It took four games, but the answer to the biggest riddle surrounding the Wild has finally been answered.
With Devin Setoguchi now skating in Winnipeg, the song now played in the dressing room after Wild victories is, … wait for it, … Macklemore’s Thrift Shop. Is that better or worse than the Pit Bull’s Don’t Stop the Party that used to blast in there?
Make up your own mind.
Man, what a start to the season by the Wild. Points in three of four games.
That's called playing with numbers.
In all honesty, good win for the Wild tonight – a 2-1 triumph over Winnipeg -- because it finally got two points it deserved.
Again, we all know bottom line is winning, but the most frustrating part of the Wild’s 0-1-2 start is you can realistically say the Wild deserved to win every one of those games.
Game 1 vs. LA, the Wild outplayed the Kings throughout. Game 2 vs. Anaheim, terrible start, but the Wild rallied back and dominated the rest. Game 3 in Nashville, the Predators did nothing 5-on-5 and were outplayed by the Wild until Minnesota ran out of gas in the third. Two power-play goals allowed and a penalty shot winner on the first rubber Josh Harding saw.
Still, the temperature rose the past few days predictably. Tonight, the Wild at least lowered that a bit. Jonas Brodin scored one goal, Matt Cooke the other for his 23rd career winner and first green. Josh Harding only had to make 14 saves.
The Jets could barely get into the Wild end tonight in large part because the Wild always had the puck. That’s what winning a franchise-record 45 of 61 faceoffs does for you. The Wild also broke out of its end cleanly and flew through the neutral zone at ease at times.
Unfortunately again, the good lucks weren’t resulting in actual goals, which is frustrating. But at some point the floodgates have to open for the Wild when they continually outchance teams like this.
To quote Elaine from Seinfeld, “IT HAS TO!!!!!”
Coach Mike Yeo hopes it’s cyclical, and the meantime he’s optimistic that the Wild’s building its game. Tonight, the Wild outshot Winnipeg 30-15, had 63 shot attempts and got some great efforts.
Clayton Stoner was so, so good, especially physically. He also had an assist on Cooke’s winner, which came after Torrey Mitchell whipped around the net and shot. Cooke saw the loose puck and pounced for his second goal as a Wild.
Matt Dumba looked like a real-life NHLer. Mikael Granlund just looks like a completely different player than the rookie we saw last season, and Yeo raved about him.
The second line generated chances with Dany Heatley and Jason Pominville, and the top line of Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Nino Niederreiter were solid. Almost every shift they were in the offensive zone, and Niederreiter was strong on the puck, made plays, confident and mirrored the work ethic of his linemates.
Justin Fontaine and Mitchell were good, and Zenon Konopka won 11 of 14 draws. So did Brodziak. Koivu won 14 of 19 and Granlund 7 of 11. Konopka’s given the Wild some good play in the first four games.
Harding wasn’t tested much but was good and is now 23-9-2 all-time at the X with Dallas coming to town Saturday after playing Friday night in Winnipeg.
Brodin’s goal was his second of the season (matching total in 45 games last year) and he now has three points. Brodziak, other than a sloppy penalty to put the Wild down two men, was plus-2 with Cooke and had an assist.
Ryan Suter topped 30 minutes for the third time this season and of course again leads the league in ice time. The penalty kill was outstanding after the 3-on-5 goal – the second in two nights – and while the power play was blanked in six tries, most of them were spent in the offensive zone generating chances.
I got a ton of tweets about the 3-on-5 personnel of Cooke, Konopka and Jared Spurgeon. My issue wasn’t with the forward choices. Brodziak was in the box, and with Mikko Koivu having just played back-to-back power plays, Konopka was a natural choice for the D-zone draw.
But I feel the Wild needs to go bigger on the defenseman. Brodin was in the box, maybe Suter was spent from the power plays. So, toss out Stoner or Keith Ballard.
Yeo said the Wild has to figure this out because it’s been two games in a row. He says the problem is it’s hard to work 5-on-3’s in practice because the power-play guys don’t want to unleash shots and risk injuring teammates.
Anyway, the Wild won. It’s a start. Pleaser read the gamer for the quotes and more detail, and the notebook on Nate Prosser. Talk to you after Friday's practice, one that is bound to be optional.