Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he'll remember from each contest. Today, he'll look back at a 6-1 road loss to the San Jose Sharks:
The Wild was unable to sweep its three-game road trip, tonight finishing the roadie against the San Jose Sharks after winning both games on its Alberta leg. Minnesota just looked out of sync tonight and it didn’t get any help from the hockey gods, as the Sharks’ first goal actually went off a Wild player.
Yes, tonight’s game was disappointing for the Wild, but two of three on the road is not too shabby, especially when it’s three games in four nights. However, it is a bit disheartening to see teams that the Wild is chasing adding points and teams behind gaining traction, too. Looking at the standings, the Kings topped Columbus, 2-1, in regulation (good because the Blue Jackets didn’t earn a point), but the Blues beat the Coyotes in a shootout, 2-1, to pull past Minnesota.
The Wild has four games remaining and sits seventh in the Western Conference, with three contests at Xcel Energy Center. Minnesota holds its own destiny, and I like the club’s chances.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s hands are softer than a box of tissues, encased in a jar of cotton balls, resting on top of a Serta mattress. His second period goal was hockey’s definition of dirty.
Bouchard broke behind the Sharks’ defense and Jason Pominville fired a laser saucer pass to the winger. It looked like Bouchard knocked it out of the air and then corralled the puck for a clean breakaway. He then made a quick, forehand-to-backhand move and put the puck up like the ceiling can’t hold him—bar and in. Sick. Nasty. Wicked. Whatever you want to call it, you’ll definitely see that goal as a nominee in next week’s top plays vote.
On Tuesday, we touched on a rare phenomenon in hockey: the unassisted goal. Today, we can cover another spectacle that doesn’t happen often in the NHL: phantom assists. Typically, the NHL scorers review goals with instant replay to make sure that proper assists are reported. This severely limits the amount of phantom assists. The days of youth players calling for an assist when they were nowhere near the puck nor have anything to do with the play, in order to pad stats, are long gone.
However, hometown scorers can be generous when it comes to granting second assists, and in some cases assists at all. Take the Sharks’ first goal as an example of a scorer more generous than Santa Claus. Martin Havlat cut across the Wild blue line and threw the puck towards a breaking Logan Couture. However, a backchecking Mikko Koivu intercepted the pass, but redirected it into his own net. Now, Kyle Brodziak’s goal against Edmonton went unassisted because an Oilers’ player touched it – making a ‘hockey move’ – before Brodziak put it home on a Bouchard rebound. So, Koivu redirecting the puck should’ve been considering a ‘hockey move’ thus negating any assists.
Apparently Logan Couture is part cat, because his play on the Sharks’ third goal was pretty freakish and feline-like. Niklas Backstrom went behind the net and fired a high clearing attempt that was, at the very least, nine feet of the ice. Couture did his best Dekembe Mutumbo impression, jumped up, and rejected the shot back to the ice. He then found Havlat in the slot.
I don’t think you realize just how difficult it is to jump, as high as Couture did, on hockey skates. First, the gear weighs you down. Second, it’s hard to get any spring on blades and ice. Finally, it’s even harder to stick the landing. Sometimes you just have to tip your whiskers to a nice hockey play.
Although it has nothing to do with tonight’s contest, we report on State of Hockey news at all levels here on Wild.com, so I have to give a stick tap to my boys the Warners’ Stellian Stars. The Stars, possibly the greatest men’s league team ever assembled, won the Metro Gold championship yesterday (yes, I’m on the team).
I don’t care who you are, a peewee or washed up beer leaguer, winning at any level feels awesome. When I looked at the schedule, I knew that I’d miss the championship game because of this roadie and it made my heart sink. I look forward to Wednesday night hockey and tall boys like a bartender anticipating last call. For a while, I considered ‘forgetting’ my passport on my way to the airport, so that I couldn’t get into Canada for the first leg of our roadie. However, Wild fans would be awfully disappointed at the lack of coverage on the road, so I did my duty and packed the passport. But it didn’t matter because the boys took care of business. Can’t wait to spend my day with this bad boy. You bet!