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 1-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues.
The Minnesota Wild’s 1-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night was a little more digestible after the four games that preceded it. Still, that was not the Wild team we saw over the last two weeks. The first two periods of this one were just ugly. No goals. Very few scoring chances. Not many hits. Zero spark. It was just ugly for both teams, but especially the guys in white. The Wild gave up 18 shots in the first, which was a season-high for shots against.
The Wild saved its play for the third, but of course that was when T.J. Oshie scored the only goal of the game to stunt the Wild’s climb toward the top eight in the West.
I will not be an NHL coach in this life, and most likely not the next. But I’m going to wager that Robbie Earl will not be sitting out Saturday’s game in Phoenix. Even watching on TV, you could tell the Wild was a step slow, and Todd Richards has been playing Earl because of the speed he brings to the lineup, even as a fourth-liner. Minnesota just lacked pizzazz, and Earl can bring that needed energy as he’s done almost every game he’s been in the lineup. The Wild has won its last eight games when Earl has suited up.
The player who did bring it once again was Guillaume Latendresse
. He and Martin Havlat were the only two players that seemed to generate any semblance of scoring chances. Those two have developed chemistry, but it only led to a couple near goals on this night. A Latendresse wraparound attempt led to a wide-open chance for Havlat, but he pushed the rebound wide. Another Latendresse stuff in yielded a chance for Eric Belanger, but he was robbed by Chris Mason’s best save of the night.
A string of dangerous plays continues to follow the Wild around. Just two games after Cal Clutterbuck
(who played despite not feeling well for the last two days) took a vicious elbow from Sergei Gonchar; Andrew Ebbett was slew-footed by Oshie in the third period. As the two were going after a puck on the sideboards, Oshie threw his arm across Ebbett’s chest and then swept his skate underneath him from behind. Ebbett landed on the back of his head and had to go to the locker room for the rest of the game. Word out of St. Louis is that Ebbett was dealing with spasms in his back and neck.
“Maybe Josh Harding
’s luck is turning,” we all thought when he entered a third period to a 5-1 deficit against the Blackhawks and ended up with an eight-round shootout win. Um, apparently not. Harding stopped 36 shots and gave up one measly goal, and his reward is another notch in the “L” column. Harding kept his team in there as everyone not wearing goalie pads or the number 48 looked like they were looking for a davenport to lay down on. Still, Harding’s start was a feather in his cap as he continues to build his confidence after a rough start to the season.