Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways at San Jose
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 4-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks:
Circle April 18 on your calendars.
That’s the day the Wild and the Sharks will meet again here in San Jose. Tonight’s game was a physical one, and ended with a lot of bad blood spilling onto the ice.
For two-straight shifts Dany Heatley and Marc-Edouard Vlasic were exchanging shots in front of the Sharks’ net as they jockeyed for position. The battling turned into stick swinging with Vlasic being assessed a five-minute major after the game for slashing. After engaging in a short scrum, Heatley skated off the ice hunched over and was in obvious pain after taking the slash. After the game, Heatley’s status wasn’t updated, so we’ll have to wait till tomorrow to find out how the winger is feeling.
Meanwhile, players on both sides dog-piled around the Sharks’ crease as the final horn sounded and continue to jaw each other as they skated off the ice. With the teams meeting one final time in just a few weeks, the Wild will get a chance to payback the Sharks, both physically and on the scoreboard.
In hockey, familiarity breeds contempt.
Although the Wild and Sharks are in different division, they know an awful lot about one another. The Wild and Sharks have exchanged a line-worth of players in recent history. When they get together, it’s a who’s who of former players in each organization. Players who were once in the San Jose’s organization scored both of the Wild’s goals, and players that once wore Iron Range Red heavily influenced the Sharks’ stat sheet.
One player that I’m sure the Sharks would like to have back is rookie Charlie Coyle. The 21-year-old scored his fifth goal of the season in the second period by going to the net hard. He made a slick entry pass to Zach Parise and went to the paint. Parise fired a backhander on net and Coyle tapped in the rebound. The wing is versatile and quickly becoming a reliable two-way player playing on the wing with Parise and captain Mikko Koivu. He started to kill penalties and tonight started the game at center after the Wild traded recently recalled Johan Larsson (we’ll get to that).
With time winding down and the Wild trailing by two, Niklas Backstrom was primed to leave the net for an extra attacker. As he skated off the ice, a forward replaced him (I didn’t get a chance to see who came on for Backstom as the Wild was applying pressure in the San Jose end), but left the bench too soon.
The Wild was hit with a premature substation call, something that I honestly cannot remember seeing in my time watching hockey. I don’t even know what the ‘official’ distance that a goalie has to hit before he can be exchanged for an extra attacker. Typically, refs give a signal or an okay when the attacker is clear to jump onto the ice so that all is fair. Apparently they did not extend the courtesy to the Wild tonight. After the call, the puck was dropped at center ice, a rule I also was unaware of. Learn something new every day.
Aside from the game, the big news of the day was focused on the NHL’s Trade Deadline. For the Wild, that meant the acquisition of forward Jason Pominville from the Buffalo Sabres. The Wild received the Sabres’ captain and a fourth-round pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft for prospects Larsson and Matt Hackett, and a first-round pick in 2013 and a second-round pick in 2014.
After last season as sellers, the Wild and General Manager Chuck Fletcher turned into buyers today. Yes, the Wild gave up prospects and picks, but in return, the team received a proven NHL-caliber goal scorer and leader. Last season, the 30-year-old was an NHL All Star and put up 73 points (30-43=73).
Grantland’s Bill Simmons thinks that anytime you can trade a dollar (Pominville) for change (Larsson, Hackett and picks) you have to do it. Prospects are just that, prospects. You never know if a pick will turn out to be a bust, so the return of an all-star caliber player, especially a character type of guy, is always worth it.
Speaking to the media before the game, Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said the winger will likely skate on a line with Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise. This gives the Wild a line with three players who have been a captain in the NHL and three guys who have had 70-point seasons. The Wild brass is confident in the team this season, and bringing in Pominville only makes the team’s offense that much more potent. The Wild skates against the Los Angeles Kings tomorrow night and Pominville is expected to join the team in the afternoon. However, we’ll have to wait and see if the forward makes his debut in a Wild sweater tomorrow.
Thinking extremely selfishly, the NHL shouldn’t schedule games on the Trade Deadline Day. After sitting around with no action in the morning, things got interesting once the Wild took the ice at pregame skate. Before the first drill, Larsson and Hackett were called off the ice and we knew something was up. Just exactly what was going down, however, was still up in the air.
Sitting along the glass at HP Pavilion and constantly checking my Twitter feed (give me a follow at @mikedoyle_12), while trying to figure out how to craft the game preview and starting to draft a trade story without knowing for certain what was going down was simultaneously invigorating and nerve-racking, but there’s no place in the world I’d have rather been. Let’s just make things a little easier on all of us and have no games on Deadline Day.