Not a shock that tonight was a tight-checking, fight-for-every-inch, unenergetic affair at times.
First, both teams played the night before and the Wild had played three in four with travel, so fatigue was going to be likely. Plus, defensive-minded Montreal coach Michel Therrien is a disciple of Jacques Lemaire and defensive-minded Minnesota coach Mike Yeo is, well, a disciple of Michel Therrien.
Well, that might be a little hyperbole on the latter, but Yeo, Dave Tippett’s old captain in Houston, coached alongside Therrien in Wilkes Barre and Pittsburgh and has a ton of respect for the coach. Yeo praised Therrien, one of the candidates Yeo got the Wild gig over in 2011, after tonight’s 2-1 victory over the Habs to usher in the NHL’s three-day holiday hiatus.
“Well, they gave us what we expected, that’s for sure. They played hard,” Yeo said. “They’re playing tight, they’re defending well, they always play with good structure. He’s a great coach, and [they’re] tough to come through and even when you did get in the offensive zone, tough to set up your offensive zone. We had a few shifts, but not a lot of them. They get on you quickly and they do it in structure.”
But the Wild stayed disciplined in its structure, got solid goaltending once again from Darcy Kuemper (he improved to 4-0-2 in his past six games with a 1.26 goals-against average and .947 save percentage) and a couple goals from Jason Pominville and Charlie Coyle (a beautiful move with a beautiful finish, which if you read by Coyle piece Monday, you know why I’m using those words) to snap a two-game losing streak.
AS ALWAYS, please read the game and notebook on startribune.com/wild, but I’ll probably write more about Kuemper and Coyle in my follow for Thursday’s paper and have an advance planned for Saturday’s paper as well.
So, I’m holding some stuff back from this blog, BUT one interesting story line of this game was the disallowed goals by Mikael Granlund and Zach Parise. Referee Justin St. Pierre waved them both off. Both times, the NHL Situation Room agreed, saying video evidence supported the zebra’s call.
I never saw any video evidence that supported the call. I saw no video evidence that said either way.
In the first instance, even former Wild minor-league goalie Mike Condon thought Granlund scored on Nino Niederreiter’s shot. Just when the overhead replay would have shown if the puck completely crossed the goal line, Condon’s pad blocked the view. Frankly, if the league overturned St. Pierre’s no-goal, I bet Therrien would have challenged goalie interference on Granlund and I bet St. Pierre may have had enough video evidence to overturn the, uh, overturned call back to his original no-goal (confused or does that make sense?) call.
In Parise’s care, it certainly looked like Parise stuffed the puck inside the post. The crowd of 19,105 certainly thought so.
Parise celebrated like it was in … because he says it was in.
“I mean, come on. It’s 2015. Get some cameras,” Parise said. “There shouldn’t be inconclusive goals anymore. … It’s hard enough to score in the league. You work hard to get chances and score goals and you feel like you earn one or we earn a couple and it goes against you. That’s frustrating.”
Like I said above, the NHL PR emails both said the video evidence supported the calls, so I don't know if that means inconclusive because there was no angle shown to us that showed the video evidence supported or didn't support the calls. The league has put cameras in the posts, but we don't get access to those views. I'd love to see them to see if they definitively showed either puck NOT over the goal line or if those, too, were inconclusive.
Of course, Daniel Carr made it 2-1 shortly after to cause to vicious boo birds.
“You almost know, it’s almost automatic that we get that disallowed goal that they’re going to score shortly after that, but you know what, good talk on the bench,” Yeo said. “This is what we talked about last game, there was some adversity that struck in the game. I think we were in a better place tonight, we were ready to handle it and that didn’t break us.”
In other words, the Wild didn’t handle the adversity against Dallas but did tonight.
Yeo loved Coyle’s goal and Coyle said the “finish” the last two games adds some confidence in his game. Check out the last quote in the gamer from Coyle on where he learned the move he pulled off tonight.
As I wrote Monday, it’s all confidence with ChAHlie.
“He’s had a lot of real strong moves where he has been close to finishing and this time he finished it off,” Yeo said. “Just playing with a ton of confidence. I thought that line was very good again tonight. Nino, his last couple games, two of the best of the games that he’s played this year.”
As I wrote in Wednesday’s paper, Niederreiter said the break was coming at a good time for him to just relax and “not think” for awhile. Asked if this actually would be a good time not to have the break for Niederreiter because he’s suddenly heating up, Yeo said, “No. Enjoy it and feel good about it. I just grabbed him right now [and told him], ‘let’s just keep building off it,’ but good opportunity for him to have a few days and reflect on that and turn the brain off and get ready to come back and do the same thing.”
On the team, Yeo said, “I think we can still get better as a team. It’s always up and down through the course of the year with your team, with individuals. Some nights some guys are going, some nights other guys aren’t quite on top of their game, so we’ll use the break. It’s a good opportunity for them to get some rest and turn the brains off and hopefully have a great time with their families. And then when we come back, we’ll have to make sure we get refocused quickly. That game the 26th is always a tough one without a few practices, you don’t always know what you’re going to get, but we’ve got to find a way to make sure we’re ready to play a real smart game that game and then we’ve got to take some advantage of practice time coming out of Christmas break.”
Added Parise, “We’ve had a lot of games in the last little while, so we’ll take advantage of the rest a little bit and hopefully come back and have a good game against Pittsburgh. But everyone’s got the break, so just take advantage of the three days that we’re going to have off and start the schedule after Christmas and be excited about it.”
Added Coyle, “It's going to be nice to kind of regroup, and some guys going home, and enjoying the holidays, but right back at it on the 26th, and we have to come back with the same attitude. It's not just going to come for us. We have to forget about this game and just come back, and get to our game as soon as possible. We'll focus on that when the time comes.”
That’s it for moi. I’m filling in for Paul Allen on Thursday from 9-noon on KFAN. My guests include actor/comedian Erik Stolhanske, Trampled by Turtles lead singer Dave Simonett and Fox Sports North’s Anthony LaPanta. All three will be in-studio throughout the show, so it’ll be cool conversations on all sorts of subjects.
Barring news, talk Saturday on here, on Twitter at @russostrib and in the paper all week. Have a merry holiday!