Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 3-1 loss against the New Jersey Devils:
There’s nothing worse in life than missed opportunities. In any situation, they can come back and haunt you. The Minnesota Wild and New Jersey Devils both came into tonight’s contest on losing streaks. But it was the Devils who were able to capitalize on its chances, and plague the Wild, on the way to the win column.
The Wild missed on two golden chances in the second period that led directly to New Jersey goals. First, Jason Zucker had a point-blank one timer with goaltender Cory Schneider screened. The forward released a low, hard one-timer, which the New Jersey netminder kicked away. Less than a minute later, the Devils scored as Tuomo Ruutu redirected a point shot from defenseman Seth Helgeson, who made his NHL debut tonight.
Later in the period, Jason Pominville cleanly won an offensive-zone faceoff onto the stick of Mikael Granlund. The Finnish forward hit the elbow, where the crossbar and post meet, and the puck bounced out, hit Schneider in the back and almost bounced in. However, the Devils marched the other way and Mike Cammalleri extended the lead by putting home a Jaromir Jagr rebound.
Schneider was nearly unbeatable between the pipes. Only a tricky shorthanded goal off the stick of a former teammate beat the netminder (we’ll get to that).
As good as he was all game, Schneider saved his best, um, saves for the third period with a one-goal lead and the Wild pressuring. Thomas Vanek and Erik Haula snuck behind the Devils defense and had a 2-on-0 break against Schneider. Vanek faked a shot and slid the puck across the crease to Haula. The Devils tender made a post-to-post split, toe save on Haula. Then, Vanek set up Kyle Brodziak, who made a diving redirection on the edge of the crease. Brodziak ended up in the net, but the puck didn’t.
This is the first year that Schneider came into the season as the clear-cut No. 1 goaltender, after a contentious time with Vancouver and contending with aging Martin Brodeur last year. On the second night of a back-to-back, the goalie started his 16-consecutive game and looked like a true No. 1 against the Wild.
Ryan Carter’s return to New Jersey had significantly less fanfare than Zach Parise’s last season. The forward skated for the Devils since 2011, playing in 171 games and tallying 33 points (17-16=33). The White Bear Lake native signed with the Wild before Opening Night and has skated in all but one game this season. Tonight, he scored his first goal in a Minnesota sweater, a shorthanded marker in the third period. He just missed getting a breakaway, as the puck was out of his reach. However, he tracked the puck and fired it on net before Schneider could get set.
Defenseman Jonathon Blum made his Wild debut in Jersey after being recalled from the Iowa Wild on Nov. 1. Last season, the blueliner skated in 15 games with Minnesota. The 25-year-old was a victim of wrong place, wrong time tonight, as he was dinged with a phantom penalty call in the second period. Devils forward Martin Havlat was skating past goaltender Darcy Kuemper and tripped over his pad. Blum, who was protecting the front of the net, never touched Havlat, but was called for tripping.
In hockey, there are “good” penalties and there are “bad” penalties. Typically, a good penalty is when a player negates an opponent’s scoring chance. Tonight, Marco Scandella took a good penalty by hooking Devils forward Patrik Elias and stopping a surefire goal. Then, his teammates stepped up and killed the penalty to reward the defenseman.
On the other end of the spectrum are bad penalties, which usually come when a player stops moving his feet and reaches. Bad penalties are often taken in the offensive zone, are considered lazy infractions and are most often hooking or tripping calls (I had two bad penalties in men’s league last night, but if the refs knew anything they’d have called embellishment, too). Tonight, Michael Ryder gave us an example of a bad penalty in the first period. On the forecheck, the New Jersey forward hooked Mikael Granlund rather than moving his feet and trying to finish a check. Unfortunately, Minnesota was unable to make Ryder and the Devils pay.
The Wild has had its fair share of lost player games due to illness and injury this season. Currently Matt Cooke, Zach Parise and Jared Spurgeon have all missed multiple games due to injury. Before that, defensemen Keith Ballard and Christian Folin both missed several contests due to illness. Well, sometimes even NHL referees get hit with the injury/illness bug and have to play shorthanded.
Tonight, ref Steve “Don’t call me the Space Cowboy” Miller didn’t suit up because of an illness. So, the remaining stripes went old school with a three-man crew. Shorthanded, the refs called a tight game, as the two teams combined for 11 power plays. The only missed call of the night was the “tripping” penalty on Blum.