Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he'll remember from each contest. Today, he looks back at a 4-2 loss in Game 2 of Round 1 against the Colorado Avalanche:
The Avalanche did its part and held home ice, taking the first two games in the best-of-seven series against the Wild. The series will shift back to Xcel Energy Center and the State of Hockey on Monday.
Coming into tonight’s contest we knew it would be a contentious affair, but after Game 2, the bad blood will be cranked up to 11 on Monday. At the end of the game with the Wild’s net empty for an extra attacker, PA Parenteau slid the puck into the yawning cage, but the play was whistled offside. Parenteau claimed he couldn’t hear the whistle (the play looked like it was onside), and Ryan Suter took exception and was given a cross checking penalty. All night long, there were scrums after the whistle (we’ll get to that). These teams have developed a strong hatred for each other like House Stark and House Lannister.
The Wild made things interesting late, as Marco Scandella scored his first of the playoffs and closed the gap to a single goal with 1:19 left in the third period. However,
Paul Stastny iced the game with an empty net goal with 15 seconds remaining in regulation.
Cody McCormick and Cody McLeod were each assessed 10-minute misconduct penalties at the ensuing faceoff. Despite the 20 minutes on the one play, there were astonishingly only 32 minutes of penalties total in a heated contest.
After allowing his third goal of the night, Ilya Bryzgalov was pulled in favor of Darcy Kuemper. The 23-year-old saw his first game action since March 27 against the St. Louis Blues. He turned away all 14 shots face in 21:44 of action.
In the first two games in Colorado, Minnesota didn’t have an answer for the Avalanche’s top line of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Stastny. The trio combined for 17 points in two games. MacKinnon was especially dangerous, as his speed through the neutral zone was a difference maker. The rookie is an explosive skater and has a nice set of hands to boot. His first period goal will make the rounds as a top play candidate in a variety of highlight shows. In his first two career Stanley Cup Playoff games, MacKinnon was in video-game mode, scoring seven points (1-6=7).
After year one, it seems like the Avs made the right choice in selecting MacKinnon with the first overall pick in last year’s National Hockey League Entry Draft. Some analysts believed that Colorado should’ve used the pick on defenseman Seth Jones. That remains to be seen, but the early money is on MacKinnon, as he’s a lock to win the Calder Trophy this season.
With the series returning to Minnesota on Monday and the Wild getting the last change on home ice, it will be interesting to see who the club tries to match against the Avs’ top line.
In the first two contests of the series, Charlie Coyle has scored in consecutive games by going to the net. On a two-on-two, Mikko Koivu crossed the blue line with the puck and Coyle bolted to the net like a Wal-Mart shopper racing to the electronics section on Black Friday. Koivu threw the puck towards the goal, and Avalanche netminder Semyon Varlamov tried to knock it away with his stick. However, he batted the puck to the slot, where Coyle was holding off Avs defender, Jan Hejda. The puck bounced around and eventually went in off Coyle’s body for his second-career playoff goal. It wasn’t the only time that Coyle and Hejda would tangle in the period.
Later in the first, the Wild power forward dumped the puck into Hedja’s corner and went in to retrieve it. Hejda knocked Coyle down as he tried to get around him, and then stood over the 22-year-old. Coyle must not have liked the situation, because as he got to his feet, he bucked Hejda to the ice like he was a drunken sorority girl riding the mechanical bull at a cowboy bar.
Before the game during their media availability, both Colorado Head Coach Patrick Roy and Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said that they wanted their respective clubs to stay out of the scrums after whistles. I guess the players didn’t get the memo, because it seemed like there was a pile of skaters grappling during each stoppage. In the scrum, you see a variety of popular moves: the collar grab, the headlock and the helmet tip. Of course, we can’t forget about the most widespread exchange between combatants: the face wash.
In hockey, the face wash is the Kanye West of dirty pool in the hockey scrum—popular but really annoying when they're constantly shoved in your grill. Adding to the displeasure of having another guys hand in your mug is the stink of hockey gloves. Anyone who’s been around the sport knows hockey gear can smell like rotten cheese in a garbage dump, and the most pungent of all equipment are the gloves (Quick advice for killing the terrible glove smell on your hands after games: shaving cream). So, not only do you have a big mitt in your face, but also it smells like hot sewage. The face wash might not the best way to make friends in a melee.
In the opening game of the series, Varlamov looked like he was having trouble controlling rebounds, fighting the puck on long shots and was a bit twitchy in net. In Game 1, he certainly didn’t look like the goaltender that was getting Vezina Trophy buzz at the end of the regular season. However, the goaltender settled in and came back with a 30-save performance, stymying the Wild all night, many times from point-blank range.
Tonight, the goaltender’s biggest letdown nearly came off his stick. In the second period, Varlamov went behind the net to play a dumped puck. As he went to move out of the way of his defenseman, the puck somehow was lost in his skates and trailed him to the front of the net like a lost puppy. The biscuit rolled all the way to the front of the net, across the crease and inches from the goal line, but was cleared by an Avs defenseman.
With Kuemper coming in relief for the Wild tonight, it will be interesting to see who the club will start to face Varlamov in Game 3.