Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 3-0 loss against the Ottawa Senators:
They say that football is a game of inches. Well, tonight in Canada, where they use the metric system, hockey was a game of millimeters for the Minnesota Wild.
Even strength the Wild controlled most of the second period, outshooting the Sens, 10-4, but came away with a two-goal deficit. After getting zero shots on its first two power plays in the opening period, Ottawa scored on its third man advantage of the game, a one-timer by its leading scorer, Clarke MacArthur. The Senators then scored on a long shot that Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom got a piece of, but probably would like to have back. The way that the goaltender reacted to the goal looked as if he didn’t see the puck cleanly.
Despite being down by two, the Wild tried to mount a comeback, but was narrowly thwarted by goaltender Craig Anderson and his BFFs, the posts. First, Erik Haula beat the goaltender high on a power play, but the puck rang out cleanly after hitting the pipe. Later, Ryan Suter busted into the offensive zone and tossed a backhand pass that Jason Zucker got a piece of, but struck the middle of the left post and bounced to safety.
Hockey is a funny game sometimes.
The Senators’ netminder was the games first star for good reason. Those two breaks were all Anderson needed, as he was spotless for the rest of the game stopping all 35 shots from the Wild. Minnesota again outshot its opponent, 35-17, but Anderson was the difference tonight.
Many of Anderson’s saves came on good looks from in close and the netminder wouldn’t budge. Mikael Granlund made a nifty saucer pass to spring Jason Pominville, who tried to go high on Anderson’s short side, but he made a shoulder save. Thomas Vanek had a clean look on a two-on-one and tried to beat Anderson on the glove side, but the netminder snapped it up with his glove like a pelican gulping down a fish.
Tonight’s performance from Anderson shows that a hot goaltender can often be the difference in the NHL, especially when he gets a little help from his posts.
I’ve used this space to disparage retaliatory fighting after a clean hit before. Tonight, Marco Scandella dropped the gloves with Mark Borowiecki after he delivered a check on Pominville. While I’m still not a fan of it, especially since Scandella is a much more important player to the Wild than Borowiecki, I understand the blueliner’s mindset and his willingness to stick up for a teammate.
First, Pominville is one of Minnesota’s skilled players, so you want to protect him and send a message to opposing teams that you can’t go after the your club’s top end guys. From Scandella’s angle, it might’ve looked like Borowiecki stuck his knee out as he finished the check, too. Borowiecki’s leg did catch Pominville, but it didn’t look deliberate on the replay. Scandella didn’t jump Borowiecki and clearly asked him to dance so it was a clean scrap. However, the downfall was that the Wild defenseman was still given an extra two for instigating and a 10-minute misconduct.
You want to have teammates like Scandella, who are willing to stick up for you and it pumps you up when you’re on the bench. However, the Sens scored on the ensuing power play and Scandella was in the box for 15 minutes.
The State of Hockey added a new member yesterday, as Kyle Brodziak’s wife, Nicole, gave birth to their second boy, Leo. Brodziak missed yesterday’s Wild practice to be with his family and see the birth of his son.
Sometimes there are things that are bigger than hockey and seeing your son’s birth definitely fits in that category. But with mama and baby healthy and happy, Brodziak had a job to do tonight. It was a long day for the proud papa, as he flew into Ottawa today to rejoin the team. The 30-year-old didn’t make the team’s morning skate, but was there in time for the pregame meal and skated between Ryan Carter and Stephane Veilleux.
Canadians are pretty rad folks (credit a Canadian buddy of mine for the use of rad, as he’s trying to bring it back into pop culture vernacular; you should do the same). During the second intermission, the Senators’ entertainment was the Prime Ministers’ Race between past Canadian leaders. Don’t ask me which ones they were, but they all had huge head and engaged in a full-contact, two-lap race. Now, you might think that’s lame, but they weren’t easing up as they circled the ice. “Just like in politics, it’s getting really ugly,” the PA announcer said as the Ministers went crashing into the boards in a center-ice dog pile.
As for the in-game music selection, let’s just say it was eclectic in Ottawa. The first break was “California Love” by 2Pac and the soundtrack stoppages just got better from there. My favorite “shtick” was the video board Dance Cam with the Footloose theme song. Who doesn’t love a good Kenny Loggins tracked dance-off? Well, the Canadians sure do because they did their best Ren and Ariel impressions, although, I must admit, they looked more like Willard. Regardless of skill, “Let’s Dance, Canada!”