Glen Andresen's Five Takeaways vs. New Jersey
We’re going to leave it to Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo to be the one who keeps a level head and keeps things in perspective. He seems pretty good at it, and a lot better than us here in Minnesota who need something to get excited about when it comes to sports. It’s now December, and the Minnesota Wild are again atop the entire National Hockey League.
That’s exciting. I don’t care who you are. This is a fun ride, and it got even better with the Wild’s thrilling 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.
The Wild quickly erased an early deficit with three quick strikes from Dany Heatley, Kyle Brodziak and Casey Wellman. The scoring pace dropped off after Ilya Kovalchuk cut the Wild lead to 3-2 with six minutes left in the first, but the action didn’t.
This game was back-and-forth for most of the way after that. And when it looked like New Jersey was close to tying, Brodziak again came through in the clutch.
"I thought our guys battled extremely hard tonight," said Head Coach Mike Yeo. "Our execution wasn't great, but it was a really good two points for us tonight."
We don’t talk much about this Brodziak fella enough. And maybe we shouldn’t start now, because it’s not like this guy’s recent play has been a revelation. The tireless worker is in his third year here, but he still doesn’t have the fanfare and notoriety of guys like Koivu, Clutterbuck, Bouchard or Cullen. But he continues to do his thing, and do it well. And his “thing” is pretty much everything.
While he’s labeled as a “gritty energy guy,” that description does him a disservice. The guy has quite a bit of talent to go along with that work ethic. Both were on display on his first goal when he blew past Anton Volchenkov on the outside and then got in alone on Brodeur. His first attempt was thwarted, but Brodziak hung with the play and was able to chip in a backhand rebound as he was falling to the ice. It was one of the best goals of the Wild season just on effort alone.
He later tacked on the insurance goal, which set this place on fire. More on that next.
The booing was the result of a very questionable interference penalty called on Devin Setoguchi during a Wild power play with 3:48 remaining. In the Wild zone, Setoguchi skated past a Devils player and the two clipped skates. When the replay was shown twice on the scoreboard, the crowd lost its collective mind. They were so furious, the next thing they knew, Brodziak was in all alone on Johan Hedberg and buried his chance.
In an instant, it was pandemonium, and my ears are still ringing.
It has to be a first, and it will most likely be a last. But Brodeur doesn’t get chased from the net often. It’s never happened against the Wild, and only once has it happened this early in a game. After three goals in the span of 5:03, Brodeur was gone just 8:17 into the game, stopping one of four shots (not a great save percentage after you do the math). The only time he’s been pulled earlier than that was eight minutes into a game against Carolina on January 1, again after letting in three goals.
Even though the Devils have struggled in recent years, you hope your team can pump three goals past Brodeur in 60 minutes. And I don’t care if he’s 55 years old.
Brodeur wasn’t the only goalie to leave the game early. Niklas Backstrom earned the win even though he only played through the first period. He stayed on the bench after what is being termed as a “minor lower body issue.”
Josh Harding had to come in cold and was still able to continue his stellar season, despite not getting the “W.” He faced 12 shots in the second and 10 in the third and stopped all of them. He came up huge on a Patrik Elias rebound shot when he slid across the crease and robbed the former All-Star.
Backstrom will be re-evaluated tomorrow, so we will find out then if a call up of Matt Hackett is necessary.