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 3-0 loss to the Calgary Flames on Monday night .
The Minnesota Wild would like to forget quite a bit of last season, considering the team missed out on the playoffs and finished 13th in the Western Conference. But there are some memories that were worth holding onto, in particular the Wild’s domination of the Flames at the Pengrowth Saddledome, which was a phrase never before uttered prior to last season. The Wild won all three games in Calgary last year, finding ways to beat Miikka Kiprusoff and shut down Jarome Iginla.
Tonight’s 3-0 loss to the Calgary Flames was a return to 2008, or any other year before that when the Wild couldn’t find any way to win a game there. Once again, the Wild found the Pengrowth Saddledome to be as fun as riding a mechanical bull over the mouth of an active volcano. Kiprusoff returned to his Wild dominating self, and Iginla just kept adding to his scoring total against the Wild by assisting on a goal and adding another in the span of 18 seconds early in the second period. Iginla now has 56 points against Minnesota, including 31 goals. In case you’re wondering, Daymond Langkow and Milan Hejduk are tied for second in goals against the Wild with 18.
It’s been poor second periods that have hampered the Wild in this recent string of four losses in five games. Sure enough, after a solid road period in which the Wild limited Calgary’s chances in the first, the second was unkind once again. Jay Bouwmeester converted an Iginla centering feed, and that was quickly followed by Iginla rapping home an Alex Tanguay centering feed.
Sensing what was happening, Todd Richards quickly called timeout in an attempt to stunt the Flame momentum. It worked to an extent. The play evened out once again, but it didn’t matter at that point. Kiprusoff got busy making a 2-0 deficit look insurmountable. It wasn’t a second period that did the Wild in tonight. It was a redheaded goaltender. Jared Spurgeon
celebrated his 21st birthday by making his NHL debut tonight. With a baby face and a small frame, Spurgeon only looked out of place when he wasn’t on the ice. When he was out there, he never looked out of place in his 14:42 of ice time. Spurgeon’s specialty is his poise with the puck, and he showed that with crisp passes and shots that found their way to the net. His first welcome to the NHL moment came when he absorbed a big check in the Wild corner from Curtis Glencross, who was immediately roughed up by Brad Staubitz, who looked out for his new, young teammate.
For the first time this season, Jose Theodore started a game that wasn’t part of a back-to-back set. His recent success in wins over Detroit and Nashville, coupled with Niklas Backstrom
’s rising goals against average over his last three starts, were the main reason. Todd Richards said prior to the game that it was a time that Backstrom can work on his game and refocus.
As for Theodore, he took the loss, but once again was very steady and gave his team every chance to win. He finished the night with 28 saves on 31 shots, with all three goals coming from the low slot or on the doorstep.
Despite Theodore's success, I don’t think we’ve reached goaltender controversy status yet. Backstrom has struggled recently, but that shouldn’t wipe out what he provided through the first quarter of the season. I think we see him between the pipes against Phoenix on Wednesday.
The final game of November means the final game of Movember. Both the Wild and Flames were active participants in this year’s campaign against cancer in men. After all, Nick Schultz of the Wild, and his brother-in-law, Cory Sarich of the Flames, started the movement among their teammates last year. We’ll have all kinds of fun on Wild.com through the end of the week as we look back at some of the funnier ‘staches and the words that accompanied them. But for Takeaway #5, let’s look at the most important number: 29,000. Through donations to the Movember website, November ticket sales and donations at games, the Wild raised more than $29,000 to fight cancer. Thank you to all who contributed to the cause.