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 4-3 win against the Phoenix Coyotes:
Well, the Wild needed to get off to a good start tonight and the team did that by jumping out to a 2-0 first period lead, and kept building in the second with two more goals. Sure, the final was 4-3, but the game wasn’t really as close as the scoreboard showed. Phoenix scored its third goal on a wonky bounce off a stanchion on the glass and added a late goal with its net empty. Throughout the game, all four lines were going and the blue line was on a regular rotation.
“We talked about it earlier, you need contributions from different guys,” Head Coach Mike Yeo said after the game. “Brodziak’s line gave us some important minutes, we got two from Heater and a power play goal as well.”
The only player to skate in under 10 minutes was rookie forward Jason Zucker, who totaled a shade over seven minutes…
Zucker doesn’t need a whole lot of time to make an impact, as the forward put the Wild on the board just 1:35 into the game. Zucker got things rolling with his third goal of the year by going to the net hard. The rookie showed nice touch in front of the goal, redirecting a Matt Cullen pass with his backhand past Phoenix netminder, Mike Smith.
The Cullen, Zucker and Devin Setoguchi line has begun to provide the secondary scoring that the Wild has been looking for. The trio has been effective in transition, using their speed to create chances off of turnovers and quick breakouts from the defensive end. In the last two games you can see that they have started to gel, able to find each other on the ice.
Cullen has been the rock between the two younger players. Zucker talked to WildTV before the game about the veteran leadership that Cullen has had on both forwards.
Along with the first goal, Cullen and Setoguchi also assisted on Dany Heatley’s second goal…
When he’s feeling it, he really feels it and tonight Dany Heatley was feeling it. Heatley recorded his third, two-goal game of the season and 62nd of his career. The forward was able to find time and space to get off that big shot of his. Not only did he score twice, but Yeo liked his overall game.
“He was really good without the puck, he played the right way with the puck and found himself in situations where he was able to capitalize a couple of times,” Yeo said.
In the first period, he came down the left side and fired a shot past goaltender Mike Smith, who was square to the shooter and had a good look, but the goal scorer just blew it by him. Heatley’s second goal came just as a power play expired. Matt Cullen found Heatley coming down the slot and fed it right into the big man’s wheelhouse. Heater blasted a one-timer high over the glove of the Yotes’ goaltender. The goal came just as a Wild power play had expired…
It was only a matter of time before the Wild’s power play started to chip in, scoring in its second-straight game. This time, from a less likely source as Jared Spurgeon scored his first goal of the season in the second period to give the Wild a 4-1 lead.
The Wild also stationed Kyle Brodziak on the first unit to give it a right-handed, net-front presence. Brodziak was charged with the task of screening the netminder and take abuse in front. He accomplished that on Spurgeon’s goal, as the defenseman scored on a third rebound with Brodziak creating havoc in front of the blue paint.
Minnesota’s power play has been coming around of late, but was just unable to get on the board. However, the unit’s in-zone puck possession has been much improved along with its offensive zone entry plays. It’s important for power play units to cross the blue line with speed, but also in unison so that it can create more puck support and regain control after dumps. The Wild has been doing all the little things well on the man advantage lately and eventually, with this team’s skill, it will lead to goals.
Mike Rupp dropped the gloves for the first time in a Wild sweater tonight against Phoenix tough-guy Paul Bissonnette. Rupp caught his balance early in the tussle and then caught the Phoenix enforcer over the left eye, splitting him open. Rupp won the decision in the half minute TKO.
Since coming to the Wild in a trade for Darroll Powe, Rupp has provided a physical presence on the team’s fourth line. He has the unenviable job of often starting in the defensive zone, being the first guy in on the forecheck to punish defenders and mixing it up after the whistle. Just look at this photo, this one and this one, all from tonight’s game. He is a battletested warrior who gives the Wild an honest effort night in and night out. He might not make a big impact on the score sheet, but makes a positive impact on the ice.
Not sure if it’s because the retirees living in Phoenix can’t hear the PA announcements so they really have to crank the volume at Jobing.com Arena or what, but my ears are ringing from the sound system here. I used to live by the words, “If it’s too loud, you’re too old,” from the movie AirHeads. Well, guess I’m getting old because the sound system was way too loud up in the press box. I hope I’m not turning into the Andy Rooney of hockey writers. Oh man, a lot of you probably didn’t even get that reference (desperately trying to think of something hip to say).