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 5-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks:
The Minnesota Wild was looking for a carryover from the style of game it played two nights ago in a rousing 5-4 shootout victory over the San Jose Sharks. In that game, the home team was relentless on pucks, crashing the net and battling before and after the whistle blew.
They needed that carryover to snap a road-losing streak in Chicago, and they got it…for the first 10 minutes. The Wild came out flying, got a nice, dirty garbage goal from Devin Setoguchi
, and then it all vaporized. The Blackhawks quickly tied the game, then pumped three more past Josh Harding
in the second period.
The fight returned in the third period, but as was the case in the last road game in Calgary, it came too late, this time in a 5-2 loss to Chicago. Now, the Wild has gone a month without a road win, and the next three games are away from Xcel Energy Center.
Word out of Chicago is that Head Coach was not pleased with the Wild’s team performance. Josh Harding
was not pleased with his individual performance. Harding had a rare off night tonight, and was pulled in the second period in favor of Matt Hackett
, who was recalled yesterday. Harding got the start today, despite missing yesterday’s practice due to illness. Niklas Backstrom
also fell ill, so Hackett had the backup duties tonight.
He provided a bright spot. While not overly tested with the Blackhawks easing up after a three-goal lead, he still remained virtually flawless in his NHL career. He finished the night with eight saves on eight shots.
It’s too bad things turned sour the way they did, because early on, tonight’s storyline was shaping up to be a dandy. Setoguchi, who was kept out of the lineup on Tuesday due to a violation of team rules, was back in the lineup. Sure enough, he came out and banged in a rebound of a Marek Zidlicky slapper and let out a demonstrative fist pump.
But when Chicago took over the game, Setoguchi’s goal just became a nice moment that was quickly forgotten.
There was some good news earlier in the day when Mikko Koivu
finally got his well-deserved invitation to NHL All-Star Weekend. The Wild’s leading scorer and captain will be in Ottawa at the end of January for the celebration of hockey.
I found it ironic that he learned the news while the team was in Chicago. Last January, the Wild was in Chicago in late January. The rosters had already been announced, but several injuries meant that some replacements would have to be brought in. Speculation swirled that the Wild would be sending another player along with Brent Burns. It was rumored that Koivu could go, or Martin Havlat or both.
It was Havlat who went, and Koivu was left out. But there was no doubt that it wouldn’t be long before Koivu got in. And it wasn’t.
Since I don’t see any reason to rehash what happened in Chicago tonight, let’s turn toward the news in Minnesota. If you haven’t heard, a disappointing but necessary announcement was made that all of the High School hockey games that were to be played at Lake Minnetonka on Hockey Day Minnesota have been moved indoors.
Obviously, the recent warm weather has made conditions nearly impossible to ensure a safe playing surface for the participants. Thus, the games will be played at the same time, but at a new location: the Pagel Activity Center in Minnetonka.
While the games won’t be outside, they’ll still feature some of the best hockey teams in the state, and Hockey Day Minnesota will just have another wrinkle in its six-year history.