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 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday night.
Both Marian Gaborik and Derek Boogaard were making their first appearances since ending their Wild careers. Let’s face it; the headliner was Gaborik, who missed the chance to play here last year when he was injured. And even though Gaborik was very good, putting four shots on goal and picking up an assist, it was Boogaard who may have had a bigger impact in New York’s 5-2 win over the Wild.
In a tight game in the second period, Boogaard pretty much shifted the momentum of the game by laying a huge check on Robbie Earl in the Wild zone. That led to a turnover, and seconds later, an Artem Anisimov shot was behind Backstrom and setting the tone for two more Ranger goals before the end of the period.
The common question before the game up in the Al Shaver Press Box was whether or not Gaborik would be booed or cheered when his name was called. They didn’t have to wait long because he was announced in their starting lineup. I was a bit surprised to hear as many boos as I did. It’s not that booing isn’t justified because if that’s how fans feel, that’s what they should do. But I did thing time would have healed more wounds considering it was more than a year ago that he was here.
The boos kept coming from the overflow sellout crowd, but they certainly got quieter as the game wore on. We Minnesotans are a forgiving bunch. I can’t imagine that the vitriol will continue toward Gaborik too much longer. This isn’t Brett Favre leaving a team he resurrected to go play for a mortal enemy, or Lebron James going on national television to spit in the face of his hometown fans.
Gaborik had a choice like all free agents do. The Wild didn’t sign him. He utilized his right as a free agent, and he’s now a Ranger. Not much more you can say, except we’ll beat you in March.
Sometimes the refs get it wrong, and those calls go both ways. Sometimes, they get it exactly right, and those calls go both ways too. With the Rangers leading by a goal in the second period, fans wanted an offside call on Derek Stepan who appeared to cross over the blue line before the puck did. Just seconds later, Michael Del Zotto took a Stepan pass and roofed it over a sprawled out Niklas Backstrom
The boos came cascading down from the fans, because they knew how important that goal was. Unfortunately (or fortunately if you’re fan of refs getting the calls right), the KSTC-TV broadcast showed a super slow motion replay of the play at the line, and Stepan had his skate right on the blue line until the puck crossed. A great call by the refs, but a sour turn of events for the Wild.
The Wild mounted a mini-comeback in the third period with a couple goals, although the game was too far out of reach for fans to get too amped up. But there were some positives in each goal. Matt Cullen
scored his 11th shorthanded goal, and snapped a string of 13 games without a goal. The other goal scorer was Marty Havlat, who continues to get his name on the score sheet. He tallied his third goal of the season, and extended his point streak to five games. During that time, he’s notched two goal sand six assists, and he now has 11 points (3-8=11) over the last nine games.
When the home team is trailing big in the third period, sometimes fans have to find another way to entertain themselves. That appeared to be the case in the lower bowl late in the third period when a chant started rising up. I looked down from my perch in the Al Shaver Press Box to see a group of fans building a tower of empty plastic cups that stretched at least 20 feet long. I don’t want to say the guys who started the tower were inebriated. I’m just going to say they were high on life and having a good time. But I will say they were wearing Winnipeg Jets jerseys, so that might tell you something.