Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways vs. New York
Tuesday, 03.27.2012 / 11:11 PM / Features
By Mike Doyle - Managing Editor
The Wild did a lot of things right against the top team in the Eastern Conference, but came up just short in the third period. Minnesota’s special teams were spot on against the Rangers. The Wild killed off three first-period penalties to stay in the contest early, and four total. Most of the Rangers opportunities on the power play came from the perimeter as the Wild defenders did a good job of keeping New York to the outside.
The Wild was 100 percent on the power play tonight, but unfortunately only had two chances on the man advantage…
The Wild had its power play going, and has been hot with the man advantage at Xcel Energy Center of late. In the last four games the Wild is 5-for-13. Minnesota has made some adjustments to the power play, and it has paid off. But, I’m sworn to secrecy so I won’t be breaking down the reasons the Wild has found success.
Yes, the Wild has made some changes to its systems, but it doesn’t take a great hockey mind to realize getting Mikko Koivu back on the power play unit has been just as important. He scored his first goal since returning from an upper body injury on a bang-bang play from Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi.
Kyle Brodziak is in the midst of a career-year offensively, tonight scoring his 20th goal. He is the 14th player in the history of the team to total 20 goals in a season. Brodziak, stationed out front on the power play, banged home a rebound after a Cal Clutterbuck shot. It was Brodziak’s fifth power play goal of the year. Coming into the season, he had three in his entire career.
With all of the injuries to Wild forwards this season, Brodziak was given a chance on the power play and hasn’t looked back. He battles amongst the toughest NHL defensemen in front of the net to get his goals, and tonight’s tally was no different.
I know, you’re tired of reading about it, but I’m just as tired as reporting on it. Matt Cullen has been shut down for the season after having surgery on a broken finger today. Cullen broke the finger while blocking a shot in the third period against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.
If you think the Wild hasn’t been affected by injuries this season, you probably haven’t watched a game since October. If you don’t believe me, just take a gander at the at the team’s injury report. Actually don’t, it’s longer than “War and Peace.” I’ll save you some time. With tonight’s game, the Wild has missed 350 man games due to injury. We’re closing in on a full calendar year of days missed because of injury. Russia didn’t endure this many hardships in 1812 when Napoleon and the French invaded.
Before the game, the Internet was abuzz with the news that Minnesota signed Jason Zucker to a three-year, entry-level contract. Zucker was the Wild’s second-round pick (59th overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and has played at the University of Denver for the last two seasons.
In Zucker’s two seasons with DU, he was one of the most prolific scorers in college hockey, totaling 96 points (45+44=96) in 77 games. He’s listed at 5-foot-11, 180-pound and has all the tools to be a productive NHL player. Zucker was born in Newport Beach, Calif., and moved to the hotbed of hockey, Las Vegas Nev., at the age of 2. He will wear number 16 for the Wild and is expected to make his debut on Thursday against the Florida Panthers at Xcel Energy Center. In case you’re wondering how to pronounce his name, I’m told Zucker rhymes with looker. However, I’m not sure how to spell that out phonetically.