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 Colorado Avalanche:
The Wild had its four-game win streak snapped. In a reversal of the last few wins where the team was outshot, Minnesota put more shots on goal than the Avalanche, 27-18, but suffered the loss. That’s the way hockey works sometimes—you out-chance your opponent and still come away with a loss.
Coming into tonight’s contest, it was important for the Wild to get off to a good start. In its three previous games (against the Washington Capitals, Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes), the team was outshot in the opening period, 43-14. Minnesota could not allow this trend to continue. Tonight, the Wild played a solid defensive first period in its return home, limiting Avalanche chances and playing a smart opening period. For the first time in three games, Minnesota outshot its opponent in the opening frame, 7-3.
After each team scored two goals apiece in the second, the Wild was unable to capitalize in the third. The Avs scored to break the tie and added an empty netter to ice it.
Tonight’s loss is especially hard to take because it comes against a Central Division opponent who the Wild is trying to track down in the standings.
After skating on the wing all of last season, Charlie Coyle looks like he’s getting more comfortable at center. He’s been bouncing between positions this season, but played a complete game at the pivot tonight. He was rewarded and lit the lamp for the first time in 11 games, then did it again only 40 seconds later. Coyle’s stat line for the night: two goals, plus-1 (had a minus on the empty net goal), three shots, two hits and won six-of-10 faceoffs. It was his first-career two-goal game.
Coyle’s game also seems to be gelling with Dany Heatley, who assisted on both of the 21-year-old’s tallies. Heater chipped a pass over the stick of Ryan Wilson and Coyle did the rest. The center settled the puck, made a quick move and slid it through Semyon Varlamov’s 5-hole. On Coyle’s second, Nate Prosser activated down the wall and chipped the puck to Heatley, who was behind the net. Heater one-touched a pass in Coyle’s wheelhouse for a one-timer. The duo is big and strong, and mixed with Jason Zucker, can explode offensively like they did tonight.
Despite the loss, the Wild had some good news before the game. Captain Mikko Koivu met with the media earlier in the day and addressed his surgically repaired ankle.
Koivu said he’s confident he'll be back for the Olympics, but it's still a bit early to make a call on the exact timetable. Of course, he said the timing of his injury — in the middle of the season, just as the Wild was starting to turn things around — was the most frustrating aspect of the injury. Check out the full availability on WildTV, here.
Minnesota won’t have anytime to wallow in the loss, the team jumps on a plane tonight bound for Nashville. This weekend marks the seventh time the Wild plays on back-to-back nights.
However, the team looks to buck the trend tomorrow night in the Music City. Minnesota hasn’t fared well in back-to-back games. The club moved to 2-5-0 on first night and currently sits at 1-4-1 on the second night. Nashville also played tonight, losing in a shootout at home to the Ottawa Senators, 2-1.
If you arrived early to Xcel Energy Center today, you would’ve noticed the Wild’s warm-up sweaters looked a little different. That’s because the team sported custom-designed camouflage jerseys during warm-ups. Check out this WildTV video of the uniforms.
Wild players will sign the jerseys and they will be available for auction starting on Wednesday, Jan. 15 at Wild.com/camo. The auction will end on Sunday, Jan. 26 with proceeds benefitting the Minnesota Wild Foundation and Defending The Blue Line.
Defending The Blue Line is a non-profit organization created by a group of National Guard soldiers in Minnesota. The organization’s goal is to assist families of all branches of the military with costs associated with hockey by providing financial assistance for registration fees, free equipment, summer hockey camps, and sending many deserving families to Xcel Energy Center for a night of fun at a Minnesota Wild game.
The Minnesota National Guard presented tonight’s contest. Before the game Sergeant First Class (SFC) Lawrence Cooper and SFC Richard Babineau rappelled from the rafters at Xcel Energy Center as part of the pregame ceremonies. Babineau dropped the ceremonial first puck and added a little flair to his drop, descending onto the ice headfirst. Those two fellas have no problem with heights.