Category Archives: Five Takeaways

Five Takeaways vs. Calgary

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 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Friday.

Quite frankly, I’m tiring of talking about how great Nik Backstrom is. Even though he was brilliant again tonight, I’m going with five other topics.

Coming in, everyone knew this five-game homestand was going to be difficult. The Stanley Cup Champs, the President’s Trophy winners, a Western Conference semifinalist and the current Western Conference leaders made up the first four games. Tonight, a tough division rival with the biggest nemesis in the Wild’s franchise history capped it off.

And that was before the Wild lost Antti Miettinen, Guillaume Latendresse and Chuck Kobasew. Considering the Wild was missing some significant firepower, a 3-1-1 record under these circumstances was pretty impressive. Now, another test awaits, and not for long. Starting tomorrow in Columbus, the Wild plays its next four games on the road. Nationwide Arena has never been kind to the Wild, and a win there tomorrow would be a yooooge boost.

Sometimes a guy can have a bad game and still score a goal. Many times, a guy can have a great game not score many goals at all. Tonight, Marty Havlat was playing a great game, and lo and behold, he was rewarded with a goal. Havlat routinely set up Matt Cullen (who was playing wing) all night, but Cullen couldn’t solve Miikka Kiprusoff.

So, Cullen reversed roles and set up Marty perfectly for his first tally of the year, and it was a biggie. He smoked a shot past Kiprusoff and then looked like someone pulled an aircraft career off his back as he looked to the sky in triumph.

Marty’s most memorable goal in a Wild uniform came last year in another superb effort against the Flames in Calgary. He was a monster all game, but couldn’t find the net. Finally, he and Marek Zidlicky connected in overtime on a beautiful give-and-go with Havlat finishing the play. That seemed to spark a run for Havlat, and the hope is that this one will do the same.

That brings us to Zidlicky, who didn’t score a point, registered one shot, blocked another and doled out two hits. Nothing about that stands out. What does stand out is his ability to play 21:59 tonight despite obviously favoring one leg.

Zidlicky was held out of practice yesterday with a lower body injury, and was questionable for tonight. While his defensive partner Greg Zanon is known as the shot-blocking “play through anything” guy, Zid is more known as the laser-firing offensive defenseman. By now, he’s got to be considered a warrior, because there were several games last year that he shouldn’t have played, and did. Since he looked like he was playing on one leg, tonight was probably another one of those cases. But he gutted it out, and helped shut the Flames attack down. He probably should have been the second star of the game behind Backstrom’s 33-save effort.

Rather than Zidlicky, it was Cal Clutterbuck who earned the number two star of the game, and that makes sense. He scored a great goal to get the game tied at 1-1 in an extremely intense first period. In the third, he destroyed Cory Sarich with a hit in the neutral zone that the fans gave an ovation for after they saw the replay about four times on the big screen.

But it’s hard to say whether he had a better night than his “Movember” moustache, which has its own Twitter account: @clutterstache. In one night, his moustache picked up over 100 followers after tweeting during the game. Here were some of its contributions to the Internets tonight:

During warm-ups, “Once again, Cal is proud to show me off by not wearing a helmet in #mnwild warmups. Cal, I want you to know I’m proud of you, too.” During the first shift of the game, “If anyone needs help in the stache dept., it’s Mikko. So, Cal & I are joining him on the top line tonight. So far it’s been a blast!” And seconds after his goal, “Cal: You’re welcome. Love, Stachey.”

You too can follow Clutter’s ‘stache on Twitter at @clutterstache.

With his assist on Havlat’s goal, Cullen became the ninth Minnesota native in NHL history to reach 300 assists. He’s the first to accomplish the feat with the Wild, but he’s not the only guy to do it in his home state. Neal Broten accomplished the feat with the Minnesota North Stars. Phil Housley, Reed Larson, Dave Christian, Jamie Langenbrunner, Aaron Broten, Tom Kurvers and Joel Otto also accomplished the feat.

Five Takeaways at Vancouver

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 5-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night.

We thought the Minnesota Wild might have sent a clear message to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night in St. Paul. That night, the Wild dismantled the Canucks, made Roberto Luongo look like a bullfighter and seemed to say, “your time is over.” The message the Canucks received was more of a wake up call that told them they better respond in the rematch on Friday. They did in a 5-1 drubbing of Minnesota.

