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 Chicago Blackhawks.
For about the past two months, every Minnesota Wild game has been billed as a huge chance to get two points. And yes, the games are important, but today was a good reminder that there are things that are more important in life than a 3-1 Wild loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Earlier in the day, it was learned that Chicago Head Coach Joel Quenneville was hospitalized last night with a serious discomfort, and he would not be able to be behind the bench for tonight’s game. That’s scary.
In the first period of tonight’s game, Andrew Brunette apparently took a puck to the face and was slumped over as he made his way to the bench. According to tweets from the Star Tribune’s Mike Russo, Bruno got to the bench and collapsed with blood streaming. There was controlled chaos on the bench as Brunette as team doctors rushed to his aid and brought him back to the locker room.
Fortunately, Brunette returned to the bench and finished out the game, meaning that all was okay, and that’s more important than a minor setback in a chase for the playoffs.
For the second straight night, the Wild played a game that you can’t fault the effort on the players. Everybody played hard, smart and physical. You could tell these teams were both gunning for two points as momentum swayed back and forth. It was a matter of a couple mistakes that led to the first two Chicago goals, and really that was it.
There were certainly some questionable calls and non-calls throughout the night, but this was just one of those games that could have gone either way, and in those, the edge tends to go to the team with 21,000 fans urging you on.
And like last night, you can point to a dozen Wild players that had fantastic efforts tonight, including all six defensemen. But one guy that continues to amaze is Jared Spurgeon
, who even after proving himself as more than ready for the NHL, weathers barbs about his size and Justin Bieberesque looks.
The kid’s skill and puck poise has never been on display as much as it was tonight, especially on his set up of Matt Cullen
’s goal. Gliding into the Chicago zone, Spurgeon could have shot the puck or used any number of surrounding Wild players that joined him on the rush. Instead, he waited for Cullen to dive to the net, hitting him in stride and rendering Corey Crawford helpless to stop Cullen’s punch in from the top of the crease.
Spurgeon now has three assists in four games and is a virtual lock to hold onto his roster spot when Marek Zidlicky is able to return from a shoulder injury.
The Hawks’ winning goal came on an unlucky bounce when Troy Brouwer’s centering pass went in off the stick of Greg Zanon. Those plays happen all the time in hockey. For Zanon, he’s usually the guy getting his stick in the way of a sure goal, and he did that earlier in the game when he stole a sure tally by poking a Dave Bolland attempt wide early in the second.
Zanon wasn’t the only defender using his stick to save goaltender Jose Theodore. Cam Barker also got his stick in the way of a Marian Hossa attempt in front of a wide open net. Those were just two examples of fine defensive plays made by a corps of blueliners who have really blended into a stellar unit.
Yes, pretty much every Western Conference team seems to gain at least a point every night while the Wild has been held without a point in each of the last two games. There’s still no reason to panic.
The Wild remains ahead of the Blackhawks in the stands, and has games in hand on almost every team ahead of them in the standings. That includes the Anaheim Ducks, who will visit Xcel Energy Center. The game will be important, but as I said in take number one, it won’t be that important.