Minnesota Wild 4-6 Phoenix Coyotes
Fresh off an anemic performance in St. Louis where the Wild were shutout by the Blues 1-0, Minnesota fans were hoping to see the same Wild team from the four game homestand. Sure, they ended up with four goals, and Guillaume Latendresse's first career hat trick, but it took a surge in the third period to make it a game thanks to some horrible play in the first two periods.
Tonight the Wild came out ridiculously slow, falling behind 2-0 halfway through the first period. The Wild looked less than anemic, if that's even possible. They were slow with the puck, beaten to every loose puck, took bad line changes, didn't cover defensively, wouldn't take the body, took lazy penalties and had little transition success.
Things didn't look much better in the second period either. Sure, Guillaume Latendresse popped in a nice goal to make it 2-1, but they couldn't capitalize on the brief change in momentum. After two periods, Phoenix was outshooting the Wild 21-12.
Then the Wild made a tough game even harder. Greg Zanon took a bad hooking minor and Adrian Aucoin rocketed one past a screened Niklas Backstrom, then Petr Prucha scored to make it 4-1. Finally the Wild had their first full power play and somehow messed things up so badly that they gave up a shorthanded three-on-one and Vernon Fiddler scored to put the Yotes up 5-1. Sure, the WIld were down 5-1 to Chicago in the third period and came back last week, so why not try again huh?
On the same power play, Guillaume Latendresse found himself crashing the net and banged home a rebound for his second of the night making it 5-2, Owen Nolan scored another power play goal just 51 seconds later and Lats notched his hat trick 3:16 after that. It was now 5-4 and the Wild were absolutely buzzing, then the wheels came off. They were pressing a bit too hard, were caught in a bad defensive position and Radim Vrbata tried to center to a streaking Prucha but Nick Schultz tried to glove the puck away but directed it past Backstrom to seal the game at 6-4.
With this loss, the Wild now lead the NHL with 16 road losses. Needless to say, this needs to change if they are going to stand a chance to get into the playoff hunt.
The top line produced no offense and was abused defensively. Mikko Koivu was a -4, Antti Miettinen was a -4 and Andrew Brunette was a franchise record worst -5. You absolutely cannot have your top line be that inefficient and expect to win. I think Brunette needs a rest. He has looked old and slow for a month now, has one assist in his last five games, and hasn't scored since January 2.
Please take a look at the Phoenix version of events over at Five For Howling
- Which Wild team will show up, the one who looked great in the 4-game homestand, or the one who laid an egg at St. Louis? For the first 45 minutes? The St. Louis one, for the next 10? The Vancouver one. For the final five? October.
- Will someone look for payback against Ed Jovanovski? Well, Antti Miettinen took Jovo out at the end boards on a race to break up an icing call, but unfortunately he wasn't successful in concussing him.
- With the Arizona Cardinals losing, will anyone actually show up tonight? No. Announced attendance was 12,631 but I would be shocked to learn there were over 10k in the building.
- Phoenix was fantastic at home early, then slumped lately. Will the Wild be able to take advantage of this? There was a brief chance, but it went away.
- Any chance Richards decides to #freepetr soon? With Andrew Brunette's franchise record -5 tonight, and the fact that he has looked his age for weeks, I think now is the time to put Sykora on the first or second line, where he and Richards agree he needs to be, and sit Bruno for a game or two.