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 loss to the Lightning.
Despite two wins earlier in the week, the atmosphere around the Wild locker room didn’t exactly become a fun house. Players lamented missed opportunities and a recent slide that erased once promising playoff hopes. Head Coach Todd Richards seemed to be the most despondent after the victories, but not more than on Saturday, when the Wild was officially eliminated from postseason contention after a 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Richards noted that his team played better in this loss than it did in a win over Edmonton, but he remained reserved in his postgame comments.
“You have hopes of the postseason, but we’re not giving up,” said Richards. “We’re preparing for Detroit, which is a great hockey team.”
The meeting with the Red Wings kicks off the four remaining games in the Wild season with three on the road, and one final go-round at Xcel Energy Center next Sunday against the Dallas Stars.
From the Al Shaver Press Box, today’s game felt like a trip back in time. Current Lightning CEO Tod Leiweke and COO Steve Griggs both are former Wild employees, who took in today’s game from the press box, as did scratched defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron. Below them, three former Wild players – Adam Hall, Dominic Moore and Dwayne Roloson – were wearing the white, black and silver of the Lightning.
The story of the game was Roloson, who started his Wild career almost 10 years ago. Now at 41 years of age, he hasn’t lost his game. The 41-year-old was the story of the game, making 29 saves on 30 shots. He’s a guy worth rooting for, not just because we all need that older person to succeed so we can feel good about ourselves. Roloson fought long and hard to establish himself as an NHL goaltender, and then even longer and harder to earn a number one position.
In just over a week, he’ll start the trek toward winning his first-ever Stanley Cup.
When the Wild started the season, the six defensemen in the lineup were Brent Burns, Greg Zanon, Cam Barker, Nick Schultz, Marek Zidlicky and Justin Falk
. Today, Falk came back to the lineup and joined Burns and Zanon with three other rookies – Jared Spurgeon
, Clayton Stoner
and Maxim Noreau. Schultz is out for the remainder of the season with post concussion syndrome, while Zidlicky and Barker are expected to miss at least one more game.
All of the rookies played outstanding games, but Noreau was the most impressive. He earned time on the power play and showed a knack for getting the puck to the net, finishing with three shots on goal.
Lost in the Wild’s fall from postseason contention has been the remarkable turnaround by Pierre-Marc Bouchard
. Each goal he scores should be a reminder of how many thought the guy’s career might be over due to a concussion.
Since he returned, he hasn’t missed a game and he’s found his scoring touch. He picked up his 11th goal of the season today, and has recorded a point in each of the last three games (2-1=3).
The Wild’s playoff hopes were dashed today, but there could be a postseason spot clinched at Xcel Energy Center tonight. The Minnesota Swarm are capping off today’s hockey-lacrosse doubleheader with a game against the Calgary Roughnecks. With a win, the Swarm will clinch an NLL playoff berth.
But whether or not the team wins is irrelevant. What I was most impressed with was the wave of workers who started flooding the stands after the final buzzer in the Wild game. As I write this fifth takeaway, the lower bowl has been completely cleaned and just one final piece of the lacrosse turf needs to be installed.