Well now, if that's the way this team decides to play in the second half of the season, I'm all for it. Yeah, Toronto is 17-23-8, but you have to win the games you should in order to get into the playoffs. Pierre-Marc Bouchard had an outstanding game. Maybe he looked back at his first half performance and realized that he was seriously underperforming his contract. Andrew Brunette had a great game in his 500th straight. Owen Nolan was his gritty, gutty self, batting one home and continuing his excellent play. Eric Belanger and Marc-Andre Bergeron also made French-Canadians the world over proud. Cal Clutterbuck continued to be Cal Clutterbuck, hitting everything that moved, making good on his scoring chance and playing with great intensity. The best part of tonight for me was the fact that the Wild did not take stupid penalties, giving up no power play advantages to the Maple Leafs.
If the team continues to play like this, which isn't likely considering their consistency issues, they should find themselves moving up the playoff rankings quickly.
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars
- Pierre-Marc Bouchard (2 G, 1 A)
- Andrew Brunette (1 G, 1 A)
- Owen Nolan (1 G, 1A)
Questions to Answer
- The Wild are good against good teams and bad against bad teams. Does it continue? Nope. They took it to an overmatched team with a rookie goalie. Finally.
- Will Owen Nolan continue to play well? Nolan was fantastic tonight. Could have had three, but ended up with 1 goal and 1 assist on 3 shots.
- Did the break help the team get their heads in order? It looked like it. No penalties. Six goals. Great passing. Good defense. Locked down with a big lead. Great first game back.
- Will Backstrom have the All-Star hangover? Not at all. Niklas looked very solid tonight.
- Is Brian Burke the epitome of evil? Yes. Yes he is. There is no doubt.
- Toronto lost for the eighth time in nine games and 12th time in its past 15.
- Kim Johnsson was plus-four tying the team mark for a defenseman.
- Brunette played in his 500th straight game.
- The Wild are now 11-2-1 against the Eastern Conference this season.
- In their first 41 games, they averaged 2.4 goals a game. They have averaged 3.8 in their past six.
The Game In Pictures