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 3-2 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers.
There’s no question about it. This one hurt. The Minnesota Wild’s 3-2 loss to the Thrashers should have been a “W.” It would have been a huge victory. It could have made Sunday’s game against Vancouver the perfect springboard into the Olympic break. All together now: would’ve, could’ve, and should’ve.
The Wild didn’t get it done. Shots hit posts. Ridiculous calls were made. And Atlanta’s young stars were great. That adds up to a painful loss that could very well cost the Wild a shot at the postseason.
Before Wednesday, the Wild was 19-9-4 in one-goal games, and after tonight, the Wild has dropped to 19-11-4 in such contests. The team that was churning out comeback wins at a ridiculous pace at one point now can’t seem to find the big goal when it’s most needed.
Referees Tim Peel and Dean Morton were apparently competing to see who could bring their hand from their waste to their mouth and tweet a whistle the fastest tonight. I’m nothing if not a conspiracy theorist, so I did a little research (which I define as asking PR guru Ryan Stanzel to look something up for me). My suspicions proved correct. Both Peel and Morton are working the Wild’s game against Vancouver on Sunday, and I’m willing to bet the beet farm that these two are catching a plane to Paradise on Sunday and getting all of the penalties out of their systems tonight.
It certainly wasn’t the worst officiated game I’ve ever seen (Mick McGeough played a role in all 10 of those games), but some of the calls both ways were…how can I put this delicately…moronic?
Maxim Afinogenov was able to avoid an obvious dive on a Derek Boogaard slash. Enforcer Antti Miettinen was called twice for infractions that made no sense. Eric Boulton was given a four-minute highsticking penalty for getting checked by John Scott and having his stick come up while he was falling. Marek Zidlicky had his stick held for a good five seconds late in the third period, yet nothing was called. It was an interesting night for the zebras. Can’t wait to see them again on Sunday afternoon.
A huge topic of conversation was the Wild’s pregame trade of Kim Johnsson and Nick Leddy for Chicago defenseman, Cam Barker. Now, as you know, I’m not going to blast the Wild for a trade, because they sign my paychecks. But I think I’d be all for this trade even if I worked for Enron. It’s pretty obvious the Wild wasn’t going to be able to re-sign both Johnsson and Zidlicky. Indications are that the Wild and Zidlicky are working on an extension. So either way, it seems as though Johnsson was done as a Wild now, or at the end of the season. Essentially, this became a trade of Leddy for Barker. While Leddy seems to have great potential, he's unproven and the Wild is getting a high-scoring, 23-year-old defenseman, who was the third overall pick in 2004. Yes, he was the fifth Blackhawk blueliner, but look who he was playing behind. He now becomes one of the Wild’s top defensemen, and could make an immediate impact.
Here’s a goal combination we’ve never seen: Koivu to Clutterbuck to Ebbett. With some linechanging going on, those three forwards found themselves on the ice together for one brief, shining moment. Something clicked. Koivu made a great steal, fed Clutterbuck who took a shot, and there was Ebbett for the rebound. Three guys on three different lines combining for a goal.