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The Wild clearly looked like a team playing the second half of a back-to-back tonight. Flat, disheveled, undisciplined. Very disappointing evening for the Wild. Outshot 35-24 on the evening, Minnesota came out (or didn't, rather) in the first period and found themselves doubled up 10-5 in shots in the period, and frankly were incredibly lucky to only be down 1-0.
Instead of the typical drag in the second, they showed a bit of a bounce-back on the offensive side of things, putting 13 shots on Canucks backup netminder Cory Schneider. Of course, they also gave up 12 and Ryan Kesler pounded home a rebound after Mason Raymond created problems in the low slot.
So, down 2-0 and finding themselves on the good end of a 5 on 3 at the start of the third, this was a perfect time to ... dump the puck? Yes. Mikko Koivu came out of the zone on a 5 on 3, dumped and changed. It was one of the most foolish moves I've seen on a hockey rink in a long time. Sure, you're tired, but good lord man, take it behind the net and try to start something before changing out. You are supposed to be the guy who carries the team when they look beaten.
Of course, they didn't score, and went on pissing down their legs, only amassing three shots on goal until Manny Malhotra scored twice to put the game out of reach at 4-0. Then Antti Miettinen took a pass from Guillaume Latendresse (yeah, he was up and down and up and down. Ridiculous) and broke the shutout for Schneider with the fourth shot of the period at 17:25. So, what do the Wild do with this new momentum? Oh yeah, give up a goal to Jeff Tambellini 15 seconds later. And that pretty much tells the story of the night.
The Wild were completely outplayed in all facets of the game, save one. The penalty kill was stellar. 5 for 5 and frankly they were better with a man down than they were at even strength or with the man advantage. That's telling. You have to wonder if it was the travel, if Richards really doesn't have the team focused or if, just maybe, the Wild are easily outclassed and it's going to be awful any time they play someone not wearing an Edmonton Oilers sweater.
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars:
- Manny Malhotra (2 G, 1 A)
- Raffi Torres (1G, 1A)
- Christian Ehrhoff (no points, but a +5 on the night. He was fabulous)
- Can Clayton Stoner show he can play in the NHL? He wasn't a horrible liability tonight, and kept himself off the ice for five minutes by winning a fight with Guillaume Desbiens.
- Does Guillaume Latendresse continue to bounce from line to line? Yes, and only 13:50 in TOI. Consistency please.
- Can the Wild stay out of the penalty box? Six penalties for the Wild tonight, with the PK going 5/5. The march to the box needs to end, but luckily the PK has been stellar so far.
- Clicking at 44.4%, can the Wild powerplay win another one? Afraid not. 0/4 on the PP
- Can Cory Schneider wear a Luongo mask and make it easier? Why the Canucks would bother starting anyone other than Luongo against the Wild is beyond me.
- BONUS: Can the Wild put together a 60 minute effort? Good lord no.