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Postgame: Losing skid hits eight against hot goalie

  • Blog Post by: Michael Russo
  • December 28, 2011 - 11:25 PM

Is Mike Rand clairvoyant or what?

The entire third period, even before Dany Heatley's goal with 3:59 left pulled a point from this game for the Wild, I was thinking about Mike's Page 2 piece in today's (now yesterday's Strib). It was on moral victories, and what makes them. If you didn't read, take a ganderhere.

I just knew if the Wild didn't pull this out (and it did lose in a shootout to Nashville), the Wild would paint it with the moral victory brush afterward.

Hey, I don't blame 'em. They played real well, looking a lot like the team that was winning games left and right a month ago. They just can't score. They've scored 10 times in the last eight games. They've averaged 2.24 goals a game -- 28th in the NHL, 14th in the West.

Tonight, they were robbed left and right by Pekka Rinne. The Wild forechecked and forechecked, but it couldn't beat the $7 million-a-year goalie, who has given up two goals at home against Minnesota in five starts.

So you knew you were going to get the old, "If we play like this, we'll win more games than we lose" quotes afterward.

Hey, it's probably true. But this is especially the talking points when you're 0-5-3 in your past 8 and when you haven't won since Dec. 10. 

So coach Mike Yeo did is very dangest to praise the Wild's effort and performance afterward. It stuck to the program, did everything but score. If it plays with the same effort Thursday against Edmonton, maybe this horrid streak will finally come to an end and this team can remember how to win a game again.

“Everything went so well for them at the start of the year, now it’s the reality of the grind of NHL,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said Wednesday morning. “They’re a good hockey team, … but they’re with the rest of us mortals now.”

The Wild got quality forechecks up and down the lineup, and it started with the six defensemen getting the puck up and out. The Wild got pucks deep and played physical. It got great momentum shifts from the third and fourth lines, and the top line had a very good night in terms of forechecking and puck support.

The shootout wasn't pretty. I'd love to say, that's why Rinne is tied for the highest shootout save percentage of all time with Johan Hedberg (.775), but we barely got to see him make a save. Matt Cullen lost a puck, then Pierre-Marc Bouchard lost a puck on a spin-o-rama attempt. Rinne did stop Mikko Koivu. The Wild's now lost its last three shootouts.

Cullen is bigtime snakebit now. He had a good night, but he has one goal in 19 games and whiffed on a one-timer from atop the circles in the first.

The Wild also gets little offense from its blue line. It did a better job getting shots through from the back end tonight, but the six d-men in tonight's game have combined for four goals.

Most impressively, the Wild did stick with the program tonight, and remember, that's how it won so many games during that six-week stretch.

Yeo felt the Heatley equalizer will offer a good reminder that you're reminder if you don't abandon the gameplan.

"We didn’t win the game, but I believe we deserved to win it. If we continue do that, we’ll get through this," Yeo said.

That's it from me. I'll miss a rare home game tomorrow, at least rare when I'm actually in town. Kent's on the team the next two days. Be back with ya New Year's Eve.

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