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 4-0 loss to the Predators.
I’m not sure which is tougher: watching the Wild get blanked by the Nashville Predators 4-0 to start a road trip, or trying to think of five things to say about it. This 4-0 loss did not have much in the way of excitement, physical play, good scoring chances or drama. It had zero in the way of Wild goals. It had an abundance of frustration.
The most lasting image from tonight’s game might have come after the buzzer. As the Predators were celebrating a big victory on their home ice, the Fox Sports North cameras cut to Head Coach Todd Richards on the Wild bench. I’ve seen some steely glares, but this one could have made Moahmar Gadhafi step down from his post immediately.
Richards looked angry, and I think that’s a good thing. Had he looked defeated, I’d think the Wild would be in trouble.
“We didn’t have a pushback tonight,” said Richards, whose team couldn’t rebound from an early 3-0 deficit.
The Wild wasn’t expecting to have Cal Clutterbuck
or Mikko Koivu
return for this one. Both players were again on the ice at today’s morning skate, but both appear to be at least another few days from returning.
The team can’t, and won’t use their absences as an excuse.
“These are the guys that we have and we have to figure out a way to play,” said Richards, who noted the Wild was able to beat Colorado and rally for a point against Buffalo with essentially the same lineup.Niklas Backstrom
allowed all four goals in this game, and he was easily the Wild’s best player. He made more than a handful of outstanding stops in this one. In fact, on the first three goals that all came in the first period, Backstrom made great saves on all of them before the Predators were able to put one in.
Backstrom obviously didn’t get the offensive support in this one, but he didn’t get close to enough help in the defensive zone either. Richards may have been tempted to give Backstrom the hook just to shake up his team, but it now seems like a good move to keep him in. Backstrom continued to play a strong game, and now Jose Theodore remains fully rested for tomorrow’s game in Phoenix.
Tomorrow, the Wild visits American Airlines Arena where it hasn’t won since 2003. I don’t care. I’ll take that over the building formerly known as Gaylord Entertainment Center, where the Wild lost tonight. In the last three games in Nashville, the Wild has been outscored 14-1. Really? The Predators? In Nashville? Something about that doesn’t seem right.
It’s a stretch, but maybe tonight’s game wasn’t exciting because of the game I watched this afternoon at Xcel Energy Center. My Duluth East Greyhounds and the White Bear Lake Bears played an outstanding state quarterfinal matchup. There are thousands of reasons why we love the State Tournament, and they were all visible in this one. It was a shame to see a loser, but it was a thrill to watch such inspired and exciting hockey played by kids.