Following Wild games, Managing Editor Glen Andresen will give the five takeaways that he'll remember from each contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 3-1 win over the Bruins in Boston Thursday.
All those geeks, dweebs and spazz’s that give the old song and dance about not getting into hockey until the playoffs start should have watched tonight’s 3-1 Minnesota Wild win over the Boston Bruins. The Wild entered into an electric atmosphere with a lot riding on this game. With seemingly every Western Conference team within two points of each other, Minnesota couldn’t afford to take one shift off. They didn’t.
Your Minnesota Wild turned in one of its best all around efforts in recent memory, with seemingly everyone on the ice making at least one great play. In winning, the Flying W’s took down the Northeast leaders and: 1) win a third straight game and seventh in the last 10, 2) stay undefeated in Boston in six all-time contests and 3) earn at least one point in all of the past five road games (4-0-1). From goaltender Jose Theodore through the six defensemen and 12 forwards, this was an effort to be proud of, win or lose. That the Wild won in an electric atmosphere against a team that brought its “A” game as well makes it taste even sweeter.
It was tough to pick a star of this game for the Wild. Theodore was brilliant in winning his third straight start. Martin Havlat was his usual dazzling self, and scored a power play goal. Brent Burns and Nick Schultz looked completely in sync on the back end. Cal Clutterbuck
once again showed his knack for scoring big goals in tense situations. But I thought the star of the game was undoubtedly Kyle Brodziak
. He didn’t have a point on the night, but he was everywhere at both ends of the rink. He made three beautiful set up passes that I remember, one of which led to a sure goal by Havlat before Tukka Rask dove across and made one of the most obscene glove saves you’ll ever see. He was also routinely breaking up offensive chances in his own end, and clearing the puck out at crucial times. He also won 11 of 16 draws he took in the nearly 18 minutes he played.
There was a bit of controversy in this one, as Havlat’s goal came just four seconds after Shawn Thornton was called for a mysterious hooking penalty. While chasing Burns who was carrying the puck in front of the Wild net, Thornton got his stick on the Wild blueliner’s breezers. Burns appeared to take another step before losing an edge, and Thornton wound up with the puck alone in front of the net before the play was whistled dead. Thornton was furious. Head Coach Claude Julien was incensed. And the crowd was livid. Havlat only increased the fervor with his goal.
Now, I will say I thought it was a pretty horrendous call. But, it was also the only penalty called on Boston the entire night, and believe me, there were plenty of plays that could have resulted in more trips to the box for Bruin players.
The other thing that irked me was seeing the Associated Press recap of the game that called Havlat’s goal “fluky” because it came after the questionable call. Say what you want about the call, but there is no way Havlat’s drive to the net and top shelf backhand can be considered “fluky.”
I love the city of Boston, but unlike Wild players, I had nothing but bad memories of TD Garden before tonight. In my only previous visit to the Garden, I watched in horror as my beloved UMD Bulldogs coughed up a 3-1 third period lead over the Denver Pioneers in the 2004 Frozen Four semifinal. It was one of the worst feelings I ever had as a sports fan, and I wouldn’t have minded if I never set foot in the building again.
My opinions have changed slightly, and not just because of the Wild’s spectacular win tonight. The atmosphere for this midseason game in early January on a weeknight was unbelievable. The fans hung on every moment and reacted loudly to any situation: good or bad. The music was cranking. Every fan shown on the big screen seemed to break into a dance. And, I absolutely love Boston’s third jerseys that they broke out tonight.
I have now been to five of the Original Six team arenas (Madison Square Garden being the exception) in the last two seasons. Every one of them is an event. The fans are so good, and so fun to be around, you almost don’t want the games to end.
Prior to today’s game, there was some spirited debate among media members about who the Wild’s first half MVP should be (the first half officially ends after Saturday’s game in Pittsburgh). The general consensus seemed to be Burns, who has been brilliant. Havlat’s name was tossed about due to his carrying of the team on his back in November and early December. Niklas Backstrom
and Mikko Koivu
had some votes. But I’m not sure the winner shouldn’t be Clutterbuck. Not only has the guy been consistently good all season, but also he is developing into a go-to offensive player who is scoring huge goals in close games. In fact, it’s tough to “go to” him when all he really does is make steals in the opposing zone and finish the play by roofing a shot over the goaltender.
Is it a coincidence that the only recent Wild stinker came against Nashville with Clutter out of the lineup? Negative.