Game one is in the books. The Wild beat the Bruins 4-3 and the streak remains in tact. The Wild have never lost a home opener.
Let's get to it!
- The power play. Yeah, there were only three man advantage opportunities, but they completely controlled the power plays. It was impressive.
- Brent Burns' offensive freedom. Going back to #2 of our 10 questions facing the wild, Burns showed that he does have the freedom to get into the offensive part of the game. Every time he drove up the ice, it caused problems for the Bruins. They looked uncertain how to react and who to cover. It's early, but Burns looks good with the puck.
- Driving to the net. Once again, this team goe goals by not being pretty, but being gritty. Driving to the net and forcing the puck through the goalie. Power forwards are important, and Colton Gillies will likely help here.
- Letting a lead slip away. From Michael Russo in the Star Tribune, "a slow start was predictable, considering the Wild had six days off between its opener and its final exhibition game. A slow finish was not expected, as the Wild got dominated in the third period. It was outshot 12-5 in the period and Marc Savard scored twice for Boston to make things tense in the end."
- Marian Gaborik on a line with two checking forwards. Maybe it's just me, but putting your best offensive weapon on a line with Stephane Veilleux and James Sheppard seems to be a punishment for not signing a new deal. He's not going to get a help he needs to get the points, and that line was essentially non-existant last night.
- Marc-Andre Bergeron's play in his own end. He'll have to shore that up in a hurry if he's going to get loads of playing time. Yeah, he scored, but he was a bit of a pylon out there. Not impressive at all.
It was nice to win, but letting that lead go without increasing pressure or a sense of urgency scares me. Looks like other things scared Lemaire:
“I didn’t like the game that much,” Lemaire said. “I know we’ll play better than we did tonight. It’s always great to win, but you have to know that there’s certain things you’ll have to do in the future if you want to keep winning. One, play the style game we want, which is moving the puck quick and try to play in their zone more than our zone, not turning the puck over, which we did the whole first period.”
Erik Belanger scored twice, getting himself off to a hot start again. Hopefully he keeps it up.
Marian Gaborik was back in front of the home town crowd. The real question though, is for how much longer. Watch him while you can folks. If he continues to be paired with two checking line guys in Veilleux and Sheppard, it will hasten his exodus from St. Paul
Owen Nolan showed the toughness and grit we were expecting, although I recommend not fighting the giant.
Would be awfully nice to see a lot of this:
Belanger and Gillies celebrate:
Notes from the Other Side:
So Manny, how was it being back in the X?
Boston goalie Manny Fernandez, playing his first game at the X since being traded two summers ago, was facing Belanger but might have been anticipating a pass. Belanger slapped the puck at him so quickly, Fernandez couldn't cover the five-hole and the puck snuck in at 18:32.
Bergeron scored a power-play goal from the point for the Wild's first lead, a slap shot from dead center, just below the blue line, that also slid five-hole at 4:01 of the second period. Shortly afterward, Miettinen raced in between the circles and one-timed a pass from Andrew Brunette past Fernandez for a 3-1 lead at 10:19.
That led many in the crowd to taunt Fernandez with chants of "Maaaa-neee, Maaaa-neee," which he was hearing when Pierre-Marc Bouchard reversed field behind the net and fed a charging Belanger for a one-timer that gave Minnesota a 4-1 lead at 12:28.
"Obviously, there are things I've got to work on," Fernandez said. "Altogether it was a big game coming back here — the fans, and the team, the guys I'm playing, just the fact that I missed all last year. There was a lot on my shoulders tonight. But I'm glad I got it out of the way."
Thanks to Twin Cities.com
You sure about that Manny?
They were two shots that a top-notch NHL goalie would have stopped.
But Manny Fernandez, in only his first regular-season game since his procedure to repair a torn meniscus Dec. 12, 2007, can't consider himself at that level yet.
"Nothing to it," Fernandez said of Marc-Andre Bergeron's slapper in the second period that eluded his pads. "Those first and second goals are a good example of what's missing in my game - the sharpness. Those are two goals that shouldn't go in. No reason for that. Regardless of whether I get a good look or not, it wasn't tipped or anything. Barely made it through, both of them."
How do Bostonians like the Minnesota boys on their roster?
* Blake Wheeler is proving his training camp wasn't a fluke. Wheeler scored his first NHL goal on his first career shot on Thursday. He had five shots on Saturday, including a quality scoring chance in the third period.
* Excellent start for Phil Kessel, who scored a goal in each game. Best release on the roster.
From Bruins Blog
Tom Reid's post-game interview with Erik Belanger:
Lemaire Press Conference:
Next Up: @ Atlanta on Tuesday.