Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways at Vancouver
Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he'll remember from a 3-1 win in Vancouver against the Canucks:
With tonight’s win, the Wild sits alone atop the Northwest Division and third in the Western Conference. Tonight’s victory was also the club’s first three-game streak of the season and the first victory in Vancouver since 2009. The team is rolling right now and the road game against the Canucks was a scrappy win.
“It’s fun to be on the bench,” Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said after the game. Yeo talked about the team’s focus on the bench and how they are locked in right now. Minnesota’s battle level in the last month has been higher than the mountain range surrounding Vancouver and the team is starting to form an identity as a hardworking and gritty club.
It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but Minnesota gutted out a victory and is finding ways to win, which is what good teams do. Tonight, the club relied heavily on goaltender Niklas Backstrom, and he was there again, making 35 saves in the game. The team’s offense was provided by a couple of youngsters and a savvy vet.
Jonas Brodin’s game is progressing faster than anyone could’ve expected. After scoring his first-career NHL goal a week ago, the 19-year-old added his second in the middle frame on a power play. After receiving a nice pass from Dany Heatley, he allowed a screen to set in the face of the Canucks’ goaltender, Roberto Luongo, and uncorked a laser through the traffic.
“There’s a reason they’re (Brodin and Coyle) on this team and showed it tonight,” Yeo said.
Brodin has the uncanny ability to learn on the fly and when he realizes that he can do something on the ice, he does it again and again. We knew that his offensive game would continue to progress, but now that he’s tallied his first goal he already seems to be shooting the puck more. I think it’s time that #Brodin4Calder picks up some serious steam.
In hockey, little plays often lead to big plays, as was the case on the Wild’s second goal by Charlie Coyle. With the Wild on the forecheck, Coyle kept the play alive behind the net, making a lunging stab that forced the puck up the wall. Jared Spurgeon pinched along the right sideboards and made a slick behind the back play to Mikko Koivu. The Wild Captain took the puck at the point, lost his balance and as he was falling found Clayton Stoner at the left point. Stoner collected the pass and fired a quick shot. Coyle, picking himself up off the ice, got to the front of the net and redirected the puck past Luongo.
Four guys made little plays, teaming up for a big one. Spurgeon might’ve made the nicest move in the series, but won’t earn an assist for the play. But the beautiful thing about hockey is that it doesn’t matter to the defenseman because it helped his team secure a victory.
Tonight, Matt Cullen scored the 199th goal of his career on a beautiful rush. He broke in 2-on-2 with Devin Setoguchi. Cullen chipped the puck to his winger and cut hard to the middle of the ice. Setoguchi found Cullen in stride, after avoiding a Canucks’ defender who tried to step up on the center. Cullen cut in on Luongo and beat him clean with a wrister.
The 36-year-old will become the 37th American to score 200 NHL goals. One of the reasons Cullen has continued to excel is thanks to his skating ability.
“Speed coming through the middle is a threat,” Yeo said. Well, tonight Cullen again was flying up and down the ice and continues to defy Father Time.
Who doesn’t like the Kiss Cam? A staple of arenas and sporting venues across the globe, couples are projected onto the stadium video board and show a little PDA. Sometimes you get a pair of people who, for one reason or another, don’t want to lock lips in front of thousands of strangers. Well, tonight there was one Vancouver fan that really, really didn’t want to kiss his lady friend. So instead of giving her a peck, he gave the camera the one-finger salute. Class move.
Even if you despise the Kiss Cam with your entire being, you can’t do that. Seriously, that is a bush-league move. Now, many fans know better and you can’t judge all Canucks’ fans by this jabroni, but hopefully someone in his section called him out for being a jack wagon. I feel bad for his lady friend, totally a dump-worthy move.