Glen Andresen's Five Takeaways at Florida
Last night, the Minnesota Wild was more disappointed in the effort during its game against the Atlanta Thrashers. Tonight, it there was another feeling of disappointment, but mostly due to the outcome and the ending of a 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers..
After a sluggish start that saw the Panthers pop two goals in less than a minute early in the first, the Wild called timeout to right the ship…quickly. I’m not sure what was said by Head Coach Todd Richards, but I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to print any of it even if I did. From there, the Wild’s play improved dramatically, but the offense wasn’t able to generate enough to mount a full-fledged comeback.
The outcome of the game wasn’t the topic of discussion shortly after the buzzer sounded, or for the rest of the night. As time expired, Steve Bernier hit Brent Burns, who retaliated, and a fracas broke out. Cal Clutterbuck was crosschecked from behind by Bryan Allen, but the biggest penalty went to Burns, who was given a five minute major for fighting, and a game misconduct.
I honestly did not see what happened because the TV in the press box didn’t show a replay, and I hustled out of the arena to catch a bus. However, the word quickly spread that Burns may have caught Bernier in the face with his stick and fractured his cheekbone. Whether there is any discipline taken on Burns remains to be seen, but it seems likely that the Wild will either call up another defenseman, or seek to have Marek Zidlicky brought in for Sunday’s game.
You hate to look back at a blown call and say that’s the reason for a loss. Any coach will tell you that in order to win games, a team has to overcome that and not put itself in a position to lose a game because of a missed call. But when a team is struggling for offense and missing key contributors, you need to catch some breaks here and there. Unfortunately, the zebras didn’t help out, and it’s very likely that they knew it.
Trailing by two in the first, Clutterbuck fired a shot on goal that squeezed through the pads of Tomas Vokoun. As the puck slowly slid toward the goal line, a net crashing Casey Wellman slid toward the crease, while Cats defenseman Dennis Wideman slid right into the net. On his way, Wideman closed his hand over the puck as it was inches away from going in, and then threw it out. Wild players started celebrating despite no red light, and no signal from the refs.
They went upstairs for a replay review, but all that showed was the puck not going in, and a penalty shot can’t be awarded because of a replay. The refs need to catch a player in the act of closing his hand on the puck in the crease, and they flat out missed Wideman’s infraction.
Clutterbuck did eventually find the net a short time later when he scored the Wild’s only tally on the power play. His marker was the third in four games, and provided more evidence that he has been one of Minnesota’s best players this season. He still hasn’t lost his aggressive nature, but he is becoming a force in the offensive end, and it really doesn’t matter who he’s playing with. Tonight, was played on a line with Matt Cullen and Casey Wellman, and they were easily the best source of offense for the Wild. They accounted for 11 of the 27 shots recorded on Vokoun.
And now, my report on the experience of a Florida Panther game. First of all, it’s different from a Wild game, and that’s completely understandable. Hockey is not a part of the culture as it is in the State of Hockey, and I knew that going in. So you’re going to see Ice Dancers, and loud noises and some gimmicky stuff, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. You have to know your audience, and judging by the crowd reactions to Saturday Night Live’s “More Cowbell” skit or a crazy cowboy dancing to “Cotton Eyed Joe,” the Panthers marketers know the audience.
Still, the crowd was bigger than I expected. They were louder than I expected. And they seemed to have a good time despite little offense, and not much in the way of fights until the end. All in all, my hat is off to the Panthers game experience after my first visit to BankAtlantic Cente