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 4-0 loss to the Dallas Stars
I always predict a Minnesota Wild victory, no matter what the circumstances. I went on record as saying the Wild would run the table this season and win all 82 regular season games. That prediction fell flat fairly early, but I slightly revised it by saying the Wild would win all 45 games in 2011. Things were looking good until the Wild dropped its first game of the New Year at home to Dallas in a 4-0 defeat.
Despite my optimistic (some might say delusional) feelings, even I had small hints of doubt before this afternoon’s Wild game against the Stars. The Wild was coming off a 3-0-0 road trip to the East Coast, which included a 4-0 shutout of the Pittsburgh Penguins that ended about 19 hours before this one began.
You won’t hear excuses come out of the locker room, but you might see some here. The club didn’t get in until after midnight local time, and was dealing with several banged up players. They faced the Pacific Division-leaders who had won their previous six road games and were lying in wait after getting to the Twin Cities yesterday.
“You have to give Dallas a lot of credit,” said Head Coach Todd Richards. “They’re a very, very good team. They’re big and they compete. I don’t feel we executed a smart game. I thought we battled and played hard, but I thought we lacked that extra step…Our tanks were low, but I think that’s when you have to play a smart game.”
Jose Theodore probably needed a day off. With Niklas Backstrom
unavailable with a lower body injury, Theo had started the previous four games, winning them all. He gave up a total of two goals in the previous three games coming into tonight, and that’s why it’s tough to take out a goaltender riding a hot streak like that.
The Wild netminder didn’t show any signs of fatigue in this one. He came up with huge save after huge save in turning in 17 saves through two periods. He made more in the third, including a diving glove save to rob Jamie Benn, but it just wasn’t enough. The Stars finally broke through for good midway through the third to spoil an otherwise perfect week for Theo.
Benn probably wasn’t worried too much about missing that goal considering his team won, thanks in large part to two goals that he picked up. You don’t like to see an opponent score one for the highlight films, but that’s exactly what Benn did in scoring a huge Dallas goal in the final minute of the first. Bearing down on Cam Barker one-on-one, Benn pulled off a toe drag move and sidestepped the Wild defenseman cleanly before roofing one over Theodore. Sometimes you have to nod your head and say, “Wow!” You should also say, “At least it wasn’t Steve Ott scoring that goal.”
And that brings up another observation, and that is that I didn’t observe much of Ott all night. In the last game between these two clubs, he seemed to be everywhere, causing problems both offensively and annoyingly (if that’s a word). Tonight, I didn’t see much of anything, which makes me wonder if he’s one of those guys that runs around at home, but is unwilling to rile up a crowd in a road arena.
In a hockey game, you can always point to one or two plays that could have changed the momentum of the entire night. I can point to two such shots from the same Wild player with the same result. Down a goal, Pierre-Marc Bouchard
fired two shots off the post behind Andrew Raycroft in the span of five minutes. I know, pipes are a part of the goalie’s equipment, and the Penguins hit two last night in Pittsburgh against the Wild, but I still would have liked to see those go in. Is that so wrong?