Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 5-3 win against the Vancouver Canucks:
After a six-pack of wins, the Minnesota Wild is buzzing and full of confidence. Coming with the relentlessness of a drunken brawler, the club continues to fight its way back into the Western Conference playoff picture and again beat an opponent ahead in the standings, the Vancouver Canucks. The club will not have much of an opportunity to enjoy the revelry, as it jumps on a plane to face the Winnipeg Jets tomorrow night. However, when a team is feeling it, it can’t wait to crack open another (opponent).
The Wild was shorthanded after the first period as Ryan Carter and Jason Zucker left the game with upper-body injuries. Both players will not travel with the team to Winnipeg and following the game Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said that he doesn’t expect to have them in the near future. With only 10 forwards, the team’s leaders and a scorned ex-Canuck stepped up. It was a complete team effort, with twelve different Minnesota skaters registering at least a point as the team rolled to victory.
For an NHLer facing his former team, it can be a little like regular folks running into an ex that dumped them. If you ever see them, you hope to have a fresh hair cut, a good outfit on and have gone to the gym and shed a couple pounds. You want them to think, “Dang, I made a mistake,” when they see you. For Jordan Schroeder, tonight he saw his ex for the first time and the forward had a new doo, fresh threads and was fit for action.
Facing the team that selected him in the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft for the first time, Schroeder stuck it to the Canucks. The Lakeville native scored his first goal in a Wild sweater, roofing a backhand past goaltender Ryan Miller for the first tally of the game. It was a crucial play because the Canucks were hot coming out of the gate and effectively swung the momentum to the Wild’s side and the club never looked back. Schroeder finished with a goal, plus-2, three shots in 12:30 of ice. Just like a bad breakup, there was some tension in the house tonight…
In sports, the old saying is familiarity breeds contempt. The Wild and Canucks are no longer Northwest Division foes, so they don’t see each other as often thanks to the NHL’s realignment. However, you wouldn’t be able to tell that they are no longer Division rivals from the first period of tonight’s contest. The opening period between the Wild and Canucks had more hate than Kanye West at an award show. There were plenty of scrums after whistles and players looked like they generally had a strong distaste for the opposition.
Tonight, Canucks defenseman Luca Sbisa was Public Enemy No. 1. The blueliner hit both Zucker and Carter in the first period, and both left the game and didn’t return. The Vancouver defender also finished a high check on Zach Parise, which drew the ire of both Jason Pominville and Nate Prosser. The Wild blueliner tried to drop the gloves with Sbisa, but the refs broke things up before they escalated. The teams wrap their season series in Vancouver next Monday, which should be appointment viewing despite the 9 p.m. State of Hockey Time start.
This morning, Yeo spoke about how well the team’s veterans have been playing collectively. His recent goal total might not resemble his play, but Pominville has been creating a ton of chances, although he hasn’t been rewarded for his work. Well, tonight he finally broke out of his goal drought, scoring for the first time since Jan. 8 against Chicago. Pominville was the recipient of a slick pass on the power play from Thomas Vanek, and the wing buried a one-timer into a yawning net. Sometimes it only takes one to get a goal scorer going and hopefully this is the case for a guy who has fired as much rubber on net as Pominville.
Pominville’s linemate, Mikko Koivu, has been playing at a high level recently and was a playmaking brute tonight. The captain registered his 11th career three-assist game (24th career three-point game) and was setting up teammates like a good wingman on a night on the town. His three-point effort was a season high and Koivu now has 10 points (2-8=10) in his last 10 games.
This morning, I asked Marco Scandella if he ever thinks about firing a point shot into a defender’s ankle just to send a message. He answered no, but added with a laugh that if he winds up and a guy is willing to get in front of it, he’s not going to let up because he knows it will hurt.
Tonight, Ryan Suter was faced with such a situation on the power play in the second period. The defenseman hammered a one-timer from the point and Vancouver forward Nick Bonino blocked the shot with his foot. The puck stayed in the zone and Suter tracked it down. The defenseman walked the blue line with Bonino shadowing him and wound up for another attempt, only this time the shot got through and beat Miller. You’d have to imagine that Bonino was hoping the second shot wouldn’t hit him as he limped to try and stay with Suter as he wound up.
Defenseman Matt Dumba also enjoys dropping slappers from the point without regard for anything in his way. Tonight, Derek Dorsett’s skate blade was the unfortunate victim of a Dumba bomb. The blade shattered on impact and the Canucks forward had to wobble to the bench like Bambi on ice.