Saturday, November 15, 2008

Gm # 15: Wild 3, Blue Jackets 2 (SO)

Some games are exciting, thrilling contests...full of excellent, end-to-end action, up-and-down the rink play. Some games are virtually 'Friday Night at the Fights,' with lots of chippiness and throw-'em-Down punches along with a hockey game breaking out at some point.

And then, there was Saturday night's Festival du Snooze at the Xcel Energy Center, as the Minnesota Wild turned a very pedestrian effort into a 3-2 shootout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The win gave the Wild a 10-4-2 mark on the '08-09 campaign, while the Jackets dropped to 8-7-3 on the season.

The first Wild goal was Benoit 'B-b-b-Benny' Pouliot's rebound in front of the Columbus net after an Eric Belanger shot was stopped; and then, Erik Reitz (his 1st NHL goal, originally given to Burns, but replay showed the puck hitting a BJ defenseman) found his puck past BJ's goalie Steve Mason, who is playing while the injured Fredrik Norrena recovers back home in 'Cloud-umbus.'

James Sheppard's inadvertant giveaway to Rick Nash and an uncovered Kristian Huselius scored for the BJ's during regulation time. Overtime produced nothing except for one terrific save by Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom as he robbed Huselius after the puck squirted free nearly 3 minutes into the extra session.

Zidlicky scored the eventual game winner in Round 2 of the shootout, and Antti 'Mittens' Miettinen sealed the game with his goal in Round 3, as the Jackets did not score with either of their first two shooters (Huselius and rookie Derick Brassard) against Backstrom.

We corralled the assembled multitude afterwards for reaction...

Chicken Little said: A very pedestrian effort against a very pedestrian opponent. The Wild could very easily have lost this game; Nash was stepping up like the captain he is finally becoming for the Jackets.

Pollyanna said: Wild are now 4-2 since November 1st. Better by one game than last November. So there!

Bottom Line: Winning ugly games like this now makes it that much easier to go down the stretch in a position of strength. Two points now means more than that later on, when points will become precious. But the Wild can do better.

Stud: Backstrom. When all else fails, call on your goalie. (Ask this blog's major contributor!)

Dud: 'Queen' MAB. (Or, do we call him 'Skoula Lite'?) On a night where every player in the Wild line-up had a touch of Dud in him, his Dud-ness stood out. If not careful, MAB will be with Gaby, running the press box popcorn machine.

Next Game: Wild vs. Penguins, Mellon Arena (a.k.a. 'the Igloo'), Pittsburgh, Tuesday night, Nov. 18, 6:00 PM Central Time (Versus, XM204)



Nick in New York said...

Pitch perfect, WRT...agreed on all points. I have to say that, considering his relative newness to the NHL level (and not just because of his goal last night), I am pretty happy with Reitz. He looks like he could be a nice #2 to Schultz in the defensive defenseman department in a year or two.

WRT - Wild Road Tripper said...

Nick: Yes, give Reitz some time and he'll be a solid #4/5 defenseman in a year or so. Move Burns back to the blueline after they get the Gaby issues sorted out, and maybe pair Reitz with Zidlicky after ridding themselves of Skoula, and the 'D' will be all right, IMO. Young, tough and not afraid to hit. That's what you want your 'D' to be.