Glen Andresen's Five Takeaways at Atlanta
I think I speak for everybody when I say, “Thank the heavens above that there is another Minnesota Wild game tomorrow.” The best thing a team can do the day after being taught a lesson is get angry and get right back out on the ice against a new team and unleash the fury. The Minnesota Wild should have plenty of fury built up after being frustrated from the opening puck drop to the final buzzer in a 5-1 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday night.
Very few things went right tonight, other than the team bus showing up on time, and the team flight taking off with Georgia in the rear view. But despite a less than stellar showing, let’s keep a little perspective here. The Wild had won three straight before a four-day break that obviously didn’t help. The club is now 2-2-2 in road games, and if any team stays at or above .500 on the road, it’s in good shape assuming it can win at home, which has never been an issue at Xcel Energy Center. And, well, I’m not sure of any other positives from tonight. But, whenever we make a late night flight to another city, there’s always a chance my hotel room will be near Bob Kurtz, and if he can’t get the key to his door to work, the entertainment is soon to follow.
Most of the players that stood out in this one were wearing power blue uniforms. But if there was one Wild player that was more noticeable than the others, it was Antti Miettinen, who returned to action after missing the past five games with a concussion. Miettinen started the game on a checking line with Eric Nystrom and John Madden, but that lasted 20 minutes. Soon, he was back with his old partners – Mikko Koivu and Andrew Brunette. It appeared they didn’t miss a beat. Miettinen tipped home a Koivu pass in the third, and that trio really generated the only other scoring chances over the course of the final two periods.
With the Atlanta Falcons taking on the Baltimore Ravens about one block away, the Thrashers marketers had their work cut out for them. But the 10,555 fans (might be a stretch) who did check out the Wild game, saw a very nice production dedicated to military veterans. Nearly every off-ice activity involved a military member, and that included everything from a soldier igniting the flame-throwing bird heads suspended above the ice during pregame introductions and the contestants in the on-ice intermission games like a Sumo hockey game and a Velcro golf chipping contest.
But I’d wager that none of the veterans had as great a day as Minnesota natives Dan Schmitt and Scott Scherbing Those two, along with Michigan native, Jacob Cosens were the Wild’s guests of honor at today’s morning skate. They presented Brent Burns with a Wild flag that accompanied them on a “Duster” Blackhawk helicopter that flew missions over Iraq and Afghanistan. Currently stationed in Savannah, the trio drove three and a half hours to get to the skate, and talk with Burns about seemingly every military mission, tactic and lifestyle aspect you can fit into a 20-minute convo. If you ever wanted to see a meeting where both parties are equally in awe of what the other does, this was it.
The Atlanta Thrashers were the last team ever to defeat the Minnesota Wild, and now they’ve done it twice in a row. It was the first time Minnesota had ever lost at Philips Arena, which leaves one NHL arena that it is unbeaten in. The Wild is 5-0-0 all-time at TD Banknorth Garden, and it will have the chance to improve on that record on January 6
The Wild is currently carrying enough skaters to run out 12 forwards and six defensemen, but that’s it. With Guillaume Latendresse, Chuck Kobasew and Marek Zidlicky all nursing lower body injuries in Minnesota, there isn’t much room for any injury. Todd Richards said he’d like to get some extra bodies on the roster by tomorrow, but as of late Thursday night, there hasn’t been a move announced. The forward candidates would seem to be Matt Kassian or Robbie Earl. If a defenseman is necessary, we may see Drew Bagnall or Marco Scandella in the near future.