In the topsy-turvy world of the National Hockey League, one never knows who, what or when something really good may happen to a team. For the Minnesota Wild, that event occurred during the third period of Wednesday night's 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Or so says this blogger, at least.
With callup Krys Kolanos in the penalty box after a very dubious 4-minute high stick on the 'Canes Tuomo Ruutu, Antti Miettinen then went into the box on an equally suspect hooking call. From that point, for nearly the next 90 seconds, the Wild trio of Mikko Koivu, Brent Burns and Nick Schultz not only held off the 'Canes power play, but did not allow a cross-ice pass thru the triangle -- a feat not unnoticed by the Xcel Energy Center throng, as they gave the trio a standing ovation after they finally cleared the puck, and again when all the penalties were served. It reminded me of the famous 'The Kill' when a similar situation ocurred against Nashville in 2006. (They showed highlights of that for two seasons, folks.)
The Wild played with much more jump and emotion than they did during Saturday night's disaster in St. Louis, as the Wild won their second straight at home and improved their otherwise dismal December record to 3-7-1 overall, and 3-2-1 in the friendly confines of frosty St. Paul.
The Wild now face four of the top 10 teams in the NHL...in a row, beginning Sunday afternoon with a 'twilight' game vs. the Chicago Blackhawks, followed by games at Calgary, San Jose at home (New Year's Eve), and then start 2009 vs. the Detroit Red Wings, a team the Wild have never in their history matched up well against.
We found the assembled multitude doing last minute shopping at the Hockey Lodge:
Chicken Little: The sky is falling! The sky is falling? Oh, wait, it's just the tree in Rice Park! Someone want to straighten up the tree?
Pollyanna: 9-1-1 vs. the Eastern Conference. Says a lot about how the Wild can do well when they skate. Now, let's see how they do against the West for a while.
Bottom Line: Good game for 'da Boys' to go out on the mandated Christmas break on. Good effort, and the SRV shorthanded goal was sweet. Now, let's get the act together against the better teams in the West, especially these next four games vs. potential playoff opponents.
Stud: Cal Clutterbuck, the hitting machine, now among the NHL leaders in overall hits, and leading all rookies in hits. The Wild found a diamond in the rough here. Now, keep him here.
Dud: Marek Zidlicky. If this keeps up, they'll call him '3-fer-2' for the number of penalties he manages to get game in, game out.
Next: vs. Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 28, 5:00 PM Central Time (TV: CSN-Chicago, FSNorth, both feeds in HD, NHL Network -- Canada: XM Ch. 208)
May you and yours have a safe, happy and joyous holiday season!