Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways vs. Dallas
Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 10:25 PM CT / Minnesota Wild | Features
By Mike Doyle - Managing Editor
Some people might be of the opinion that a 1-0 hockey game couldn’t be all that exciting. However, tonight wasn’t one of those games. Both teams had ample quality scoring chances, but this was a good old-fashioned goaltender’s dual. Kari Lehtonen might’ve gotten the better of Matt Hackett, but the first-year tender is showing his mettle at the NHL level.
After allowing a three-goal third period on Sunday against the Flames, Hackett bounced back with a gem. The first year tender probably deserved a win tonight, but, alas, it wasn’t meant to be. But you have to be impressed with the Hackett’s mental makeup.
“He’s a pretty calm kid,” Head Coach Mike Yeo said. “There were periods where he wasn’t really challenged but times when he really was.”
Yeo doesn’t mean any disrespect by calling Hackett the kid. After all, he’s only 22 years old and Yeo added, “He is composed and focused and we all have to be very impressed from what we’ve seen from the kid.”
Hackett’s performance was so good that he deserves a second Takeaway. His second period glove save on Mike Ribeiro was one of the quickest, flashiest and downright gloveliest saves of the season.
With Dallas on the power play, Michael Ryder launched a wrist shot from the right faceoff dot. Hackett made a left pad save and the puck kicked out to the opposite circle, right on the tape of Ribeiro, who got off a quick, high wrist shot. Hackett slid from side to side and whipped his glove into the air, windmill style and kept the puck out of the net. The only thing that might have made the save any better was if Hackett was able to hold onto it. But come on, it was still spectacular.
Cal Clutterbuck returned to action after missing three games with an undisclosed injury. He didn’t seem to be feeling any ill effects and that is bad news to opposing defenders. One of the things why Clutterbuck is such a good hitter: impeccable timing. He delivers hits like a great comedian delivers a punch line. He attacks with speed, lowers his shoulder and drives it into his opponents for optimal impact.
Despite missing more than a week of contact, Clutterbuck showed off that impeccable timing in the third period with a clean shoulder-to –shoulder hit on Trevor Daley. The Stars defenseman circled around his net with the puck and tried to make an outlet pass. Clutterbuck saw his opportunity and swooped in, knocking Daley into the air and onto the back of this goal. After that, the crowd picked up its energy and so did the Wild. Clutterbuck has few peers in the NHL with his the ability to boost the level of intensity with a well-timed hit, and it’s great to have him healthy and back in the lineup.
A player is supposed to always be in control of his stick and, even when incidental, be responsible for keeping it below the shoulders. In the second period, Nick Palmieri was hauled down on a scoring chance and as he was falling to the ice his stick flew up and clipped Lehtonen in the mask. Two minutes for high sticking.
In the third period, everyone’s favorite tough guy, Steve Ott, had a similar play. He was going to the net and on his way, slashed Steve Kampfer’s stick. The blade of Ott’s twig ricocheted off of Kampfer’s and hit him right in the grill. Kampfer went down in a heap. When he got up, I momentarily mistook him for a vampire because his face was so full of blood. Kampfer left the game and didn’t return. Ott skated the rest of the game. Nada.
The Wild is off until Saturday, an afternoon game against Carolina, so the state’s hockey-centric focus will shift its attention college hockey as the WCHA Final Five comes to Xcel Energy Center.
Minnesota fans should be excited because there are three teams from the State of Hockey: St. Cloud State University, University of Minnesota Duluth and the University of Minnesota.
Wild fans should also be excited at a chance to see Wild draftee Jason Zucker in action. If you’ve never seen Zucker skate, you should make an effort, because he is a five-tool player. Maybe the most impressive thing I’ve seen from Zucker is his compete level. He brings it every night.
It should be a great weekend of hockey with the Wild playing a matinee game on Saturday, before the Final Five championship game. Of course, I’ll expect my St. Cloud State Huskies to play for the Broadmoor Cup on St. Paddy’s day, but we’ll save that Takeaway for another time.