'Too much, too little, too late, to try again with you'...
That could have been the theme song tonight at a subdued Xcel Energy Center, as the Minnesota Wild took on a Dallas Stars team which had absolutely nothing at all to play for.
The Stars can't go up in the standings, nor can they go down in the standings. They're stuck, and have been basically out of the playoff hunt since the Wild lost to the Stars in OT at the American Airlines Center in Dallas three weeks ago. Since then, the Stars have managed to drop right off the NHL map, as it were. Tonight's game meant much more to the barely-alive Wild than it did for the demi-moribund Stars, and it showed as the Wild beat the Stars in a methodical 3-1 score.
Marian Gaborik led the Wild charge with one goal and two assists, giving him 18 points in 15 games played (imagine if he had been healthy all season). Eric Belanger and Owen Nolan also scored for the Wild, as the defensive Wild basically kept the Stars at bay all evening. At times, this game was outright boring. But, boring hockey is winning hockey when you're desperate to win. And, at least this evening, the Wild were that desperate. The Wild even outshot the Stars 33-28, which made for an interesting night for Dallas rookie call-up goalie Matt Climie, who started in pace of the worn-out Marty Turco, who did not even dress for the evening.
The Wild are barely alive, and would have a much better shot at it if the Phoenix Coyotes would have done their part last night, as the St. Louis Blues stormed Jobing.com Arena in Glendale and tossed aside the 'Yotes, 5-1, like the Purina rep at an Alpo feed. As it is, the Wild now have a 'tragic number' of just 1, as the combination of points from Tuesday's games means the Wild now own 10th place in the Western Conference, one point behind Friday night's home finale visitors, the Nashville Predators, who failed to get the job done Tuesday night in their home finale vs. Chicago. If it makes anyone feel any better, however, the LA Kings did put the Edmonton Oilers out of their misery Tuesday night, beating the Grease 2-1 at Rexall Place to put them out of the playoff hunt.
OK, Assembled Multitude, time to wake up and tell me about the game:
Chicken Little: No sense of urgency in a month. Too late for the playoffs.
Pollyanna: Are we sure we can't keep Gaborik happy? Three points on the night, and we can't keep him here?
Bottom Line: Two teams that went thru the motions tonight. Wild fans now are learning, once again, how it must feel to be in any NHL city which doesn't make the playoffs. It's not a good feeling. There was an emptyness in the crowd tonight, despite the fact that nearly everyone was there, that something about all this seemed somewhat surreal. Like something was missing.
Stud: Gaborik. Goal, two assists, gave as good as he got, and still came back for more. Wish we'd seen that a lot more sooner than this.
Dud: The lady who blows the goal horn at the 'X' for not blowing it when Nolan scored at 14:28 of the second period. The referee signalled goal, no horn. Waited about 90 seconds, still no horn. Finally, as they were lining up for the face-off, horn sounds. Wake up, sweetheart.
Next: vs. Nashville, Friday, April 10, 7:00 PM Central Time, Xcel Energy Center. (TV: KSTC-45, FSTennessee, XM Ch. 206)