Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways at Los Angeles
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 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings:
The Wild dropped its third-straight game, a sluggish affair with both teams combining for only 35 shots on goal (Minnesota actually tied a team road record by only allowing 14 shots on goal). Minnesota was done in by a quick Kings start, with LA jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first three minutes of the contest.
But the sky is not falling; it’s not time to panic. Even in a lockout-shortened season, every team will go through a tough stretch. After starting the season without a regulation loss, the Chicago Blackhawks fell back to earth. The Pittsburgh Penguins have lost its last two games by a combined score of 10-2 after going the entire month of March without a loss.
It’s not about how the team plays during difficult times; it’s about how they respond to adversity. The Wild will have a couple of days off before finishing its road trip in Columbus on Sunday…
The next two days could not have come sooner for the Wild. A brutal travel schedule looked like it finally caught up to the team tonight. The club will stay in Los Angeles tonight and spend tomorrow flying across country to Columbus.
Since March 9, the team has played 15 games in 27 days, including three back-to-back matches. The travel schedule included a trip from Vancouver to Detroit (four time zones) and flying to Dallas twice in one week. The most taxing thing about the entire schedule might be that the club has not been able to practice, literally. I can’t even remember when the team had an actual practice.
The NHL schedule makers were unkind to the Wild during this stretch, but it is just another adversity the club will have to overcome in the final month of the season. Like my favorite German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, taught me, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” This stretch will turn the Wild into Teflon.
Speaking of a brutal travel schedule, Jason Pominville made his Wild debut tonight after traveling across country earlier in the day. Pominville left Buffalo early in the morning and arrived in Los Angels just before noon.
It’s hard to know what to expect from the 30-year-old in his first game with a new team, but you could definitely see what he brings to the table. In the third period, he took a cross-ice pass into the offensive zone and fired a wrister on Kings’ netminder Jonathan Bernier. The netminder turned the puck away, but Pominville was able to get a heavy shot off his wrong foot and with a quick release to boot.
Pominville was placed on the Wild’s top line alongside Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise. The sample size is far too small to tell if this line will have chemistry, but it definitely had flashes of excitement. With the team struggling in the first period, the line went to work. They sustained pressure and generated a few chances off a strong offensive zone cycle.
The best chance of the shift might’ve come from a nifty feed from Pominville. He was stationed behind the net and slipped the puck from his backhand, between his own legs, onto the tape of a cutting Mikko Koivu, who got a shot while being hooked on the play. You could see the tenacity in the trio, but they just couldn’t muster an answer to bring the Wild back from its early deficit.
Playing minor-pro hockey in Wheeling, W. Va., and Rockford, Ill., I thought I saw everything when it comes to in-game promotions. Well that was until I saw the second period promotion here at Staples Center: a frozen T-shirt contest between four shirtless guys.
The four contestants went onto the ice shirtless and had to break apart a T-shirt, frozen solid in a small square. Whoever was able to slip the shirt on first was determined the winner. The promotion was essentially the exact opposite of a wet T-shirt contest.
Not only did they struggle to pull apart the shirts like a fingerless man trying to open a bag of chips, they wrestled around on the ice and tried to steal other contestants’ shirts. The contest brought a whole new meaning to the term icing your bros.