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 3-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.
Last night, the Chicago Blackhawks were embarrassed at home by the Edmonton Oilers, the team with the worst record in the Western Conference. That was about the worst possible thing that could have happened to a Wild team with the night off. Everyone knew the Hawks would come out angry and determined to erase last night’s debacle.
Only a spectacular performance by Niklas Backstrom
(again), kept the Hawks offensive juggernaut in check. Todd Richards called Backstrom’s performance the best he’s seen in the year and 10 games that he’s been here. That’ pretty high praise considering Backy’s near shut out of Washington on Thursday that featured about five unbelievable stops. The 29-save effort just wasn’t enough.
Backstrom didn’t seem to have as many brilliant saves as he did on Thursday, but he did have one that may have been near the top in his career. When a stopped puck bounced behind the net to superstar Jonathan Toews, a wraparound goal seemed inevitable. Sure enough, he darted around to stuff it in, but Backstrom lunged back and knocked away with his lobster mitt just as it was about to cross the goal line. I can try to describe it over and over, but only the video replay can do it justice.
As a college hockey fan, I love seeing college players make it in the big time. I was also shocked to see that the Blackhawks had more than half their roster made up of former college players. Recently recalled Minnesota Gopher Ryan Potulny made it 12, joining two Vermont Catamounts, two Wisconsin Badgers, a Michigan Wolverine, a Michigan State Spartan, an Alaska Fairbanks Nanook, a Providence Friar, a North Dakota Fighting Sioux, a Boston College Eagle and of course a Michigan Tech Husky, better known in these parts as Big John Scott.
Marek Zidlicky’s late goal prevented the Wild from going six straight periods without a goal against Chicago. You may have the bad memory of a Chicago shutout at Xcel Energy Center last March, which resulted in a brutal bag skate at practice the following day. Zidlicky stopped that skid by finishing off a beautiful touch pass from Mikko Koivu
to cut the deficit to 2-1. It was Zid’s fifth even strength goal in two-plus seasons with the Wild.
What would a Halloween edition of Five Takeaways be if I didn’t offer up my favorite costumes in the audience tonight? Keep in mind, I stay up in the Al Shaver Press Box throughout the game, rather than hang out among the crowd. It makes me feel like a king looking down on his people.
Anyway, with the help of my trusty binocs, and my inability to see any of the sections below me (tough cabbage folks), here were my favorite costume combinations in Xcel Energy Center tonight:
3. Garth Algar and Wayne Campbell. The only problem is these two were obvious Blackhawk fans, but so were Wayne and Garth. Car! Game On!
2. The Canadian Royal Mounted Police. There were nine Mounties in a row, and one other guy who, I kid you not, was a pink unicorn. Solid effort on the costume and the ability to find nine of the same costumes. Had they gone as 10 pink unicorns, they might have earned the number one spot.
1. The Looney Tunes. Five ladies and a gentleman dressed up as Looney Toons characters. Elmer Fudd sat next to mortal enemy, Bugs Bunny. Tweety Bird looked way too comfortable next to Sylvester the Cat. And Daffy Duck was there, too. They even held up signs that said, “We’re Looney For The Wild.” I get the joke! Looney as in Looney Tunes! Very nice idea, and an even better way to show that no matter how much we don’t get along sometimes, all you need is a Wild game to put your differences behind you.