Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he'll remember from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 6-2 loss against the Montreal Canadiens:
It would be a bit of an understatement to say the Wild didn’t get the result it wanted tonight. Sometimes, no matter how hard you work or how badly you want it, the results just won’t go your way. That was essentially what happened for Minnesota tonight; Murphy’s Law—everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.
The Wild seemed out of sorts tonight and these types of games spring up from time to time. From the opening period, the Wild didn’t have “it” tonight, whatever you want to call “it,” whether it was making clean passes, getting the bounces early or finishing on its opportunities.
Even with the Wild down by five in the third period, the club showed its professionalism, didn’t quit and continued to battle, which we all like to see.
Nino Niederreiter scored his fourth of the season on a diving second-effort. It would’ve been easy for the youngster to go through the motions until tomorrow night, but Niederreiter and his teammates continued to play hard throughout the game. No matter how lopsided the score got, Minnesota finished checks and went hard in to loose puck battles. The team must’ve felt like Sisyphus tonight, because no matter how hard they tried to push, the boulder just kept on rolling back down in it's face.
Hockey is a physical game with emotions often running high; sometimes it can lead to frustration. Over the course of his career, Matt Cooke has earned the reputation as a frustrating player to go against, but sometimes, well, often times it seems, opponents react to certain plays he’s involved in based on his reputation. Tonight, last season’s Norris Trophy winner, P.K. Subban, had such a reaction after a run in with Cooke.
Cooke was on the forecheck and finished a check on the defenseman. The smaller Cooke was lower than Subban, who was basically standing straight-legged, and clipped the blueliner, causing him to tumble to the ice. This is when the unintentional comedy kicked in. Subban, on his belly, ripped Cooke’s stick from his hands. Then the defenseman threw Cooke’s stick, hitting the goal post and splitting it in half (I’m pretty sure that’s an illegal play, but whatever). As he climbed off the ice, he was chirping the ref and whacked the other half of Cooke’s stick across the ice.
Max Pacioretty scored the first hat trick against Minnesota since Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler scored three on the Wild on April 7, 2011. His first tally went in off his foot, but was deemed a good goal. According to Rule 49.2, "A puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player's skate who does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal." His second goal was clean, beating goaltender Josh Harding on the glove side. For his third goal, Pacioretty redirected a Subban point shot for the natural hatty. Initially, it looked like Brendan Gallagher was the one who finished, which brings up a topic (not really, but kind of) that I’ve never tackled in the Takeaways: Phantoms.
Phantoms are one of the scourges of hockey. If there were a Hockey Urban Dictionary, “phantoms” would be defined: When a player is credited with a goal or assist that they did not earn. I’m not accusing Pacioretty of taking Gallagher’s goal, as you can usually tell from the player’s celebration and he rejoiced like he was the goal scorer, but there weren’t a lot of people in the building who initially thought he scored, either. Only three hats were launched onto the ice after the goal. In a hockey city like Montreal, you’d expect a few more hats to litter the ice. Maybe it’s not stylish to wear hats to games here. Maybe the hats are really expensive in Quebec. Regardless, if a Wild player scores at Xcel Energy Center, there better be a lot more than three measly hats on the ice. There, rant over. Wait, didn’t we start with Phantoms? Well, if you play hockey, don’t take credit for other player’s accomplishments and don’t go for phantoms. There, second rant over.
Montreal is home to arguably the National Hockey League’s most storied franchise. One of the NHL’s Original Six, the team has retired 17 numbers and they hang from the rafters as a constant reminder of all the great players who have donned the classic sweaters. Walking around the arena, old photos of past legends litter the walls. One of the former Montreal greats, who had his number retired, is Guy Lapoint, the Wild’s coordinator of amateur scouting, and he was in attendance tonight.
The Canadiens have the most Stanley Cups in the NHL’s history and 24 banners hang down in the Bell Centre to represent the championships. In fact, the Habs have won so many Cups that they are the only team banners visible in the arena. Catching a Canadiens game in hockey-history rich Montreal is a must for any hockey fan’s bucket list; luckily I was able to cross it off mine tonight, despite the wretched result.