Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways at Edmonton
Friday, 12.23.2011 / 12:33 AM CT / Minnesota Wild | Features
By Mike Doyle - Managing Editor
The Wild and Oilers already have squared off five times this season and their final meeting is Thursday, Dec. 29 at Xcel Energy Center.
Historically, the Wild has dominated the matchup, but the Oilers have won the last two in the series. With realignment next season, we will be seeing less of Edmonton, and that is not necessary a bad thing in my book. I like watching talented players thrive as much as the next guy, but not when they are doing it against the Wild. Not having the Oilers in the Wild’s division will be a ‘Hate to see you go, glad to watch you leave' situation. The Oilers young nucleus has the potential to be pretty deadly in the future, and that’s fine because they won’t be doing it against the Wild six times a year.
Hockey players are tough, but two plays were painfully scary for Minnesota fans and looked even more painful for the players involved. Pierre-Marc Bouchard took a high stick in the second period from Sam Gagner, and Lennart Petrell shoved Marek Zidlcky from behind in the third period. Gagner’s high stick drew blood from Bouchard’s chin, and Zidlicky went head first into the boards and stayed down for several seconds.
Both plays were especially frightening to Wild fans because both players recently came off of the injured reserve. With the Wild suffering a multitude of injuries to this point, the thoughts of ‘Here we go again’ were instantaneous, but both finished the game and showed no signs of ill effects.
The Oilers were all over the Wild in the first period registering 20 shots, and Edmonton’s forwards were all over Niklas Backstrom, literally. The Wild netminder was positioned where he was supposed to be, out challenging shots and cutting down angles, but he was fighting traffic throughout the first period.
Ryan Smyth, a player who has made a career of getting in the face of opposing goaltenders, seemed like he was in Backstrom’s grill at every turn in the first frame. On a shot from the point, he slashed the knob of Backstrom’s stick, knocking the twig out of the goaltender’s hand. Darcy Hordichuk was called for goaltender interference, but it seemed like the Oilers were allowed to buzz Minnesota’s goalie at will. With several instances of goaltenders being treated like pylons at a beginning driver's parallel parking lesson, it seems like forwards are losing respect for the blue paint and the safety of goalies. I never thought I’d say this, not in a million years, but goalies need to be protected.
The IIHF World Junior Championships start next week and a few Wild prospects were in attendance at Rexall Place tonight. D Jonas Brodin, F Johan Larsson and G Johan Gustafsson were all at the game with Team Sweden, who is in Edmonton for pre-tournament exhibition games. Calgary and Edmonton host the tournament from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5. Other Wild prospects representing their countries are F Mikael Granlund from Finland and from the United States F Jason Zucker and F Charlie Coyle. Here is an audio interview with Coyle about the tournament.
I hope that Team Sweden didn’t take part in one of the all-time banes in fandom: The Wave.
Yeah, I’m talking to you Edmonton. Tonight you did The Wave. I’d expect that type of behavior out of Canucks fans, but you Edmonton, you’re better than that. The last time The Wave was cool, people wore flannel because of Kurt Cobain. The Wave is one of the worst inventions in fan history. Seriously, what good comes from The Wave? You can’t see the action on the ice, and there is a good chance your beer is getting knocked over when some jerk in front of you flops his arms up like a giant inflatable air dancer man in some used car parking lot. Does Brendan Shanahan have the authority to suspend The Wave? If he does, this is my petition for a lifetime ban.