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 to the St. Louis Blues:
After two first period goals, it looked like it was going to be all St. Louis Blues. Then in the second period, the Wild flipped the script and answered with a pair of goals. Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo has to be happy with the way his team responded after the first intermission. Despite losing in a shootout, the Wild earned a point and showed that they can go toe-to-toe with one of the top teams in the National Hockey League.
It was a rough and tumble game and St. Louis tried to take it to Minnesota physically. But the Wild responded and matched the Blues hit for hit (St. Louis was credited with 19 hits, while Minnesota had 18). After the first, the Wild started to use its speed and created chances in the offensive zone. Jason Pominville got things going, scoring his team-leading 23rd goal of the season with a wicked wrister high past Blues goaltender Brian Elliott’s glove. Matt Moulson netted the team’s second goal for his first tally as a member of the Wild…
When the Wild acquired Matt Moulson on the Trade Deadline Day, the club added a forward who can flat out score. Tonight, he marked his first score in a Minnesota sweater, tapping home a Mikko Koivu pass at the side of the net. Watching Moulson in the offensive zone, he is always moving and searching for open ice. When an opponent tries to mark him, the winger always tries to create space and get his stick loose, so even if the defender thinks he’s taking him out of the play, he can still get a shot off.
The winger scored a very Moulson-like goal tonight. After finishing a check he moved to the side of the net and redirected a Mikko Koivu pass on the edge of the crease. With the goal, he extended an eight-game point streak dating back to his time on the Sabres.
It was goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov’s first start for the Wild. The netminder was brought over from the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday in exchange for a fourth-round pick. After allowing two first-period goals, he settled down and made 21 saves in his debut.
Bryzgalov has been labeled as “quirky” by the media, and quite negatively I might add. Sure, he’s had some funny sound bites, and while he does have a personality, the media has pigeonholed him and portrayed him negatively for those colorful quotes. The media’s portrayal of Bryzgalov almost comes off as xenophobic because he’s Russian, has an accent and isn’t fluent in English. If you had to answer questions outside of your native language, you might say some interesting things, too. Typically, we want athletes to be interesting and say what’s on their mind. Then when they do, we often turn around and lambast them for it or snicker at the weird things they might say. Well, we can’t have it both ways. Unfortunately, athletes often will become a cliché quote machine after they are burned. I’m rooting for Bryzgalov, and not because he’s a member of the Wild. I like colorful, interesting people and hope that he continues to be himself here in Minnesota, and makes a lot of saves for the Wild in the process.
Old habits die hard. Communication is an essential part of hockey. You can often hear players on the ice, even way up here in the Al Shaver Press box, calling for the puck, shouting out plays or letting their teammates know they have time. Apparently, as my colleagues have informed me on multiple occasions, I still do call out options for the Wild, under my breath of course. Quietly, I’ll say things like, “Heads up,” “Find him,” and “Shoot that.” When you do it for a long time on benches and on the ice, it’s hard to break those habits.
There is also a lot of communication between opposing teams in hockey, termed chirping. Tonight, the Wild and Blues engaged in a lot of after-whistle jaw jacking. There is a lot of NSFW chatter between players on the ice and luckily the glass protects the fans’ virgin ears from most of the trash talking. Apparently, smack talk carries over from the rink as well, as my colleagues remind me, because I verbally chirp them on just about any topic at our pre-game press dining, especially our PR maven Carly Peters (Don’t worry folks, she gives it back just fine).
Earlier today, the Minnesota Minute Men announced Wild prospect Avery Peterson was named Mr. Hockey, bestowed upon the outstanding senior boy’s high school hockey player in the state of Minnesota. The forward was drafted by the Wild in the sixth round (167th overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Peterson led his team in goals (37), assists (30) and points (37-30=67) in 27 games. He becomes the 30th recipient of the award.
Peterson joins an impressive list of Mr. Hockey winners, including Wild Assistant Coach Darby Hendrickson, former Minnesota forward Jeff Taffe and FOX Sports North analyst Tom Chorske, the first-ever winner. The rangy forward is set to attend the University of Nebraska-Omaha in the fall. I spoke to Peterson at tonight’s game for WildTV.
Bonus Take: The man who started the Five Takeaways, the legendary Glen Andresen, has hit the big time. He gave tonight’s “Let’s Play Hockey!” call as the Executive Director of Minnesota Hockey. Bowflex!