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 4-1 loss to the Calgary Flames:
The Wild outshot the Flames, 35-23, but it was foiled by a newly inked goaltender. Prior to tonight’s game, the Flames inked netminder Joey MacDonald to a one-year extension. It looked like he was worth the money tonight, as MacDonald turned away 34 shots, many of them from pointblank range.
Calgary picked up MacDonald from the waiver wire from the Detroit Red Wings. He has made good on his opportunity. Coming into tonight’s contest, MacDonald appeared in 18 games, while posting seven wins along with a 2.91 goals against average and .900 save percentage.
The Flames are giving a lot of young players a chance, as they recalled seven players from the Abbotsford Heat today, including Mark Cundari. The defenseman made his NHL debut tonight and made an impact with a goal and assist.
At this point of the season, you’ll see teams that are gearing up for playoffs and teams that are preparing for next season. Although the Flames have been eliminated from the playoff picture, the club has won three in a row and is 6-4-0 in its last 10 games. Some pundits might argue that the Flames should be tanking for a shot at a higher draft pick.
However, the players in the locker room are fighting for jobs and roster spots for next season. Unlike other sports that will remain nameless, hockey players fighting for contracts and roster spots are not prone to mailing it in. It’s like the scene from Slap Shot when Joe McGrath bursts into the Chiefs’ locker room and yells at the players that there are NHL scouts in the stands with contracts in their pockets. The next scene, you see the Chiefs in a line brawl, literally fighting for a contract. Well, that’s what its like for the players in the Flames lineup right now.
It’s hard to believe the Wild’s top line of Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle only had one goal tonight, as they were running on all cylinders. It might’ve been the most dominant performances on the ice I’ve seen from a line without someone having at least a couple of goals. It seemed like every time they were on the ice, they created at least one scoring chance from a tenacious forecheck. They all easily could’ve had a multi-point night. Parise and Koivu combined for 15 shots on goal. Parise matched his Wild single-game season high for most shots with nine (Feb. 14 vs. COL) and one shy of his career high of 10 (Feb. 17, 2009 at FLA). Koivu matched his season high with six shots on goal (March 25 at DAL) and went 16-6 on faceoffs.
The trio scored the Wild’s lone goal on a hard working play that featured the line’s skill, as well. Koivu won a battle in the corner and fed Coyle in the slot, who one-touched a pass to Parise. The winger cut from behind the net, outwaited an outstretched MacDonald and slid the puck into the open net. It was Parise’s team-leading 17th goal of the season.
Tonight marked the first day of Wild Fan Celebration Week with the Jersey Off Our Back ceremony. The Jersey Off Our back night is always a cool spectacle to see. Fans bid on player jerseys and, after the game, the winning bidder takes home the player’s jersey from the game. Players literally strip their sweaters off, sign them and hand them over to the fans. It is a pretty cool experience for everyone involved. I just hope the fans packed a bottle of Febreze for the car ride home.
Wild Fan Celebration Week continues; on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Kings, all fans receive a scratch-and-win card for the chance to win great prizes and Friday against the Edmonton Oilers all fans in attendance will receive a Wild team poster.
During the second intermission of tonight’s game, the Wild honored the St. Cloud State University men’s hockey team for making it all the way to the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh last weekend. The team had a suite and enjoyed watching the game.
There was a contingency of Cardinal Red and Black in the stands, as SCSU fans watched former Husky and Little Falls native, Ben Hanowski, skate for the Flames. The Big Hanowski skated 13:45 of ice time and registered a shot on goal. Congrats to Hanowski and St. Cloud State on a great season, now do it again next year.