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 win against the Phoenix Coyotes:
Let me take a minute to wipe the sweat from my brow. Okay, let’s do this.
If this game was a piece of coal, it would’ve turned into a diamond from the amount of pressure in the contest, and it turned out to be a sparkling jewel for Minnesota. Coming into the game, a single point separated the Wild and Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference’s Wild Card race. Making matters tighter in the West, while the Wild and Coyotes were playing, the Dallas Stars, who are in ninth place in the Conference, beat the St. Louis Blues, 4-2.
Down 1-0 heading into the third period, things looked bleak for Minnesota. But the Wild continued to build and eventually broke through on a goal by Zach Parise following a faceoff play (we’ll get to that). Defenseman Jared Spurgeon netted the winner (knuckle puck time!) and the crowd fell silent. Parise iced the game with 45 seconds remaining, and heading to celebrate Mikko Koivu let out a roar that would’ve tamed a lion. You could see how much the game meant by the look on Parise and Koivu’s faces as they embraced.
Faceoffs are an underrated part of the game. Centermen have all kinds of tricks of the trade to win draws. Tonight, the Wild scored on a fantastic faceoff win by Mikko Koivu. The center, lefthanded, was on the right faceoff circle. Instead of trying to win it cleanly, which is hard to do when you’re on your forehand side, the center tied up the stick of his counterpart, Radim Vrbata, then used his foot to kick the puck back to Parise.
The kick pass was right onto the tape of Parise, who did the rest. The winger wired a rocket over blocker of Greiss. With the two-goal effort, Parise surpassed his father, JP, on the all-time goal list at 239. He is now tied for the team lead with 27 on the season.
Terms like snake bitten or unlucky are used too often when a team is slumping, but, honestly, the Wild has had the recent luck of Mush from “A Bronx Tale.” Of course, the Coyotes’ first goal was luckier than five-straight black jacks in Las Vegas.
On the power play in the opening period, Shane Doan had the puck in the corner and centered (a pass?). The reason I ask if it was a pass, the puck was a grenade (hockey term for bad or bouncing pass) and it ended up going off the body of Mikkel Boedker. It looked like the lucky goal would hold up until the Wild finally caught a little break in the third.
Spurgeon’s goal was a bomb on a rolling puck that fooled Greiss. Mikael Granlund carried the puck into the zone and actually tried to hit Jason Pominville in the slot. However, the biscuit bounced over Pominville’s stick and hit the boards. It was still rolling when Spurgeon walked in and wired a laser high over the glove of Thomas Greiss. The replay showed that it was a Russ Tyler special: Knuckle puck.
With the Wild in Glendale, Ariz., it was impossible to not keep an eye on Saint Paul, as the NCAA Hockey Tournament featured two State of Hockey college teams playing at Xcel Energy Center tonight. In the early game, the No. 1 seeded University of Minnesota Golden Gophers routed Robert Morris, 7-3.
Of course, my St. Cloud State Huskies were in action against Notre Dame in the second game. Thanks to technology, WildTV’s Dusty Peterson, another proud Husky alum, was able to stream the game. High up in the press box at Jobing.com Arena, I was able to keep an eye on the game while the Wild skated below us. As I write this, the Huskies and the Irish are in overtime. All I can say is #GOHUSKIESWOOOO!
On Tuesday in St. Louis before the game, US Paralympic Hockey goaltender Steve Cash dropped the ceremonial pre-game puck. Tonight, Josh Sweeney, who scored the Gold Medal winning goal, dropped the ceremonial puck. Sweeney is a Glendale native who lost his legs while serving in the military.
WildTV spoke to Sweeney before tonight’s game. Afterwards he spoke to media members for a little while about the experience. One question the media asked, that didn’t make the video, “Where will you keep your medal?” Sweeney laughed and said he’s had it in a drawer and it will likely stay there. He had a good reason, though, saying that he wants to have it handy and easy to get to when visiting schools. He said that it’s one of favorite things about winning the medal—being able to share his story and show it to youngsters—hoping he can be a positive influence to children. He’s a great example of taking a bad and scary situation, and turning it around for a positive.