Following Wild games, Managing Editor Glen Andresen will give the five takeaways that he’ll remember from each contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 6-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night.
We all heard there was a bug ravaging through the Minnesota Wild locker room this week. Are we sure it wasn’t some radioactive spider that injected the players with some type of ultra competitive juices? In a matter of two days, the Wild went from zeroes to superheroes in trouncing Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks, 6-2. We also heard about a grueling practice on Sunday in which Wild players were put through the wringer during a tension-filled 20-minute bag skate.
Six different Wild players – Marek Zidlicky, Guillaume Latendresse, Cal Clutterbuck, John Madden, Andrew Brunette and Andrew Brunette — scored goals in what Head Coach Todd Richards called a “statement” by his team. After Vancouver lit the lamp with yet another Sedin to Sedin goal in the first minute, the Wild completely dominated the remaining 59 minutes to end a three-game homestand with a 2-1-0 record.
Now let’s get to the good stuff, and when the Wild and Canucks go at it, there is always good stuff and usually some bizarre stuff. I’m not sure it’s ever been as bizarre as tonight’s incident involving Vancouver’s Rick Rypien. Rypien was pummeled by Brad Staubitz in the first period, which apparently didn’t sit well, and caused him to lose his mind.
In the second, Rypien and Staubitz tangled again in front of the Wild bench, although the gloves never came off. As other skirmishes broke out in the vicinity, Rypien kept trying to get at Staubitz, but was instead manhandled by linesman Don Henderson, who repeatedly yanked him by his jersey toward the bench door. Rypien didn’t appreciate getting beat up twice in a night, especially be a zebra, so he responded by shoving Henderson. We’re still not at the pinnacle of the incident.
On his way to the locker room, a Wild fan clapped and probably said something to Rypien, but did not make any move toward him. Rypien reacted by raising his gloves and shoving the fan, whose friend quickly responded by coming to his defense and shoving Rypien back. The entire crowd witnessed the incident and responded with outrage, and for good reason. The two fans were relocated to a pair of on-the-glass seats where they watched the remainder of the game.
If you’re a Vancouver fan, and you have a weak stomach, you may want to look away for the next paragraph. If you have children, you may want to ask them to leave the room and go to bed. Luongo’s numbers against the Wild at Xcel Energy Center are horrifying.
After giving up six goals on 18 shots in 40 minutes before being pulled, Luongo is 3-9-2 with a 3.56 goals against average and a .873 save percentage. It gets uglier. The Canadian gold medalist is 0-3-0 in his last three starts in St. Paul with a 7.00 GAA and a .768 save percentage. He didn’t finish any of those three games.
It didn’t take long for Latendresse and Martin Havlat to rekindle their magic from last season in their first opportunity of the season on Tuesday night. Latendresse gave the Wild their first lead by pouncing on a loose puck off a Justin Falk shot, which Havlat assisted on. Later in the first, the duo traveled from the Wild blueline to the Vancouver net by making five passes to each other before Latendresse spotted Clutterbuck for an easy goal to make it 3-1. They made it look like a practice drill in which no defensemen were allowed to participate.
Cullen has been more than anybody could have expected at least early in the season. With a goal and an assist tonight, he’s now posted two points in four of the five games this year. He leads the team in scoring with three goals and five assists and he continues to pace the NHL in power play points with seven (3-4=7).