Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways, presented by Wells Fargo, that he'll remember from a 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks:
Tonight, the Wild ran into a hot goaltender in Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller. Minnesota out-chanced and outplayed the Ducks through the first two periods, but Hiller stood on his head to keep the Wild from lighting up the scoreboard. The Wild outshot the Ducks, 31-21, in the game and held a 22-7 advantage through two periods of play.
“It was disappointing not to get that win,” Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said. “We did a lot of good things through two periods, but we weren’t able to put a stranglehold on it.”
It seemed like the Wild was poised to open up the floodgates tonight, but after scoring midway through the first period, Hiller shut the door, completely. The Ducks took advantage, scoring two third-period goals and continue to roll along with points in its last eight games (6-0-2).
One of those early chances sure looked like a goal from the Al Shaver Press Box, but ended up not even registering as a shot on net. Torrey Mitchell took a turnover and made a slick self-pass off the boards, past an Anaheim defender. He picked up the puck, cut to his backhand and roofed a biscuit past Hiller off the crossbar. Everyone in Xcel Energy Center celebrated, except perhaps for the Ducks’ bench and a few fowl fans.
After the Control Room in Toronto looked at the replay, they deemed the puck never fully crossed the line. The replay shows the puck bounce, on edge, across the goal line like a tightrope walker tiptoeing a wire. I’m probably watching the replay with Iron Range Red and Forrest Green tinted glasses, but it looks awfully close to a goal, but I’ll let you be the judge.
The Wild scored again on the power play tonight, making it five-straight games with a goal on the man advantage. Tonight it was Devin Setoguchi finding the back of the net in the first period after a beautiful cross-box pass from Matt Cullen. The Wild had a number of chances on the man advantage tonight, but was able to capitalize only once.
About midway through the first period and the game scoreless, the Wild had nearly a full two minutes of 5-on-3. After not scoring in the first-half of the power play, the team called timeout to give the top unit a breather and to go over strategy. Although the team didn’t score on the PP, it was a good strategic move to call the timeout. First, timeouts often go unused in the course of a 60-minute game. Second, you want to have your horses rested, especially when you have the opportunity to score the game’s first goal at home. It was a good call from the Wild coaching staff.
A bad call is when fans scream, “Shooooooooooooot!” on power plays, especially when the opposing team’s players are clogging up the shooooooooting lanes. Yes, after the game, Yeo said that the team needed to get mores shots through, but I’m still not a supporter of the calls to fire the puck into pads. The players know the point of the PP is to get shots on goal, the coaches know this and obviously the fans yelling shoooooot know this, too. There is no reason to exasperate fellow fans with this practice. If anything, we should propagate a “Let’s go Wild!” chant.
Scary moment in the second period, as Jason Zucker took a late, blindside hit from Corey Perry. Zucker was down on the ice for several minutes getting attention from the Minnesota training staff and was helped off the ice. For the hit, Perry was assessed a five-minute interference penalty and ejected from the contest.
After the game, there was no update on Zucker’s status and hopefully we’ll have an update for you tomorrow. But for now hope for the best.
Watching the replay of the hit (I didn’t see it happen live), it looked like Perry’s body definitely hit Zucker high. While it didn’t look like Perry drove his shoulder or elbow into Zucker’s head, the hit was definitely late—the puck was at the blue line when contact was made—and the Wild forward was in a vulnerable position. While you don’t want to take all contact out of hockey, the League wants to eliminate high hits to the head. This one was too close for me to call one way or the other, but the League will definitely take a closer look at the play.
We had a Paul Deutsch situation on our hands tonight, as Ducks’ netminder Viktor Fasth suffered an upper body injury during the team’s morning skate. Anaheim recalled goaltender Jeff Deslauriers from the Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL. However, Deslauriers didn’t arrive in the State of Hockey in time for the start of warm ups, so the Ducks signed local goalie Zach Sikich to a one-day contract.
Deslauries made it to the game midway through the first period, but Sikich started on the Ducks bench and if starting goaltender Jonas Hiller was unable to perform, he’d have been in net. Sikich had some minor-pro experience (if you call getting lit up by yours truly experience), but due to a rule change in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams are allowed to sign former pro players to one-day contracts. Remember, the Wild signed Deutsch to an Amateur Try Out.
Too bad the Wild didn’t get a chance to shoot on Sikich because it might’ve built a comfortable lead. I can only imagine what the players on the bench were saying about Sikich’s baby blue pads. Bad style even for a men’s league goalie.