Typically 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 loss to the Calgary Flames:
The Minnesota Wild will snap out of this funk at some point, but tonight wasn’t going to be the night. In a 3-1 loss to the Calgary Flames, the Wild did many of the things that it needed to do for a victory, except for two. And those two things – solve Miikka Kiprusoff and shut down Jarome Iginla – are the keys to beating Calgary.
The Wild generated plenty of chances through the first 40 minutes tonight, but nothing crossed the goal line. Niklas Backstrom
frustrated the Flames through the first two periods as well, but eventually the dam broke. By the time the Wild was able to plug the hole, it was too late.
Iginla came into tonight’s game needed one more tally for his 500th career NHL goal. Considering the way his team was embarrassed on Thursday in Edmonton, and the way he’s tortured Minnesota over the years, it seemed inevitable that he’d find the net.
Unfortunately, he found it at the worst possible time for the Wild, shortly after Calgary had taken a 1-0 lead early in the second. Iginla skated along the right wing, threw the puck toward the goal and watched it deflect off two Wild players before going in.
The Scotiabank Saddledome crowd erupted when they saw what they came to see. All of Iginla’s teammates came off the bench to celebrate with him, and he smiled and waved to the crowd several times as they chanted “IG-GEE, IG-GEE!”
Iginla is one of the best players we’ve seen over the years since the Wild came into existence. He’s been fun to watch, and he seems like a class individual. Do you know what I think would be really classy? If he honored another Flames great, Lanny MacDonald, who retired with 500 NHL goals on the nose, by retiring right now. Hang ‘em up, Iggy. Go out with a flourish. Pierre-Marc Bouchard
missed the last two practices while the Wild was in Banff, Alberta due to a lower body injury. When Bouchard wasn’t able to make it out for today’s morning skate, it was decided he would not play against the Flames. Obviously, you need a player of Bouchard’s skill level in as many games as possible. That’s been proven this year, as Minnesota is 0-2-3 when he’s out of the lineup.
Nobody likes to hear about “what could have been,” but that doesn’t mean I’m still not going to write about it. This is “Five Takeaways” not Four. Dany Heatley
scored to cut Calgary’s third period lead to 3-1 with just over six minutes remaining. On the next shift, the Wild stormed into the Flames zone. A shot caromed off the boards and bounced to a hard-charging Kyle Brodziak
who was looking at an open net from a shallow angle.
In order to squeeze it in, Brodziak slid the puck on the ice and Kiprusoff dove headfirst and pushed it out as the puck started touching the goal line.
It was an agonizing sight and typical of the Wild’s fortunes. If that goes in, the Flames crowd falls silent and the players start squeezing their sticks a little tighter. Alas, it did not, but man, what could have been…
For me, tonight’s game marked the end of a six-day stay in lovely Calgary. My first four days were spent checking out the World Junior Championship and the six Wild prospects representing their respective countries.
The World Juniors ranks right up there as one of the most entertaining events I’ve ever witnessed in person. I’m pretty sure you have to see it in Canada to get the full effect. The Canadians are as passionate about this tournament featuring kids under 20 years old than Americans are about…well…anything I guess. I will never forget the atmosphere inside the Saddledome on Tuesday night when Canada nearly overcame a 6-1 deficit in the third period to Russia in the semifinal.
And of course, it was a pleasure to get to see the three Wild Swedes celebrate their gold medal victory – the first in 31 years for Sweden. Jonas Brodin
, Johan Larsson
and Johan Gustafsson
were ecstatic after the game, and for good reason. All performed brilliantly throughout the tournament. Together with the other strong performances of Mikael Granlund
, Charlie Coyle
and Jason Zucker
, they gave Wild fans six reasons to be very excited about the future.
Now, all that said, I can’t wait to get home.