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 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings.
IIn the State of Hockey, we don’t encourage jumping off a sinking ship. If we did, the Minnesota Wild’s season would have been over in October. But for all you Vikings fans out there, we still have some open spots on the lifeboat if you’re looking for a team that only causes you to pull your hair out because of close games, not because of frustrations due to weak tackling, fumbles and head scratching coaching decisions.
Come on over Vikes fans. The water is warm. Something special is going on with this Wild team, and Monday Night Hockey was just the latest example. Facing a legitimate Los Angeles Kings team, the Wild found another way to win with a 4-3 decision. At times it wasn’t pretty, but a lot of that has to do with L.A., which looks like a team that could be a force in April. To mention yet another Minnesota sports franchise, this Wild season has a bit of the 2006 Twins season feel. Different players are stepping up every night, and no matter what happens, this team just believes it’s going to win.
The Twins…er…Wild’s latest hero was undoubtedly Eric Belanger, facing the team that drafted him. Bella scored two goals, but his second could end up being one of the biggest of the season if Minnesota can hold this momentum. The Kings were coming in waves throughout the third period, and when they finally broke through with the equalizer, it looked like the Wild might be lucky to force overtime. Not so. Just 12 seconds later, Belanger took a feed from Cal Clutterbuck
(who filled the role left by injured Chuck Kobasew and picked up two assists) and crushed a slap shot just under the crossbar. Belanger finished the night with his seventh career two-goal game, and he also added an assist for his seventh career three-point game.
|You see? Skate in the pad. Puck outside the crease. Am I crazy? No, I am correct as always. |
Time to vent. My biggest beef with the NHL is the ridiculous ritual of calling a player for a penalty, while calling another for diving on the same play. Following close behind is using the replay booth to review goals, and still not getting it right. The Kings scored their first goal when Drew Doughty knocked in a rebound, but only after he slid skate first into Niklas Backstrom
and moved the goaltender’s pad out of the way while the puck is in the crease. That is a violation of the rules, and Backstrom knew it as he vehemently argued the call.
Then comes the replay, and after a quick review, the ref announced that “it was determined the puck went into the net properly. We have a good goal.” His wording would lead one to believe that they looked at whether or not the puck was kicked in by Doughty. That was not the argument. *Sigh* If only I ran this League, everything would be perfect.
Antti Miettinen has an eight-day-old baby at home in Minnesota, so he’s probably not too worried about a mini-slump of nine games without a goal. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Wild forward play so well for so many games and get zilch in the goal column. If Mittens were playing shinny hockey where goals only count if you hit the post, he’d own the world record. He rang two off the iron tonight. When he isn’t hitting the post, goaltenders are robbing him at every turn. Miettinen had two scoring chances denied by Jonathan Quick, including one on a lone breakaway that he couldn’t convert on a move to his backhand. The brand new daddy is much more than a goal scorer, but honestly, what did this guy do to deserve this kind of snakebite?
We haven’t talked much about Kim Johnsson in this space this year. Johnsson has often been maligned for not providing the offensive numbers that were expected when he came over as a free agent in the summer of 2006. Whether he’s scoring or not, Johnsson is one of the best defensemen in Wild history.
Tonight, he scored a goal for the second straight game, giving him four, which equals his highest total in a Wild uniform (there’ still more than half the season left, by the way). He also posted an even rating in tonight’s game. He hasn’t posted a negative number since December 7, and he is a +7 in the last 11 games.