Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways vs. Chicago
Thursday, 04.5.2012 / 10:28 PM CT / Minnesota Wild | Features
By Mike Doyle - Managing Editor
For the fourth-straight game, the Wild went to a shootout. It was the 20th time the Wild has gone to a shootout this season, tying an NHL record. It was the fifth-straight contest for the Wild that went beyond regulation. During the stretch, the team has only played against playoff contenders and the Wild is 4-0-1.
Minnesota is showing the type of team that it was earlier in the season when it had the NHL’s best record. Decimated by injuries, the team struggled through the middle part of the season. But with this late run, the Wild has its swagger back.
“Tonight’s game showed me we have great leadership,” Head Coach Mike Yeo said. “I thought our leaders really stepped up and got us going.”
This season, one of those leaders has been Cal Clutterbuck. On his third-period, game-tying goal Clutterbuck became the 20th Wild player to reach 100 points with Minnesota.
Sure, the Wild will not get a chance to play for the Stanley Cup…this season. But with a strong nucleus in place for next year, Wild fans have to go into the offseason with a little hope and a lot of excitement.
In the first period, Nate Prosser was assessed a five-minute game misconduct for head-butting Jamal Mayers. You can bet the league will take a hard look at the replay. If Prosser is suspended from the Wild’s final game on Saturday against the Phoenix Coyotes, Minnesota will have to make yet another emergency call-up from Houston.
With the Wild down to five defensemen for a majority of the game, someone had to step up. Marco Scandella did, and in a big way. Scandella was a workhorse, playing a Wild record with 35 minutes and 32 seconds in the game. Not only did he help shutdown the vaunted Blackhawk offense, he assisted on Clutterbuck’s game-tying goal. This kind of late season experience is great for the youngster and you know he’s going to bring that confidence into the offseason and the start of next year.
Tyler Cuma became the 46th player to wear a Wild sweater this season, making his NHL debut today. Cuma, the Wild’s first round pick in 2008, has had a long road to the NHL after several injuries to start his career. Last year with the Houston Aeros, his first as a pro, Cuma tore his ACL. It was a season-ending injury, but Cuma worked throughout the offseason to comeback this year. He played about 11 minutes tonight, including some time on the penalty kill and in overtime. If Cuma, who is only 22 years old, continues to work on his game, he has the potential to be an NHL regular.
Josh Harding is one of those goaltenders that can leave an opponent looking up at the sky in astonishment after he gets robbed. He did it again tonight in the first period on Patrick Sharp, no slouch in the goal-scoring department.
The Wild had a delayed penalty and the Blackhawks had an extra attacker on the ice. Chicago tried to make the most of the advantage by moving the puck around the perimeter for several seconds. Patrick Kane set up to Harding’s left on the boards. He fired a cross-ice pass to Sharp. Sharp had to control the puck before getting the shot off, giving Harding just enough time to lunge across the crease. Sharp fired the puck towards the empty net, but Harding stabbed the attempt out of like the Karate Kid catching a fly in a pair of chopsticks. Top Play of the Week nominee? Most definitely.
After the game, Yeo had high praise for Harding, saying: “We were not good in the first period at all and he kept us in it. Guys raised their game to try and go out and help him.”
It is a part of my job to help spread the good word of the greatest sport on world in the State of Hockey, and I’m happy and proud to do it. That being said, I just can’t, won’t and never will root for the University of Minnesota men’s hockey team. My alliance to St. Cloud State University prohibits me from pulling for the Gophers, ever. Period. So, it doesn’t bring a tear to my heart to report the Gophers lost to Boston College in the NCAA Frozen Four tonight, 6-1.
But this is the beauty of sports; you can have your favorites and can pick sides. You can irrationally hate another team, but still watch the game with your buddy who likes them. Sport hate is not the same as real hate. It’s that type of passion from the fans that drives sports, and we have some of the best in the State of Hockey. Even if a lot of them root for the wrong college team.