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 2-1 win over the Devils in New Jersey Tuesday.
The New Jersey Devils have made the playoffs 12 straight years, and have won three Stanley Cups since 1995. So there’s no reason to pity them for ranking 30th in the National Hockey League standings. And you can bet there isn’t one player on the Minnesota Wild roster that went over to the New Jersey locker room and apologized for Clayton Stoner
’s fluky game-winning goal that led to a 2-1 Wild victory.
The two points in the standings were too important to worry about whose feelings might have been hurt when Stoner tried to dump the puck in off the boards and then watched it bound toward the net and over the outstretched stick of Johan Hedberg. Hedberg, by the way, became the first goalie not named Brodeur to ever start a game for the Devils against the Minnesota Wild.
With the victory that started this three-game road swing to the East Coast, the Wild moved to within two points of sixth place in the Western Conference.
If you don’t watch the Devils on a regular basis, you probably wonder how a team that is a perennial Cup contender can be so bad, especially with names like Kovalchuk, Parise (injured), Langenbrunner, Brodeur and Elias. Well, the Devils did their best to show why they are last in the League, especially in the first period. At times they looked like they were playing with complete strangers as they continuously turned the puck over. Two of those led to Cal Clutterbuck
breaks on goal, and one of them yielded a Clutter goal – his 11th of the season.
The Devils mustered just one shot on goal in the first, establishing a record low for shots given up by the Wild in a road period. Sure enough, the Devils came out flying for the first 10 minutes of the second period and tied the score. Then, they fizzled again, and never really mounted a serious charge after Stoner’s tally early in the third.
I don’t like to get angry, especially after a Wild win. But some things just burn my cookie, and one of those things happened tonight. I almost wanted to make this my first takeaway just because I get so worked up about it and I’m hoping something will change.
The Wild didn’t have a single power play tonight, which marked the sixth time in history that it has happened. That’s not what irks me. What irks me is there should have been a Minnesota power play in the third period when David Clarkson hooked Greg Zanon to the ice as he carried the puck up through the neutral zone. Clarkson did get called for a hook, but Zanon, who fell forward, also got called for a dive.
I actually like diving calls because I think they would rid some of the flopping that goes on. However, I absolutely despise it when the refs call a player for diving, and then call the other player for a penalty, which supposedly caused the “dive.” Can we please get this reversed so the call will be one or the other? It makes no sense! If we can rid the League of ridiculous things like the two-line pass, line changes after icings and moronic things like Sean Avery sticking his glove in front of a goalie’s face so he can’t see, I would think we could get rid of this epidemic as well.
Tonight’s nationally televised game on Versus absolutely flew by with very few whistles. The actual game time only took two hours and 22 minutes, and really, there wasn’t a ton of end-to-end action. If Versus wanted excitement, it should have put a camera on the Wild’s team bus on the way to the Prudential Center this afternoon. To my knowledge this was the first time the Wild has had a police escort lead the way from the hotel to the arena. And if I may say so, it is the only way to travel in a ground-based vehicle. Watching police cars lead a bus through rush hour traffic and make cars part to the side and dodge a speeding bus is worth the price of admission (free). It felt like the movie, Speed, and a trip that would have lasted well over an hour in Newark traffic lasted 16 minutes. Very enjoyable.
Now I just need to figure out a way to always get a police escort when I’m traveling in my own car. My first thought is to just report a burglary at my house and then get behind the Popos on their way to my neighborhood. I’m not sure, though. I haven’t worked through all the details just yet.
Tonight marked the Wild’s second-ever trip to the Prudential Center, and my first. The arena is one of only three NHL buildings built since Xcel Energy Center graced the hockey world with its presence in 2000. Phoenix’s Jobing.com Arena and Pittsburgh’s CONSOL Energy Center (where the Wild plays Saturday) are the others. Prior to the game, I had the chance to meander through the main and upper concourses and came away impressed. The building was very bright, with spacious and open concourses. Like Xcel Energy Center, the Devils paid tribute to the high school hockey teams in the state which each jersey hanging somewhere on the walls.
The two things I was most impressed with were the Fire and Ice bars that you find at the top of the lower bowl sides. On one side is the Fire bar, which is dark with the ceiling lit in red, making you feel like you might be in hell, but I doubt hell has a nice spread of meats, cheeses and tasty drinks. On the other side is the Ice bar, which is exactly the same except it’s décor is white and icy blue, making you feel like you’re in the Arctic Circle. From both bars, you can watch the action below, and if you’re in the Fire bar, you can see the incomparable Doc Emrick do his thing for the television broadcast.