It’s easy to be cynical after this one – trust me, I’ve seen some of your tweets – and say, “Same old Wild. Can’t finish.”
And hey, I can see how watching the Wild play so well for two periods and not get the satisfaction of that scrumptious second point in a 3-2 shootout loss to the LA Kings is frustrating.
BUT, as a Wild fan just tweeted me, “not sure why all the malcontents..the @mnwild played pretty darn well against a cup contending team and with a bunch of new guys.”
Well put. It’s one game. The first half of the game against one of the best defensive teams in the league, a veteran team, one that is littered with Cup winners, the Wild crashed the blue paint, outchanced them, came at them with speed, seemed to catch them off guard a few times when its D jumped up in the play.
The Wild gave up 11 shots through two and kept pressuring LA into turnovers.
Yet Jonathan Quick looked every bit the 2012 Conn Smythe winner and made 22 of his 27 saves through the first two periods. The Kings were able to hang around, and when the momentum turned after a bad third-period power play, the Kings pressured and eventually tied the score on Jeff Carter’s tally.
Anze Kopitar and Carter scored in the shootut. Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu couldn't, and the Kings secured that extra point.
Matt Cooke, ironically, got a big ovation from the fans that used to detest him after scoring on his first shift 64 secs in. Cooke came in on the forecheck and freed the puck. Carter tried to skate it out of trouble, but the puck hit a skate, Mikael Granlund got the puck to Kyle Brodziak and Brodziak’s shot through the crease deflected in off Cooke’s boot. It was reviewed. Cooke said he knew he didn’t kick it but was worried if the league would find forward motion on the review. The league ruled the speed of the puck propelled it into the net off the redirection and good goal.
Drew Doughty tied it on a one-timer through a Dustin Brown screen, but Nino Niederreiter set up Jonas Brodin for a power-play goal. The Wild also had a Jason Pominville post, a near Charlie Coyle goal, several near Parise tallies (eight shots) and a Dany Heatley puck slide over the goal line but after the whistle had blown.
So, lots of good things. Just no finish. Coach Mike Yeo felt late in the game, the team – particularly the second line – stopped putting pucks to the net, something he felt Quick causes you do when he frustrates you to no end.
Brodziak had a great game. Niederreiter was good in the first half. Cooke was good, as was Keith Ballard and pretty much all the D. The fourth line provided some good shifts. Charlie Coyle was a beast at times, had a couple youth moments when he played a puck with his hand after a faceoff (penalty) and stopped skating on what he thought would be ruled an icing. It wasn’t.
Yeo felt the top line of Parise, Mikko Koivu and Jason Pominville defended real well. Of course, they're paid the big bucks to score, too.
They did seem a lot off offensively at times even though they generated plenty of chances, especially on the power play. Yeo feels it’ll come for them once they get up to game speed.
Ballard had a nasty cut on top of his nose after being accidentally headbutt (his words) by Colin Fraser when the two dropped the gloves after Fraser boarded him. Zenon Konopka also fought Kyle Clifford a few shifts after he boarded Brodin.
Anyways, it’s one game. I know nobody likes the old, “we were robbed by the goalie” excuse. But that’s what happened through two periods. And it was enough to get a team like LA back in the game.
That’s it for me. It’s been a long, long day. Night, and talk to you after practice Friday.