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Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways at San Jose

by Mike Doyle / Minnesota Wild

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 3-1 loss against the San Jose Sharks:

There is no such thing as a moral victory in professional sports, a loss is a loss, but there is a positive Takeaway out of tonight’s loss against the Sharks. Minnesota outshot the Sharks at even strength and scored the games lone 5-on-5 goal. However, it is the total game that counts and the Sharks won the special teams battle tonight.

The club’s Achilles Heel tonight was the special teams play. The Sharks’ power play was firing on all cylinders and converted on three of seven chances on the man advantage. Meanwhile on its three chances, the Wild’s power play peppered Antti Niemi, but the netminder constantly frustrated Minnesota’s shooters, shutting the door on would-be chances.

After falling behind on three Sharks power play goals, Minnesota was unable to rally. It did add a third period goal; Jonas Brodin scored his sixth on the season. Brodin leads all Wild blueliners in goals this season.

It was a tough first period for Minnesota, with early penalties leading to a 2-0 hole. Even strength, the Wild had a strong start and battled throughout the first, generating chances with a persistent forecheck, but the Sharks took advantage on two of four first period power play chances.

Things didn’t get any better in the second and even when the Wild didn’t make an infraction the team was blamed. Early in the middle frame, Jason Demars was clipped in the face by an errant stick and Zenon Konopka was called for a double minor for high sticking. Only Konopka’s stick was on the ice the entire play. Konopka was on the forecheck and fished a hit on Freddie Hamilton. The Sharks defender started to fall and his stick slammed into Demars’ face. Just an unlucky break for Minnesota and it led to the Sharks third goal.

Overall, the Wild was hit with a number of ticky-tack calls and couldn’t buy a penalty if it had Apple money.

The Wild recalled forward Brett Bulmer today and the rookie made his season debut in San Jose. The forward has battled back after an injury-plagued season last year, and appears to be on track this season.

Out of all the prospects, Bulmer is often left out of causal conversation, but he has the tools to become a productive power forward. If you can remember two seasons ago, Bulmer nearly made the team as a 19-year-old, but was returned to his junior team after nine games. Bulmer is at his best when he is physical and using his size on the forecheck. We saw signs of that tonight, skating mostly with Kyle Brodziak and Matt Cooke and as he gains experience and continues to learn how to use his big frame, the 21-year-old will be one of the prospects to keep an eye on.

With the Wild on the power play in the second period (finally!), there was a lot of lumber, er, carbon fibers on the ice. In the span of about 10 seconds, three players broke their sticks, including Ryan Suter, who broke his on a one-timer, for about $700 worth of product skidding aimlessly along the ice.

There are a lot of benefits to composite sticks, opposed to their old wood counterparts—players have harder, more accurate shots and they are about half the weight—but they sure don’t last like the old wooden logs…

Warning: About to go on a back-in-my-day rant so can you signoff from tonight’s Takeaway if you don’t care about wooden sticks or the good old days.

It’s hard to imagine there are some youngsters out there who will never play hockey with a wooden stick. Thinking back, it’s kind of weird to have played during the dawn of one-piece stick. During my freshman season at St. Cloud State University, maybe two or three teammates used composite sticks. In my first year pro, no one on the Wheeling Nailers used a wooden stick.

I was recently at a sporting goods store for a skate sharpening and strolled into the stick aisle. My eyes might’ve popped out of their sockets like a cartoon (not sure because I was in shock) when I caught the prices. I think that you could nearly purchase an entire set of equipment (wait for it) when I was a kid for the cost of a single one-piece stick. If you’re a parent that wants to get your kid into hockey, but are concerned about the cost of sticks, don’t be scared off by the price. Honestly, no child under 13 needs a one-piece stick. Kids should start with a wooden stick, because they are more forgiving and allow you to feel the puck better. There, diatribe over. Thanks for making it through with me.

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