There's an old prep school cheer that goes, 'California oranges, Arizona cactus, we play (opponent) just for practice!'
The Phoenix Coyotes did just that to the Minnesota Wild Thursday night in front of an announced crowd of 13,296 at Jobing.com Arena, as the 'Yotes turned two second period last-minute goals into a 3-1 victory, the second in as many nights for Phoenix, who won in Dallas on Wednesday night.
Marek Zidlicky showed again why he needs a bigger stick blade, as his frequent gaffes at the point (especially on the power play) cost the Wild again and again as the Wild lost their third straight game and fourth in their last five. Marc-Andre Bergeron did not help the cause either as his lost stick indirectly led to the first Phoenix goal, the second of the season for ex-Wild defenseman Zbynek Michalek. Olli Jokinen fired a wrist shot past Niklas Backstrom with 2 seconds left in the second period, Jokinen's third goal in two nights, and the punchless Wild went quietly into the dressing room down what seemed to be an insurmountable 2-0.
Antti 'Mittens' Miettinen scored for the Wild in the third period, but by that time what little offense the Wild could generate was basically stifled by the Coyotes defense, who would not allow the Wild time to set up in the offensive zone and forced defensive turnover after turnover.
The Wild now are tied for eighth place in the NHL Western Conference with the Nashville Predators, who lost 2-1 in a shootout last night to the Columbus Blue Jackets in Columbus. The Wild now move on to Southern California, where they will play an afternoon game on Saturday vs. the LA Kings at STAPLES Center, then head down I-5 for a Sunday 'twilight' game vs. Anaheim.
The assembled multitude speaks:
Chicken Little: Remember me? Sky is falling? No Offense to speak of? Nobody working the corners? No one keeping the puck in the offensive zone? This team needs help, quickly. And when is Gaborik coming back??
Pollyanna: Backstrom is still playing well. Can't be faulted for anything let in last night.
Dud: On a night where Dud-ism was more plentiful than desert tortoises, two stood, well, down, as both Pouliot and PMB were -2 last night. Against the Phoenix Coyotes. O, the shame...
Next: at Los Angeles, Saturday, Dec. 13, 3:00 PM Central Time (1:00 PM Pacific Time), STAPLES Center (TV: FSNorth (includes FSWisconsin), FSWest, no HD feed; XM Ch. 207)
Personal note: My wife and I will be at both Southern California games this weekend. Stop by and say 'Hello' if you are at either game.