Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways vs. St. Louis
Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he'll remember from each contest. Today, he'll look back at a 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues:
After an emotional win on Saturday, the Wild was unable to respond today against the Blues. St. Louis had three days off, was well rested and hungry after losing three-straight.
It was a physical game and the Blues were credited with finishing 24 checks. With the Wild playing so many games and racking up the flyer miles in the last week, the Blues game plan was to punish Minnesota physically. St. Louis is a big team and it carried out the plan. However, Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said after the game that Minnesota didn’t execute either.
“With all of our recent success this game was a reminder of what we need to do to be successful,” Yeo said. “At this point of the season, it’s very clear to us, what we’re doing when we’re successful.”
After falling behind in the first two periods, the Wild did show signs of life in the third and outshot the Blues in the final frame, 13-2. However, the team couldn’t buy a goal with all the money in Qarth.
“I liked our push in the third, but we couldn’t buy a goal,” Yeo said.
Shutting down the Wild was Blues’ netminder Brian Elliott. He came in relief for Jaroslav Halak, who suffered an injury in the first period. Last season, the goaltending duo was the best in the NHL, but has struggled at times this season. Tonight against the Wild, however, was not one of those times.
I’m not sure if there were a lot of St. Louis fans in the building tonight, but at the end of the second period there were a whole lot of people yelling BLUUUUUUUUUUUUUES (I’m being facetious here I know it was boos). Granted, Minnesota didn’t play its best hockey of the season in the second, but I’ll never understand the home faithful booing a team—especially when they are in first place in the division and have been playing so well lately.
The Wild had a much better effort in the third period and the crowd rewarded them with cheers. I’m not calling to sugarcoat things when the team isn’t playing well, but booing might be better used on the opposing teams and referees.
One aspect of the game that fans were upset about was the Wild’s power play. The power play has been running along at a good clip recently and the special teams have buoyed a lot of the team’s success.
Tonight, the team’s execution didn’t carry onto the power play, as it just didn’t look very crisp when compared to its recent success. Of any aspect in hockey, special teams might be the part of the game that needs the most practice time. However, with the Wild’s schedule, it hasn’t had any time to practice. I expect to see some special teams work at tomorrow’s skate before the team departs for San Jose.
Bad news from end of the second period as Matt Cullen tried to finish a check and went into the boards awkwardly. The play didn’t look insidious, but Cullen skated off the ice gingerly and didn’t return in the third period. Not good.
After the game, Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo didn’t have an update on his status.
Cullen is playing some of his best hockey with the Wild and has been the cog on the second line. Hopefully it is nothing serious, but we’ll have to wait and for an update until tomorrow.