Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways, presented by Wells Fargo, that he'll remember from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 4-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks:
Well, if you thought that the Wild might have some dead legs after traveling home from Nashville last night, you’d be sorely mistaken. The team came out like a ball of fire and played in one of the most intense and entertaining first periods of the season. After Zach Parise’s goal 24 seconds into the opening frame, the crowd at Xcel Energy Center was electric giving the team a standing ovation at the end of the first period.
“You could tell going into the game that we were going to play a really good game tonight,” Head Coach Mike Yeo said. “Our guys were ready for this one.
“I love the way we started the game.”
The first frame had a little bit of everything: speed, skill and physical play. Things calmed down a bit in the final two periods, but the Wild set the tone in the first. Minnesota outshot the Canucks, 32-27, and controlled the entire game. Vancouver peppered some desperation shots at the end of the game, but the Wild was in the driver’s seat tonight, right off the opening faceoff. With the win, the Wild vaulted the Canucks for first place in the Northwest Division.
The first period also saw a very, very angry Mikko Koivu as the Wild Captain took a borderline late and low hit from Alexandre Burrows. After making a pass, Koivu was submarined by the Canucks forward. The two exchanged words while they went to the bench and were still on the ice long after their substitutions were in the play.
That anger spilled over into another play with Vancouver crashing the Wild’s net. Koivu went after Burrows, something many around the NHL would like to do, and all hell broke loose. All five players on the ice were tangled up in the scrum and Koivu and Burrows continued to yap in front of the penalty box. Luckly Koivu didn’t try to put his glove in the Vancouver forward’s face, because we all know what can happen.
After a Mike Rupp fight and a penalty on Zenon Konopka, we had five Wild players in the box (Koivu, Rupp, Konopka, and Cal Clutterbuck and Justin Falk, who were also given penalties during the initial scrum) and three Canucks, not something you see every day.
Charlie Coyle went straight up beast mode in the third period in his best shift of the season. If you can capsulate the potential of the 21-year-old into one shift, this was it. His work resulted in Parise’s second goal of the game, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
First, he picked up the puck in the left corner and swung around the net. He shrugged off two Canucks checkers like a horse swatting flies with its tail and then made a diving play to keep the puck in the zone after getting tripped up. He then went back into the corner and took a pass from the point. The East Weymouth, Mass., native used Koivu’s Exploding Shoulder move to protect the puck and cut to the net. He fed Suter at the point and the blue liner put the puck on the net…
How nice is it to have Parise and Suter on the team this year, Wild fans? Head Coach talked before the game about the leadership qualities on the club in the days since the team’s loss in Chicago and, though he didn’t mention them by names, I have a feeling he had Parise and Suter in mind. They, along with Koivu, stepped up tonight and helped the team rebound after that tough Tuesday night loss.
When your leaders are stepping up and playing well, it makes it easier for the other guys on the team to fall in line and play their roles. Parise and Suter both bring a consistent effort to the rink every day, including practice. It really is contagious and you could see tonight that it rubbed off on their teammates.
One of the between period promotions at Xcel Energy Center is the Imaging Path Trivia Challenge, where two Wild fans are pitted against two Canuck fans. One contestant answers questions and with every correct answer, their teammate gets to move closer to the net, with the end goal to shoot the puck into the empty net on the other end of the ice. Needless to say, the gag is that the opponent’s questions are always 100 times more difficult than the Wild fan’s, so the shot from the Wild fan is typically a tap in, while the opposition’s fan has a rink-length shot for a goal.
Well, tonight the gag worked as the Canucks’ fan had to shoot from the opposite crease, but everyone in Canada plays hockey and this guy was no different. He fired a wrister that carried the far blue line in the air and was dead set on the center of the goal. However, one of the Wild fans walked across the crease and ‘accidentally’ stopped the puck from crossing the line. Smooth move. His teammate slid the puck into the net from the near crease and the win. It was a good showing from the Canucks’ fan, but we still spotted this at Xcel Energy Center tonight. You can’t seriously wear a murse into an opponents’ building, right? Well, anyway, you may have some pretty decent puck shooters supporting you Vancouver, but you also have dudes with murse’s backing the team.
This better make it in the next edition of Hockey Hugs, Harrison Mooney.