Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways at Toronto
Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 10:14 PM CT / Minnesota Wild | Features
By Mike Doyle - Managing Editor
I know this is supposed to be a Five Takeaways from tonight’s game, but sometimes things carryover from game to game, and the Wild’s bad, puck luck looked like it stowed away in the overhead bin on the team’s flight from Philly.
The Leafs jumped on the board in the first minute of the game off of a fortunate bounce and some good hand-eye coordination. Joffrey Lupul threw a harmless looking puck to the middle of the ice, which bounced off of a Wild defender, right to the front of the net. The puck went into the air and it looks like Niklas Backstrom lost sight of the biscuit. Not losing sight of the puck was Nazem Kadri, who made a turning backhand swipe at the puck and knocked it in as it was coming down to the ice.
In the third period, Toronto again got the home-country bounce as Mikhail Grabovski redirected a puck off of his skate past Backstrom. After a review, the goal was upheld because Grabovski didn’t use a ‘kicking motion.’ The goal was the second reviewed (Joey Crabb had a legit goal in the first period) in the NHL Situation Room…
The refs didn’t have to make a long distance call to the NHL Situation Room tonight; it’s a couple of blocks from Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The Situation Room has 16 42-inch 1080p monitors getting recording every NHL game and looks like a cross between the world’s best bar and an air traffic control room.
You have to give the guys in the war room a lot of credit for getting the calls right (no matter how much I might have disliked them) and making their decisions quickly. One of the things that worried a lot of folks about replay was the possibility of holding up game play, but that isn’t the case. Watching every Wild game this season, the calls are usually right (Nick Johnson had a goal waived off earlier this season I didn’t agree with – clearly not a kicking motion) and are made in a timely manner. Check out this behind-the-scenes feature that pulls back the Situation Room curtain.
In the third period, Head Coach Mike Yeo shifted the lines, and put Matt Cullen between Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley. Although the Leafs had a four-goal lead, the line continued to push and had several good scoring chances.
It would have been easy for them to go through the motions, but the trio sustained pressure in the offensive zone, was finishing checks and tried to get some positive offensive plays rolling. With more than 2,000 NHL games between the three, they know the only way to get out of a slump is to work your way out of it. And, in the third period, that’s what they tried to do. Obviously, the team is struggling with its confidence right now, but the only way to get your confidence back is to work. And, the Cullen/Heatley/Setoguchi line was working hard to try and turn things around. I’m curious to see if they are together to start Saturday’s game against the Dallas Stars…
Tonight marked the Wild’s fourth-straight road game. On Saturday, the Wild returns to Xcel Energy Center. Yes, you can’t make excuses for losing on the road, but some home cooking might be exactly what this team needs right now. Of Minnesota’s last 23 games, 16 have been on the road. In the last two months, the Wild has been on the road more than Willie Nelson.
This team is desperately in need of a boost and the home crowd might be just what the doctor ordered. If you’re going to the game, be vocal aggressive and supportive. You might be thinking, “These guys are getting paid to play, they shouldn’t need the crowd to get into the game.” Well, you’re right, but it’s a little easier to get out of a funk and gain some momentum with 18,000 screaming fans supporting you.
Saturday will be my first time participating in Hockey Day Minnesota, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of the State of Hockey’s celebration. Although I didn’t grow up in Minnesota, I’m proud to be a resident and to work for the home team. Here is a link to all the Hockey Day Minnesota events.
One of my favorite things about working in the media is meeting all kinds of great people with hockey ties and hearing their stories. The day will include more than 16 hours hockey-related programming on Fox Sports North, and a telethon dedicated to Jack Jablonski, the Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School student who suffered a spinal chord injury during a game. If you can’t make the game, make sure you check Wild.com’s Hockey Day Minnesota page for more wonderful stories out of the State of Hockey.