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Minnesota Wild vs. Colorado Avalanche: Game Recap

Minnesota Wild 3-2 (so) Colorado Avalanche

Home sweet home. In front of the *cough* Team off 18,000 *cough*, the Wild broke out of the mental mistakes and lack of fundamentals that hung over the team like a dark cloud on the West Coast swing. Turnovers were kept to a minimum, the defensive position was much better. The forecheck was applying pressure and the Wild looked to take advantage of the power play, maintaining possession and creating scoring opportunities. In fact, they almost doubled up on the Avs in shots on goal. Well, in the first period anyway.

In the second period, they were lucky to get out with their lives. The Avalanche outshot to the Wild 18-4in the second frame and went on to outshoot the hometown team 29-13 in the second and third periods as well as overtime.

Frankly, Niklas Backstrom was outstanding tonight, but was almost the sole reason the Wild were lucky to get to overtime. The second period goal credited to Darcy Tucker was actually due to Backstrom sweeping the puck in on himself. Aside from that miscue, Backstrom was stellar, stopping 33 Avalanche shots, including 3 in the extra session and all three in the shootout.

Brent Burns had a great first period, scoring a pretty goal on the rebound, on the power play. It was reminiscent of the goal Mikael Samuelsson scored against the Wild at Vancouver. That was Burns' first of the season. Hopefully it helps him break out of the funk he's been in all year. On the next power play, Burns again had a prime scoring chance on a great feed through the low slot from Andrew Brunette, but Burnsie rung the pipe, and the Wild wouldn't sniff that kind of scoring opportunity again until Mikko Koivu tied the game at 2 on a great redirect of Antti MIettinen's centering feed on the Wild's seventh power play of the game. Yes, you read that right. The Wild had seven power plays tonight, but only scored twice. Luckily the Wild kept the NHL's best power play unit on the bench most of the night, only finding themselves down a man twice.

Speaking of defensmen finding their game, Kim Johnsson was absolutely fantastic tonight. He put in a workmanlike effort in 28:49 TOI, not allowing a goal while he was on the ice, and providing a good start to the transition game.

Now, the negatives of the night. Frankly, for a team having to rebound from a horrible road trip, I'm going to give them a bit of a pass, as they did enough to win the game, aside from being outworked and outmanned for the majority of the evening. They didn't make the glaring mistakes that had been their downfall in the five game losing streak. No, tonight's negative goes to the Minnesota Wild PR team. I don't care what they say about tickets distributed counting as a sell-out. There were at least 2,500 empty seats tonight. You could see it clearly on television, and people online were commenting about how empty the place was. Yet they once again announced a sell-out. Not impressive at all folks.

I guess we'll see if they can build on tonight. Here's hoping they start to figure some things out. I liked the step they took though. We'll see what happens on Friday against the Blues.

Please read the game recap over at Mile High Hockey

Hockey Wilderness Three Stars
  1. MIkko Koivu(1 G, 1 A)
  2. Niklas Backstrom (35 saves)
  3. Kim Johnsson (no goals allowed in 28:49)

Questions to Answer

  1. Should the Wild look to the Avalanche as a team to emulate as part of a rebuilding process? The Avalanche have good young talent, but they make too many mental mistakes, or at least they did tonight. That being said, they are definitely headed in the right direction, but are still at least a year away from making an impact in the post-season. Craig Anderson has played well, but if he falters, they leave him hanging a bit too much. They'll age well though.
  2. Will Chuck Kobasew make a difference? Kobesew did everything we would ask for except score. He drove to the net, applied pressure on the forecheck. Took the zone with speed, drew penalties and looked like he jumped into the system with little difficulty. If he keeps this up, he'll be a nice asset to the second line. Now he just needs to work on his defense a bit, as he was a -2 tonight.
  3. Can the C on Mikko Koivu's chest have an impact? Who knows, but tonight he was vocal on the bench, performed on the ice and was every part of the captain. We all know this is his team, the C finally seals it.
  4. How is the green sweater going to look? I love the color, I hate the lettering for the name and the numbers. They needed to add some piping or something around the letters and numbers. It looks like a replica or screenprint. Seems to be cheap.
  5. Does Benoit Pouliot continue his solid play? Pouliot, for the third game in a row, played within himself, played physically, created problems for the opposition and worked his butt off. I like what I'm seeing over the past week.