Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways at Washington
Sunday, 03.25.2012 / 8:08 PM / Features
By Mike Doyle - Managing Editor
With tonight’s loss, the Wild was mathematically eliminated from the playoffs this season. However, if you had watched this game, you’d have been proud of the effort Minnesota put fourth.
Yes, losing stinks and fans want their team to make the playoffs, but you have to give the Wild credit for playing hard. With all of the injuries, call-ups and other adversity this team has gone through this season, there was no quit tonight. A 3-0 game doesn’t look very good in print, but the Wild created several chances throughout the game. The Wild just couldn’t breakthrough the Capitals’ goaltender…
Both starting goaltenders of tonight’s game are 22 years old. No, that’s not a typo: two 22 year olds in net. And both were outstanding. We’ve seen what Hackett can do, and again tonight he proved that with a little more seasoning, he will be an NHL regular one day.
On the other side of the ice, with the Capitals in the hunt for a playoff spot, Washington went with a rookie as well. Head Coach Dale Hunter must have had a hunch, and it paid off. Braden Holtby was tested often, but the Wild just couldn’t crack the young netminder. With the Wild pressing in the first period, Holtby weathered the storm making 12 saves, many of them from point-blank range.
Yes, Mikko Koivu is underrated around the league. But, the most underrated aspect of his game might be his ability to create turnovers on the forecheck. Koivu utilizes a move unique to hockey: The can opener.
On the forecheck along the boards, Koivu uses his stick like a wedge to pry the defenders off the wall. With one hand on his stick, Koivu uses leverage with strength and quickness to separate the puck from opposing players trying to protect the puck. He slides his stick between the wall and defender and jams the top-half of his stick into the body of the opposing player.
Superstars are the faces of their franchises. When you think Washington Capitals, you immediately think Alex Ovechkin. The Russian sniper has been much maligned by the media with phrases like: he doesn’t care, he’s not a leader and he isn’t serious enough.
Ovechkin has garnered this reputation because he likes to have a good time on the ice – think of his goofy outfits in the NHL All-Star Skills Competition and over-the-top goal celebrations. However, after watching him play today, it’s hard to say he doesn’t care. Ovechkin was all over the ice and for a long stretch in the first period, seemed to be the only Washington player moving his feet. Aside from scoring a goal and adding an assist, Ovechkin might have made the game-changing play of the match. With the Wild shorthanded, Koivu had the puck on a two-on-one. He tried to toe-drag the puck around Ovechkin, but the Caps captain made as sliding play to steal the puck. With the Caps fighting for a playoff spot, he certainly cared tonight.
With the Wild on the road, Xcel Energy Center was proliferated with college hockey once again with the NCAA Western Regionals. After a 7-3 win by the University of Minnesota over Boston University and North Dakota beating Western Michigan University 3-1, the stage was set for the matchup everyone in the WCHA wanted to see: Minnesota vs. North Dakota. Today, the Gophers topped UND 5-2 and advance to the NCAA Frozen Four in Tampa Bay, Fla.