Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 4-2 loss against the St. Louis Blues:
All good things must come to an end. But where one thing ends, another begins. The Minnesota Wild saw the regular season and its road win streak end in St. Louis. The club tied the single-season record for consecutive road wins at 12, but couldn’t get lucky number 13 in the Gateway City.
The Wild played in 82 regular season games to get a chance to compete for hockey’s ultimate prize: the Stanley Cup. The National Hockey League playoffs start on Wednesday, with the schedule coming out later tonight. Despite the end of the regular season, Minnesota’s opening round opponent still isn’t settled…
With the win, St. Louis takes the lead in the Western Conference playoff race. The Anaheim Ducks, currently only two points back, can claim the Conference title tonight against the Arizona Coyotes and that outcome will determine the rest of the Round 1 matchups in the West.
The Wild’s Round 1 Stanley Cup Playoff opponent will be determined at about 10:30 p.m. State of Hockey Time. If the Anaheim wins in regulation or overtime in Arizona, Minnesota will be back in St. Louis for the first round. If the Ducks lose, then the Wild will head to Anaheim.
Heading into the final week of the season, many people asked me who I’d like to see the Wild play in Round 1. My honest opinion: it doesn’t matter. History has proven that anyone can win in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the club will be in for a tough seven-game series regardless of whom it is playing in Game 1. Selfishly, I pick my matchups on places I’d rather visit, so the Golden State is a pretty good destination, but St. Louis has grown on me, while my waist could be growing in the city (more on that in a moment).
Both teams rested key players this afternoon. Minnesota sat out forwards Mikko Koivu, Justin Fontaine, Ryan Carter and Jordan Schroeder, and defensemen Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon. With Koivu out, Kyle Brodziak moved between Chris Stewart and Jason Zucker. On the blue line, Nate Prosser was paired with Marco Scandella and Christian Folin skated beside Jonas Brodin.
The Blues sat out forwards David Backes, T.J. Oshie and Steve Ott, and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk.
Though the Wild and Blues are possible first round opponents, yesterday Head Coach Mike Yeo said that this game probably would not be an indication of how a playoff series would look between the clubs. With all of the key contributors out of the lineup, that might’ve been the understatement, or prediction, of the season…
Yeo said he didn’t want goaltender Devan Dubnyk to go a full week without any game play, and the reason he started tonight’s contest rather than resting another day. Well, in the first period, the netminder probably could’ve gotten more action during the intermission’s Squirt scrimmage. The goaltender saw and stopped one shot from the Blues, an attempt from the perimeter by Vladimir Tarasenko.
The game did start at 2 p.m. — around the time most players take their pregame naps. Maybe the Blues players were still in shutdown mode, not used to being awake at this hour. Regardless, St. Louis came out of the gate flatter than a cheap tire. However, the Blues woke up in the second period, scoring three times on odd-man rushes and firing 13 shots on Dubnyk. Yesterday, Yeo said that we might only see Dubnyk for two periods and Darcy Kuemper came in for relief in the third.
If you read the Takeaways enough, you know I like to enjoy the road city’s local eateries, establishments and sites. Thanks to Wild assistant equipment manager Rick Bronwell, I experienced one of my new favorite joints yesterday: Pappy’s Smokehouse. The restaurant is the place to go for wood smoked Memphis-style barbeque in the Gateway City.
You might’ve heard of Pappy’s, it was featured on season one of Man vs. Food on the Travel Channel. Adam, the show’s host, attempted to take down the “Big Ben” meal, which includes a full slab of ribs, a beef brisket and a pork sandwich, one-quarter of a chicken and four sides.
Thanks to Ryan and Tim at Pappy’s, the Minnesota staffers experienced our own man versus food challenge and chowed down on a meal we’ll refer to as the “Wild Smorgasbord,” a bacchanalia of mouthwatering meat, sides and more meat. FOX Sports North color commentator, Mike Greenlay, got the meat sweats putting down a couple of plates. If Minnesota faces the Blues in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, we’ll be heading back to Pappy’s for round two of Wild versus food. If you make the trip down for a playoff game and want to check it out, go early; the line will be out the door and once they sell out of a product, they’re out.