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 4-2 loss in Detroit.
Even before today’s game started, the storyline wasn’t going to be about whether or not the Minnesota Wild could beat the Detroit Red Wings in what was essentially a meaningless game in the standings. It was about how the Wild’s recently recalled youngsters would perform against one of the best teams in the NHL, and in the absence of players like Martin Havlat, Guillaume Latendresse
, Marek Zidlicky, John Madden and Nick Schultz.
Last year, Havlat, Latendresse and Zidlicky combined for 134 points. Carson McMillan
, Colton Gillies, Justin Falk
and Maxim Noreau combined for one NHL game. Today, that group accounted for a goal and an assist in a 4-2 loss to the Red Wings.
Falk had his first NHL goal taken away in the second period when replays showed that it was actually Brad Staubitz that knocked in a loose puck. In the third, Carson McMillan
became the fourth Wild rookie (Marian Gaborik, Pascal Dupuis and Rickard Wallin) to score in his first NHL game, and the second to score on his first NHL shot (Wallin also did it against the Red Wings).
And what about Staubitz? The guy went 79 games without scoring a goal, and now he’s got three in the last eight games. He also posted his first-ever two-point game today.
Staubitz was brought in to be a force, but not necessarily an offensive force. But the Wild wants to build a team that skates, and Staubitz can do that. He provides plenty more than the ability to fight, and he could be a major player next season if he can continue to chip in offensively as he has in the past two weeks.
Tomas Holmstrom is one of the biggest, strongest power forwards in the National Hockey League. He was known as “Demolition Man” in his native Sweden. Bulldozers have been unsuccessful in pushing the guy out from in front of an opponent’s net.
But Kyle Brodziak
found the key to putting Holmstrom on the ice. Simply brush your stick lightly against Holmstrom’s shin pad, and he’ll crumble to the ice like an unfrozen caveman.
Brodziak was given two minutes for tripping, while Holmstrom got zero minutes for diving. In a little over a week, playoff teams are going to look for every chance to get ahead in a game. Please tell me these types of dives won’t be allowed to happen.
Now that the Minnesota Wild has officially been eliminated from postseason contention, we can start looking a teams to pick so we can have a rooting interest this spring. I thought yesterday’s opponent, the Tampa Bay Lightning, would be a good choice. They’ve got 41-year-old former Wild goaltender Dwayne Roloson as their starter, three other former Wild skaters and some entertaining forwards in Martin St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos.
I can’t say the same for today’s opponent, the Red Wings. Even though they are fun to watch and boast some players you can’t help but admire (Nicklas Lidstrom, Jimmy Howard and Kris Draper), they have Todd Bertuzzi. If I can somehow avoid the sight of Bertuzzi hoisting the Stanley Cup, I’ll be a pretty happy guy. After Kobe Bryant, Alex Rodriguez, Brett Favre and Matt Cooke have won championships, Bertuzzi is one of the few villains left to have never won a title. I’d like to see that through to the end.
Side note: the distaste for Bertuzzi should dissipate immediately should the Wings meet the Canucks in the playoffs.
You can say that the Wild needs to be terrible in order to become great, in much the same way the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks were. That’s one argument. The other is just drafting well and developing players, which is what the Red Wings have done. They haven’t needed first overall picks or huge free agent signings to become perennial Cup contenders.
Justin Abdelkader, Pavel Datsyuk, Valterri Filppula, Johan Franzen, Darren Helm, Holmstrom, Jiri Hudler, Niklas Kronwall, Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Osgood and Jimmy Howard have all played their entire careers with the Wings. Even more amazing is that Kronwall is the only one of those players who was drafted in the first round (29th overall in 2000).