As much as the Minnesota Wild wanted to, they just couldn't keep their shit together -- figuratively or literally -- Thursday night at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, as the Flyers came off their longest road trip of the season, came from behind and beat the Wild 3-1.
The Wild, for whom 'illness' and 'post-holiday' go together like cold and snow, had one player just coming back (Stephane Veilleux) and one player back at the hotel espousing on theory (Martin Skoula) as a flu virus ravages this team once again. Despite all this, the Wild went 0-for-8 on the power-play, turning a possible Wild victory into their second loss vs. an Eastern Conference opponent this season (the other being a loss at home vs. Montreal Oct. 30). Scott Hartnell tallied a goal and an assist for the Flyers, who lead the Atlantic Division by three points over the hated NY Rangers.
To top all of that off, no report of last night's game would be complete without a hardy laugh at Philadelphia's Josh Gratton, he who challenged big John Scott to a fight, then, after Scott was ready to oblige, turned tail and tried to run away. No dice, said the referees, who got Gratton for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty (which is what Scott got for dropping 'em). Sadly, no punches were thrown, but Scott got his revenge by checking Gratton hard into the boards in the third period. (Now really; would Gary Dornhoefer have ever run away from a fight? Bob Kelly? Dave 'the Hammer' Schultz? Any of the real Broad Street Bullies?)
The Wild -- what's left of them -- now face another team who come home after a long road trip, as they move on to Columbus on Saturday night at Nationwide Arena, where it's 'Rally Towel Night' vs. the Blue Jackets, who end a six-game road trip Friday night at Washington. The Wild will observe the game from individual hotel rooms, as ordered by Doug Risebrough and the medical staff, so as to stem the absences due to the 'creeping crud' going thru the roster.
We found the assembled multitude stocking up on 'Airborne' immunity booster at Walgreens:
Chicken Little: In the only two losses this season to Eastern Conference teams, the Wild are a combined 0-for-18 on the PP. You can't go like this and expect to win.
Pollyanna: The Wild actually scored the first goal of the hockey game for the third straight game! They need to score more, but it's a start...
Bottom Line: The Wild are a depleted team right now, with Gaborik out, 2-3 players sick, another 2-3 injured, and the trade deadline looming. This game could have been a real nightmare for 'da boys', but they did hold in for most of the game, despite the 0-fer on the power play. Would things have been different had more players been healthy and available?
Stud: Well, on a night where not much was going right, was there a real stud? Someone who stood taller than the rest (and didn't barf afterwards?)
Dud: PMB's Dud-ism factor is nearly off the scale. Is it something we said? Too many 'Spin-O-Turnovers', not enough shots. Shoot the puck, Butch...
Next: 'Rally Towel Night', at Columbus, Saturday, Jan. 10, 6 PM Central (7:00 PM Eastern) Time. (TV: KSTC-45, FSOhio (in HD), XM Ch. 209)