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Glen Andresen's Five Takeaways at Chicago

by Glen Andresen / Minnesota Wild

Wild GameDay

vs. New Jersey: January 2

vs. Los Angeles: December 31

at Anaheim: December  29

at Los Angeles: December 28

vs. St. Louis: December 26

vs. Edmonton: December 23

vs. Colorado: December 21

at Ottawa: December 19

vs. Columbus: December 15

at Vancouver: December 12

at Calgary: December 11
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 4-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Minnesota Wild’s 4-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks was an exciting game for 50 minutes, but I’m not going to blow smoke up your exhaust pipes. Unlike Saturday, the Wild didn’t play well enough to win. They did play well. The Hawks are just good. Ah, really good. And, they are fun to watch. They buzzed around all night in their ridiculously cool throwback jerseys, and just generated scoring chances all night long.

I’m not sure how long these Hawks are going to be able to keep this team together. Well, I am sure. It’s not going to be past this year. With so much money tied up in their young stars like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, guys like Patrick Sharp and Roseau’s Dustin Byfuglien are going to have to go. This year might be their best shot at the Cup (or as former Wild blueliner Willie Mitchell calls it, “the big silver thing”), but it certainly will be an excellent shot.  

Tonight marked my fourth all-time visit to the United Center, and my first in three years. In my three previous visits, I remember actually feeling depressed during the games. The arena wasn’t even half full, and those that were there were disinterested at best. No wonder the Wild always seemed to have their way with the Hawks whenever they visited Chicago.

I was floored by the United Center experience this time around. The Hawks are a great team, so I expected a much larger crowd. I did not expect 21,381 fans at a Tuesday game against, let’s be honest, a non-rival at this point. The experience at this game was one I’ll never forget, from the incredible National Anthem to the historic video highlights they showed during breaks.

If you’ve never been to a Hawks game, go while they are still great, and get there early. You don’t want to miss Jim Cornelison’s version of The Star Spangled Banner. His baritone voice is as amazing as the crowd that claps and cheers throughout the entire song. I had chills the entire time.

I don’t see why large sporting events like the Super Bowl and All-Star Games feel the need to hire some American Idol winner or aging rocker looking to make a comeback to sing the anthem. Hire Jim Conelison and nobody will utter a complaint.

It may not have mattered in the long run, but the refs completely blew a call in the second, which led to a Chicago goal. As Josh Harding went behind his own net to get a loose puck, Patrick Sharp flattened him from behind. Just seconds later, the puck was sent out to Marian Hossa, who fired a missile of a snap shot past Harding. If you’re confused, the goalies are not fair game behind their own net. I’m sure you knew that, but the NHL refs are unaware so I just want to cover all bases.

It was a disappointing end to the Wild’s Guest Trip, but even during the late flight home, the fathers and brothers of Wild players were still wearing big grins. Watching these guys pal around was great from an onlooker’s point of view. I’ll especially remember Cal Clutterbuck’s dad, Tim, when he was watching his son and other players hoop it up on the United Center floor on Monday. Tim said, “I can’t believe I’m sitting here.”

You got the feeling that a lot of dads and brothers felt that way, even though some have been on these trips before.

There was one bit of good news for those of us who call ourselves Americans, but it certainly didn’t brighten the flight home for many Wild players. The United States pulled off a 6=5 overtime upset of the Canadians in the gold medal game at the World Juniors. Apparently, it was an amazing game and several Minnesotans played key roles.

Sure, it’s sad that Wild prospect Marco Scandella didn’t win gold, but it’s country first, and let’s hope this enormous win on Canadian soil will keep building the popularity of hockey in the U.S.

For those of you that don’t get the NHL network, you can watch highlights of the game on the following links: first period, second period, third period, overtime, medal ceremony.
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