Following Wild games, Managing Editor Glen Andresen will give the five takeaways that he'll remember from each contest. Today, he looks back at a 2-1 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings in St. Paul Sunday afternoon.
Today’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings offered a glimpse of Life After Koivu (LAK), for however long it lasts, which we hope to find out tomorrow. Lines were shuffled around and players were obviously getting used to each other.
The Wild offensive combinations had essentially remained untouched over the past month, so there is going to be a grace period for these guys to get used to each other. That doesn’t mean the Wild looked discombobulated out there. Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard stopped a modest 25 shots, but he had to be spectacular at times as the Wild had plenty of scoring chances.
Unfortunately, Howard was only beaten on a Martin Havlat breakaway while his goalie counterpart, Niklas Backstrom
, deserved a better fate. The Wild netminder was scintillating in a 38-save effort.
“I was impressed with the way we battled tonight,” said Head Coach Todd Richards. “It was a great crowd. We earned a tough point today. It certainly wasn’t easy. It was a huge point for us.”
Backstrom is in another world at this point. You could make him play on his belly and he’s still going to give the Wild a chance to win. In fact, Backstrom was at his best today, laying flat on the ground. In overtime, Danny Cleary had the Wild keeper flat on the ice and about two-thirds of the net to shoot at. Yet, Backstrom came up with yet another outrageous save
, snaring it with the lobster mitt as fans’ jaws dropped somewhere near their sternums.
The least surprised player had to be Cleary, who had about seven glorious scoring chances. Every time, Backstrom stymied him and every other Non-Hall of Famer on the Wings roster. Only Nicklas Lidstrom was able to solve the Wild super keeper in regulation.
Cleary and the Wings weren’t the only players getting frustrated with stellar goaltending in the opposing net. Wild players had several golden chances, but only Havlat was able to find the net, converting on a third-period breakaway
. It was Havlat’s 500th point (205-295=500) in 602 NHL games. Havlat will obviously be counted on in a big way for as long as Koivu was out, and he looked up to the challenge, especially with his hard-working effort throughout the third period.
As for Koivu, he took in tonight’s game from the Al Shaver Press Box. The Wild still don’t have word on the extent of Koivu’s injury, but the news is expected to be released sometime tomorrow.
Richards said this type of situation could really bring a team together, and today was an indication of that. Perhaps nobody has more on his shoulders than Kyle Brodziak
, who was put alongside Antti Miettinen and Andrew Brunette for much of the game. As he’s done all year, Brodziak was a force at both ends. If the Wild continues to get efforts like that out of him, the boys should be able to stay right in contention until Koivu returns.
I’ll bury this at the bottom, but today’s game was the 1,000th in the career of Todd Bertuzzi.
It’s interesting, because during the celebration of Brunette’s milestone earlier this month, Richards pointed out that 1,000 games speak to a player’s character. You don’t hang around long if you don’t have great character.
When I heard that, it made so much sense as I thought of some of the guys that have hit the mark. Bruno and Keith Carney are the only two Wild players to do it, and both are outstanding leaders and characters.
Bertuzzi? Well, I can’t really say too much without knowing the guy (although I did have a run-in with him some years ago and didn’t exactly walk away impressed). But we know his history, and I haven’t heard of a lot of guys talk about his glowing personality. Whatever. Congrats, I guess.