Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways vs. Calgary
Thursday, 03.22.2012 / 10:47 PM CT / Minnesota Wild | Features
By Mike Doyle - Managing Editor
It was a long time coming, but Mikko Koivu made his return to game action tonight against the Flames. The Wild captain has missed 15-straight games since re-aggravating an upper body injury on Feb. 16. If he was rusty at all, he shook it off after the first period. He is a difference maker and it was most obvious on the power play. His patience on the wall is like Guns N' Roses circa 1988 and Minnesota’s power play runs through him. He didn’t get an assist on the Wild’s power play goal, but he was a conduit for it. After drawing the defenders to him along the sideboards, he snapped a crisp cross-ice pass to Cullen at the far point. Cullen went low to Setoguchi, who found Heatley in the slot for a one-timer. Beautiful.
You could see the confidence on the faces of the rest of the team, even when down 2-0. When the Wild struggled with penalties and a sluggish first period, the team didn’t get down. Minnesota weathered the storm, took its lumps and charged back in the second and third. The win felt good, but it felt just as good to have Koivu back on the ice leading the way.
If it felt like a long time since Koivu has played, a goal must have felt like an eternity for Darroll Powe. But, it hasn’t been for a lack of chances. Powe has been robbed more times than a bank without a lock on the vault door. He snapped a 27-game goal drought with the game-tying goal. And he was nearly robbed again.
With the puck underneath Mikka Kiprusoff, Powe fought off a checker and knocked the biscuit loose. The puck started to dribble towards the net and Matt Stajan looked like he denied Powe yet again. The goal went under review and the replay showed that it crossed the line, barely.
With Koivu back in the lineup, the rest of the lines fell into place. The fourth line of Stephane Veilleux, Warren Peters and Jed Ortmeyer created a spark with their energy and forecheck. The line did exactly what a checking line is supposed to do: hit everything that moves and don’t give up anything in the D-zone.
Sometimes there are just so many things that happen in a game, you have to combine takeaways. Stick tap to Head Equipment Manager Tony DaCosta for his 1,500th NHL game. The way he brings it everyday he is both a grinder and a playmaker.
NCAA National Champions were in the building tonight. The University of Minnesota Women’s Hockey Team was recognized during the first period. The Gophers won their third NCAA Championship by defeating Wisconsin 4-2 in the title game on Sunday at AMSOIL Arena in Duluth. This is the Gophers’ first national championship since 2005.
What a glorious way for the seniors to cap their careers and they were led by a pair of standouts. Senior Captain Sarah Erickson tallied two goals, while senior Emily West had two points on a goal and an assist. Amanda Kessel scored the first goal of the game. Congratulations ladies, well done.
Wild Draftee Nick Seeler was in the house tonight as well, with his USHL team, the Des Moines Buccaneers. The team is on its way to Fargo and practiced at Xcel Energy Center earlier today.
In his budding career, some of Seeler’s best moments have happened right here at Xcel Energy Center. Seeler hails from Eden Prairie and led the Eagles to the Boys’ High School State Tournament Championship last year on this sheet. During the summer, the Wild selected him in the 5th round (131st overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center. Wild.com had a chance to talk to the young man and he has a good head on his shoulders. Expect a Wild TV video and story sometime next week.
Half Takeaway: Typically, I’m not easily impressed. I also don’t usually engage in hyperbole. That’s why when I say tonight’s ceremonial puck drop was epic. Believe me, it was. Officer Joe Reginek from the St. Paul SWAT Team repelled down from the rafter to drop the puck. If floating down from the rafters isn’t crazy enough, he did it upside down like Spider-Man himself. Check out the pick below if you don’t believe me. If you’re still not impressed, check out the Wild TV video of the puck drop, here.