Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways vs. Colorado
Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he'll remember from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 4-3 home shootout loss against the Colorado Avalanche:
The Wild’s top line of Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley and Zach Parise came to play tonight against the Colorado Avalanche. After being broken up for a few games, Minnesota Head Coach reunited the trio hoping to rekindle some early success. The line found it tonight, totaling five points and a plus-6 rating between them.
Heatley looked rejuvenated winning battles and moving well up and down the wing. His play directly led to both goals. On Koivu’s snipe, Healtey pulled a one-handed slip move around Jan Hejda, but was cutoff by two Avs defenders. The puck slid back to Koivu, but Heatley created a lane by driving the net. The center took the opening and fired a backhand shelf past Avs’ goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
What’s the best way to score on Valentine’s Day? Dinner? Wine? Roses? Chocolate? No, get the puck to Zach Parise.
The forward busted out of a scoring slump (if you can really call it that) in the second period. Head Coach Mike Yeo reunited the line of Parise, Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley and it paid dividends tonight with two goals, the first from Parise. Koivu took a pass from Heatley entering the zone and fired a puck on net. The shot was blocked, but a streaking Parise picked it up, had a quick speed burst and jammed it home on a quick wraparound.
Parise fired nine shots tonight, many of them grade-A chances. The forward was upset at the team’s inability to finish in Vancouver, but they were able to generate some offense tonight against the Avs.
The Wild needs ancillary scoring from other lines, and tonight it got a boost from an unlikely candidate. The Wild was forced to mix up its lines because Cal Clutterbuck left the game in the second period. Bruising winger Mike Rupp found himself on a shift with Mikael Granlund and Devin Setoguchi.
Rupp has been a force on the forecheck since coming to the Wild, using his size to punish opponents down low. He did the same tonight and got rewarded with his first goal in Iron Range Red. Rupp is the type of hard working player that guys like Guy and Rod, custodians at East Ridge High School, can appreciate. He disrupted an Avs’ outlet pass in the offensive zone, and the puck went to Granlund behind the net. Granlund slid a pass to Rupp, who did the right thing and went to the net. He didn’t score on the initial shot, but muscled home the rebound.
With 57 seconds left in the game, Parise took a high sticking penalty in a pretty tame game (only a total of three penalties between the two teams). In order for the Wild to earn a point, Minnesota’s killers had to go to work.
And they did.
The killers kept the Avs off the board for the remainder of regulation. In OT, they had to kill a 4-on-3.
And they did.
Scrambling at times to keep the Avs at bay, the Wild did everything in its power to keep the puck out of the net. Backstrom also did this. Pretty nice when your best killer is your goaltender, and Backstrom was again tonight.
Yesterday, the Wild named former Minnesota fan favorite Andrew Brunette as Hockey Operations Advisor. Bruno as he is affectionately known also dropped out a ceremonial puck to start the game.
While I didn’t follow the Wild all that much when he was a player here, I do remember watching Bruno score the series-winning goal in overtime of Game 7 against the Colorado Avalanche. The series was one of those special moments only sports can provide, as the Wild upset a heavily favored Avalanche team stacked with superstars like Patrick Roy, Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg.
Welcome back, Bruno.