I am showing the movie Miracle in class as I wrap up my Modern U.S. History course. We had just got finished talking about the 1970’s and I felt it was a good way to end the class on a high note. Back when the movie was introduced I remember NHL Network showing the 1979 NHL All Star Game (which was being played at the ‘brand new’ Joe Louis Arena in Detroit) and during an intermission they interviewed Herb Brooks the night before Team USA was going to play its pre-Olympic exhibition game against the Soviet Team at Madison Square Garden in New York. Brooks appeared confident in the interview. The Soviets blitzed Team USA 10-3, but we all know how that worked out in the end.
The Red Wings are a team in transition. Detroit is trying to re-tool with a young core of players and having plenty of ‘growing pains’ along the way. Minnesota is coming off an emotional win over Winnipeg and is looking to take advantage of home ice as it nears the All Star break. Can the Wild earn another valuable two points against the Red Wings?
1st Period Thoughts: Detroit went on the attack from the drop of the puck, pinning Minnesota in its own end. Gustav Nyquist would let go of a wrist shot that was deflected out of mid-air by Tyler Bertuzzi and by Devan Dubnyk. 1-0 Detroit not even a minute into the game. Detroit would get caught with ‘too many men’ shortly after that giving the Wild a chance to tie the game up on the power play. Minnesota’s power play was static and predictable which didn’t test the Red Wings’ penalty kill all that much. Mikael Granlund would give a nice little saucer pass into the slot to Zach Parise for a quick shot that was steered wide by Jimmy Howard. The Wild power play came up short on the man advantage and Minnesota still appeared to be a bit sluggish to start the game. Passes weren’t quite crisp enough, players were late in anticipating the movement of the puck and Detroit was able to neutralize the Wild’s attack without much difficulty. Shots were few and far between and when we did finally send a puck on goal, Howard was holding on and giving up no rebounds. The Wild were not moving their feet, as Greg Pateryn would get tagged with an interference call as Bertuzzi tried to chip and chase a puck into the Minnesota zone. Minnesota would get the kill without much danger during the man advantage beyond a few shots from the perimeter. The Red Wings were flying around the ice like a team with confidence and recognizing the home team was still mentally into the game. Minnesota’s best scoring chance of the period was redirection play as Jason Zucker swung a puck towards the goal that was redirected by Mikko Koivu that Howard just managed to hold onto. Moments later, the Wild would tie the game as Luke Kunin intercepted a puck and he turned on the jets to get a step on the Red Wings defense as he ripped a shot off the rush that beat Howard. 1-1 game. The goal seemed to light a fire in the Wild’s legs and they started to create more offensively. Jared Spurgeon would join the rush and he’d pick up a pass by Granlund and race in a lift a backhander that found the iron of the right post. The sellout crowd appreciated the effort the latter half of the period as the Wild went into the first intermission knotted at 1-1.
2nd Period Thoughts: The Wild would start the 2nd period on the power play, and they’d waste little time in taking the lead as Nino Niederreiter fired a quick shot off a Koivu pass to give Minnesota a 2-1 lead less than a minute in. Unfortunately the lead would be short-lived as the Red Wings went on the attack on the very next shift as Minnesota got caught watching and not defending and Thomas Vanek was able to tie the game back up on a close range chance. 2-2 game. The Wild would tried to go back on the attack but a high sticking call on Charlie Coyle put the Red Wings back on the man advantage. Minnesota forced the Red Wings to settle for shots from the perimeter although they set up a series of screens to make them a bit tricky to deal with. The Red Wings’ most dangerous chance came off a centering pass by Andreas Athanasiou that was deflected by Jonas Brodin that forced Dubnyk to make a bit of a kick save and the Wild were able to escort the puck out of the zone and Minnesota got a big kill. The game started to get a bit chippy as Dubnyk started to get annoyed with Justin Abdelkader being in his crease and he slashed the Red Wings forwards multiple times. Both clubs seem to be taking extra pushes and shoves after the whistle. The Red Wings would take the lead as they let Vanek skate unopposed into the zone and when Kunin finally tried to challenge him he’d dangle it around the Wild forward before blistering a shot on goal that beat Dubnyk. 3-2 Red Wings as it silenced the sellout crowd. The Wild would have attempts to create offense off the rush but they’d try to thread a pass that failed to connect and then spend the next minute or so trying to get the puck back. The Red Wings were stepping up and hitting the Wild to disrupt their flow and Minnesota looked confused and bewildered. Beyond the power play goal, a fairly uninspired period for the Wild.
