Monday, December 29, 2008

Gm # 34: Hawks 4, Wild 1

Minnesota Wild fans, you KNEW this was coming.

You'd seen it on the wall for weeks. You'd seen it in the blogs, on the schedule, in the media, virtually everywhere Wild fans turned, you saw this coming.

And now, it's started.

The Chicago Blackhawks administered the worst start-to-finish beating that the Wild have absorbed this season Sunday night, drubbing the Wild 4-1 at Xcel Energy Center. Roseau, Minn. -native Dustin Byfuglien scored twice and added two assists, getting involved on every Hawks' goal (Nice!) as the Wild exercised extreme futility with (and without) the puck throughout the game. It got so bad that at one point midway thru the second period, that Martin Skoula -- yes, THAT Skoula -- took a shot on goal from in front of the net.

Too bad the save had to be made by Niklas Backstrom, as it was the Wild goal that Skoula shot at.

It was that kind of night.

It was so bad that after the Wild pulled Backstrom, the Hawks then proceeded to force Wild defenseman Marek Zidlicky to play goalie for the majority of the game's last minute.

It was that kind of night.

It was so bad that James Sheppard -- considered the future of the franchise -- was a minus 3 for the evening, which makes him now a team-worst -16 for the season.

It was that kind of night.

It was so bad that Minneapolis Star-Tribune Wild beat writer Michael Russo -- a great friend of this blog -- was in the stands during the second period. In his own words:

"It was ugly downstairs. I tried to hide, but in the first 10 minutes, I was bombarded by disgruntled fans who wanted virtually everybody fired and/or traded.

Things only got uglier as there were boos and mock cheers, especially when Mikko Koivu took a harmless shot from inside the blue line late in the period. It was the Wild’s first shot in an eon.

One does have to wonder when/if there’s going to be some kind of shakeup from management. Nobody’s getting fired — after all, this is the Wild — but pressure is mounting because if you look at the schedule, there don’t seem to be a lot of wins there over the next few weeks (especially the way this team is playing)."

It really WAS that kind of night.

The only lone bright spot for the otherwise-hapless Wild was Cal Clutterbuck's fourth goal of the season, a wrister which beat Chicago goalie Cristobal Huet high glove side early in the third period. The loss left the Wild in 11th place, five points ahead of the last place St. Louis Blues, and if the Wild lose tonight in Calgary, they could be in 13th place, depending on tonight's final results.

God, how the Wild sucked last night.

The assembled multitude was found trying to hand Nordy, the reviled and hated Wild mascot, his walking papers:

Chicken Little: That effort was worse than pathetic. No one wanted to skate, no one wanted to shoot, no one wanted to hit (except Clutterbuck, of course), it's like no one came prepared to play hockey.

Pollyanna: Hey, we may do better against Calgary tonight. Then again...we are playing in the 'Dome, and they don't do well there.

Bottom Line: If this was any business, other than pro sports, you'd have called for a manager after this one. This game was, at best, putrid. When you have the arena staff wondering when the riot will start, you'd better do something -- fast. The Wild came totally unprepared to play vs. a Blackhawks team which won its' franchise record ninth in a row, and that win wasn't even close. The wheels have indeed come off the Wild bandwagon, and that means it's every fan for him (or, her)self. Until Doug Risebrough stops playing the role of Emperor in, 'The Emperor's New Clothes', and actually starts to improve the playing roster, this tailspin will continue.

Stud: Niklas Backstrom. Surprised he isn't in shellshock after this one. No help at all in front of him again last night, and then, there was...

Dud: Martin Skoula, he of the shot on HIS OWN GOAL and the two Byfuglien goals for which he was on the ice for. Dis-honorable mention of James (-16) Sheppard; to survive on the Wild roster, kid, you gotta play a little 'D' and win a faceoff now 'n' then.
Next: at Calgary, Monday, Dec. 29, 8:00 PM Central Time (7 PM Mountain Time). (TV: KSTC-45, Rogers SportsNet West (in HD --Calgary feed only): XM Ch. 204)
WRT

1 comment:

Kevin Jacobsen said...

I thought I saw a quote from Koivu in the AP version at work that said something like "They're not that good" in reference to Chicago.

Naturally I'd assumed the quote was taken out of context or incorrect or something. It was a surprising remark to see coming from a losing team.