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 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Tuesday night provided one of those situations that hockey teams like the Minnesota Wild hate. A strong opponent comes in with their five best players out of the lineup. Prevailing wisdom says facing the Penguins without Sid Crosby, Geno Malkin, Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik and Marc-Andre Fleury should be easy.
Coaches guard against taking the situation lightly and certainly players take it seriously. But when the game starts, anything can happen.
The Penguins patiently executed their game plan, frustrating the Wild by blocking shots and tipping passes. When turnover opportunities arose, the Pens took advantage. Soon, a game the Wild is expected to win, turns into a 4-1 deficit in the third period and a frustrating way to end a home stand and a point streak.
"If a team's going to come into our building, they should know that they're facing the Minnesota Wild, and it shouldn't be any fun," said Head Coach Mike Yeo. "I don't feel like we made them feel that way."
Yeo spoke his piece after a lengthy team meeting in the locker room after the game. This might lead one to believe that Yeo laid into his team after a less than stellar outing at home. Could be.
It also could have been a therapy session in which Yeo reminded his team that there is still a learning process here. The objective is to get better as the season wears on, but there will be setbacks, and that was expected by Yeo in training camp.
Of course, the rookie coach isn’t about to shed any light on what exactly he said or didn’t say. But let’s keep in mind that we’re six games deep in this season, and the Wild has points in four of those games.
With the Wild offense struggling to find its juju, Yeo pulled the trigger on some line changes. The Koivu line hasn’t been able to find the net since the Ottawa game, so Yeo put Pierre-Marc Bouchard
with Mikko Koivu
and Dany Heatley
. Devin Setoguchi
joined Gui Latendresse and Matt Cullen
It didn’t stop there. Colton Gillies saw some power play time. Cal Clutterbuck
saw increased time with other linemates. Jared Spurgeon
and Marco Scandella
were paired together and mostly faced Pittsburgh’s top line.
At times, especially in the third, the new combinations seemed to click, but there wasn’t much evidence on the scoresheet.
The Wild will hold practice at Xcel Energy Center tomorrow and then jet West for a two-game trip to Edmonton and Vancouver. You can wager some money that there will be some power play work during tomorrow’s skate. The Wild power play hasn’t been able to find the net in the last three games after going 0-for-5 tonight. Part of that was the play of the Penguins penalty kill and a spectacular showing from backup goaltender, Brent Johnson. The Penguins have killed all 20 opponent power plays on the road this season.
Blaze orange is not just for hunters anymore. Let’s face it, blaze orange is the new black. That’s the only way to explain the buzz created by the orange Wild caps that were given away as part of a Gander Mountain promotion at tonight’s game.
Looking down at the crowd tonight during the game and seeing nearly everyone wearing the hats was one thing. To see the constant chatter about the hats on Twitter was another.
It used to be that blaze orange just meant you were safe from being mistaken for a deer. Now, it’s a fashion statement and it means you’re pretty much cooler than everybody else.