3rd Period Thoughts: One would expect the Wild to get chewed out and start the 3rd period with some fire. But instead it was mostly the same go through the motions kind of effort as the Red Wings went on the attack. Minnesota wasn’t taking the body nor was it hustling and Detroit would add to its lead. A point shot by Niklas Kronwall was redirected by Bertuzzi that snuck by Dubnyk. 4-2 Detroit to an apathetic groan and a few boo’s from the home crowd. Ryan Suter just sort of stood there, leaning on Gustav Nyquist, not even attempting to push him from planting himself out in front of the crease. A power play didn’t do much to lift the spirits of the Wild as poor passing, lack of jump in their skates was just a total mess to watch. The Red Wings had 4 penalty killers waiting near their blueline as they challenged the zone entry and the Wild didn’t seem to know what to do. The Wild were being outhustled for every puck and Detroit would score again a few shifts later as Bertuzzi outraces Coyle for a puck and then Nyquist would backhand a pass to Bertuzzi who backhanded it home. 5-2 Detroit giving him a hat trick and a few hats littered the ice as well as an octopus someone brought just in case. The Red Wings were content to sit back in fairly passive 1-2-2 trap as the Wild did their best to close out this game without embarrassing itself anymore than it already has. Boudreau was giving his 4th line more shifts which they probably deserved as they were the only unit that seemed to want to hustle. The Red Wings would get a late power play and they just toyed with the Wild as they used a point shot and deflections to get the Wild all kinds of confused near its goal. Minnesota couldn’t even make simple pass plays connect and even going through the motions they looked sloppy. The crowd boo’d and jeered the home club as they failed to generate shots in the closing minutes as they fell in pathetic fashion, 5-2.
This was a pathetic effort against a team in the 2nd night of a back to back. The Wild looked sluggish and generally disinterested. The Wild failed to work hard enough to retrieve pucks let alone to generate shots and scoring chances. In the 2nd period the team managed just 2 shots on goal and in the 3rd just 6 for a grand total of 19. That isn’t nearly good enough.
I am sure we’ll be given a bunch of empty pledges about needing to be better and ‘showing up to play’ and a host of other weak cliches and I think most fans like myself are sick and tired of it. We’re not interested in excuses. A shameful effort all around.
~ The Wild roster was as follows: Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Jason Zucker, Eric Staal, Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle, Jordan Greenway, Mikael Granlund, Luke Kunin, Marcus Foligno, Joel Eriksson Ek, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, Greg Pateryn, Nick Seeler and Nate Prosser. Alex Stalock backed up Devan Dubnyk. Matt Hendricks was the lone scratch.
~ The 3 Stars of the Game were: 1st Star Tyler Bertuzzi, 2nd Star Thomas Vanek, 3rd Star Dylan Larkin
~ Attendance was 19,087 at Xcel Energy Center.
Wild Prospect Report:
LW – Kirill Kaprizov (CSKA Moscow, KHL) ~ the superbly skilled winger had a goal on 5 shots in CSKA’s 6-0 victory over Traktor Chelyabinsk. Kaprizov has 20 goals, 30 points, 10 PIM’s and is a +25 in 43 games.
C – Andrei Svetlakov (CSKA Moscow, KHL) ~ the 4th line center had a goal and went 9-of-12 on his draws in CSKA’s 6-0 win over Traktor Chelyabinsk. Svetlakov has 4 goals, 9 points, 21 PIM’s and is +10 in 33 games.
RW – Shawn Boudrias (Cape Breton, QMJHL) ~ the rugged power forward earned 2nd star honors on Friday as he buried a goal and had 2 hits in Cape Breton’s 3-0 win over Halifax. Boudrias has 16 goals, 32 points, 19 PIM’s and is +9 in 36 games.
RW – Nick Swaney (Minnesota-Duluth, NCHC) ~ the former Lakeville South star had a goal on 2 shots in the Bulldogs’ 3-1 win over St. Cloud State. Swaney has 6 goals, 12 points and is a +6 in 17 games.
LW – Sam Hentges (St. Cloud State, NCHC) ~ the freshman forward had an assist in the Huskies’ 3-1 loss to Minnesota Duluth on Friday. Hentges has 5 goals, 9 points, 12 PIM’s and is a +9 in 17 games.
C – Connor Dewar (Everett, WHL) ~ the Silvertips’ captain earned 3rd star honors on Friday night as he chipped in two assists on 5 shots on goal and went 16-for-24 on his draws in Everett’s 4-3 loss to in-state rival Tri City. Dewar has 29 goals, 59 points, 50 PIM’s and is a +22 in 39 games.