Glen Andresen's Five Takeaways at Anaheim
Friday, 02.25.2011 / 11:30 PM / Features
By Glen Andresen - Manager of Social Media
If you set your MP3 player to start playing Outkast’s “Hey Ya” or pop in your Finding Nemo DVD while wearing your Von Dutch hat you can take a trip back to 2003. Or, you could just watch the Minnesota Wild every chance you get, because this Wild team is starting to resemble that team in a very eerie way.
If you’ll recall, that team wasn’t given any shot of making the postseason, even as the snow started to melt and the leaves started to sprout. This year, the snow isn’t showing any signs of melting until July, but the Wild are still not thought to be much of a threat in the West. And that’s probably not going to change after the latest mind-boggling Wild victory that has to have you thinking that something special is going on with this team, much like in 2003.
Every night, it’s a different guy stepping up at a different time to provide a huge play. Tonight, it was Pierre-Marc Bouchard scoring with nine seconds left in overtime to give the Wild a 3-2 win. But the night belonged to Jose Theodore, who turned away a whopping 46 saves on 48 shots in one of the most spectacular goaltending performances in Wild history.
“The guys played hard,” said a smiling Head Coach Todd Richards. “It started with our goaltender. He was great. He was the difference in the game, without a question. But we had some guys step up and play hard tonight.”
Let’s stay on Theo, because if it weren’t for him, this game is a runaway victory for the Ducks. The Wild was shorthanded, banged up and fatigued from a physical battle last night in Los Angeles. Theodore had to be brilliant, but he was whatever word is better than brilliant. He was a mensa in goal tonight.
The Wild didn’t give the Ducks a ton in the first period, but a second period Duck power play led to an onslaught from the boys in black the rest of the way. There were too many spectacular Theodore saves to highlight, but one with just under six minutes comes to mind as the biggest.
With the score still tied at 1-1, Todd Marchant emerged from behind the net and tried to stuff one in. As Theodore had his momentum going to the right, the puck popped to Dan Sexton in front, and somehow Theodore reaches back with the toe to kick it away.
Again, take your pick from about 20 of Theo’s 46 saves, and you’ve got one for the highlight reel. The 46 stops were one short of his career high, which he set way back in 1997.
That save was so big, because it preserved the tie until Wild sniper Clayton Stoner could get some space. The guy who finds goal scoring so blasé that he normally opts to bank his shots in off the glass just for a higher degree of difficulty, decided to go standard tonight.
Stoner broke the 1-1 deadlock by gaining the Anaheim zone and then firing a low slapshot that skittered right through the legs of newly acquired goaltender Dan Ellis and in.
Hey, typically a goalie is supposed to make that save, but this is Clayton Stoner we’re talking about. There’s no shame in allowing one of his shots in.
It was sweet redemption for Stoner as well. On Anaheim’s first goal, he made an ill-advised attempt to retrieve his stick which allowed Ryan Getzlaf to set up a Bobby Ryan goal. But Stoner made up for it with a goal, and then a beautiful defensive play on Corey Perry late in the game. The Ducks star tried to pull off a series of moves to get around Stoner who wouldn’t budge, and then ended up poking the puck free and retrieving it in the corner.
If you blinked when Andrew Brunette and John Madden were skating in on a two-on-one in the first period, they were probably in the same place as they were before. But by the time they finished their rush, the Wild had a 1-0 lead after a beautiful wrist shot by Madden found the upper corner.
It was one highlight on a night where both Madden and Brunette were fantastic. And of course, both of them needed to be. Madden especially is being relied upon heavily in the absence of Mikko Koivu and Kyle Brodziak. Tonight, he had the task of matching up with Anaheim’s potent top line of Getzlaf, Ryan and Perry.
If it weren’t for Theodore’s night, Madden could very well have been your star of the game.
We’re already down to number five and I haven’t had the chance to rip on Jarkko Ruutu yet. It’s going to have to wait, though. I still haven’t talked about the game-winner by Bouchard.
The Wild had a chance in the final minute to end the game when Cal Clutterbuck was stuffed on a breakaway, and Martin Havlat was denied on the follow up. It’s not often that you get another clean breakaway in overtime in the same minute.
But Bouchard alertly read the play in the Wild zone perfectly and sensed that Brent Burns was going to come up with a turnover. So Butch started turning toward the Anaheim zone and Burns wasted no time in sending a backhand pass his way.
As Bouchard stayed onside and moved in, every Wild fan was looking for a spin-o-rama, and maybe Ellis was too. Instead, Bouchard went with the tuck between the wickets for his second regular season overtime winner.