Game Seven: The Hangover
Posted by Nathan Wells on Thursday, January 31, 2013
Wild.com recap (Minnesota 3 - Chicago 2 F/SO)
Regardless of whether or not there is a Minnesota-Chicago rivalry, that was a great game. The Wild found themselves on national television for the second half of a back-to-back against the undefeated Blackhawks. Not only did they play well, the Wild came back from a 2-1 deficit to win in a shootout (another feat).
One of the biggest takeaways Wednesday night was the amount of chances both teams had. Sure, there were times when the Blackhawks out-played Minnesota and had them on their heels - especially in the later stages of the second/beginning of the third - yet the Wild were able to force Chicago on their heels as well. It was a much team performance compared to the St. Louis game and it was also done against one of the top teams.
Other musings (Nate):
-It's easy to say in hindsight that pulling Josh Harding for Niklas Backstrom 6:45 into the game was a stroke of genius, but it was a good move. The Wild needed some kind of spark to get themselves back into the game following Matt Cullen's goal 90 seconds into the game and the second goal was soft. I like the fact that Mike Yeo isn't afraid to gamble.
-At the same time, I want to see how Harding responds to tonight's game in his next start.
-Outside of an early shot of Darroll Powe as Ryan Suter and the forced rivalry talk, I thought NBC Sports Net did an excellent job covering the game.
-The first line was held in check by Chicago. You knew it was due to happen one of these games, taking a team like the Blackhawks to do so, and fortunately for the Wild this was the game their second and third lines showed up. Besides Cullen, Cal Clutterbuck also got on the board with a beauty of a tip.
-Unfortunately, Mikael Granlund also looked lost at times. The expectations coming in were going to be high for FBJ to live up to regardless and going without a goal in 5 games while dropping his stick doesn't help. Although Granlund had an assist, he still looks like he's adjusting to the NHL. Any chemistry with his linemates is nonexistent - they look like they have the chemistry of a hubcap and a turkey sub. It will take time but for now the rookie most ready to play in the NHL looks like a rookie.
-Minnesota having 5 left-handed shots on their power play unit is brutal. They went 0-4 and had 1:22 of a 5x3 that saw Pierre-March Bouchard look for an extra pass 3 times. To be fair, Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford made a remarkable save to keep the Wild out of the net, however, it wasn't pretty.
-The top-4 of the blue line stood out Wednesday. Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin are meshing with each other (Brodin in particular has the poise of a player a decade older) while Tom Gilbert played his best game this season (again).
-With the beginning of the third period being an issue for the Wild the past few games (and nearly killed them against St. Louis and Columbus), it was refreshing to see some solid defense on the second half of a back-to-back. There wasn't a series of unnecessary penalties (in fact, Minnesota only took 2 all night) and Backstrom never felt in danger despite being out-shot 11-2.
However, it did feel like they were running out of gas toward the end and Minnesota spent much of the final 5-10 minutes playing for the extra point.
-The entire shootout. Spoiler: The Wild win.
Final wrap-up: In case you missed Tuesday's hangover, here's a reminder of what Dan said about Minnesota's 3-2 win over Columbus.