Five thoughts from the Wild’s dominant 6-1 victory over Chicago in the NHL Stadium Series game Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium:
1 It’s easy to get cynical about events like this because they seem geared to A) look good on TV and B) make a lot of money thanks to expensive tickets and a massive capacity.
That said, walking around the stadium Sunday before the game reinforced that in spite of any flaws — including the NHL perhaps overdoing these outdoor games — fans love it. It’s something different. It’s something fun.
It’s like storming the court. You don’t do it every day. But every once in a while? Sure.
2 Not to be lost in the shuffle: This was the home debut of interim Wild coach John Torchetti, and his team stayed hot. Minnesota is 4-0 and has outscored opponents 21-8 since he took over last weekend for the fired Mike Yeo.
Imagine being Yeo and watching Sunday’s game.
There’s no doubt the Wild is playing far better than it did in the final six weeks under Yeo. The question then becomes: Is this recent surge — albeit in a small but still meaningful sample size — more of an indictment of Yeo or his players for the way the team was performing before he was fired?
The answer is probably some of both. Maybe Yeo’s message got old, but it’s a message that had worked to a reasonably high degree in years past. That said, a team takes its direction from its coach. If his approach went askew, it’s only natural that the Wild’s play would follow.
Not up for debate: This team in a week has undergone a massive transformation with just one change.
3 Most unusual/memorable jerseys spotted while roaming the pregame crowd Sunday: 5. Honorable mention since I didn’t actually see it: a Minnesota Wild Danny Irmen sweater. 4. Blackhawks Doug Gilmour. 3. Wild Brent Burns. 2. Blackhawks Ed Belfour (I have a soft spot for Eddie, having grown up a North Dakota fan during his college heyday). 1. North Stars Neal Broten.
4 An honest, probably irrelevant, non-hockey question: Cheap Trick played during the first intermission, including very solid renditions of “I Want You To Want Me” and “Surrender.”
But it was an exceedingly brief set, since it was just between-periods entertainment. If you were at the game Sunday, do you count Cheap Trick as a band you have seen live in concert?
5 When it comes to the regular-season all-time series, the Wild continued its dominance over Chicago — a fact that might surprise fans who only remember the playoffs and/or don’t remember how terrible the Blackhawks were before they started winning Stanley Cups.
Sunday marked the 60th regular-season game between the teams, and the Wild has won 35 them. In fact, of Western Conference foes, Edmonton is the only team against which the Wild has a higher points percentage than it does against Chicago.