Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 3-2 shootout loss against the Detroit Red Wings:
The Minnesota Wild inches closer to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, earning a loser point in the shootout loss. The Winnipeg Jets won against the Vancouver Canucks today to keep its postseason hopes alive. The Wild now holds a four-point lead on the Jets. Now, all eyes turn west, as both the Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames play later tonight.
Minnesota will have another chance to punch its ticket into the postseason on Monday. The club hosts Central Division rival, the Jets, in its final home game of the season.
I’ve been disparaging of the skills competition in this space before, but tonight’s shootout was full of drama thanks to all of the playoff implications. The shootout went to eight rounds, saw one heck of a move by Thomas Vanek, but came to a somewhat anti-climatic end. At first glance, it looked like Devan Dubnyk made an unbelievable save on Darren Helm. However, the replay showed that Dubnyk’s pad was behind the goal line when it knocked the shot out.
If the area behind the net has been dubbed Gretzky’s Office, then the two feet around the crease should be called Parise’s Workshop. The forward punches the time clock, goes to work and makes his money in the area around the blue paint. You could probably use a yardstick to measure the distance he scored his goals away from crease tonight.
The wing isn’t the biggest guy in the League, but he’s one of its leading battlers. The 30-year-old has made a career of paying the price to score goals. He takes crosschecks, high-sticks and slashes from bigger bruisers, but keeps coming back to chip, deflect and pound pucks into the net. Parise now has 60 points this season, leading the team in both points and goals (32).
Wild captain Mikko Koivu was a surprise healthy scratch tonight and is considered day-to-day with an eye injury. Following the game, Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said he scratched his cornea, but should be okay to play on Monday. It’s the first game the 32-year-old has missed this season. Obviously, the injury came at a bad time as the club lost one of the better two-way centermen in the League, who was playing some of his best hockey of the season.
Koivu is the franchise’s all-time leader in points sits at 499. He had nine points (4-5=9) in the last 11 games and is third on the Wild with 21 points (7-14=21) in 31 games since the All-Star Break. With Koivu out, Charlie Coyle moved between Chris Stewart and Nino Niederreiter. Not only did the Wild miss him between the whistles, it could’ve used his patented backhand move in the shootout.
Devan Dubnyk doesn’t always use a poke check, but when he does, it works better than Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World ad campaign. Tonight, Darren Helm had a shorthanded breakaway in the first period. The Wings forward grabbed the puck out of the air and rushed down the ice. He only looked down for a moment at the puck and Dubynk pounced like a big jungle cat. Helm was so surprised when he picked his head up, he wasn’t able to do anything but try to avoid the sprawled out netminder. The goaltender went back to the poke in the shootout, tricking Wings defender Niklas Kronwall with the move.
On Thursday, Dubnyk was nominated for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy by the Twin Cities chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA). The trophy is presented annually to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. If anyone knows about perseverance in hockey, it’s Dubnyk. The goaltender’s story is well known now, traded twice last season and was out of the NHL at the end of the season. This year with the Wild, he’s been garnering Vezina Trophy buzz and has to be considered the team’s most valuable players.
Hockey players are known as arguably the toughest athletes in sports. However, sometimes I think they are equally as crazy. On Tuesday, Wings forward Drew Miller took a skate to the face from Senators forward Mark Stone. The blade left him with a gash that would make Omar Little wince, taking 60 stiches to the mug. Of course two days later, the Wings forward was back in the lineup and played against the Boston Bruins on Thursday.
He was in the lineup again tonight against the Wild, with the half-shield-chin-guard combo mask. His mug makes him looked like he could be a comic book villain: Stitch Face. I skated in games after receiving stiches, but never took a beating anything like Miller’s mug. If I had, I think I’d have taken a few personal days before getting back on the ice.
When the Red Wings were on the power play at the end of the second period, I wondered out loud to our PR Intern, Megan Kogut, why Pavel Datsyuk wasn’t on the team’s top unit? (Typically, I’d have asked Kelly Erickson, but she is working from home with Badger fever. Just kidding, get well soon). Well, my enquiry was quickly answered, as Gustav Nyquist flicked a perfect little wrist shot over Dubnyk’s shoulder.
Datsyuk has missed seven of the last nine games with a lower-body injury, so the club probably wanted to keep continuity on the PP. He’s not a bad option to captain the second unit, averaging a point per game this season and second on the team in scoring, despite only playing in 60 games. In the second, he showed why he is nicknamed the Magic Man, by whizzing his way through the neutral zone with the puck like it was on a string for a shot on goal. If you’ve read the Takeaways against the Wings in the past, you’ll know I’m a big Datsyuk fan. Earlier in the season, I wrote about the most hated players League-wide. Well, the Wings wizard has to be one of the most well liked skaters in the NHL.