Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he'll remember from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 3-0 win against the Philadelphia Flyers:
While tonight’s shot total looks low—the teams were credited with 21 shots apiece—it was the goaltenders’ play that kept it a low-scoring affair. Although he wasn’t tested all that often early, Josh Harding stayed locked in, making big stops down the stretch. In the third period, with the Wild shorthanded, Harding used his athleticism to absolutely stone Jakub Voracek. The puck was moved to Voracek on the weak side and he fired a quick one-timer, but Harding made a diving stop to keep the shutout, and erase any thoughts of a Flyers comeback.
Harding continues to impress and the win, his 14th of the season, sets a new career high. The shutout also set a new career mark (3) and all have come on home ice.
The Wild wanted to get out to a better start tonight against the Flyers. Well, Minnesota outshot the Flyers in the first period, 9-4, and hounded Philly in the offensive zone all period.
Minnesota is at its best when it is playing up-tempo and has a relentless pursuit of the puck. Recently the club has gotten away from that style, but made a concerted effort to start strong against the Flyers. Only Flyers goaltender Ray Emery’s stellar opening period play kept his team in the game. The Wild’s persistence would eventually pay off…
Minnesota scored twice, just under a minute apart, in the third period. Both tallies were similar in that the goal scorers were just outside of the crease and beat their checkers to put themselves into position to score.
First, Mikko Koivu took the puck wide behind the net and made a wraparound pass to the front of the net. Zach Parise swung through the crease and took defenseman Braydon Coburn with him, leaving space out front. Jason Pominville saw the hole and beat a good defensive forward, Sean Couturier, to the open ice and popped home his 14th of the year.
Just over a minute later, Marco Scandella activated in the Flyers’ zone and won the puck along the wall. He made an escape move, and while falling down, slipped the puck to his defensive partner, Jared Spurgeon. The blueliner wound up, and Charlie Coyle went to the net hard. Spurgeon fired a slapper off Emery’s left pad and Coyle beat Nicklas Grossmann to the opening and a tap in for his third on the year.
The Wild and Flyers haven’t faced each other very often; the last time these two teams met was Jan. 17, 2012. It was only the 14th time these two teams have clashed, but you wouldn’t have guessed that by the amount of physical play. Minnesota and Flyers seemed determined to out-hit one another.
One of those physical players for Minnesota was forward Mike Rupp, who skated in his third game of the season tonight, and 600th of his career. Flyers forward Jay Rosehill was yapping at Wild players all night and Rupp stepped up to the plate, challenging him after a faceoff, and it was a doozy. Rupp started out with the lead, throwing, and landing, overhand haymakers. Give Rosehill credit, he took a beating and came back to return the favor. Rupp was cut above his eye, but after some stiches the bruiser was back out there finishing hits and bringing a physical element to the game.
Tonight was the first home game, since I started working with the Wild, I didn’t attend (day-to-day with a body injury). While it was cool to hear one of the greatest hockey play-by-play announcers call a game, Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, it doesn’t match watching games in person, high above the ice with all my communication co-workers, in the Al Shaver Pressbox (stick tap to Digital Media Coordinator Kelly Erickson for holding down the fort).
With the advent of high-definition television, the game is much more friendly to view on the idiot box. However, hockey is a game best watched live, where you can really get a feel for the players’ speed, skill and grit. When you watch in person, you can see the play develop and see things that the cameras don’t catch (although, getting multiple looks from replays is pretty solid). Watching hockey live is the best way to get newcomers to embrace the sport. So if you have someone you’d like to introduce to the game, I suggest bringing him or her to Thursday’s outing with the defending Stanley Cup champion, Chicago Blackhawks. It’s going to be a doozy.