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Glen Andresen's Five Takeaways vs. St. Louis

by Glen Andresen / Minnesota Wild

Nov. 1: at Detroit

Oct. 29: vs. Detroit

Oct. 27: vs. Anaheim

Oct. 22:
at Vancouver

Oct. 20: at Edmonton

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 2-1 win over the St. Louis Blues.

Head coach Mike Yeo wants his team to play the “Wild way” and that means playing hard, making things tough on the opposition and coming with a strong shift after a bad shift. He often says teams should not have much fun when they come into our building.

The St. Louis Blues could not have had much fun during the Wild’s 2-1 win on Saturday night. The Wild won its fourth straight and have given up a goal or less in all four games.

Like they did on Thursday against Vancouver, the Wild dominated for long stretches. They caused turnovers, battled in the corners and stood up for each other. A modest two-goal output courtesy of Dany Heatley and Guillaume Latendresse certainly looks just fine when every other facet of the game is clicking. After a quick and relatively uneventful first period, that’s what fans got.

“It’s a big win for our guys because we can stress all we want, but that’s always a tough game,” said Yeo. “I give our guys credit, because as the game went on I thought we stepped up and raised our game.”

Once again, you have to start with Harding, the first star of tonight’s game. Even though his 30 saves didn’t feature a boatload of spectacular saves, he had to make enough of them to preserve the win. What’s more impressive is what he’s done over this four-game stretch. He’s given up a measly three goals, and tonight was the first time in those games that he gave one up in the second or third period (a late third period goal by Jamie Langenbrunner.

In his four-game winning streak, Harding sports a 0.75 GAA and a .977 SV%. He has won four in a row for the first time since Dec. 14-Dec, 20, 2007. Harding is 4-0-1 on the season, with a 1.18 GAA and a .965 SV%.

It makes you wonder how good Nikolai Khabibulin must be playing, since he’s the only guy with a better goals against, averaging less than one per game through eight contests.

Just last week, there was some worry that Latendresse was experiencing more issues in the abdominal area, and some wondered if we’d see a repeat of last year. The way he’s playing now, it looks like we’ve got 2010-11 Gui.

You can tell when Gui’s feeling it because he makes those extra little moves before getting that shot off. While most players shy away from using the backhand, Latendresse is actually going to it for his goals. After his highlight reel goal on Thursday, he used the backhand shovel again to roof one after making a pretty steal of a St. Louis clearing attempt.

Latendresse now has seven points on three goals and four assists and is one point off the team scoring lead.

When it comes to the realignment issue, let’s hope those East Coast members of the Board of Governors decide to do what’s in the best interest of the NHL, and not just their teams. There’s no reason the Wild and Blues shouldn’t be in the same division. Geographically it makes sense, and there is already some bad blood between these two teams that would only boil over more if these teams squared off six times a year.

Of course there was last year when Clayton Stoner bludgeoned David Backes in a fight after a Wild win. Tonight, tempers exploded again. I’m not sure what started it, but it may have been when Darroll Powe’s skate caught Jaroslav Halak’s  glove when he covered up a puck in the second period. Not long after, Scott Nichol went hard after Powe and the two eventually dropped the gloves in a spirited fight of welterweights.

Still in the second, Harding covered up a puck and Marek Zidlicky was promptly pushed into him. That started a mosh pit in the Wild crease that twice ignited and had looked like a rugby scrum. Harding and Halak were the only players not engaged in some type of shenanigans.

More words were exchanged later between Brad Staubitz and Ryan Reaves after the second period buzzer. And then Backes went after Latendresse immediately off the faceoff at the start of the third.

Yeo said he loves seeing teams resorting to the chippiness or “physical play” as he calls it because he looks at it as the other team is feeling that it’s all they can do to try and win the game.

The most entertaining thing about all the scraps was what you saw afterwards. After the Backes-Latendresse confrontation, there were a total of 11 players – six Blues and five Wild – in the penalty boxes. Two of the guys in the Blues box actually had to kneel down, making it look like they were rolling dice.

Following a whistle, five the of the Wild players filed out of the box and got one of the biggest ovations of the night.

That’s good fun.
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