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Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways vs. Chicago

by Mike Doyle / Minnesota Wild

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 1-0 loss against the Chicago Blackhawks:

Tonight’s game between the Wild and Blackhawks had an electric atmosphere and a little bit of everything: physical play, chances, good tempo and big saves. It had everything but scoring, as goaltender Niklas Backstrom and Ray Emery battle in a goaltenders’ duel.

The Wild kept a very good team under wraps for most of the game and Chicago’s high-powered forwards to the outside. It was one of those games where one mistake can, and did, make the difference.

“We gave ourselves a chance to win a game, but unfortunately we blinked first,” Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said after the game. “We’ve given up one goal in two games. We’ve got to generate more and that’s about it.”

With only a handful of games remaining and teams in the Western Conference jockeying for postseason positioning, like singles on the dance floor at a nightclub, every game will have an edge to it. Tonight’s game certainly did and although it was a low-scoring affair, the game didn’t lack intensity.

The Wild will be pushing all of its chips in for the rest of the year. Okay, I’m stating the obvious here, but just take a look at each team’s time ice-time leaders from tonight. The best players from each squad put up some major numbers.

The Wild’s ice-time leaders were: Ryan Suter (32:23), Jonas Brodin (23:50), Jared Spurgeon (23:34), Mikko Koivu (21:35) and Zach Parise (21:10). With two more home game spread out over the next four days, expect to see a lot of the Wild’s top line if the matches are as close as tonight’s contest with Chicago. Those guys might want to invest in some hyperbaric chambers.

I, for one, am really excited about next season’s realignment. Not only will it cut down on the Wild’s travel schedule, it will put Minnesota and Chicago in the same division. All three games between these two teams were intense, hard-hitting and high paced.

It will be great for both fan bases as well, since getting to the opposing city is a short drive or a cheap flight. It looked like Chicago brought a couple of busloads from the Windy City, as Blackhawk red was splatted in the stands like splotches on a painter’s overalls. A few times, they tried to get a “Let’s go Hawks” chant going, and Wild fans drowned it out with boos. I don’t want to tell anyone how to be a fan, but may I suggest we get a louder “Let’s go Wild” chant going instead? Seriously, I know that will get players much more energized and they don’t respond to hearing boos in their own barn (unless directed towards the opponent). I understand that fans paid good money for their tickets and have the right to boo, but trust me, it is much more productive to cheer on the home team than to boo them—regardless of the circumstances…

One acceptable practice of booing is directed at the refs. Typically, I don’t use this space to complain about officiating, but another Wild player was clipped with a blatant high stick and it went unpunished. In the first period, Jonas Brodin had the puck and Vicktor Stalberg tried to lift his stick, missed completely and hit the rookie in the kisser. Maybe the problem was that Brodin didn’t toss his head back, drop his gloves and flop around on the ice. No, he instead made a play before checking his face for blood.

Now, I’m not endorsing tactics spread by Gordon Bombay to District 5 (the best thing about this clip is the title, excellent), but the Wild has had several players clipped in the face in the last few weeks. Mikko Koivu, Tom Gilbert and Clayton Stoner are all sporting shiners from errant high sticks and all went uncalled.

We received good and bad news during the game today. First the good, Dany Heatley underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder today. The bad news is that Heatley will be out for the remainder of the season.

The big winger was hurt on April 3 against the San Jose Sharks when he and Marc-Edouard Vlasic engaged in a scrum at the end of the game. Heatley is one tough customer and this is a bad break for him and the Wild. Up to that point, he was an iron man with Minnesota, skating in every game. In fact before the injury, Heatley only missed two games over the last four years. Speedy recovery, Dany.

The (feverously knocking on wood) Wild has been fortunate with injuries in the compact season, so let’s hope that Matt Cullen is able to return soon and I don’t have to write downer injury takeaway for the rest of the year. The Hockey Gods owe us from last season, badly.

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