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 loss against the Washington Capitals:
The Minnesota Wild’s second half rise has been as startling as Frank Underwood’s ascent to the White House (editor’s note: Takes may contain House of Card spoilers). However, it was a Russian embassy from the Nation’s Capital that took down Minnesota tonight.
Like the Russians caused unrest in the Jordan Valley, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov crafted their way through the Wild defenses for three goals, upsetting the balance within the State of Hockey borders. It was the first time the Capitals have won a game in regulation at Xcel Energy Center, moving to 1-6-1 in the State of Hockey.
Like a politician trailing in the polls, the Wild made a strong push, but eventually came up short. Minnesota outshot the Caps in the third period, 13-7, but goaltender Braden Holtby took the bullets like he was the Secret Service protecting the president.
Before the game, the smart vote might’ve been on the Caps netting a PPG. Coming into the contest, Washington ranked first in the League on the power play. The club was converting on 25.7 percent of its chances, which was higher than Frank’s approval rating when he took over the Oval Office. However, the Wild killers snuffed out the Caps’ PP like Underwood wiped Peter Russo’s drunken driving arrest. Minnesota stopped all four of the Capitals’ power play chances and continues to be more committed than Frank is to Freddie’s ribs. In the last 25 games, the Wild has killed 64 of 67 opponents’ man advantages.
At the other side of congress, Minnesota went 1-for-3 on the man advantage (its final power play came at the end of the game and lasted all of 1.9 seconds). The club threw pucks on the net, firing seven power play shots. It finally scored when Jared Spurgeon knocked home the puck out of mid-air.
Sean Bergenheim hit a milestone tonight, skating in his 500th National Hockey League game. To make it in the dog-eat-dog world of the NHL, you have to have a certain skill set. If Bergenheim were in politics, he’d be a Doug Stamper-type behind-the-scenes, get-stuff-done staffer. He’s willing to get his hands a little dirty if it means the team will benefit.
In the first period, he mixed things up Tom Wilson, after the Caps forward took a liberty on Kyle Brodziak. Bergenheim is the type of gritty player a hockey club wants in its cabinet. Something tells me, if he slipped and fell breaking his arm during a game, he’d fashion a homemade sling and keep playing through the pain.
Just like HoC, the Capitals have its own D.C. power couple, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. The duo is the Frank and Claire Underwood of the NHL (no telling if they’ll re-evaluate the relationship every seven years). With Backstrom as the set-up man and Ovechkin the finisher, they create more opportunities than America Works.
Just like Frank, Ovechkin has a lot of supporters and possibly even more naysayers. He’ll always garner more headlines than his counterpart, but just like Claire, Backstrom is a vital part of the team, while going somewhat unnoticed. On Ovechkin’s second goal of the game, Backstrom won a faceoff and set the puck up in the sniper’s wheelhouse. Fans will remember the shot, but it was the center man who started the play. So then, if Ovi is Frank and Backstrom is Claire, does that make Marcus Johansson their secret service agent, Meechum?
Though they don’t square off all that often, tonight’s contest was more contentious than the debate in Iowa between Underwood, Jackie Sharp and Heather Dunbar. In the second period, Zach Parise and Wilson were skating up ice and the Wild forward took him down like Underwood brought down President Walker.
If politics were a sport, which sometimes it is covered like it is, it would be hockey. During campaigns, sometimes candidates take off the gloves and fight dirty. In hockey, it’s legal to drop the gloves and fighting acts as a deterrent to playing dirty. Politicians have mastered the art of spinning language to fit their agendas, while hockey speak is a clichéd lingo all its own of saying something without really saying anything. Like parties jockeying back and fourth to pass legislation while upholding their plans, the goal of hockey is to put the puck past the opposing team’s goaltender while keeping it out of their own net.