Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways at Nashville
Wednesday, 04.04.2012 / 12:04 AM / Features
By Mike Doyle - Managing Editor
Coming into tonight’s game, the Wild was on a three-game win streak, with the last two victories coming in shootouts. This time, Minnesota was unable come out victorious. Although Minnesota’s win streak came to an end, the Wild played another solid all-around game starting with the back end.
“It wasn’t just one or two guys,” Head Coach Mike Yeo said. “They played a real strong game as a group.”
However, I will highlight two defensemen I thought were especially good. Justin Falk was excellent; playing a physical brand of hockey that makes him an effective defender. He was a plus-1 and played just over 23 minutes in the game.
Again, Tom Gilbert logged more than 30 minutes of ice. Gilbert was advertised as a puck moving defenseman, but he has showed an aptness in the defensive zone, making several solid stops to derail would be Nashville chances.
Playing the “what if” game is something we, as sports fans, often do. Typically, I don’t like to engage in “what ifs,” but with way that the Wild’s top line has been playing since Mikko Koivu has returned, it’s tough not to ponder what a healthy Wild lineup could’ve done this season. Remember, Devin Setoguchi missed nearly a month with a leg injury, too.
So instead of saying, “what if” we’ll stay in the here and now, and the combination of Koivu, Setoguchi, and Dany Heatley was the best line on the ice tonight, bar none. The trio combined for 10 shots on goal and all played more than 22 minutes. Sure, we’re all disappointed in the way the season has gone, but you have to like the way that this line has played down the stretch. With the things they've done during the last week, it's hard not to think about "what if," but again, let’s talk about the here and now…
People in the service industry must really like Dany Heatley because he is an excellent tipper. Well, that’s pure speculation, but his second-period tally was a pretty remarkable tip for his team-leading 23rd goal of the season.
After Devin Setoguchi rang the crossbar with a turn around shot, the puck slid into the corner. Mikko Koivu tracked the loose puck and fed it to Nate Prosser at the point. Meanwhile, Shea Weber knocked Heatley down behind the net. Heatley got up and went to the front of the net. Prosser’s shot was going wide of the cage and to the left side of Heatley. The big forward reached behind him and redirected the puck off the ice and past Anders Lindback. If Heatley leaves tips at restaurants half as well as he redirected that puck, he’s kicking in about 40 percent gratuity.
If you ever questioned how tough hockey players are, Kyle Brodziak made a case for himself tonight. In the first period, Brodziak’s mug was sliced open by Darroll Powe’s skate blade.
Brodziak left the ice to receive several stitches to the left side of his face. He put on a visor and took a shift before the period ended. Brodziak played a regular shift while finished the game.
As horrific as a skate blade to the facial area looks – and as crazy as this sounds – if it’s not to the eye or jugular, it’s actually not that bad for a hockey injury. Players are willing to play with their faces deranged; it’s a part of hockey’s culture. Hockey players are throwbacks, gladiators from a time lost on the Internet-age. Hockey’s code has been passed down from generation to generation. Its society is frozen like the ice the players skate on. And that’s a good thing.
After the game, Yeo joked that Brodziak didn’t think he looked very cool with the visor and that he laughed about having to wear it. When you go from nothing to a piece of plastic on your face, it takes some time to adjust.
More and more NHLers are wearing visors these days. You’ll hear a lot of pro-visor arguments for the safety of players. However, there is counter argument to the pro-visor sentiment. When a player’s face is exposed to the elements of the hockey rink, he is more mindful of his stick and his surroundings. Players who go visor-less might think twice about playing out of control, because they might put themselves in harms way. I have no hard evidence to support this theory, but it just seems like the players without face protection typically are less likely to give an opponent a shot to the head or get their sticks caught up high in someones grill.