Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways at Vancouver
Saturday, 10.22.2011 / 6:53 PM / Minnesota Wild | Features
By Mike Doyle - Managing Editor
A solid team is not only defined by the character of its leaders, but by the character of its role players. Tonight, with Greg Zanon and Guillaume Latendresse sidelined with injuries, Justin Falk and Nick Johnson stepped into the limelight. Both responded with solid efforts. Falk was plus-1 and logged more than 22 minutes on the blue line. The D-man said he has been practicing as if it was a game. It's good to see that level of maturity from the youngster. He isn't happy just to be here, he wants to stay in the lineup. It is impressive, and a testament to his conditioning, that he was able to thrive logging that much ice. Johnson was equally impressive, with an assist and a plus-1 effort. His line received an expanded role because of their productive play, but we’ll touch on that in a second.
A solid team also needs ancillary scoring from its third line. Check. Kyle Brodziak marked his second goal of the season on a pretty setup from Johnson, and Rookie Brett Bulmer added the second assist. The third line earned more ice time as the game wore on and often played opposite the Sedin Twins. This is invaluable early season experience and will only help with each player’s confidence moving forward. Not only did they score, they created several chances with physical play, especially in the third period.
It must be a good feeling for Head Coach Mike Yeo to know he has depth and can depend on his third line in important situations.
Speaking of young players stepping up and gaining valuable experience, the D-pairing of Marco Scandella and Jared Spurgeon is looking more and more exciting every time they play together. Did I mention they are both 21? Both played more than 20 minutes tonight and Scandella is among the NHL rookie leaders in that category. They skate well, have great ice vision and move the puck quickly in transition. Sure, there will be some growing pains, but the young tandem is exciting now, and for the future of the franchise.
With nearly a week off until the Wild host the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday back in St. Paul, you can bet the team will work on special teams. Sami Salo’s overtime winner was on the power play and Daniel Sedin had a fluke PP goal in the second period. The Wild were unable to crack the board with the man advantage, but Devin Setoguchi’s first period goal did come at the end of a power play, so the groundwork for that goal was laid with an extra skater.
Was Dany Heatley’s overtime penalty Hockey Karma for Thursday night’s game-tying goal with 1.2 seconds left? Heatley received a penalty for slashing when he looped into the offensive zone on the forecheck and gave the Vancouver player’s stick the equivalent of a love tap. The composite stick shattered like a credit card when you try to scrape off a frozen windshield in the dead of a Minnesota winter. We often see missed opportunities to score when a composite shaft snaps in half; well, this time, we saw Vancouver capitalize on an opportunity. The Wild and Heatley get the shaft because of a broken shaft.
You owe us one Hockey Karma, you owe us one.