In a game that seemingly no one wanted to win, the Wild proved just how inconsistent they can be. After a strong showing against the Flames two days ago, the Wild played flat for most of this game. A game against what amounts to be an AHL squad with all of the moves they have made, and a team that has no reason to play.
There were a few exceptions to the rule here. Both goalies made huge saves in multiple situations. This game could easily have had more goals if not for exceptional play from both Niklas Backstrom and Jeff Deslauriers. This is not to say that the two teams put forth such a solid effort that there were countless scoring situations. Rather, it is to say that they goalies made up for epic defensive failures at both ends of the ice and lazy back checks by both squads.
About midway through the second period, I felt as though I had been watching the game for six hours. It was boring, drab, uneventful. The referees missed any number of calls against both sides, making themselves look as silly as the game's participants. It truly felt as though no one wanted to be there, and it was a true inconvenience that they had to play this game tonight. Dang those fans and their $200 seats. If it weren't for them, these guys could have all taken the night off, and everyone may have been more entertained had they done so.
The only real events in the game were a wrap around goal by Mike Comrie, a highlight reel wrap around goal to answer from Guillaume Latendresse, and a knee on knee hit from Derek Boogaard on Ryan Jones.More on that in a bit.
The Wild had a multitude of chances to win this game and bobbled everyone of them. In OT, Andrew Brunette, generally a lock in close, pounded several shots into Deslauriers, making it easy on the young goaltender. The fact that Brunette is only credited with two SOG for the game is mind boggling as he had to have five or six in the final minute of the OT.
In the shootout, Backstrom showed signs of greatness, and supreme weakness. He made a couple nice saves, and gave up one very weak goal five hole inwhich the puck never left the ice. The Oilers also scored a couple of beautiful shootout goals, beating Backs clean.
Deslauriers made one nice save, the Wild scored twice, once on a sick backhand from Mikko Koivu we have all come to expect. Then, the Wild decided not to notice that Deslauriers was putting his stick flat on the ice on every shot, opening the entire upper blocker side of the net. Still, Martin Havlat decided it better to skate in slow and stuff the puck into Deslauriers pad after over skating the net, Antti Miettinen showed us his best Gaborik impression and shot the puck directly into the goaltender rather than attempt to make any move at all.
The Oilers beat the Wild tonight. Don't get me wrong. I am not claiming the Wild were or are the better team, but they certainly played down to their opponent tonight. For four periods of play, no one deserved to win this game. However, the Oilers decided to actually play in the shootout and took home the extra point the Wild desperately needed.
Getting back to the Boogaard hit, Russo tweeted that Boogey said:
"I was just trying to make a hit, and he tried to slip out of the way."
Ryan Jones left the game and is reported to have a right knee sprain.
I tried to defend Boogaard's place on this team in the comment section of a post over at The Copper & Blue. Then Boogey goes out and pulls this bonehead move. It looked pretty blatant from my perspective, and I fully expect Colin Campbell to suspend Boogaard. If it were me, he'd get at least five games.Stupid play, and it plays right into the perception of Boogaard. He needs to be above this, and tonight he played right into their hands.
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars:
1. Jeff Deslauriers - (28 saves)
2. Niklas Backstrom - (22 Saves)
3. No one - seriously. No one. They don't deserve it. I will not award it.
Five Questions to Answer:
1. Patrick O'Sullivan has a worse +/- than he has points (-32, 30 points). Will this get worse after tonight? He was on the ice for the Wild's only goal, so yeah. It got worse.
2. Will Owen Nolan wear a face shield, or is he impervious to pain? No face shield, and in the face of several Oilers tonight. The NHL should award him a Stanley Cup just because.
3. Have the Oilers given up on the season, or will the new look squad in Edmonton be looking to build on something for next season? They won, which is more than the Wild can say, but this was definitely not a performance to build on.
4. Mikko Koivu and Andrew Brunette both have point streaks going (three games and four games respectively). Can they extend these tonight? Both streaks ended tonight.
5. The Wild have looked pretty bad at Edmonton lately. Can they rebound and get another regulation win to inch closer to the playoff hunt? HA! Talk about nailing it right on the head. They definitely looked terrible tonight.