Afternoon games are tricky things. People are at work, teams aren’t awake yet, what are you going to do? But when it’s the holidays, you can bet the fans are going to show up, you just can’t be sure about the players. And so it was that the Wild clashed with the Blue Jackets, and I got to be there.
First, let me say that the Xcel Energy Center is a very nice place to see a game. This was my seventh game there (third this season), and there isn’t really a bad seat in the house. But I have only been able to find one escalator to the upper level, and my friends, that just won’t do. But my birds eye view was nice, allowing me to see the entire ice surface.
To say the Wild had a slow start is to take away from their slow finish. The boys had no real jump throughout the game, and could only sustain bursts of energy for a few minutes. The fight between Derek Boogaard and Jody Shelley was pretty sad, with only a few punches thrown. And the march to the penalty box was sustained through all three periods. See?
The big story here is Pascal Leclaire pitching his team record sixth shutout of the season. He had quite a bit of help, some of which came from dog of the day Referee Tom Kowal, who blew the whistle for no apparent reason a slight moment before Bouchard snapped one in the net. I don’t like to bang on refs too much, but he seemed more concerned about faceoff positioning than anything else in the game.
Todd Fedoruk? How about four minutes in penalties. Way to help, Todd. Sean Hill? One shot and Minus one. Welcome back to the league, Sean (it was his second game back). There was nothing inspiring about the way the Wild played, and the fact that they took less penalties than the Jackets should surprise most people who watched the game. The power play didn’t click, the passing was off, and the energy was low.
Still, a live hockey game is a great way to spend the afternoon. I had a great time, even if the Wild faithful didn’t. And the score keeps the Avs in first place in the division, at least for a moment longer. Your final, from the Xcel Energy Center:
Sunday, if I get up in time, I will be taking in the Rockford Icehogs. See you there.