Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways at Chicago
Sunday, 04.01.2012 / 11:02 PM / Features
By Mike Doyle - Managing Editor
The Wild gets its third-straight win, with all three going beyond regulation. It was the second-straight game the Wild won in a shootout and first time Minnesota topped the Blackhawks this season. Some people would call tonight’s game “old-time hockey.” But, realistically, it was just a great hockey game. The contest had a little bit of everything that makes our sport so unique and great – scoring, physical play and passion. The Wild has come together down the stretch to play some of its best hockey of the season. With a handful of games remaining, Minnesota is playing with pride and to build some confidence before the offseason.
In a game that featured three fights, you have to like how the Wild players were willing to stand up for teammates. One of the defining characteristics of a true team is their willingness to play for one another, and that means having another player's back. One player who epitomizes that trait is Clayton Stoner…
In the first period, Dany Heatley chopped Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks took exception to the play. Someone named Brrandon Bollig was lipping off to Heatley before a faceoff. I couldn’t read Heatley’s lips, but he probably said something like, “And who are you?”
Stoner was on the ice and didn’t like Bollig’s tone or that the fact that he was even looking in Heatley’s direction. Shortly after the faceoff, Stoner dropped the gloves with this Bollig. It set the tone for the rest of the game and the rest of the Wild lineup responded with a hard-fought win.
“It tells your teammates you're there for each other,” Head Coach Mike Yeo said. “And it’s contagious.”
The gritty defenseman was rewarded for his effort with his first goal of the season. He jumped into the play and chipped home a Devin Setoguchi rebound…
When Setoguchi has his legs moving and is flying around the ice, he’s very hard to stop. Tonight, Setoguchi was feeling it, scoring a goal and adding two assists. It was his eighth career three-point game. He also scored the clincher in the shootout. Scoring his 19th goal of the season, Setoguchi went five-hole on Ray Emery. The goaltender saved the initial shot, but didn’t get enough as it trickled between his legs. Setoguchi stuck with the play, found the puck and put it in the back of the net. He must’ve seen something on the first breakaway because Setoguchi went five-hole again in the shootout, this time cleanly whistling a shot through Emery’s legs.
“That might be the best game he’s played in a Minnesota Wild jersey,” Yeo said. “He’s really elevated his game…it’s really encouraging to see the way he’s playing right now.”
The Wild’s power play was going again tonight. Since implementing a new system on the man advantage, Minnesota has had a lot more puck movement and it has opened up passing and shooting lanes.
You probably couldn’t draw up Heatley’s power play goal in the first period much better on a whiteboard. The puck went from Marco Scandella at the left point and he passed the puck to Tom Gilbert on the right. Gilbert slid the puck down to Setoguchi on the right side. Setoguchi went cross-ice to Mikko Koivu, who found Heatley back across the ice with a tape-to-tape pass. Heatley was standing on the backdoor and fired the puck into the empty net. The Wild ripped four passes in about three seconds. It was Heatley’s 22nd goal on the season and put him in sole possession of the team’s lead in goals…
Heatley’s stranglehold of the Wild’s goal scoring lead didn’t last long. Kyle Brodziak knocked home a Gilbert point shot in the second period. It was Brodziak’s 22nd of the year and was his third goal in the last four games. On the play, Gilbert launched a shot from the point that Emery saved, but kicked a rebound out the left side of the net. The puck was behind Brodziak, but the centerman made a spinning, diving move to knock the loose puck past the outstretched Emery. Second effort is what makes Brodziak so important to the Wild, and he was rewarded again today.
How excited are you for the rematch between the Wild and Blackhawks on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center? I know, I know, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, the Wild still plays in Nashville on Tuesday. But if Thursday’s game is anywhere near as intense as tonight’s game, we are in for a treat. The game against the Hawks will be the second night of the Wild’s 2012 Fan Celebration.