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This Minnesota team simply cannot beat Marty Turco. They had four open nets, and missed them. But even if they were able to find the back of the net on a couple of them, it wouldn't have been earned. Passes repeatedly missed their mark. Guys had no wheels, couldn't sustain pressure. Poor breakout. Horrendous power play. Luckily, Niklas Backstrom was stellar tonight, keeping them in the game until a miscue on a clearance attempt came to Brunette, who fed Koivu who ran a nifty give and go with Zidlicky for the Wild only goal tonight.
Backstrom was simply fantastic. He singlehandedly kept it from being a 4-0 game after two periods, and likely worse. Duncan Keith's goal was a tough break. He came from behind on a nice wraparound that happened to squeak under Backstrom and into the net. The second goal came with 30 seconds left in the second period, after the only sustained pressure of the night for Minnesota. Troy Brouwer picked up a deflection, made a nifty move below the goal line and beat a sprawling Niklas Backstrom.
Now, what's important? Todd Richards was so desperate for a win (or even loser point) tonight that he rolled four forwards and one defenseman for almost 6 minutes of the third period, including keeping Martin Havlat, Mikko Koivu and Matt Cullen on the ice for almost four straight minutes to end the game (15 second break). Is this the sign of a guy desperate to keep his job at any cost? The desire for points doesn't bother me, what bothers me is that these guys were absolutely wiped out. They were losing the races to the puck, they were reaching for passes instead of moving their feet, and the play got sloppy. Guys get hurt in situations like that. There was no need to triple shift these guys at the end of the game. Get Wellman or Clutterbuck or Kobasew on the ice for some fresh legs and energy at the end. It's not like those guys weren't creating earlier in the game.
The pattern remains in tact. Played and amazing game against the Caps, come out with a weak effort against the Hawks. There were bright points, but not many, and certainly not enough.
These may not be the Hawks of last year, but they were still fast, strong, and they have a goaltender who is going to be more than enough on any given night. The Wild had their chances, and Turco stoned them for most of the night. Backstrom was equally stellar, but the team in front of him gave him little to no support. It's one of those things... if your team doesn't score, there isn't much the goalie can do about it.
Not really much to say about this one. If the Wild continue this one game on, one game off, one period on, one period off, it won't matter if they are one point or twelve points out of the playoffs, they'll still be out of the playoffs. It has been a much better start to the season than last year. That is difficult to argue, however, it is simply not enough. Good or bad, positive or negative, the Wild simply do not look to have what it takes to run with the big dogs in the West.
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars:
- Duncan Keith (1 G, 1 A)
- Troy Brouwer (1 G, 1 A)
Patrick Kane (2 A)
- Duncan Keith had 27:32 TOI, +3 and still had more legs at the end than our guys
- Marty Turco is now 15-4-1 with a 1.97 GAA and .916 SV% all-time against the Wild
- Justin Falk played a solid 15:18
- Can the Wild put together back to back solid efforts (and victories)? Not necessarily a great effort, but it was ok, and they were in the game to the end, but mainly because Backstrom was fabulous.
- Will Clayton Stoner continue to play Cam Barker out of the lineup? Stoner was absolutely no more or less effective than Cam Barker, in his 10:45.
- How does Niklas Backstrom look after his best outing of the season? Fabulous.
- What, is any, discord is there among the players on this ice with the Marty Havlat situation? I couldn't see any, and Havlat had a huge opportunity tonight, but just couldn't break through.
- Will Patrick Kane abuse any Saint Paul cabbies? Let us know if you hear anything!