Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Gm # 53: Wild vs. Red Wings (4/4)

JL thought this was a good barometer game, and was happy with the results. I assume that he is referring to the great first and second periods and the point garnered for the OTL. I assume he is not talking about his team getting browbeaten into submission in the third, the crap decision and the goal that came out of it by his goaltender, or the stunning aplomb with which the Red Wings turned that game on a dime from that point on. I mean, he couldn't be talking about that being the first time the team has lost when leading after two periods this season? Or in Backstrom's career...could he?

Look, I have no problem with the fact that the Red Wings forced the issue and carried the play in the third period. They are a very, very good hockey team and it's for reasons like that. And I would say Backstrom played pretty well on balance until that one play. His rebound control was not the sharpest (the Wings' first goal came off a big, fat, juicy rebound) but the bottom line is that he allowed one goal in 58:40 to the Red Wings so he couldn't have been playing that poorly.

But his decision to keep the play alive with a one-goal lead and his own team's penchant for shoddy clearing attempts - when freezing it and getting a face off in his own zone was a perfectly legal option - is baffling. There is speculation that Dan Cleary's (another guy I wouldn't mind seeing in a Wild sweater) shot deflected off something between leaving his stick and crossing the goal line, but the cold, hard truth is thate Backstrom also allowed a GTG with 1:20 remaining in regulation off a shot from the half boards, dot level, THROUGH THE FIVE HOLE!!


NOW...this does not excuse the Wild's poor play with the lead in the third either. Again, give credit where it's due and the Wings played out the whole game. But this inability to clear the zone (at all times, but moreso in high pressure situations) is ridiculous. And, last night, on the few times they were able to penetrate the neutral zone in the third they were guilty of trying to dipsy-doodle through the neutral zone instead of dumping it deep and playing the 1-2-2 that they're so famous for! Like I said, the team did a poor job of playing with the lead last night.

The first two periods, though, were great. No doubt about it. They carried the play, they were the more aggressive, more physical team, the out worked the Wings and they played for each other. It was inspiring. Were it not for the superhuman efforts of Dominik Hasek - and one goal post - Cleary's goal is academic.

Was there more good than bad? I suppose if you just told me the Wild were the better team in two of three periods and took a point out of a game against Detroit that would sound pretty good.

Season series
Overall: Wild lose 1-2-1 (GF 9, GA 17)
In Minny: Wild lose 0-2-0 (GF 3, GA 7)
In Detroit: Wild lose 1-1-0 (GF 6, GA 10)


POLLYANNA SAYS: Showed we can play with the class of the league - for most of the game, anyway!

BOTTOM LINE: Thank God for the loser point.

STUD: Rolston scored and established a new team record for consecutive games with a goal (6).

DUD: Backstrom must make better decisions, manage rebounds than that.

Up Next: Les Etoiles de la Sud are in town to celebrate Mike Modano night on Thursday.


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