Glen Andresen's Five Takeaways at Montreal
Thursday, 03.01.2012 / 10:57 PM / Features
By Glen Andresen - Manager of Social Media
In one of the most bizarre Minnesota Wild games I’ve ever seen, you knew it would end in a weird way. But I can’t say I thought it would end in a shootout with Devin Setoguchi losing the puck and falling to the ice without getting a shot off. But then again, that’s about the only way this game could end.
From start to finish, this one had things you could never have predicted: A fight in the first 10 seconds. An injury to Niklas Backstrom in the opening minutes. Two goals from Matt Kassian. Three Wild goals in the final four minutes. Dirty plays and head scratching calls from the referees. It just made no sense.
But somehow, the Wild picked up a standings point, and if they can pull out a win in Detroit tomorrow night, they’ll gladly take a three-point road trip.
Yeo juggled his lines before this one started, taking Erik Christensen out of the lineup (although he would have been nice to have in the shootout), and mixing up the line combinations. He put Darroll Powe back at center with Kassian and Nick Johnson, and that trio could have easily been considered the team’s best line.
Kassian put four shots on goal and connected on two of them for his first two NHL goals. Johnson was a force all night long, continually winning battled behind the net and getting the puck to the front. He finished the night with three assists. Powe was also buzzing all night, and he made a great play to set up Kassian’s first goal, and he was later robbed point blank on a great save by Carey Price.
I don’t know if it was because of the pounding the Canadiens put on the Wild last March in St. Paul, or if it was just two desperate hockey teams “getting after it” as Ron Gardenhire would say. But this was as emotionally charged of a game as you’ll see between two teams from separate conferences that have never met in the Stanley Cup Finals. And I don’t count the budding Wild-Jets rivalry because those teams are so close in proximity and they won’t be in separate conferences for long.
There scrums and jaw jacking from start to finish. And at times, it got ugly. The most obvious example was during a scrum in front of Price. After Price jumped on a loose puck, Stephane Veilleux, who had fought Ryan White 10 seconds into the game, was lurking nearby.
Veilleux was grabbed around the neck from behind by defenseman Chris Campoli. White saw this, took off his gloves and threw three punches at Veilleux’s face as he was being pulled down to the ice. It was an ugly, classless act certainly worthy of suspension, which likely means White won’t get one.
We all know that Josh Harding is a free agent at the end of the season, and that’s a big reason for why some thought he might be shipped to another team prior to Monday’s trade deadline. Instead, he’s here, and it looks as if he’ll play a major role going forward. We don’t know the extent of Backstrom’s injury just yet, but it certainly didn’t look good the way he was helped off the ice.
Expect a callup of Matt Hackett in time for tomorrow’s game in Detroit, but expect Harding to shoulder the load. This is the time for him to shine, and showcase his abilities as he looks to earn a contract in Minnesota or elsewhere for next season.
He’ll get a stiff test tomorrow in Detroit, but Harding is 2-0-1 against the Wings this year.
We’ll bury this take at the bottom, but it sure looked like the Wild benefitted from a completely blown call in the closing seconds. Down a goal, Max Pacioretty (who was spectacular by the way) raced up the right side with Kurtis Foster in pursuit. The Wild net was empty, so Foster had no choice but to hook Pacioretty as if he was trying to pull down a rhinoceros. Pacioretty eventually went down (albeit in an exaggerated way) and the refs kept the whistle silent, which they hadn’t done all game.
Sure enough, the Wild turned around, pressured in the Montreal zone and got the equalizer from Devin Setoguchi with 10 seconds to play. Again…bizarre.