Normally, in this part of our post-game articles here at the State of Hockey News, we generally try to have some sort of witty comments. Well, if you've seen a boxscore or suffered through the game itself, you should probably realize, there's going to be nothing witty here. I honestly don't know what I could say. Because of my work schedule, I missed the first period, and I'm trying to find enough gumption (or something) to force myself to watch the first period. This is hard when you know the outcome and lack of effort put forth. And if things aren't bad enough, I decided to pop over and watch the end of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers playing against Michigan State University. The Gophers lost as well, 3-2 in a shootout. Call me a purist (or whatever you want to call me), but I really don't like the shootout. And if it wasn't bad enough that this sideshow has made its way into college hockey, I'm even more annoyed with being forced into a BigTen hockey conference. This was the brainchild of University of Wisconsin athletic director, Barry Alvarez. Clearly, Alvarez needs to stick to football. There was absolutely NOTHING wrong with the old Western Collegiate Hockey Association. This move to a BigTen hockey conference simply proves that Alvarez knows absolutely nothing about hockey.
Another thing I have to wonder about, is just how solid the Columbus Blue Jackets are, as far as financially. They wisely brought in a fastastic president in John Davidson and new General Manager in Jarmo Kekalainen. In fact, those hirings have probably been the best (and only smart) decisions they've ever made in their history. Prior to Davidson and Kekalainen's hirings, they were a floundering team. While they're not completely out of the woods yet, if anyone was going to get the Blue Jackets even close to the road of success, it would be those two men. However, it's a Friday night. Friday nights are great nights for going out for a game. Most of us don't have to go to work tomorrow, so if we stay up late, it's not a big deal. However, tonight at Nationwide Arena, they had a paltry 11,319 tickets sold for tonight. Now mind you, those are tickets sold, not fans in the seats as we all know there are season ticket holders that have tickets but don't go to every game. Seriously, what was going on in Columbus tonight that would create such a low attendance? The BigTen football championship game is tomorrow, so that's not an excuse. If the numbers stay low, it's often teams like those that you start hearing the relocation rumblings. With Quebec City looking for a new team, Columbus better hope their attendance numbers improve. They better figure something out, because a strugling, injured Marian Gaborik isn't going to bring the fans in. I'm glad it's Columbus dealing with the "glass groin" and not us.
Click on "Continue Reading" for the rest of the article…
1st Period Thoughts: I'm letting you know, I'm watching the period after the game is over under duress. I don't want to do this, but what choice do I have? Some of my fellow Wild fans on the message boards say I should take the night off like the Minnesota Wild took the night off. Well, I'm going to persevere and endure. So here we go. Interesting tidbit in the first few minutes of the first, Columbus hasn't played since Tuesday night. Between the rested Blue Jackets and being a team tired of playing games against the Wild where there have been controversial calls (usually in favor of Minnesota), it is obvious the Blue Jackets are ready to play. The puck control we've become used to seeing is nowhere in sight. However since I'm watching this after having watched the second and third periods, I will admit the first is at least better than the other two. But then that wouldn't take much. Oh wait, nothing like our broadcasters getting excited over the Wild's dump and chase. That style has never worked for Minnesota, so I have no idea why they'd applaud that. I've also noticed why the score ultimately ended up the way it did. Early in the game, Minnesota allowed Columbus to get in on Niklas Backstrom and failed to get rebounds out of dangerous areas. Clearly during the first intermission, the Blue Jackets discussed that, because they would continue to expose that glaring error in the second and third periods. And the other failing the Blue Jackets (and just about every other team in the league) has used to their benefit, is the ability to be much more physical than the Wild. It's gotten to the point where it feels like it takes almost nothing to get a Wild player off of the puck. Teams are going to continue to expose this weakness, and it's simply going to get more and more obvious. Whether or not Minnesota does anything about it remains to be seen (and I doubt they ever will). Watching games like this make me realize it's a good thing we can keep watching that beautiful tic-tac-toe goal against Buffalo. Hooray for Youtube. Oh, and we've just been told by our broadcasters that the Wild have done a lot of smart things this period. That's it, I can't watch any more of this period. I quit in protest.
