I was able to go to the game in Minnesota, and have only a few photos, but plenty of thoughts. I’m going to hit it and quit it, with point by point breakdowns. Or, just some things I think, which is good enough. Let’s do this:
Roy – First off, let me get to the best part of the night. I went to the game with Roy, who blogs at Wild Puck Banter. Roy is not only a a good blogger, but a serious hockey fan who knows his stuff, and a nice person. I could hit him with a player number, and the answer was automatic. He knows his Minnesota hockey inside and out, and was a a gracious winner. A lot of fun to be around. Get ye to his blog.
1st Wild Goal – There are power play goals that should happen (see 2nd Wild Goal), and those that should not. When the PK knows where to be, there should be very few opportunities for a power play to get a goal. A finer example of a PK not being in position would be harder to find than on this goal. It’s one of those situations where you have a hard time picking out who to blame for letting Mark Parrish in alone on the goal. On the one hand, you could blame Sauer for not taking his nearest man. On the other, you could look at Hannan for making a lousy move towards open ice, and making Sauer split his attention towards two people. Hlinka for peeling out early? The only one who seemed to know what to do was Lapp, who was keeping an eye on the two players near the blue line. Hmmm… I’ll get back to you on this one.
2nd Wild Goal – 5 on 3. What can you do? Budaj was completely screened, and that’s just the way it works sometimes. I can’t blame anyone here. Some goals are just meant to be. 5 on 3 isn’t easy.–
3rd Wild Goal – Clark and I had a nice time watching this goal. Clark makes a weak clearing attempt, then watches as Koivu (and not even the good Koivu) skates around him and puts the puck in Budaj’s 5-hole. Let’s be clear here. Clark gave up, and expected Paul Stastny to take over his defensive duties. And while Finger wasn’t doing much, he was watching for the pass to the slot, which was a more likely play, considering Koivu should have had some version of pressure on him. And while it is the job of a good forward to pitch in on defense, it isn’t the defender’s job to watch that happen. The goal was unassisted, but Clark earned one.
1st Avs Goal – The entire goal was about being in the right place at the right time, and keeping your eye on the puck. All night long, the Avs weren’t aware of where the puck was, when they didn’t have it directly on their stick. The amount of times “feet” must have been yelled…. Still, it was nice to see a shot from the blue line (thank you, Sakic) followed up by someone on the same team getting a stick on it after the rebound.
2nd Avs Goal – Brunette puts it in the wide open. Backstrom stayed a little closer to the net after that. Wolski looked great bringing the puck in the zone and protecting it while his teammates were coming in behind him. Sauer = meh.
Hannan – Was he playing tonight? I can’t really remember him after the first Wild goal, or before for that matter. I can’t figure him out. I have yet to be impressed.
Wyatt Smith – What does this guy do for the team, exactly? And why is he on the PK? He got more ice time than Arnason (who scored a goal), Hlinka (wha???), Guite (working hard so you don’t have to), and Lappy (????). What is this, Bizzaro Land?
Clark – Brett had to be covered for way to often. I found myself wondering if he was going to get back to the point on his offensive shifts, and worrying that he was going to get caught too low. Speaking of which…
Leopold – Three penalties. Dull play. Whatever.
Laperriere – If Lappy is skating backwards, the defense screwed up. Simple as that. Don’t make Lappy skate backwards for you. He will beat some ass for you, but don’t make him cover your poor pinch.
Stastny – Didn’t do much out there tonight. Too bad, they could have used him.
Sakic – I have yet to see Sakic light a fire. Sure, he got a hat trick recently, but I wonder if there isn’t something else going on. He just doesn’t seem to have the same spark. I have been asked about his age, and if that is a factor. While he may be one of the elder statesmen of the game, I don’t but it. I do have a theory, but I’m going to let it cook for a day.
Brunette – Best player on the ice? Could be.
Budaj – Budaj was great. The only goal you could really as anything more from him on was the game winner, and that goal wasn’t even about him. As soon a Koivu was around the defense, the goal was scored, no matter which option he chose. It was the patience of Koivu that allowed him to go 5 hole (when Budaj had to scoot over more to cover), but if he hadn’t the goal could have gone over a pad with ease. I don’t blame Budaj for the loss. If a defense could be tallied for a loss, this was the game. He absolutely robbed Gaborik of a shorthaded goal in the third. Don’t blame him.
Defense – There is no reason why a defense like this can not shut down a team. There is no reason a defense with this skill should not be able to play a decent system to success. There are 2 (supposed) first line defensive D, 1 first line offensive D, 2 (supposed) second line D, and a few younger D who can play well. But that isn’t what is happening. Again, I have a theory, which I will get to in another post soon.
Lines – If there was a line combination to be had, it was put on the ice. I saw Lappy and Svatos (who looked decent) moved around from line to line, and just about every defensive pairing you can think of, shy of Hannan and Leopold. I still have that theory, and it doesn’t make me smile.
Leaving the game – When you wear the jersey of the away team, you should expect some muck thrown at you. And while I got some ribbing, that was all I got. The fans of the Wild were damn nice, much like you would expect from the Northern states. The Avs fans in attendance were friendly, but so were the Wild fans. The best exchange came from when I bought a puck from the Wild store:
Woman behind counter – “You need to buy a jersey.”
Me – “Really? You sell Avs jerseys here? That would be awesome.”
She laughed, and it was fun. I have been heckled by meaner.
Overall, I had a great time. I can’t wait to do it again.
Your blogger recaps:
Update: Roy has posted his account of the evening.Â I think I need to meet Mrs. Roy to let her know I’m on the up and up.Â Funny point, she has there.