Following Wild games, Manager of Digital Media Ryan Stanzel will occasionally give the Five Takeaways that he'll remember from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators:
While we have no immediate word on goaltender Niklas Backstrom, he was helped off the ice by a pair of teammates and athletic trainer Don Fuller after suffering a lower-body injury in the first period. He remained in the locker room the rest of the game and wasn’t available to the media after the contest. Keith Ballard got a piece of Eric Nystrom to stop a breakaway, and Nystrom went flying into Backstrom, whose lower body appeared to go into the post. Nystrom was awarded a penalty shot. Josh Harding came off the bench to face the penalty shot cold, but Nystrom’s shot from between the circles gave the Preds a 3-1 lead. Backstrom will be re-evaluated in Minnesota tomorrow. Harding, by the way, was outstanding, stopping all 19 shots after the penalty shot. It’s as unfortunate a “L” in the loss column you can get.
I know, patience is tough. Especially with the stress of last season’s 48-game schedule fresh in our rearview mirror. The wins will come, if the Wild plays the way it played tonight for about 40 minutes. Through two periods, the Wild had attempted 45 shots compared to just 20 for the Predators. You don’t often see more than a 2-to-1 ratio in shots attempted, which many great hockey minds view as the best sign of game flow. This means not only is the Wild being aggressive, but playing solid defense. Does that equal a win tonight? No. But long term, yes. Seventy-nine more games to go; at some point, the Wild was going to have a stretch where it picked up two points out of a possible six.
Poor Jonas Brodin is going to develop a complex. The boo-birds came out again for his ‘mate Ryan Suter, the former Pred now in year two of a 13-year contract with the Wild. This was also the first meeting since Suter was runner-up in the Norris Trophy voting. It’s so intense that at one point Brodin was on the ice WITHOUT Suter, and everyone saw Brodin on the ice and starting booing. The next 12 years of Wild/Preds may be presented the Fisherman’s Friend Cough Drops, as Nashville fans will be hoarse tomorrow morning.
The Wild power play now has five goals in three games; however, tonight the Predators scored two goals with the man advantage, and another after a penalty shot. Nashville entered the game 0-for-7 with the man advantage this season. One of the Predators’ PPG, a 5-on-3, came with the Wild’s top 3 penalty-killing centermen in the box (Mikko Koivu, Kyle Brodziak, Zenon Konopka).
The Wild played its 476th all-time road game – but its first ever against a division opponent in its own time zone. Minnesota is certainly one of the teams that will benefit most from realignment. Besides the travel benefits – the 1 hour 29 minute flight to Nashville is a little more than the average of its new Central Division cities – Wild fans can now watch more games at a decent hour. One team affected a lot the other way by realignment is the Predators. They previously had two division opponents – Detroit and Columbus – in the Eastern Time Zone and a short flight away. That often means after a road game the team would be on the ground in at home before midnight, but this will not be the case as often for Nashville.