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 4-1 home loss against the Vancouver Canucks:
Uncle Mo is a fickle old bastard sometimes. With the Wild down two goals in the second period, the team started to press, gaining momentum, and the crowd at Xcel Energy Center started to buzz. For roughly a 10-minute stretch Minnesota owned the play, creating scoring chances off of strong forechecks and hemming the Canucks in its D-zone. It looked the Wild was primed to make it a one-goal game, with the home faithful ready to erupt like a whitehead on a teenager's face in the morning.
Then, Uncle Mo turned his ugly head on the Wild. Minnesota took a penalty and was shorthanded, starting off with a strong effort killing the penalty. The killers started to scramble in front of the their netminder and it looked like they had avoided any damage. Then, a clearing attempt landed right onto the tape of Mayson Raymond, who fired the puck past a sprawling Niklas Backstrom. A minute and 35 seconds later, Jannik Hansen capitalized on a breakaway and the Wild was unable to recover Uncle Mo’s energy potion.
After the game, Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said that he wants the team have a ‘clean slate’ starting tomorrow. Tonight was the club’s 10th game, with 20 percent of its season in the books. The Wild essentially needs to have the mindset of the San Francisco 49ers during the Super Bowl, post blackout in the Superdome.
During the Super Bowl, the Niners got off to a slow start, and the Baltimore Ravens looked like it was going to turn the game into a blowout. Then the lights went out in Nola. The 49ers looked like a completely different team, nearly completing a historic comeback. I can’t read Yeo’s mind, but I think that’s what he want his players to think hit the reset button, and let’s start over.
Of course that is a difficult thing to do…
Athletes at this level are at this level because they have extreme self-confidence. They play a sport of gladiators, without fear or hesitation like they are indestructible. Once you lose this sense of self, it’s hard to get it back. You start to press, doing things that you normally wouldn’t do. Make a ‘cute’ play at the blue line trying to extend an offensive play instead of dumping it into a corner for a change. How do you fix this? No clue. If I did, I’d be a sports psychologist, making a million dollars.
The only person that can get their ‘confidence’ back is the player himself. Regaining ‘confidence’ usually comes from putting in extra work, because repetition of a certain trait will lead to comfort at performing the task. When you’re comfortable, you’re calm. When you’re calm, you make better plays, leading to regained confidence. In a shortened season, with less time for practice, it will be an uphill battle, but I’m confident this team has the gumption to pull it off.
Tom Gilbert has been steady defensively through the first 10 games of the season, and impactful on the offensive end. Gilbert netted his third goal in 10 games this season – matching his total in 67 games last season. His one-time blast on the power play in the third period was a laser that goaltender Cory Schneider didn’t have a chance to save. Gilbert now has seven points this season, leading Minnesota defensemen and ranking third on the Wild in scoring.
In his second NHL game, Charlie Coyle continues to impress. If you consider a hockey player’s skills and ability the tools of his trade, Coyle might have a store his in one of those big red Craftsman toolboxes you’d see in a mechanic’s garage—size, speed, touch and a willingness to crash the net. Now all he needs is some seasoning to bring it all together.
Coyle improved as the game went on, making several plays leading to scoring chances. In the first period, the 20-year-old jammed a puck on the forecheck, leading to a Zach Parise scoring chance. In the second, he was stationed in front of the Vancouver net and made a forehand-to-backhand move and just overextended and put the puck off the side of the net. Coyle has the size to be a prototypical power forward and judging by his first two NHL games, he’s well on his way.