To start with, the Wild got back in the win column, rebounding after the debacle in Dallas. They beat the 'Yotes 3-2. And, while it wasn't the most exciting game to watch, the Wild did manage to give up a ridiculous 48 shots. A lot of them were from the outside, and precious few were on second chances, but were it not for the general brilliance of Nik Backstrom this could have been a very different outcome.
Overall it was a better game from almost everyone. Radio was pretty invisible, but his line showed up on the screen in the defensive zone doing a good job. Demo had some jump again, and nearly put in a nice feed from Parrish - who, incidentally, scored his first goal of the AW (After Walz) era.
The boys still struggle with clearing the zone at times which is both maddening and mystifying. They are extremely susceptible to a persistent forecheck, and this creates trouble when it leads to extended play in our own zone.
But I think the most important thing is that the win means the Dallas game didn't fester. Now we come home for three big ones (Edmonton, San Jose and Dallas again) heading into the new year.
A few quick hits:
*I think Backstrom re-established himself in that the guys had the faith in him to make the first save so that they were able to focus on taking care of the second chances. He gave up a bunch of juicy rebounds, but the defense did a great job of cleaning them up. Nik's biggest asset is his ability to be a calming influence on the team, and he did that last night.
*I really like what Nummy brings to the team. When he's on defense he adds a dynamic of offense that isn't there without him. When he's at forward he's an adroit-but-responsible forechecker. I'd like to see him get in some more games - and if that means that a guy like Foy or Radio or even Foster is sent packing, so be it. It's time for DR to fish or cut bait with a couple of these guys. This team needs some identity and I think some permanence in the lineup from game-to-game would help.
*Johnsson is flexing his offensive muscle again, and I'm very glad to see it. No, he's not putting up Lidstrom-like points, but it's coming.
*On the Coyotes' feed last night, they mentioned (again) that Gretzky keeps saying that Lemaire allows his offensive players to play offense - contrary to what many people think about him.
*Baudette, MN native Keith Ballard did a great job containing Gaby last night. He's really turning into a solid defenseman. One would suspect he'll be mentoring another Gopher next season as well when Blake Wheeler moves to the desert.
*That was the sixth-straight GWG from the BBR Me ASAP Line - four of which have come off of Rolston's stick.
Overall: Wild lead 3-0-0 (GF 9, GA 5)
In Minny: 1-0-0 (GF 3, GA 1)
In Phoenix: 2-0-0 (GF 6, GA 4)
CHICKEN LITTLE SAYS: Low percentage shots or not, giving up 48 shots a game is not a good way to go about winning games.
POLLYANNA SAYS: The power play continues to win games for us.
BOTTOM LINE: Two points, a little pride redeemed.
STUD: Backstrom gave the Wild exactly the game they needed.
DUD: Radio - where you at, bro?