You can say the Wild was flat in the second of back-to-back road games, and you’d be right. Few Wild players were noticeably good. There really weren’t more than a couple Wild scoring chances until Vancouver went up 3-0 midway through the third. But the Canucks won this game no matter what you point to. They were better in every aspect of the game and probably could have made the score look worse if not for some big saves by Jose Theodore through the first 50 minutes.  

After Tuesday’s bizarre night and some obvious ill will rekindled in the Wild victory, I was absolutely certain we’d see more shenanigans with the Canucks playing in front of their raucous fans. As has been proven many times, I’m an idiot. While there were some big checks and a decent fight in the first between Clayton Stoner and Guillaume Desbiens, there was nothing. It’s always a little different when you’re watching from home, but I didn’t see anything that resembled bad blood. I think I saw more bad blood when the Wild took on Ilves Tampere in an exhibition in Finland a couple weeks ago.

Jose Theodore made his Wild debut tonight, and while his goals against average won’t look pretty, he has nothing to be discouraged about. Theodore was the reason the Wild still had a chance heading into the third period despite the puck being in his zone for seemingly 90% of the game. The 11th goaltender in Wild history and the first to ever wear the number 60, finished with 30 saves, several of which came on point blank Canuck opportunities.

If there was a noticeable skater in a white jersey tonight, it had to be Justin Falk. The big kid looks like he’s been playing in this league for a long, long time. It’s obvious he’s gained the trust of Head Coach Todd Richards. He saw 18:55 of ice time, and Richards was willing to put him with Stoner, who hadn’t played since Helsinki and has struggled to find his game early this season. Falk was a -1 on the night, but the Wild only had one plus player on the roster – Mikko Koivu. Falk is quickly dispelling any thoughts that his appearance in the Wild lineup will be shortlived. His consistency through seven games has shown he might be here to stay.

Bring back Roberto Luongo! The Canucks all-star goalie got a night off against Minnesota, which torched him on Tuesday. We might be seeing a lot of former Boston College Eagle Cory Schneider when these two teams meet four more times. Schneider got the start and was pitching a shutout until Antti Miettinen finally broke through late to cut the lead to 4-1. But you can’t really say Schneider was brilliant in this game. I can think of one big stop he made on Miettinen in the third, and the rest were garden variety.

Five Takeaways at Edmonton

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 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.

I was on the Minnesota Wild’s five-game road trip last October, and I was obviously a good luck charm considering we headed back to Minnesota after 10 days and five losses. Let’s just say the charter the team flew home in contained about as much chatter as you’d hear in a hearse.

This year, the Wild left me home in my living room and that might have been the best decision of the night. In its first real road game of the year (I hate having to keep referring to the “road” game in Finland), the Wild pulled out an ugly but satisfying 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. With another roadie in Vancouver tomorrow, followed by a five-game homestand this victory could be two huge points. With so much talk about how the Wild had to get off to a good start, the Wild is now 3-2-1 with points in four of the last five games.

I’m not sure if Edmonton folks get as giddy about their native sons returning to play games at home like we do in Minnesota. But they probably weren’t thrilled when they watched two Edmonton natives team up to put the Oilers in an early hole.  Former Oiler Kyle Brodziak who hails from nearby St. Paul, Alberta, never found the net in six games against his former team last year.

Tonight, he lit the lamp on each of his first two shifts, and he can thank Edmonton native Brad Staubitz for help on both. Stauby made a great pass on the first one three minutes into the game, feeding Brodzy on the doorstep. Nikolai Khabibulin slid over to make a huge stop, but Kyle stuck with in and peeled the puck loose before jamming it in. Just a couple minutes later, Guillaume Latendresse made a great play behind the net to hit Brodziak in the slot. With Staubitz wreaking havoc in front, Brodziak sniped a wrist shot top shelf. He was well on his way to a hat trick, but Brodziak is more about playing physical and blocking shots, which he did plenty of tonight.

I just realized I typed “blocked shots” so by law, I’m required to bring up Greg Zanon. Something is wrong with this guy. How he absorbs as many shots and plays as many games as he does defies any explanation. With the Oilers on an early 5-on-3 power play, Zanon went secret service again. He took a bullet right in the back of the arm and from my living room I could feel the pain while seeing him look up in anguish (I’m a wuss). Not five seconds later, he was back up and getting his stick in the passing lane to cause a turnover and get the puck sent down the rink to end the two-man disadvantage.

