Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Game #2: Wild 4, Ducks 3 (OT)


(OK, I'll do this, but only as a favor to the others. So if it's not up to par, deal with it. Smiley face.)

The last two days, maybe even extending to the weekend and beyond, were pretty good to Minnesota sports fans. The Twins not only forced a one-game playoff for the AL Central title and won the darn thing, but the Vikings picked up a big win over a division opponent, and the Wild capped things off with an impressive come-from-behind win over Anaheim, erasing a 3-0 third-period deficit.

If you'll allow me, that third period was Penguins-esque, in a way. The Wild attacked, the Ducks obliged by going into a bit of a shell, as evidenced by the 13-2 shot differential in the final frame, and no deficit proved too small for Minnesota. The win is the first as GM and coach for Chuck Fletcher and Todd Richards.

Wild offense: Pretty good, I'd say, Minnesota out-shot Anaheim 32-19. Martin Havlat proved his worth by getting the primary assist on each of the third-period goals, including two nice set-ups to Mikko Koivu and Petr Sykora. Eric Belanger got a goal that Jean-Sebastien Giguere wants back, and Andrew Brunette got the overtime winner from his typical spot on the ice, right in front of the net.
Wild defense: I didn't watch closely enough to speak on an individual basis or even a collective basis for the entire game, but the Wild defense wasn't tested too often in the third period. Anaheim didn't seem too interested in attacking, and when they did, Minnesota directed them away from the net. Only two shots allowed in the third period and overtime.

Ducks offense: Explosive for a six-minute stretch in the second period, when goals by Joffrey Lupul, Evgeny Artyukhin and Public Enemy No. 1 Saku Koivu staked Anaheim to a 3-0 lead. The Ducks then seemed to think that lead was safe, but they soon learned this isn't your older brother's Wild.
Ducks defense: I dubbed Ryan Whitney "The Magic Man" during his final two seasons in Pittsburgh, because every time he touched the puck, magic happened. It wasn't always good magic. He was either capable of a great head-man pass or a pretty goal, but more likely he'd trip over his feet, shank a shot, commit a turnover or take a dumb penalty. Well, he took a dumb penalty with 3:15 left in the game and it led to Belanger's game-tying power play goal. Whitney somehow was a +2, but that's a sign plus/minus is horribly overrated. He should get a minus for being in the box, and he also didn't bother to cover Brunette on the overtime winner. It's easy to score from two feet away if no one puts a body or a stick on you.

Other than that, Anaheim's defense as a whole allowed Minnesota to attack, attack, attack. The Ducks opened the door for the Wild to take the game away from them, and that's what the Wild did. Another silly penalty-taking defenseman, this one James Wisniewski, gave the Wild a chance on a silver platter in OT to win the game.

Leader: A few candidates for this one. Koivu, for starting the comeback; Sykora, for making it more realistic; Havlat for the pretty playmaking; but how about John Scott? He got Anaheim tough guy George Parros to drop the gloves 2:36 into the final period, dropped him solidly, and a few minutes later, Koivu scored to get Minnesota on the board.
Lagger: I don't know. Brent Burns, for not being heavily involved in the attack (that I could see) and being a minus-2 even though I just said plus/minus is overrated? Benoit Pouliot, who managed just 5:11 of ice time in place of the injured Pierre-Marc Bouchard?

Stud: Havlat. Maybe Belanger for a three-point night.
Dud: Marek Zidlicky? No points and one shot in over five minutes of power play time.

The Assembled Multitude

Chicken Little: Yeah, easy to score against a goalie who last year lost his starting job to some no-name. Try a comeback like that against a good goalie.
Pollyanna: This is more like it. Lemaire's team wouldn't have been capable of a win like that. It's a sign that even if Minnesota trails by more than one goal in the third period that it's going to be able to put forth a solid and legitimate comeback effort.

Next: At Los Angeles, Thursday, Oct. 8, 9:30 p.m. CT. TV: Fox Sports North. (As near as I can tell.)


WRT - Wild Road Tripper said...

I was going to do it, Kevin, but a few things got in my way.

Sleep. Work. Lack of computer at work.

Sorry, folks...

KiPA - Kevin in PA said...

I figured something came up, WRT. I'm a late riser and saw it hadn't been up yet so I decided I'd give it a shot since I had nothing else to do.

KiPA - Kevin in PA said...

Besides, I had a thing or two I wanted to say about the game and doing the recap gave me the opportunity to do so.