Well, we have conclusively established that the Wild can play down to the level of the opponent - and win. Which is not to say that a 3-0 start is a bad thing, because it is a very good thing.
The Wild beat the Grease 2-0 last night, extending a run of success against Edmonton that has been going on for more than two seasons now (six straight wins, and 13 of the last 16 overall). The "second" line (PMB, Rolston, Belanger) was quiet, but the "first" line (Gaby/Demo/warm body) finally got it going by participating in both goals. Brent Burns scored his second-straight game-winner (he turned the same trick last season as well) on a nice half-pinch where he unloaded a laser that blew past Roli.
But the Wild did not overwhelm the Grease for any concentrated stretches, and the Oilers were unlucky several times with bouncing pucks, etc, that would have made Nik Backstrom's night a little more exciting had they clicked.
The Grease did not play poorly, but they clearly lack anyone who can finish, and they're not going to win many 6-5 games.
So why didn't the Wild blow them away? Perhaps because they didn't have to. The Wild, to their credit, played a very strong defensive game (21 shots against, not the most difficult shutout of Nik's career). But through three games the Wild has not put together a 60-minute performance. My fear is that they haven't because they haven't HAD to. While that's fine if you win (which they've done, and all in regulation which is a bonus), we've all seen how hard it can be to just "turn it on" when you're playing a good team.
We'll know soon enough, though, as we have a back-to-back game weekend, with a short turnaround to the second game (Saturday 10pm ET, Sunday 8pm ET), oh and that second game is against those pesky Anaheim Fowl.
James Sheppard appeared in his first NHL game (wearing Bobby Smith's old #15) and didn't fall down on a crossover or anything.
Foster returned, hit a couple people and actually got a couple shots on net. Big time improvements from his average performance last season.
Skoula played pretty well. No glaring mistakes.
BOTTOM LINE: This game would have felt like a better win if we'd been the road team. But it's two points.
STUD: Burns. He is absolutely rounding into a top pairing defenseman - with an offensive skillset that few but the very best employ.
DUD: Nummelin. Looked small and confused most of the time he was on the screen.
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Take the Sabres (-110 ) against the Thrashers who played last night against Ottawa and then flew to Buffalo.
Take the Devils (+140 ) on the road against the Panthers who are A) bad and B) on the second night of a B2B.
Season record: 3-2
Season winning %: 0.600
Last 10: 3-2
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Out of Town Updates
*Carey Price made his debut for the Habs last night in Pittsburgh, winning 3-2. He is the third Habs goalie to debut against the Penguins. Dryden and Roy being the other two.
*Offense was not the problem most people thought the Flames would have, yet they have only seven goals in three games so far, oh and a 0-3-1 record.
*The Wild's 2 GA in 3 games is pretty impressive, funny thing is the Caps have the same stat - and both teams are 3-0-0.
*Not to say "I told you so" but remember what I said about the Predators 2-0-0 start being deceiving?