The Minnesota Wild lost its first pre-season game to the Detroit Red Wings last night 6-1. The sellout crowd at the Xcel Energy Center got to see plenty of action and more starters than last year. I remember last year neither the Red Wings nor the Wild played any of the starters and besides the fact I like to watch just about any hockey game, I was disappointed.
Last night, after a 15 minute rain delay (no kidding, the Red Wings flight was delayed due to rain) I got to see Red Wings players Pavel Datsyuk, Kirk Maltby and Chris Chelios. I also got to see plenty of Minnesota Wild starters including Marian Gaborik, Pavol Demitra, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Wes Walz and Derek Boogaard. Boogaard knocked down Aaron Downey for a five-minute major and game misconduct for elbowing. The Enforcer was in rough form, but the officials definitely singled him out. I hope this doesn’t happen all year, we need Boogie on the ice and if the officials pick on him he becomes more of a liability than an asset.
It seemed to me that the Red Wings had more fire in their skates than the Wild. They were skating faster to the puck and made better passes all night long. It was clear that the Minnesota Wild have a gaping talent hole at center. Coach Jacques Lemaire tried Pavol Demitra at center, but it just doesn’t seem to work. If the Wild really start Eric Belanger on the second line like Lemaire says he’s planning, Petr Kalus may have the best chance of making the team as a wing on the top line. Or, maybe youngster James Sheppard will prove himself in the upcoming games and he’ll be the center on that line. Time will tell.
I don’t take preseason games seriously, but I still like to win...maybe in Detroit on Thursday? We’ll see.