When the Lighthouse was in college, we were on St. Cloud State’s hockey broadcast, Husky Productions, as a color commentator. On television, the broadcasts are filled with little tidbits of info to help fill the broadcast and give the viewer a better understanding of some of the storylines going on between the teams. These factoids come across as what’s called in the business a lower third, a graphic that fills, you guessed it, the bottom third of the screen.
Well, on a broadcast we had a producer who was running the show for the first time and he wrote a lower-third graphic that read: High Score Wins. Which is an accurate assessment, but also fairly obvious fact for even a first-time viewer. My broadcast partner, Rob Hudson, read the script on air and said something like, “High score wins…Well, duh.” Then we started to laugh. And laugh. And laugh. And laugh some more. Hudson, the consummate pro, hit the mute button, so that the audience couldn’t hear him chuckling hysterically. The Lighthouse, on the other hand, giggled like a schoolgirl into the hot mic; we keeled over from laughing so hard. Then Hudson took his finger off mute and started to laugh and began to mock the graphic, because, well, duh, to win the game a team needs to outscore the opponent. We basically forgot there was a hockey game going on below us, as this went on for a good three minutes of the live broadcast.
There are two morals to this story: First, have someone look over your work if it’s your first time doing something. Second, in hockey the high score always wins.
For the Minnesota Wild, the team didn’t need a ‘well, duh’ moment after returning to Xcel Energy Center today after going winless on its two-game West Coast road trip. Minnesota outplayed both the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings, but failed to capitalize on its chances. After scoring eight goals in its first two games, the Wild was held to only two goals in the Golden State.
The most noticeable absence of scoring has been on the man advantage. The team’s power play is goalless though four games.
“It’s hard to overlook the power play,” forward Zach Parise said. “We’ve got to practice it and start putting some in. If we score in either of those games we could be looking at 4-0 instead of 2-2.”
Of course, there is no magic formula other than work in practice. Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said that he’d like a better net-front presence to screen opposing goaltenders on shots from the perimeter or passes across the crease. In the end, results on the man advantage, no matter how many good opportunities the team creates, is the bottom line.
“We’re not scoring goals, it’s as simple as that,” Yeo said. “We get 14 shots on goal last game and we’re creating chances, but we’re not finishing.
“It’s not enough to say we hit the post or got a good shot off; the puck has to end up in the back of the net.”
Along with work on the power play, the Wild shifted the lines in an attempt to help ignite the offense. Charlie Coyle skated alongside Mikko Koivu and Thomas Vanek. Yeo said that he intended to start Coyle with Vanek and Koivu before the start of the year, but there were other factors that changed things up and they were not together in the preseason.
Yeo said that Coyle and Koivu have played well together in the past and wants to see if their combination can help ignite some chemistry on the line. Vanek prefers to play on the left side, his off wing, so Yeo wants to put a player comfortable with the right wing on the line.
“Let’s see if that can be a permanent solution,” Yeo said. “The one thing that excites us is the way that Charlie’s skating right now. His speed is noticeable. It’s been a real factor out there. We think that adding that element to that line can really help.”
Here’s what the lines looked like in practice:
Yeo didn’t say which pair would be in on Thursday, as the Wild hosts the Arizona Coyotes, but did praise the way Christian Folin played on Sunday. He likes how the young defender has started to establish an identity as a physical presence on the blue line. Here are the D-pairs:
Parise’s wife, Alisha, was a part of the Shine Bright Bash, supporting children’s cancer and blood disorders, at Children’s Hospital of Minnesota. She’s been volunteering at Children’s and was on the committee for the event. The couple wanted to help support the live auction fundraiser at the gala, so they donated a pretty cool prize: The winning bid gets an hour of ice with Parise followed by a pizza party tonight. As an added bonus, he’s bringing along Justin Fontaine, Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, Jared Spurgeon, Erik Haula, Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker to skate with 15 youngsters. WildTV will be there to catch the action, so look out for that video on Wild.com.