On a night which was billed as a celebration of Minnesota hockey, the Minnesota Wild forgot to come to their own party.
The Anaheim Ducks shutout the Wild 3-0 Saturday night at Xcel Energy Center, capping off the third 'Hockey Day Minnesota' with a 30-save performance by backup goalie Jonas Hiller.
The Wild, for the most part, looked disinterested, and sometimes just downright lost as the Ducks literally skated circles around them all night long. Nothing the Wild tried worked -- typical of recent Anaheim-Minnesota games -- and it painfully showed, especially in the third period as the Ducks patiently went about the business of showing why they are still considered one of the best teams in the Western Conference.
To make matters worse, Andrew Brunette went down in the second period after slamming into the boards behind the Ducks' goal after getting 'fowled' up with Ryan Getzlaf as they both went into the boards in a puck battle. Brunette, the NHL's current 'Ironman' with 497 consecutive games played, had to be helped off the ice and into the Wild dressing room, reportedly unable to put weight on his right leg. Brunette did not return the rest of the evening.
The only bright spot in the evening for the Wild was the Owen Nolan -- Steve Montador fight in the second period, as the 'Irish God of War' scored a decisive victory (according to hockeyfights.com) over another ex-Calgary Flame. Sadly, that came on the heels of yet another bad refereeing call, this one by Marc Joanette, who blew the whistle too quickly as the Wild battled for a loose puck in front of the Anaheim net. Later in the game, the Wild were almost victimized the other way, as referee Steve Kozaro did not blow the whistle as Anaheim continued to dig for the puck after Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom had covered it in his crease.
Even after the final horn sounded and the fans were packing it up and started home, there was one final bit of irony left in the evening. On nights when the Wild lose, the 'Wild Anthem' is played and then a song for the visitor is also played.
Last night's song? 'Weird Al' Yankovic's parody of the Huey Lewis and the News' hit:
'I Want A New Duck'.
And now, the assembled multitude:
Chicken Little: How bad does this have to get before Doug Risebrough actually DOES something to help this club? You have a big night, big crowd, everyone amped up and you come out flatter than a week-old open bottle of warm beer. Keep playing like this, and April tee times will become hard to get..because they'll already have been taken by Wild players!
Pollyanna: At least they had a decent giveaway last night (coffee tumblers with the 'Hockey Day Minnesota' logo on them, first 10,000 adults thru the door). Backstrom made 34 saves.
Bottom Line: On a night where this team could have really helped itself get into the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, the Wild took a giant step. Unfortunately, that step was, once again, backwards. There was absolutely no excuse for how the Wild played last night; they looked like they were going thru the motions, and not executing any offense whatsoever. The one time they did, they were stopped by referee Marc Joanette. Thanks for nothing, Marc.
Stud: Backstrom. His 34 saves kept the Wild in this game a lot longer than they deserved to be.
Dud: After being the subject of Saturday's game story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, you would think Kim Johnsson would have taken that pride and run with it. On the ice for all 3 Anaheim goals (and directly responsible for the first two), the December captain showed his December form. A happy '-2 Hockey Day' to Kim Johnsson.
Next: at Chicago, Monday, Jan. 19, 7:00 PM Central Time, United Center (TV: Versus (in HD), RIS, TSN2; XM Ch. 204)
WRT (who will be in attendance Monday at United Center)