Russo, where were you?
- Blog Post by: Kent Youngblood
- January 2, 2011 - 9:40 PM
Greetings. Youngblood here for the final time tonight.
So, what about the headline on this post? Well, after the game, Wild coach Todd Richards walked into the room to meet the media, and here was the first thing he said: "I can't believe Michael Russo wasn't here to see this game.''
That's the power Don Russo holds on this market, folks. Excuse me while I genuflect.
OK, back to the post. Frankly, it is too bad Russo wasn't here. Because this was a fun game to watch. I have to believe it was a rather difficult up-and-down experience for the Wild players and coaches, but what entertainment.
After the game was over Richards was accentuating the positives, focusing on how his team faced down adversity after falling behind with less than 3 minutes left in regulation.
That is his right, and I say, go for it. There is a good chance the Wild will use this springboard -- which included monster play from Mikko Koivu, Andrew Brunette and Pierre-Marc Bouchard -- to achieve better things on the upcoming road trip.
But, before I get into all the good things, let's remember some of the less memorable moments. In no particular order:
--Marty Havlat, who has played so well, looking listless all night while skating to a minus-4 performance.
--How the Wild, trying to protect a lead, went 8-17 on third-quarter faceoffs.
--I'll remember for a while the sight of Clayton Stoner failing to clear then puck, then getting skated around on Ray Whitney's second goal of the evening, which gave Phoenix a one-goal lead with 2:55 left in the game.
--Or goalie Jose Theodore, whose performance I'm having a tough time getting a handle on. He made a ton of saves, but also gave up bad rebounds, including a poor one on Whitney's second goal.
But, as Richards said, there were things his team did that he didn't like, but he was going to enjoy the victory. With that in mind, let's review some of the positives.
--Mikko Koivu played a wonderful game, maybe the best I've ever seen. He was strong on the puck, creative. The Wild's first goal was wonderful: Miettinen drop pass to Koivu, cross-crease pass to Brunette, one-time home. Koivu had four assists, giving him 201 in 400 games. He was also a plus-4. Both tied career highs.
--Brunette was at his best in front of and behind the net. His driving to the net on the first goal created confusion that resulted in a missed Phoenix assignment, which left him alone in front of the net. And his pass to Bouchard for the tying goal in the final minute was classic Brunette working behind the net.
--Bouchard was part of a line that struggled for much of the game. But boy did he respond late. Fact is not many players on the Wild roster can make plays like he did, with a wicked slapshot that tied the game and the poke-check and feed for the game-winner.
--Brent Burns had his third career three-point game.
A quick injury update: Cal Clutterbuck returned after missing one game; Backstrom sat out to give his knee a rest; Miettinen sustained a leg contusion in the third period and did not return. Richards seemed to think it wasn't serious. I'll update it for you tomorrow.
The Wild is not practicing on the ice. They're having a morning meeting, then catching their flight east. I'll get back to you after talking to players tomorrow. Have a good night.
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