Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Game #17: Wild 5, Maple Leafs 2

By Wild Road Tripper

TORONTO -- The best games are ones some never see.

With local TV unavailable in Minnesota, the Minnesota Wild took it to the NHL's worst team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and thumped the hapless Leafs 5-2 Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre, before a crowd of 19,063, a good number of whom wearing Wild colors for the evening (including this blogger and his wife).

The Leafs even struggled late in the game with a two-man advantage and an empty net, thereby creating a 6-on-3 for the last 57 seconds after Marek Zidlicky was called for tripping while Mikko Koivu was serving a delay of game penalty when he shot the puck over the boards in his own zone as the Leafs buzzed the net late in the third period.

The Wild now move on to Tampa to play the Lightning on Thursday night in the second game of a four-game road trip.

And with that, we present:

Wild Offense: What got into them late in the second period? Can we see more games like that? Please??

Wild Defense: Kim Johnsson, making his first appearance in nearly three weeks, wound up a +2 for the evening.

Leafs Offense: Who? What? When? Where?

Leafs Defense: Would have looked worse but for several great saves by rookie Jonas Gustafsson in the Leafs net. He held them in longer than they should have been.

Leader: Niklas Backstrom. Solid as a rock throughout, especially after the Zidlicky penalty at the end of the third period.

Lagger: Tomas Kaberle. -2 on the night, didn't look too confident out there.

Stud: Koivu. Goal, 2 assists, +3 for the night, did more than waa asked, which was a lot.

Dud: Leafs' fans at the ACC. So conditioned to losing, when the going got rough, they sat back and watched like they were at an art gallery. Cheering? Fuhgeddaboudit.

Great night, Chicken Little & Co.?

Chicken Little: The Wild were lucky they ran into a team which was that bad.

Pollyanna: But remember, the Leafs just came off beating Detroit. Tonight was the first game in the last 8 where the Leafs failed to pick up a point!

Bottom Line: Backstrom's 100th victory with the Wild (tonight) was not all that easy to come by. Yes, they got it going in the second period, but until then, it was anyone's game. Need to do better the rest of this trip to make it successful.

Next: at Tampa Bay, Thursday, Nov. 12, 6:30 PM Central (7:30 PM Eastern) Time, St. Pete Times Forum. (TV: FSNorth (includes FSWisconsin) in HD, Sunshine Network (in HD); XM Ch. 205)

Personal: My wife and I will not be following the Wild to Tampa Bay; we will move on to Washington, where we will pick them up for Friday night's game vs. the Capitals at the Verizon Center.


KiPA - Kevin in PA said...

Carolina is the worst team in the league. Just a little nitpick. ;)

WRT - Wild Road Tripper said...

Carolina is also almost as banged up as your beloved Pens, Kevin. The Leafs just flat-out suck.

Still hoping for 3 of 4 on this road trip, though...


KiPA - Kevin in PA said...

The Hurricanes aren't nearly as banged up as we are, and even when they were healthy, they were awful. Remember they lost, at home, to these hapless Leafs a short time ago. Unless that injury Staal had has affected him all season... they did lose Ward but haven't played a game yet without him. Cole's been hurt, and that's been a factor, sure. But they were a total and complete mess even before injuries hit.

KiPA - Kevin in PA said...

Carolina reached the conference finals this spring. That's another plus (negative?) in its factor - they were expected to do well, but they have the fewest points of anyone in the league, the only team to still be in single digits in points, and it's nearly two weeks into November.

They haven't won a game in over a month - that's 12 straight losses. They've had Staal, they've had Pitkanen and they've had Ward during most of that stretch.

They're not even getting games to overtime. They have 11 regulation losses. They have more OT/shootout losses (three) than wins (two). The only teams they've beaten are Tampa Bay and Florida. Their power play is the second-worst in the league. The Hurricanes have scored the fewest goals in the league.

I agree that Toronto is woeful and horrid; but the Leafs are playing better than the Hurricanes right now.

WRT - Wild Road Tripper said...

So that bodes well for 'da boys' and my wife and I on Sunday, right? Yes?

I can only hope... ;)

KiPA - Kevin in PA said...

It should indeed, yes. I might not watch the Hurricanes a lot, but I can't really think of anyone who's doing well for them right now. Jussi Jokinen leads them in points but has only two in his last five games, Chad LaRose has been a disappointment, I've barely seen Joe Corvo's name anywhere, Rod Brind'Amour is D-O-N-E done and on his way to another -20 season... there's just not much there right now.