Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 4-3 overtime loss against the Winnipeg Jets:
As if things weren’t going bad enough for the Minnesota Wild, the Winnipeg Jets dashed the club in overtime on a goal that you wouldn’t even think about calling in a game of HORSE: Off the glass, off the top of the net, off the back of the netminder and in. Just like you draw it up in the driveway.
John Curry was recalled for the second-straight game, due to an illness to Niklas Backstrom. But unlike the previous contest, Curry was forced into action because Darcy Kuemper also was ill. The netminder, after backstopping the Iowa Wild last night in Rockford, Ill., bussed to Grand Rapids, flew out to Minneapolis and found out he was playing when he arrived at the arena. The Minnesota native played valiantly, making 19 saves. The 30-year-old didn’t think he’d be starting a game with Minnesota when he woke up this morning. I know that he didn’t think he’d see a shot come off the glass behind him, then trampoline off the top of the net and off his back for the game winner.
There are probably worse ways to lose a hockey game, but I sure can’t think of any right now. To add injury to insult, Mikael Granlund and Jonas Brodin both left the game in the third period and did not return. After the game, Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said that he doesn’t expect them to play when the teams face off again on Monday in Winnipeg.
In the third period against Philadelphia before the break, Granlund, Jason Pominville and Zach Parise were reunited. The trio started the season together, but was split up with the Wild attempting to diversify its offense and get other players going. Tonight, they were together to start the game and accounted for two of the team’s goals — both on similar plays on the rush.
Skating with speed across the blue line, Granlund scored the game’s opening marker after receiving an entry pass from Pominville along the wall. The center settled the puck and slipped it through Hutchinson’s 5-hole. Pominville scored on a similar play, this time keeping the puck after Stu Bickel came through the middle of the ice with speed to create a lane. The blueliner dropped the puck to Pominville who stepped into a perfect slap shot that beat Hutchinson over the glove.
Players driving the middle lane created both goals on the rush. Whenever you can get a guy pushing the defense back on its heels, it will open something up. On Granlund’s goal, he was the open man. On Pominville’s goal, Bickel created room for the wing to take his own shot. Unfortunately, Granlund left the game in the third period and didn’t return. He took a big hit from Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien and stayed in for a spell, but left after a few shifts.
With Brodin out, Bickel stepped up his game. Speaking to the media in the morning before the game, Yeo said he was inserting Bickel as a big body against a big team in Winnipeg. He probably didn’t expect the blueliner to add to the offense like he did on the Pominville goal. It was his first point since the 2011-12 season. He skated 10:21 TOI, blocked four shots and had two shots on goal. He nearly scored by joining the rush in the second period, which would’ve completed the Gordie Howe Hat Trick.
Bickel notched two parts of the GHHT by assisting on Pominville’s goal and dropping the gloves with Chris Thorburn in the first period. After a scrum in front of the Jets’ net, Bickel and Thornburn surfaced from the pile with their mitts off. It was a long scrap between two big fellas, as they ended up near center ice after exchanging blows.
The NHL has more laws than The Capitol of Panem. Tonight, we saw the referees Dean Morton and Dord Dwyer flex their totalitarian muscle of the rulebook, when Ryan Carter tried to join the hunger games coming out of the penalty box.
Carter was assessed a two minute penalty for tripping Jets defenseman Adam Pardy. The Wild forward served his time and was set to return to the ice. As he did, Winnipeg forward Mark Scheifele skated the puck through the neutral zone. Carter stepped onto the ice out of the box and stopped the puck with his skate. Unfortunately, he broke Rule 56:2 — essentially stating that a player stepping onto the ice with one or both skates isn’t allowed to play the puck. That rule is buried like District 13, but the refs were on point with the call.
NHL referees have a difficult job. Not only do they have to know more rules than a good lawyer, highlighted by the previous Takeaway, they are constantly making judgment calls on bang-bang plays. Hockey is a fast sport with players constantly committing infractions; blink and you’ll miss some kind of action.
In the second period, it looked like the Wild took a 2-1 lead after Zach Parise tipped home a pass from Jared Spurgeon. In typical Parise fashion, the forward was tracking the puck at the net. Hutchinson reached out his glove to try and snag the biscuit, with Parise crashing the crease like a driver heading into the guardrail on an ice-slicked road. Parise and Hutchinson reached for the puck at the same moment, resulting the disc to floating like a Frisbee over the netminder and into the back of the net. Wild fans rejoiced as the puck crossed the line, but the refs quickly waved off the goal. As loud as the cheer was, the boos that followed were even more boisterous.
When Jets fans were placed on the “Hoser Cam” on the video board, the boos directed at them were nothing compared to when the refs made an appearance on the scoreboard.