Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways, presented by Wells Fargo, that he'll remember from a 5-3 win against the Colorado Avalanche:
The Wild came out of the gate strong again and never looked back in its win tonight against division rival, Colorado Avalanche, closing out a three-game home stand. Minnesota won two of three and, more importantly, was very impressive in all three games.
Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo has talked about sticking with the process all season and it has paid off, as the team has played its best hockey of the season of late. Tonight, the Wild had all four lines rolling and playing the North-South game that Yeo wants to play.
The team was able to capitalize on its chances, firing 40 shots on goal. In this shortened, compacted season teams don’t get much time to soak in a victory or sulk in a loss and Minnesota will face the Avs again on Saturday, this time in Colorado.
If Mikko Koivu’s second-period goal doesn’t make every single top play countdown this week, these lists should be abolished, or at least the people making them should have their heads checked.
After a pair of offsetting penalties, the Wild and Avs were on a 4-on-4. Mikko Koivu won a wall battle and moved the puck up to a breaking Zach Parise, then the Wild captain busted hard to the net. Ryan Suter saw the play developing and jumped into the play. Parise crossed the blue line and dropped it off to Suter, who filled the lane created by Koivu. The defenseman one-touched a pass back to Parise, who snapped it across to Koivu. The center buried it into an empty net, as Semyon Varlamov bit on the Suter-to-Parise pass and was caught way out of position.
“That was a very entertaining play to watch from three highly skilled players,” Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said.
In the NHL, whenever a player has an entire 4-by-6 feet to shoot at, it usually is a result of a pretty sweet play (or an empty netter, as Koivu scored his second goal of the game with the Avs’ netminder pulled for an extra attacker). Any of the 18,000-plus fans in attendance could’ve finished that play. That will definitely be a Ri-DQ-ulous Top Play of the Week nominee…
Without making waves on the score sheet, Jonas Brodin’s play in his rookie season has started to catch the attention of media members on a national level and even been the subject of Calder Trophy talk. Of course, being paired with free agent acquisition Ryan Suter (we’ll get to him in a moment) will help turn some heads, but the rookie blueliner has more than delivered in his first NHL season.
Brodin has been praised for his defensive play and poise in his own end. But tonight, he did it in the offensive end as well, scoring his first-career NHL goal. And it was a thing of beauty as he took a pass from his defensive partner and found the top right corner of the net right below the crossbar.
“It’s a matter of time before that part of his game starts to evolve,” Yeo said.
Brodin’s offensive game will continue to grow as he gains more confidence and experience. At only 19 years of age, that is a scary proposition for the rest of the teams around the league.
Matt Cullen had one heck of a game tonight, but Jonas Brodin’s first-NHL goal, Ryan Suter’s three assists and Mikko Koivu’s two goals might’ve overshadowed it. Not with this guy. Cullen assisted on the team’s first goal by Torrey Mitchell, who also probably deserves a takeaway today, after positioning himself perfectly on the forecheck. The veteran read the play on a poor wrap attempt by the Avs, scooped up the puck along the wall and in one motion fed the puck right onto the tape of Mitchell.
His second assist came on Devin Setoguchi’s second-period goal. Cullen came in on the rush and wound up for a slapper. The Avs defender bit on the play and went down to block the shot (or broke his ankle and fell down depending on who you're asking). Only Cullen had his head up, saw the sprawling defender, pulled the puck around him and got a shot on net. Setoguchi banged home the rebound for his seventh goal of the year. Cullen has been a rock on the second line and is in fourth on the team in scoring with 17 points (3-14=17). His leadership is a big reason for the recent emergence of Setoguchi and rookie Jason Zucker. Just look at Cullen’s stat line: two assists, plus-1, seven shots on goal, 78 percent faceoff wins and 18:13 of total ice. Pretty good for the 36-year-old.
I don’t know if any goaltender in the NHL has been the victim of as many bad-luck goals a Niklas Backstrom. The netminder was solid again tonight, as the Avs scored two goals on strange plays tonight, both by PA Parenteau.
The first goal was on a knuckle puck shot through a screen that would’ve made Russ Tyler jealous. Parenteau’s second goal, Colorado’s third, came off a missed point shot. Erik Johnson fired a shot that missed the net purposely by at least three feet. The puck hit the end boards hard and bounced right onto the tape of Parenteau, who buried it. However, after that goal, Backstrom shut the door for the rest of the game making big save after big save to preserve the Wild’s lead.
Do I really need to keep telling everyone how good Ryan Suter is? Seriously, he already has 20 assists in 26 games. Last season Jared Spurgeon led the Wild with 20 assists in 70 games. Nuff said.