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 loss to the New York Islanders.
After one period of play on Monday afternoon, the Minnesota Wild was lucky not to be down by five. After a full 60 minutes of hockey, the Wild players probably consider themselves unlucky after taking over periods two and three, yet eventually falling to the New York Islanders, 2-1.
The first period was about as miserable a start as could have been imagined after watching this same team dominate on Saturday night. Passes were missing sticks. Players were overskating pucks. Islander players were allowed to easily move into empty spaces for wide-open scoring chances.
Anyone who watched “Becoming Wild” over the summer is aware that new Head Coach Mike Yeo has the ability to lay into his team to spark them. Whether he did that on Monday afternoon is unknown, but the Wild completely reversed course and played inspired hockey. The Islanders were held to five shots over the final two periods, and few if any scoring chances until Niklas Backstrom
was pulled in the waning minutes.
Of course, as the cliché says, “hockey is a 60 minute game.” If you don’t play all 60, you’re going to lose. Fine, I'll give you that, but that doesn't explain the Islanders getting a win despite getting outplayed for 40.
With Pierre-Marc Bouchard
serving the first of a two-game suspension, rookie Brett Bulmer
took his spot on the second line. The youngster shouldn’t get used to playing alongside Matt Cullen
and Guillaume Latendresse
, but he may have to get used to seeing increased minutes. This kid is impressing early in his career, and the chances of him getting sent back to his junior team before the 10-game deadline appear remote at best.
Bulmer caused the turnover and started the play that led to Matt Cullen
scoring the only Wild goal for Bulmer’s first NHL point. John Tavares can tell you how this kid is really going to make a name for himself. Bulmer crushed the Islanders star with a clean check into the glass in the third period, and didn’t back down when Tavares took exception.
Bulmer is the first of the highly touted Wild Draft Class of 2010 to make the Wild roster. He may be on it for a long time.
The talk of Monday was still the Bouchard issue and the rather surprising two-game suspension that NHL disciplinary czar Brendan Shanahan gave him. What’s done is done, and Bouchard will not be playing tomorrow in Ottawa, although he did appeal his suspension with NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman.
It was still interesting to look to the left of the Nassau Coliseum press box during the first intermission to see Wild GM Chuck Fletcher and Shanahan in a lengthy discussion. I don’t even have proof that Bouchard’s name came up, although I suspect it did.
But I, for one, still like the job that Shanahan is doing and how open he’s been in talking about the suspensions. Would his predecessor have been willing to talk to Fletcher after making a controversial decision in view of media members?
Perhaps he was a little too harsh on a guy that never so much as looked at anyone the wrong way, with the exception of Alex Burrows. However, if Shanahan is consistent, is willing to openly discuss his viewpoints and lowers the amount of dangerous plays and injuries, it will be tough to argue a two-game suspension down the road.
Cullen has talked about a comeback year after saying how disappointed he was with his first season in his home state. I wonder if he’ll consider an 82-goal season a good enough bounceback year, because that’s the pace he’s on thus far.
Cullen looks like he’s got extra confidence packed in under that helmet of his. After scoring early in the third, he almost set up another by gaining the New York zone, juking his way into three defenders and then dropping a pass between his legs for a Guillaume Latendresse
The first period was so forgettable, that the best player in a Wild jersey prior to the second period may have been Nordy, the Wild mascot. Nordy was a participant in the Mascot Game during the first intermission, and showed those costumed geeks from the NHL and the East Coast a thing or two.
He scored a goal (there were no goalies) on a nice rush up the right side. He set up Tampa Bay’s ThunderBug for another. And he got into a brawl with Carolina’s pig named Stormy.
In hockey, that’s a Gordie Howe Hat Trick. In Mascot Games, they call it a Harvey Hound Hat Trick.