Friday, April 3, 2009

Game #78: Wild 4, Flames 0

Any night the Minnesota Wild win is a good night. Any night they shut out the opposition is a great night. Any night they shut out the Calgary Flames -- the team which the Wild have, until tonight, gone winless against in 2008-09 -- is a fantastic night.

Any night that Martin Skoula -- yes, him -- is short-changed by not being named No. 1 Star for his excellent play, is an unbelieveable night. Some may call it a pipe dream. Well, we say...

Live the dream, Skoula.

Skoula made what was probably his best single hit as a member of the Minnesota Wild against Curtis Glencross to punctuate a night where the Wild scored early, and often, against old nemesis Mikka Kiprusoff as the Wild staved off the 'tragic number' with a 4-0 whitewash of the Flames, who remain tied with Vancouver atop the Northwest Division. Tonight's win, combined with Chicago's 2-1 win at United Center over the Nashville Predators, means the Wild are still alive -- barely, yes, but still in it -- two points behind eighth-place St. Louis going into Saturday's schedule, which finds the Blues in Dallas to take on the Stars.

The Wild played aggressively on offense in the first period, then went semi-defensive in the second, then turned it up a notch (or so) in the third. All this and Todd Bertuzzi (Booooooooo!) getting a -2 on the evening made for a fun, if not interesting, evening of puck.

The Wild now are 4-0-4 in their last eight home games, and 8-2-4 in St. Paul since the All-Star break.

Chicken Little: Well, finally the Wild beat Calgary. It only took them a year to do it!

Pollyanna: Owen Nolan a +2, Cal Clutterbuck scores his 9th, Niklas Backstrom with the shut out, what more could a Wild fan ask for?

Bottom Line: The Wild played like they were finally getting it tonight. No more screwing around, no missed passes, no dumb penalties, none of that. 'Da Boys' played like they really wanted to be there tonight. Of course, it would have made things easier if they had done this several months ago. But, we'll still certainly take it now, and we need to. (See 'Next' below.)

Stud: Skoula. Johnsson gets an 'atta boy', as does Nolan, but Skoula stood out, head and shoulders above the rest, IMHO.

Dud: Stephane Veilleux. As snakebit as any player could be tonight. Three shots off posts, two wide-open nets missed, if he had any luck at all he'd have been named the NHL's star of the night. He didn't play bad, but his aim really sucked.

Next: at Detroit, Sunday, April 5, 11:30 AM Central (12:30 PM Eastern) Time, Joe Louis Arena. (TV: NBC (in HD); XM Ch. 207)

WRT (For tomorrow, I say: Go Sharks! Go Stars! Go Jackets!)


maggie said...

I love how I backed out of going to this game with my friend because it was my sister's birthday. I missed her birthday last year too when the boys won the NW division title, so instead of being at an awesome hockey game I watched my sister get a tattoo.

walkinvisible said...

i notice that you fail to mention that the flames dressed 10 forwards, 2 defensemen in their first NHL games (one suiting up straight out of junior) and were coming off a game the night before.

not that the wild didn't deserve the victory, but let's just say the situation was *ahem* favourable for a win....

WRT - Wild Road Tripper said...

Walkinvisible: Yes, Calgary did indeed dress only 16 skaters. But that was the decision of Flames' management following the Aucoin and Regehr injuries in Dallas the night before.

The Wild played their game in Calgary (and, this game also) minus Brent Burns (concussion) and Derek Boogaard (back spasms). In addition, Pierre-Marc Bouchard has not played since after the Islanders' game because of a concussion.

"Favourable" for a win? Not exactly. Granted, what happened to the Flames helped, but also the Wild probably played their best single 60-minute game of the year.