Bad few days for Minnesota teams in this Glendale parking lot. First the Vikings, not the Wild, with this game played in front of friends and family, I believe.
Sad. The NHL-owned Coyotes are becoming quite the Western Conference story, winning five in a row now, yet a few thousands make it out to Glendale on a nightly basis.
As I said on Twitter throughout the first period, it was very clear early the Wild just didn't have it tonight. This was worse than your normal slow start. Wild couldn't make a pass, had neutral-zone breakdown, got outbattled in its own zone and just didn't get enough pucks deep to establish any of those suffocating forechecks we've seen lately.
Sure, it was a couple breakdowns that led to Phoenix's goals 44 seconds apart in the second, but lets be honest, Niklas Backstrom saved the Wild's hide countless times before the tallies.
I always find it interesting how if you give a team a day off the day before a game how that team always seems to forget how to play hockey. It's not just the Wild; it's a lot of teams. A well-known coach was joking about this to me a few weeks ago.
But something could be at play here, and it's the scary thing. There's a nasty bug going through the Wild right now. Whether it's the same thing or not, Miettinen and Kim Johnsson had the flu. Now road roommies Cal Clutterbuck and Derek Boogaard's got it, and it's clear there are a lot of drained players in the locker room that's playing through some stuff right now.
This thing has flu symptoms, but also loss of energy, light-headedness, nausea. As some of my colleagues can attest, I felt the latter three all night.
Onward. Andrew Ebbett was the victim of what looked like a clear two-forearm, leaping shiver to the face from Ed Jovanovski as he entered the zone in the third period. I've got a long history with Jovo Cop and like the guy, but this was pretty blatant.
This may be reviewed by the NHL. Ebbett was cut all over his mouth, looked dazed and coach Todd Richards said it would not surprise him if Ebbett woke up in Denver on Tuesday feeling an awful lot like the law firm of Burns, Bouchard and Sykora.
Also, ridiculousness at the end of the game ensued when a scrum occurred. Referees Dan O'Halloran and Steve Kozari allowed Vernon Fiddler to pull Sheppard out of the pile and begin pounding away. Sheppard said he never saw Fiddler and all of a sudden the ref said to "let them go," which is so typical of this league. If true, it may explain why O'Halloran and Kozari let Owen Nolan get away with an obvious third man in.
They permitted Fiddler to jump Sheppard! Fiddler should have gotten an instigator in the last five minutes, which should be a one-game suspension and fine for Dave Tippett. But the refs didn't have the jam to call it.
OK, bad night for the Wild as its five-game win streak ends. Another tough night for Marty Havlat. Guy can't buy one. First of all, bad negating of a power play late in the second. He fanned on a one-timer, which led to a shorthanded rush and a Havlat slashing minor at the horn. He also was robbed on a one-timer and hit the post on a great chance.
I'll speak to you Tuesday from Denver.