How far does the Wild bandwagon go out of control until it falls over the cliff?
That's the question many Wild fans are asking themselves tonight after a disheartening, disappointing, and disinterested team let a 2-1 lead blow away to a 3-2 shootout loss to the hapless Atlanta Thrashers Friday night at Phillips Arena. The end came after Niklas Backstrom had a puck bounce in off his rear end after Erik Christiansen -- who just came over in the Marian Hossa deal last week from the Pittsburgh Penguins -- clanked it off the post, then off Backstrom's heine and into the net.
The Wild O/T loss means that they may find themselves in seventh place in the Western Conference when they next take to the ice Sunday afternoon in a 3 PM Central Time matchup with a team they don't do well against -- the San Jose Sharks, who have the NHL's best record away from home.
The game was all Wild in the first period, as they outshot Atlanta 16-5 in a first period where the Wild dominated. The second period was a see-saw, back-and-forth affair for the most part, and the third period -- especially after the 9 minute mark -- was almost all Atlanta. The Thrashers and Wild both had chances in the OT, but none resulted in anything close to a real scoring attempt. The Thrashers Ilya Kovalchuk scored with 44.5 seconds left in regulation after a Keystone Kops-type scramble in front of the Minnesota goal, where once again Backstrom let in a goal from a very sharp angle between him and the goalpost. Similar bad-angle goals were scored against him against Chicago on Tuesday night and against Chicago at United Center Feb 20th.
Let's see what the assembled multitude thinks, shall we?
Chicken Little says: If you don't believe the sky is falling now, pal, you never will! I thought Atlanta was the team planning the golf outing. I'm not so sure now.
Pollyanna says: Burns broke Lubomir Sekeras' all-time scoring record for Wild defensemen, and Gaborik got his 400th point with an assist on the Rolston goal. Now we go home and right the ship!
The Bottom Line: Jacques Lemaire should have marched thru Atlanta like Sherman. He went out more like Michael Vick. Another golden opportunity for free points blown.
A few more of these, they'll be, as British super-chef Gordon Ramsey, says, "IN the shit, unable to get OUT of the shit, and absolutely FULL of shit."
Stud: Brent Burns played yet another stellar game. A goal, an assist, 27:46 of ice time (tops among Wild players). Blame him not for the Kovalchuk goal. He had just come on the ice.
Dud: Kim Johnsson. What was he thinking on the Kovalchuk goal? He was right there. Block the shot! (Or, at least help your goalie to do so!)
Next Game: Wild: vs. San Jose, Sunday, March 9, 3 PM Central Time (FSN Bay Area, KSTP 5)
Atlanta: at Florida, Saturday, March 8, 7:30 PM Eastern Time (FSN Florida)