Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways at Columbus
Tuesday, 02.7.2012 / 8:39 PM CT / Minnesota Wild | Features
By Mike Doyle - Manager of Digital Content
Tough loss for the Wild as it continues to fight for the eighth spot in the Western Conference. Tonight, it seemed like the Wild just couldn’t get anything going.
“This is just another one of those ones where say we need to move past it,” Head Coach Mike Yeo said after the game.
I'm not sure if fatigue was setting in tonight, but the Wild has played 19 of its last 27 games away from Xcel Energy Center, a tough stretch for the most road savvy teams. Adding to the tired legs were the seven power play opportunities allotted to the Blue Jackets. It’s hard enough to win on the road, but going shorthanded seven times isn’t going to help.
Looking forward, the Wild plays its next four games in the State of Hockey. In one its next four games, Minnesota will get a chance to extract some revenge against the Blue Jackets as Columbus comes to town on Saturday. But, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves…
If you thought Nate Prosser might take a night off after signing a two-year contract extension, you’d be sorely mistaken. The day after re-upping with a one-way deal, he answered the bell, literally.
Prosser stepped up and dropped the gloves for his first NHL fight with Derek Dorsett after the Blue Jackets' forward laid a hard check on Jared Spurgeon. Prosser, not know for his pugilistic prowess, pulled a classy move by taking off his helmet because he wears a visor. However, Dorsett, who goes visor-less, didn’t return the favor by laying down his helmet. Dorsett is a tough customer to go against for the first time in the show, but I’m sure Prosser will take it as a learning experience. Every time he has been called up, some aspect of Prosser’s game improves. However, I’m not so sure the Wild brass wants him to throw down too often…
If you come an assist away from a Gordie Howe Hat Trick, you better believe you get two takeaways. It was a night of fists and firsts for Prosser, who celebrated the newly minted contract with his first-career NHL goal. And, possibly more impressive, he called his shot.
Speaking with the media yesterday, Prosser said that he’d like to celebrate the new deal by scoring his first-career goal. Well, maybe Nostradamus should tell the media what he wants more often. In the first period, Prosser took a cross-ice pass from his D-partner, Justin Falk. The puck bounced off the boards, Prosser set himself and fired a laser through traffic, beating goaltender Curtis Sanford low to the blocker side.
Last week, Yeo had a meeting with goaltender Niklas Backstrom and told the netminder that he needed to step up and be the team's number one goalie. Backstrom responded by shutting out the Avs and only allowing one goal against the Stars. Tonight, he was equally impressive making 34 saves, many of them early and from close range. Backstrom was the reason the Wild had a chance in the third period and Minnesota will be in a good spot every night if he can keep up this play.
Tonight marked the first time Colton Gillies played against the team that drafted him in 2007, and you know he was jacked up about it. The Wild’s former first-round selection never seemed to find his role in Minnesota and was placed on waivers. The Blue Jackets swooped him up and Gillies has found ample ice time on the second line in Columbus. He had a direct impact on two of the Jackets’ goals, both by planting his big frame at the foot of the crease. He took away Backstrom's eyes on the first goal, and notched an assist on the team's third goal by screening Backs and then fighting for the lose puck. Gillies is an affable guy, the kind of player you like to root for. Just not when he’s playing against the Wild.