Gutty 3-2 W for the Wild tonite. Could be the biggest win of the year in terms of confidence and timing. I was worried when I saw newly-aquired G Mike Smith in net for Tampa Bay, as he shut out the Wild earlier in the year, but the Wizzy played a solid game defensively, got a great game from G Niklas Backstrom, and threw in some strong driving to the net offense to get a couple goals. Goals came from Pierre-Marc Bouchard or Todd Fedoruk depending if they change the scoring, Pavol Demitra, and Brian Rolston. PMB's and Rolston's goals came on the powerplay. I think this one will go a long way towards regaining the confidence they had a week and a half ago.
- Thug Nation did nothing on a line with Todd Fedoruk and a couple different centers. Don't like that dynamic.
- Mikko Koivu was out most of the nite with Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra. Demo has mentioned in the past that he likes Koivu the best between them. They had some decent chances, and Demo scored off a nice pass from Koivu.
- Tough to expect Eric Belanger to score on a line with Branco Radivojevic and Stephane Veilleux. Also, with how much I've been down on Belanger lately, he's one point shy of his career high. I'll back off a bit...but I'd still like him to produce like he did early in the year.
- I'm not impressed with the recent play of Keith Carney or Sean Hill. One of Tampa Bay's goals tonite came when Carney was muscled off the puck behind the net.
- Wild took way too many penalties tonite. Obviously tired out the penalty killers and took time from the other skaters.
- It was nice watching the game tonite. My wife and I saw a game at St. Pete Times Forum last spring. It's an ugly, dingy arena and your feet stick to the cement when you walk, but the fans have a good time.
The win brings the Wild into a tie with Calgary for 1st in the Northwest. Calgary is off tonite so both teams have played 64 games. So with 18 to go, we'll see where it goes. Friday Wild is at Florida, Calgary is in Anaheim.
Vancouver leasds Colorado 1-0 in the 2nd at the time of this post. If you read this in time, the game is available on NHL Network in the US. Former UMD Bulldog Mason Raymond has the goal for the Canucks. Adam Foote, Joe Sakic, and Paul Stastney are all in the lineup for Colorado. No Forsberg tho. Colorado is 2 points behind Vancouver for the last playoff spot in the West, so it's a big game.
Next on the Docket - Wild @ Panthers - Fri 2-29-08
In a game where we can watch the love we lost in Olli Jokinen (he was rumored to be coming to the Wild at the trade deadline), the Wild need to close out the road trip strong against another bad team. I look for a 2nd win in a row. Wild 4 Panthers 1