Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 3-2 win against the Philadelphia Flyers:
Coming into the third period against the Philadelphia Flyers tied, 1-1, the Minnesota Wild probably would’ve been satisfied with a point at the end of 60 minutes. In the first two periods, Minnesota was badly outshot by the Flyers, 27-13.
However, the team must’ve found a match during the intermission, as the Wild found a spark in the third. Minnesota peppered 17 shots on goal and scored twice in the final period, including the game winner with only 46 seconds remaining. Defenseman Ryan Suter was jumping into the offense and slid the puck across the crease to a wide-open Jason Zucker for the win and two points.
Marco Scandella scored the team’s other third-period goal, extending his scoring streak to two games. The blueliner caught a cross-ice pass from Nino Niederreiter at the top of the circle and ripped a slap shot past the glove of Flyers goaltender Ray Emery.
The games First Star, and probably could’ve been its second and third, was Darcy Kuemper. The netminder made 37 saves, including 11 in the final period to secure the victory.
Captain Mikko Koivu didn’t play for a large portion of the third period. After the game, Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo noted that the Captain is sick but isn't showing the same symptoms as what's been plaguing the Wild's defensive corps.
Kuemper was hotter than Emery’s pads tonight (we’ll get to those). After losing last night in New York, the Flyers came out firing, taking 14 shots in the first. The score could’ve gotten ugly in the opening period, but Kuemper blanked Philly, many times from close range. The netminder was moving like a pinball between the pipes in the first period and his pads resembled the game’s flippers, keeping everything out of the hole.
It’s hard to pick Kuemper’s save of the night because there were so many clutch ones. On GameCenter Live, the League’s online streaming service, there is an option to look at a list of highlights. Under the save tab, Kuemper’s name was prominent, authoring title stops as prolifically as Steven King produces novels. The puck had to have looked as big as a beach ball for Kuemper tonight, or maybe as bright as Emery’s pads (again, we’ll get to those).
The Wild cracked the goose egg on road power plays in the second period. Niederreiter, who tallied his fourth power play goal on the year, was the recipient of a nice cross-box pass from Matt Dumba in the middle frame. But it was the move moments before making the pass that opened up the lane.
The defenseman had the puck at the top of the left circle. Like a quarterback pump faking to a receiver, Dumba looked off Scandella at the top of the diamond. The move made Flyers forward R.J. Umberger hesitate for a moment and that’s all the defenseman needed. Dumba gathered himself and slid the puck cross-ice to Niederreiter, who wasted no time in knocking home a one-timer.
Goaltending is the one position where a player can be recognized for his individual style, often times represented in the paint jobs of their helmets. Well, the Flyers netminder has taken that to another level. When Emery is between the pipes, everyone in the building knows. Heck, a tourist checking out the Liberty Bell a few miles down the road can tell when he’s in the cage. That’s because his pads are a vibrant shade of orange; burn your retina hot orange; direct traffic bright orange; bring them in a deer stand orange.
I don’t really understand why a netminder would bring more attraction to his pads. The only argument I can think of is that, as a shooter, you’re supposed to look beyond the netminder’s pads, as if he’s not even in net. Maybe Emery is trying to distract opposing triggermen. But I’d have to think that when you’re looking out of the corner of your eye, it would be easy to see the glowing orange pad and try to avoid shooting into it.
Before the game, the Flyers welcomed two members of the famed Legion of Doom Line into its Hall of Fame, Eric Lindros and John LeClair. When I was a young hockey player in Anchorage, Alaska, I wanted to wear number eight. But one of the older kids already wanted it, so I took 88 because, hey, two are better than one. The following year, we heard about this monster of teenager tearing up Canadian Junior hockey in Oshawa, Ont., who also wore 88. Turns out, Lindros did a lot more with the number than I ever did. The Big E was the original Beast Mode, a man with speed, skill and power — an indomitable force of nature. For those who didn’t see him play, just hit a Lindros YouTube wormhole, sit back and enjoy.
LeClair was a prototypical power forward, with a nose for the net and a blistering shot. I attended Pittsburgh Penguins’ training camp the year he signed with the club and saw his slapper firsthand. During a game of rebound, an end-of-practice game where a handful of skaters try to score against a goaltender, LeClair was the shooter. Typically, the shooter is in the area between the hashmarks and top of circle to give the goaltender some kind of a chance. Well, the wing lined up directly between the hashes and started taking full-on clap bombs at poor goaltender, Andy Chido. The netminder stood in the goal like a cookie cutter, not moving a muscle as LeClair fired home goals. Chido’s eyes looked like two harvest moons glowing through his cage. Luckily for the goaltender, he finally blew one wide, the rotation moved and LeClair headed off the ice.