Carly Peters' Five Takeaways vs. San Jose
Wednesday, 12.29.2010 / 11:00 PM / Features
By Carly Peters - Media Relations Coordinator
The big talk coming into tonight's game was the Wild's struggles at home this season. Todd Richards even told his team recently that he was sick and tired of getting booed on home ice. And the Wild certainly put on a cheer-worthy performance for the overflow, sellout crowd of 19,131 tonight.
Yes, as Richards noted in his press conference, the Wild was booed when it failed to capitalize on a four-minute power play to start the third. But that was one of very few low points for the Wild tonight. The team was battling, creating chances and jamming away at pucks until they went in the San Jose net. Even without the W, the effort the Wild showed tonight would have warranted a loud ovation. The fact that Minnesota rallied for three-straight goals in the third was just the icing on the cake for the crowd at Xcel Energy Center.
Their were many stars for the Wild in tonight's win, but there might be none bigger than Kyle Brodziak. We often note that Brodziak likes to score in pairs and he did again tonight, notching his third two-goal game this season and seventh of his career. He also now has four goals in his last four home games.
Brodziak has been stellar since joining Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Martin Havlat on the Wild's second line. As Todd Richards said after tonight's game, Brodziak's success this season hasn't been a fluke and he's working to get the goals, going to the front of the net and battling to get rebounds on the shots of his linemates. Brodziak's first goal tonight was nice, but his second marker was a thing of beauty. He's proving that a Movember stache might still have some magic left in it well into the new year.
The Wild comeback wasn't the only reason to celebrate during tonight's game. Wild Assistant Equipment Manager Rick Bronwell worked his 1,000th professional hockey game, including his stints in the IHL, ECHL and AHL before working his way to the NHL level. Wild players even took the time before today's game to reflect on the momentous achievement.
In addition to being great at his job with the ever-important Minnesota equipment, Bronwell is a fun part of the Wild locker room. He's usually smiling and joking and helps keep the team in good spirits. That wonderful attitude was on display for the entire crowd at Xcel Energy Center when Tricky was shown on the video board in recognition of the milestone. He laughed it up, popped his collar and pointed to himself as the Wild players stood and gave him an ovation of stick taps.
Bronwell was even given the "game belt," a wrestling style momento handed out to a deserved player after each win. Tricky, who's a bigger guy, was touched by the honor and was heard talking about the celebration, joking after the game, "They gave me the belt tonight, too! It doesn't fit, but..."
Niklas Backstrom has received his fair share of criticism this season, but his 29-save performance tonight was stellar. As Richards said in his postgame press conference, "Nick made some big saves for us when we needed him to."
Backs was indeed huge in net tonight for the Wild. He stood tall when Minnesota was getting severly outshot to start the game. He routinely pounced on pucks to end a flurry of San Jose chances, and most of the goals he did let in tonight seemed to come after he made spectacular saves and the Wild couldn't clear the puck. Perhaps most importantly, Backstrom was strong late in the game when the Wild was clinging to its lead. Who knows how Minnesota would've responded if it once again let a lead slip away in the third as it did in the second period? We'll never have to wonder because Backs shut the door with a dominant 13-for-13 stanza in the third.
Chuck Kobasew has been in and out of the lineup with an injury this season, but now that he's been back for 11 straight contests, he seems to have found his game. After a goal and an assist in the Wild's last game in Columbus, he tallied a goal and was a +2 in 11:09 TOI tonight.
Kobasew's been a mobile part of the Wild roster this season, playing on the top line at times, or being towards the bottom of the depth chart as he was tonight. Regardless, he works his way into the opponent's end and tries to create room for his teammates. Tonight, his work was rewarded with a goal, one that Richards called "huge." Kobasew's marker was in fact massive, once again putting the Wild on an even playing field after it had let go of earlier leads, igniting the crowd, and ultimately the team, as it went on to victory.