Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 4-1 loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins:
If tonight’s contest between the Minnesota Wild and Pittsburgh Penguins were a mid-term election, the Wild would petition for a recount.
Minnesota and Pittsburgh play similar styles, but the Pens played a better game and dictated the pace at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild had been like a powerful incumbent on home ice, rolling to victories its first five games of the season in the State of Hockey. After the game Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said the team was getting a little too comfortable in Saint Paul. Well, the team couldn’t just show up and expect to punch the ballot—especially against a team of Pittsburgh’s caliber.
Suffering along with the loss, forward Zach Parise didn’t come out of the locker room for the third period. Yeo said that he suffered an upper-body injury, but didn’t discuss the severity, so we’ll have to wait until tomorrow for more news.
Defenseman Ryan Suter is well known around the National Hockey League for having iron lungs, leading the League in time on ice the past two seasons. Well, tonight he had a shift that would’ve winded a marathoner. On his first shift of the night, coming at the 19:25 mark of the first, Suter was on for what seemed like a normal skate. But then the shift, because of a number of Minnesota icings, kept going…and going…and going.
At the 18:36 mark, we might’ve found out why Suter is able to take extended shifts: after a Wild icing, Suter and his defensive partner, Jonas Brodin, came off the ice and had a seat on the bench. And they would’ve gotten away with a shortened shift if the timekeeper didn’t intervene. The scorekeeper noticed that there were Wild players who came on the ice despite the icing and blew the horn. After what seemed like an eternity of deliberation, they concluded that Brodin and Suter would come back on the ice for a faceoff in the Minnesota end. Of course, Suter was well rested and stayed out until the 16:40 mark of the period—nearly three minutes after he first put his skates on the ice.
Coming into the game, we all heard about how deadly the Penguins are on the man advantage. The Pens came into the game the Pens were converting on 41.9 percent of its power play chances. Well, tonight we got a look at the Great White Shark of power plays and it only took 11 seconds to bite. The puck went to Evgeni Malkin at the point and the forward made a slap pass to the tape of Chris Kunitz, who redirected the puck past Wild netminder Darcy Kuemper to give the Pens a 3-0 lead.
Pittsburgh’s power play percentage actually went down tonight, as the Wild killed the remaining two chances (including scoring while shorthanded, but we’ll get to that). Malkin and his counterpart Sidney Crosby are two of the elite power play specialists in the League. Their combined vision and playmaking ability make the guys around them better. They helped turn Kunitz into an all-star caliber player and seem to be doing the same with newly acquired Patric Hornqvist, who scored an empty netter to ice the game with 1:34 left in the third. In 11 games, Hornqvist is averaging better than a point per game (7-8=15). Before this season, his highest point per game total came last season at .70 per game.
Running the @mnwildLIVE can be a delicate balance of having fun and updating the game. With the Wild down, the Twitter account can get a little creative in trying to send out bad vibes to the opposition and reverse jinxes. Tonight, we sent out a one that worked and a few that backfired.
After tweeting about the Pens’ impressive unanswered goal streak, Nino Niederreiter scored the team’s second shorthanded tally of the year. It was the longest such streak since the 2000-01 season.
Coming into the game, Pittsburgh had killed off 26-consecutive power plays. So, obviously, we made that known to in the Twittersphere when the Wild was down a pair of goals late in the third. We thought that we got the @mnwildLIVE stink on the Pens streak again when it appeared Mikko Koivu put the puck past the goal line. However, here’s the explanation we got from the League:
At 16:54 of the third period in the Penguins/Wild game, the Situation Room initiated a video review because the puck crossed the Pittsburgh goal line. The referee informed the Situation Room that Wild forward Mikael Granlund made incidental contact in the crease with Penguins goaltender Thomas Greiss before the puck entered the net. This is not a reviewable play therefore the referee's call on the ice stands - no penalty and no goal Minnesota.
Following the no-goal call, someone in the stands threw something onto the ice in protest. We tweeted this out, asking fans not to litter the ice. Of course after the game, the opposite happened as fans threw debris onto the ice with both teams still on the playing surface. In all seriousness: Don’t be that fan. Players, officials or even your fellow fans can be injured from falling garbage.
Growing up in Alaska, we didn’t follow a whole lot of baseball outside of the World Series. However, I do remember the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays, Joe Carter’s Series winning home run and Paul Molitor, who won the Most Valuable Player award by batting .500. Yesterday, Molitor was named the Minnesota Twins Manager. The Saint Paul native was at the game today and during the first intermission was presented with a No. 4 Wild sweater.
During the second intermission, I interviewed him for WildTV. The Saint Paul native played hockey during the Minnesota winters as a youngster, along with his neighborhood friends. However, he moved and switched to basketball at the age of 10. One wonders what might’ve been if Molitor stuck with hockey, but the Hall of Famer probably made the right choice playing baseball.