Typically 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 2-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche:
The Minnesota Wild has been shut out in three of its last four games, including its last two home games. It’s difficult to paint a rosy picture of that. I’m not lying when I say the team had plenty of scoring chances in this one, and at times held the better of the play. But my honesty won’t do much for the fans who wanted nothing more than to get up out of their chairs and listen to some “Crowd Chant” by Joe Satriani.
But we haven’t heard that guitar jamming in awhile. And we need it. We need to see some big goals like we saw two nights ago in Montreal. That’s what will get fans excited for the rest of this year, and the offseason.
“There's no excuse," said Head Coach Mike Yeo on how his team has fallen behind early in games recently. "It just can't keep happening. No excuse."
Yeo didn’t tip his hand as to who would start in goal for the Wild tonight, and that doesn’t usually happen. That made it pretty obvious that Matt Hackett
would be getting the start. Perhaps Yeo didn’t want to put any added pressure on the youngster so he could get some sleep this afternoon. Maybe he just didn’t want the Avalanche to know who they’d get.
Whatever Yeo’s thinking was, it seemed to work. Hackett played exceptionally well, especially after giving up a Jamie McGinn goal in the first two minutes. McGinn added another later in the period. Both were rebound goals and neither were the fault of Hackett.
He finished the night with 34 saves, including several brilliant stops that kept his team in the game. Now he could use some help from his friends that play with two hands on their sticks.
You wouldn’t think a guy that has 20 goals with 16 games remaining would be snakebit, but this guy has had at least 10 tallies taken away from him by some ridiculous saves. You can’t forget the save that Thomas Greiss made on him a week ago when Heatley had an open net from four feet away, but the Sharks netminder somehow threw his arm back and ended up with the puck in his glove.
Tonight, Heatley had another chance like that, and this time it was Varlamov that took an easy goal away by kicking his leg back at a puck headed to a wide open net. This came after Heatley had put a sick backhand shot off the cross bar.
Heatley could have had four goals tonight. And he could have 30 goals by now. Alas, maybe it just wasn’t meant to be…this year.
In making his Wild debut tonight, Steven Kampfer
became the team-record 44th player to wear a Wild jersey this season. That is amazing to think about. And what’s more amazing is that there are 16 remaining games. I don’t know who else could get the call, but there is plenty of time. Might we see Tyler Cuma
? Or Justin Fontaine
? Will the Wild bring in one of its prospects once their junior or college season ends? We’ll see, but at this point, nothing would be shocking.
I normally don’t like to sing the praises of too many Wild opponents, especially when they play for the Avs. But, there are going to be exceptions every now and again, especially if they’ve worn the angry Bulldog on the chest in college. Not only did Mike Connolly do that for the previous three seasons, but he was one of the best college hockey players I have ever witnessed.
Despite his small stature, Connolly was a dominant player in all areas of the game. He wasn’t just one of those little guys with sick moves and quick speed, although he had both. He also had smarts and tenacity and that winner’s attitude that showed as he helped carry the UMD Bulldogs to their first national championship last year. If you ever have the chance to watch a replay of that game (which I’ve done about 40 times in the last 11 months), play attention to him. He didn’t score a point, but he was an absolute force all game long.
While I hated to see him go to a Northwest Division rival on trade deadline day, I was excited for him to get a chance, because he deserves to show what he can do at the highest level. Tonight, he made his NHL debut on the rink he closed his collegiate career at one year ago.