Josh Harding had every reason to be nervous prior to his Thursday night start at STAPLES Center vs. the Los Angeles Kings. The Wild coaching staff tried to placate his fears of what was yet to come. But, as it turned out, Harding had every reason to fear. His own club, for the most part, abandoned him. Kim Johnsson and Nick Schultz -- normally, the teams' two most-trusted defensemen -- were -3 each on the night, as the Kings defeated the Wild 6-3.
Let's let the facts speak for themselves...
Wild Offense: Sad, at best. Martin Havlat benched in the first period. Bouchard (headaches) out. Boogaard (concussion) out. Benoit Pouliot should have been sat out, his play was that bad.
Wild Defense: Johnsson and Schultz were beyond terrible. One or the other of them (usually both) were on the ice for six of the nine goals scored in this game (they both scored for the Wild, and still both of them wound up a -3 each.) Havlat wound up a -3 also. Belanger, Brunette, Sykora, all -2 each. And the list goes on, and on, and on...
Kings Offense: Hey, you have nothing to worry about with this bunch. The second straight game where the Kings have scored six goals. 5 players +2. 12 different players with points.
Kings Defense: Jack Johnson shoots, assists, plays sound positionally, and is everything that a top 5 draft choice is expected to do.
Leader: Ryan Smyth. 'Captain Canada' scored twice (both on tip-ins where Johnsson and/or Schultz were unable to move him away from the edge of the net) and assisted on a third LA goal.
Lagger: Martin Havlat. Anyone who does so little, so badly he gets benched in the first period is either not ready to play or so screwed up that he needs time to sit and think.
Stud: Anze Kopitar. 1 assist, 3 hits, and he is still unafraid to work for the puck.
Dud: Anyone in a Minnesota uniform who wasn't wearing goalie equipment.
Let's see if the Assembled Multitude is also in La-la land...
Chicken Little: We knew this sky was going to fall. Even I didn't think it would be this soon!
Pollyanna: Hey, everyone goes thru growing pains. The boys have 10 more days to work out the kinks.
Bottom Line: This game sucked. Big time. Get better the rest of the road trip, boys...
Next: at San Jose, Saturday, Oct. 10, 9:30 PM Central (7:30 PM Pacific) Time, HP Pavilion at San Jose (TV: FSNorth, FSWisconsin, Comcast SportsNet-California, all feeds in HD; XM Ch. 205)