2nd Period Thoughts: You know those moments where call you can do is shake your head? Where you wonder if the guys wearing the white jerseys know what they're doing? Welcome to the second period, in a game where the Wild are giving off the impression that they've played three double-headers in a row (which of course doesn't happen in hockey) instead of having only played just last night. It's not like flying to Columbus is that draining. They didn't fly to Vancouver. They look tired and lazy. It's truly inexcusable. And then to add insult to injury, we have to listen to Anthony LaPanta and Mike Greenlay make their asinine, sugar-coated comments. The biggest issue (well other than looking tired and lazy) is that they're playing as if they're looking only for highlight reel goals. On a night that's the second of a back to back, you can't afford to wait for heroics. Ugly goals count just as much as the pretty goal. For example, the two-man advantage Minnesota had. Sure, they got some shots on goal, but for the most part it was if they were passing and passing looking only for the pretty, heroic goal. It was a waste of a two-man advantage. And when you think things couldn't get much worse, Jonas Brodin takes a nasty, dangerous push into the boards by R.J. Umberger. Instead of getting a nice power play (possibly a longer double or a major), the referees decided to even it up saying Ryan Suter's mild retaliation equated an even-up penalty. But what confuses me even more, is the NHL boxscore. Umberger got called for a bench minor. Huh? It seems however, if you click on the Game Summary, you will see a boarding call, if you go no further than the boxscore, you get a weird bench minor. In a lacklustre game, I can't say I'm surprised that the scorekeeping is a bit off as well. But if you wanted to know the definition of "disgusted" but didn't have a dictionary nearby, just watch this period again. Yuck.
3rd Period Thoughts: If you thought I was bitter for the second period, you better buckle up. It looks like it's going to get even bumpier. It took less than five minutes for Columbus to score their third of the night, which Minnesota continues to remain scoreless. Isn't that reassuring? You know, a team that has a hard time scoring, would be able to crawl out of a three goal deficit. In fact, I'm counting down the minutes for either LaPanta or Greenlay to make the ridiculous "all we need is for someone to make Mikko Koivu mad" comment. If you're a member of the Minnesota Wild, and you're not mad about how poorly you've played tonight, you should be ashamed of yourself. There's nothing worse than to show a fighting spirit, that battles back against the reigning Stanley Cup Champions last night to show whatever they're showing tonight. I was at the point where I didn't think it could get much worse, but I was wrong. They allowed Umberger, who has been a thorn in the team's side all night, to score the fourth Columbus goal of the night. Yeah, perhaps I'm glad I haven't watched the first period yet due to my work schedule (I will go back after the final whistle and watch the travesty to give you my extremely candid thoughts). At this point, I'm very close to switching over to the Gopher hockey game. Right now, it's 2-2 against Michigan State, heading into overtime. Nice to know there's a Minnesota team somewhere that can score. If Minnesota shows up on Sunday to play the Sharks like they did tonight, you might as well not even bother to tune in. And now, your's truly has to go back and suffer through the first period. Be glad you can simply turn the TV off now.
~ The Wild roster tonight was as follows: Charlie Coyle, Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Justin Fontaine, Dany Heatley, Torrey Mitchell, Kyle Brodziak, Nino Niederreiter, Matt Cooke, Mike Rupp, Jason Pominville, Erik Haula, Keith Ballard, Clayton Stoner, Marco Scandella, Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, and Jaren Spurgeon. Niklas Backstrom was backed up by Josh Harding.
~ The 3 Stars of the Game were: 1st Star, Nick Foligno; 2nd Star, R.J. Umberger; 3rd Star, Curtis McElhinney.
~ Attendance was 11,319 at Nationwide Arena.