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 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers.
In a classic episode of The Office (they’re all classic), Michael Scott tries to motivate his team by writing on the white board:
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
He then attributed the quote to Wayne Gretzky, and then attributed it to himself.
Even someone as clueless as Michael Scott knows that 11 shots through 65 minutes is not enough to win an NHL game. It was enough to gain a point in a 3-2 shootout loss, but not enough to gain any ground in the Western Conference with just 17 games remaining.
When asked at the morning skate about what he expected from Florida, Head Coach Todd Richards talked about Florida’s ability to get in shooting lanes and blocking shots. They certainly did that, but the Wild missed on several opportunities with wide shots, and they passed up several others.
The Wild didn’t record its eighth shot until Mikko Koivu
slid one on goal with 8:49 to play. Koivu accounted for five of the 11 Wild shots, which tied the franchise record for fewest shots in a game.
After Nik Backstrom gave up the only goal of the shootout to Cory Stillman in the fourth round, he skated right to the locker room and didn’t look to absorb any stick taps from his teammates. Backstrom had a right to be perturbed. He continued his stellar post-Olympic play in making 29 saves. He didn’t have to make many spectacular saves, but he sponged up every shot and held is ground on repeated bids from in tight. He deserved a better fate once again.
The news doesn’t get much better. Shane Hnidy missed most of the game with what Richards called “a leg.” Brent Burns also had to leave the contest with what Richards called “a hip.” That doesn’t shed a lot of light as to the severity of either injury, but any injury is going to hurt (no pun intended...or maybe it was because I could have deleted it) at this point of the season.
Make no mistake, this game was not pretty, but there were two pretty plays, both of which resulted in Wild goals. First off, any time a player dislodges a goaltenders water bottle with a shot, it’s cool. Chicks dig it. And Koivu’s wrist shot on his first period power play goal smoked that thing into the air. Hitting the goalies water bottle is like a Twins player putting a home run into the fountain at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium. You just get a sense of satisfaction when you see it happen.
Pretty play number two was Robbie Earl’s goal – his sixth in 24 games. First, Nick Schultz made a great play to win the race for a loose puck in the neutral zone, and then feed Earl an instant before getting hit. Earl then whipped a perfect wrister past Vokoun, giving the Wild a 2-0 lead going into intermission – the second time all season that the Wild has led by two after one. But Earl continues to show that he belongs in the NHL. As the Wild searches for goal contributions from players other than the usual suspects, Earl is beginning to fill that role.