. Christensen's shot was excellent as well as he beat Cory Schneider with a tight angle, top-corner shot.
The Wild looked like the better team in the second period as well, holding a 17-13 advantage in shots for the period. That doesn't mean Harding didn't have to be in top form though. He made some brilliant saves, including a dandy glove save on the penalty kill. Despite the Wild 2nd and 3rd line buzzing around the Vancouver net, they couldn't find a way to push the puck past Schneider. Towards the end of the period, Ryan Kesler got a clipping call on Cal Clutterbuck, which could result in a suspension, but again, I don't expect it, which would make it the 3rd suspendable offense a player made against Cal that would be ignored.
The third period was exactly the same way it always is when the Wild lead: Dump and defend hockey. It was easy for one to predict it would blow up in their face, but the Wild actually played some solid defense and were bailed out by Harding whenever they needed to be. The Wild got a stroke of luck towards the end though when the referees awarded them a powerplay on a goaltender interference call. Where the ''luck'' comes in though is that it was actually Tom Gilbert (which will forever be known as ''Gilderp'') who tripped Josh Harding. That's some ghastly officiating right there. The Wild didn't score of the powerplay, but it helped stopped the string of what felt like 2 million icing calls. Through sheer determination and hard work (Sorry Tom), the Wild survived the Canucks' onslaught and Kyle Brodziak buried an empty netter for insurance. The Wild beat the Canucks 2-0. You read correctly.
I'm not of the popular school of thought here, but I say screw the dive for five. That win, a shutout of the hated Canucks, was a million times more satisfying than having a slightly better chance of picking first in the draft. Bottom five teams don't draw prime free agents like Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. I want wins. Screw losses. I don't like to lose, and I guarantee no NHL player like to either. Good win tonight. Thanks Wild.
Erik Christensen has 4 goals in his last 4 games. Closest to him are Devin Setoguchi with 4 goals in his last 12 and Kyle Brodziak 5 in his last 21. Christensen has done this with inferior linemates and 3rd line minutes and had scored in 3 of 4 shootouts for the Wild...but yeah, let's get rid of him. I'm sure that 7th round pick will have golden hands and a deadly shot. (Don't even mention Pavel Datsyuk, he's one in a million)
Kyle Brodziak has reached a new career high in points in a season with 39.
Dany Heatley has 1 goal in his last 16 games. Mikko Koivu has missed the last 15 games. But you know... injuries don't matter.
Harding recorded his 6th career shutout.
Off topic, but just have to share this: The Montreal Canadiens have not switched goalies in-game all season. That's weird.
Michael Bay is a dolt. The Ninja Turtles are aliens now? Are they still turtles if they're alien? Will they shoot laser beams out their eyes just so Bay can saturate the film with explosions like he always does?
The Bennett's Chop & Railhouse Stars of the Game:
- Josh Harding (33 save shutout in first game back from injury)
- Kyle Brodziak (G, A, new career high in points with 39)
- Erik Christensen (GWG, 3 shots)
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/.
- How does Harding look after a long layoff? Magnificient
- Anyone on this team capable of hitting 50 points? Seeing as the top scorers have slowed down considerably, I'll have to say no.
- Anyone want to play some defense? Anyone at all? The defense was actually quite solid, as it usually is in a shutout win.
- Do we get to see Lu? Or is he tucked safely in a quiet room? Tucked safely. D'oh well.
- Can Burrows behave himself in a meaningless game? Who's Burrows? Oh, you mean that diving fella. Yeah, he flopped at least once. No surprise.