When asked about the block of Whitney’s shot, Zanon quickly responded, “I’ve had worse.” Like I said, something is wrong with this guy.

Zanon finished the night with 23:37 of ice time. Marek Zidlicky had 23:43. Brent Burns, who scored his third goal of the year after scoring three all of last year, saw 23:15. Nick Schultz was over 21, and Matt Cullen and Mikko Koivu were just under 20. The team’s top penalty killers were taxed because of a parade to the penalty box. The Wild gave Edmonton 10 power plays, which ties the record for the most all time. The Oilers did pick up two power play goals, but it could have been a lot worse if not for the PK unit, and especially Niklas Backstrom. The goaltender that was pulled in four of his previous eight starts in Edmonton, finished the night with 34 saves, including three that were made for the highlight reel.

Elias Sports Bureau came up with this beauty of a nugget before tonight’s first period even ended. With three goals in the first on Tuesday and three goals in the first tonight, it was the first time ever that the Wild had scored thrice in the third period in consecutive games. And by the way, the third goal was the game-winner and Latendresse scored it. He seems to have found his touch he showcased last year.

Five Takeaways vs. Vancouver

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).

Five Takeaways vs. Columbus

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 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.

If you watched the Minnesota Wild’s first period tonight, you might have said they don’t deserve to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets. You might have even covered your eyes so you wouldn’t have to watch anymore. But in hockey, there are three periods, and the Wild played much better over the final 40 minutes, making a 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets extremely hard to swallow.

It was especially sour because of a controversial call that led to Columbus’ game-winner midway through the third period. From then on, the Wild turned on the gas, and came excruciatingly close to tying it with two seconds remaining, but ultimately, the lack of a 60 minute effort killed them.

You can understand there being some issues with the NHL’s use of replay, considering it was just implemented this year. Wait a second, I’m starting to think it might be Major League Baseball that instituted the use of replay this summer. Hockey, I believe, has been using replay for many years now, so there really shouldn’t be an excuse as to why they still can’t get calls, or wording on calls, correct.

Columbus’ game-winner by Umberger came when he drove the net, lifted a shot that Backstrom stopped and then dropped in his crease. There was exactly zero signals from anybody on the ice in a striped sweater that the call was a goal. In such a case, you need unquestionable evidence to overturn the call. However, if you simply pretend that you signaled for a goal, you can announce to the crowd that “the original call on the ice stands, therefore it is a good goal.” That’s what referee Kelly Sutherland did, and the result was not good.

Following the first period, the Wild introduced the Year Ten All-Time Team as voted on by the fans on this past summer. It’s hard to say their was a surprise in the results. Five of the team members are currently wearing the iron range red and forest green: Mikko Koivu, Andrew Brunette, Brent Burns, Nick Schultz and Nik Backstrom. The only other member was obviously Marian Gaborik, who remains the franchise’s all-time leader in scoring.

I don’t know if guys like Wes Walz, Pierre-Marc Bouchard or Willie Mitchell feel snubbed, but I’m sure they’ll get over it eventually. I think we should have an unsung team, for guys that weren’t stars of the team, but made significant impacts. My Unsung Team is as such:

Forwards – Jeremy Stevenson, Todd Fedoruk, Richard Park
Defensemen – Lubomir Sekeras and Andrei Zyuzin
Goaltender – Dwayne Roloson.

I will back up those picks with a Lighthouse blog at a later date. Right now, we have to get to takeaway number four.

Burns made the all-time team mostly due to his offensive statistics. He’s scored more goals than any defenseman in Wild history, but he’s probably scored more dazzling goals than anyone that hasn’t worn number 10 in a Wild sweater. Last year’s remarkable goal against Los Angeles comes to mind, but that one could be rivaled by tonight’s beauty. Picking up a carom off the backboards, Burns skated down deep to retrieve it. In one motion, he spun around without looking and slid a backhand off of Mathieu Garon and in. If you missed it, here it is.

Martin Havlat continues to search for that first goal of the season, but he’s certainly been a factor in every game this season. Havlat assisted on both goals tonight, marking his first two-assist game since March 14 of last year. Matt Cullen also picked up two helpers, giving him six points (2-4=6) through four games this season.