Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said that he wanted the team to gain the reputation as “road warriors” and "hard to play against" after the morning skate. For the first thirty minutes, the club was playing, what might’ve been, the team’s best hockey of the early season. However, against Detroit on the road, it’s necessary to put together a full sixty minutes.
One thing you have to like is the Wild’s resiliency. Detroit scored two quick goals right off the bat in the second period. Minnesota battled back to tie it at two, before the Wings eventually pulled away. The Wild gave a solid effort, but it wasn’t enough to mount a comeback. The team is still learning how to play together. Tonight was a good first lesson in what it takes to win on the road.
Tonight’s contest between the Wild and Red Wings was a penalty filled affair. The game wasn’t overly physical, as there were an abundance of hooking, holding and interference penalties. These are the types of calls that no coach likes, because they usually signal that the offending player isn’t moving his feet. The Wild had eight power plays while Detroit had five man advantages.
In the first period, the Wild had one of the better 5-on-3 kills you’ll see. Minnesota was down for nearly a full two minutes and successfully shut down the vaunted Wings power play unit. On one particular play, Kyle Brodziak made a great read, diving to break up a cross-ice pass and tipping the puck outside the zone. Minnesota made a lot of second effort plays, but came up just short on the evening.
It has been well documented that Jonas Brodin is a smooth-skating defenseman. However, few in the State of Hockey have seen the 19-year-old perform against NHL speed. Tonight, fans got to see Brodin’s skating ability, as he made his NHL debut. If you didn’t notice his motor, it is probably because his movement is so effortless. You really have to pay attention to his stride because his style doesn’t always advertise his ability in neon lights.
In the first period, Brodin was bringing the puck up the ice on a power play (yes, the Wild has that much confidence in the young man). He pulled away from Wings’ forward Darren Helm, who is no slouch in the skating department. In the second, Brodin made a lateral move against Cory Emmerton, leaving the Wings’ forward in his ice shavings and firing a shot on goal.
The blueliner picked up his first NHL point, a second assist on Tom Gilbert’s power play goal. Despite it being Brodin’s big league debut, he showed poise and confidence with the puck beyond his years.
Tonight, the Wings’ faithful booed Ryan Suter and Parise, to a lesser extent, every time they touched the puck. Detroit was one of the teams in the summer’s “Suter Sweepstakes” in which several teams offered the blueliner a contract. Well, we all know how that turned out (for those of you living under a rock the Wild landed both Suter and Parise on July 4).
I’m all for fans booing a guy if he leaves their city for another team via free agency. I’m even more in favor of a fan base jeering a guy who requests to be traded out of their town. However, booing a guy because he didn’t want to sign with your team in the offseason is a bit much. You don’t hear about a lot of the offers that players get from teams around the league, but this was different because of the speculation and media hype surrounding Suter’s and Parise’s free agencies. Their every move was under the media microscope.
Parise and Suter both deserved to be booed by the Detroit faithful tonight, but because of their play (Parise had two goals, while Suter had a great assist on the forward’s first and played more than half the game) and not because they chose the State of Hockey over Hockeytown.
Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to a guy, and tonight, that guy was Pavel Datsyuk. Respected by players and fans around the League, he was on point tonight scoring a goal and setting up two others.
On the power play, he rifled a laser over Josh Harding’s shoulder that gave the Wild’s netminder little chance to save. Both of his assists were passes through traffic and right on the tape—first to Henrick Zetterberg and then square in Todd Bertuzzi’s wheelhouse. One of the big reasons Detroit has been a contender over the past decade is because of Datsyuk’s magic. There is a reason that “Datsyukian” is an entry in the Urban Dictionary.
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