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 3-1 win over the Blues on Hockey Day Minnesota.
Xcel Energy Center was packed with a Saturday night crowd ready for a Hockey Day Minnesota party, and they got it…in a big way. Not only did the Minnesota Wild complete a two-games-in-two-nights sweep of the St. Louis Blues, but also they did it in one of the most emotional victories of the season.
The scoring wealth continues to spread around on this team that gets contributions from everybody. Cal Clutterbuck
started the scoring with his team-leading 17th. Kyle Brodziak
continued his breakout season with his 11th goal, which are three off a career-high. And Antti Miettinen chipped in his third in seven games, which is good news for a guy who scores goals in bunches.
But this one was as much about the guys who didn’t score goals as the fellows that did. From the outset, Mikko Koivu
was like a tiger shark in a kiddie pool filled with chum. Wherever the puck went, he went. Brad Staubitz, Cam Barker and Clayton Stoner
ignited the raucous crowd with fights (more on Stoner’s bout later). Jared Spurgeon
was great. Brent Burns and Greg Zanon were stellar. Pick a name on the Wild roster, and he probably had a stellar game.
“It was an intense game,” said Todd Richards. “We got contributions from everybody. It wasn’t one line or one ‘D’. I thought we deserved what we got tonight.”
Playing the second of back-to-back games, the fact that this one got physical was about as shocking as the fact that all the chocolate cake in the Al Shaver Press Box disappeared before the second intermission. Tempers are going to flare, and while this one was nowhere near the Islander-Penguin debacle from last night, it was a fight night.
The Blues didn’t like Clutterbuck’s willingness to deliver clean checks late in the game, as shown by Erik Johnson’s vicious chop to the back of Clutter’s legs away from the play. They also didn’t like losing. After the final buzzer, Alexander Steen started drilling Greg Zanon in the Wild crease. Everybody joined the fray, and eventually, Clayton Stoner
paired off with Spring Lake Park’s David Backes.
Stoner delivered two huge blows to Backes, opening up a cut that started gushing blood all over the ice. When the two finally got up, Zanon started riling up the crowd by doing the Arsenio Hall fist pump, and Stoner left the rink with both arms raised as the cheers came flooding down. It was the perfect ending to a great day of hockey.
I did get mail in my mailbox today. And if it weren’t Saturday, kids would still probably be required to attend school. But Hockey Day Minnesota sure feels like a national holiday. Personally, I think it should be. Fourteen straight hours of hockey sure sounds like a lot, but my goodness it flies by. That’s what happens when things are fun. They go by quickly.
From the outdoor games in sunny Moorhead to a Wild win in front of the fourth biggest regular season crowd in Wild history, the hockey action was breathtaking. But what makes Hockey Day great are the features about the people in the State of Hockey that make this such a hockey hotbed, and such a great place to live.
Last year, the most touching story was that of Duke Pieper, the Hill Murray player who nearly died due to a brain condition, but battled and battled and actually dropped the puck for the Wild’s Hockey Day game against Columbus.
This year, the top honors have to go the feature on Apple Valley star, Hudson Fasching. The straight "A" student has the chance to play for the U.S. National Development team in Ann Arbor, Michigan. But leaving would mean being away from his brother, Cooper, and sister, Mallory. Both are stricken with Mitochondrial Disorder, which can lead to cerebral palsy.
With size, skill and smarts at such a young age, the sophomore could have a long and illustrious hockey or business career. But it’s clear from this feature that he’s more concerned with being there for his family, helping take care of his siblings at every chance.
Fasching is a kid worth rooting for, unless of course, he ends up playing for the Gophers.
In his postgame press conference, Richards wondered aloud whether Clutterbuck would rather score a big goal, and deliver a big hit. “I don’t know what the answer would be,” laughed Richards.
Clutterbuck is doing plenty of both, and his talents were on display tonight. His goal, which was a partial fan on a one-timer, wasn’t exactly pretty, but who cares? He has delivered plenty of legitimate goals this year; it was about time he put one in that didn’t end up in the top shelf.
Are you starting to believe? You should. The Wild is now 17-7-1 in the past 25 games. The goaltending, which is probably the most important factor, has been stellar. The four lines are clicking. The defense has been airtight. The team is getting leads and continuing to apply pressure rather than sitting back. When it falls behind, it’s rallying to tie the games. Something special is going on here, and I would hope that more than 19,000 people are believers after tonight…if they weren’t already.