Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways vs. Los Angeles
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 3-2 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings:
Shootout points can be deceiving.
Sometimes you can totally outplay your opponent, come away with a shootout loss and leave the rink feeling defeated; when you’re on the other side, a shootout win feels great even if you’re outplayed the entire night. The former is how the Wild feels after tonight’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Kings.
Even though the National Hockey League doesn’t officially track puck possession, the Wild controlled play from the outset. Minnesota dominated the shot column, 29-18, and had many oh-so-close chances knocking on the doorstep. While most fans probably left Xcel Energy Center with an unfulfilled feeling, don’t be down. The Wild played a strong Opening Night game and were unlucky not to come out with two points.
The one thing Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo would’ve like from his team is a few more shot attempts. After the game, he said the club can be more aggressive throwing pucks to the net.
Earlier today, the Wild inked Jason Pominville to a five-year contract extension. While the forward would’ve liked nothing more than to celebrate with a win, he’ll have to walk away at the potential of the team’s top line and top power play unit. The Pominville-Zach Parise- Mikko Koivu line combined for 10 shots on goal. The trio just missed on a couple prime opportunities. Pominville had a chance to pop the OT winner on a cross-ice pass from Charlie Coyle, but his stick was tied up at the last second.
Pominville logged 25:16 minutes of ice time, a high amongst forwards. Much of it was due to special teams. While the Wild’s top line was unable to convert on the power play, it moved the puck well to create scoring chances. Again, while the puck was moving around the perimeter, fans started in with the “Shooooooot” chants. While I’m sure the players appreciate the fans’ exuberance in tonight’s game, I can’t believe that they enjoy being told to shoooooot all the time, especially when the shoooooting lanes are not open. I’ve made it my personal White Whale to get fans at Xcel Energy Center to stop this practice. Who’s with me? The chants did slow down after the Wild’s second goal, which came on the man advantage…
Youth was served on the Wild’s second tally, as Jonas Brodin lit the lamp for the first time this season. The play started in the neutral zone as Mikael Granlund chipped to the puck to a streaking Nino Niederreiter on the left side of the ice. El Nino took the puck deep and skated behind the Kings net and was tripped up by Drew Doughty, who lost his stick on the play.
Granlund, skating hard to support the puck, pinched Doughty on the wall and knocked over the Kings blueliner. Niederreiter dug the puck out of the pile, spun to the middle of the ice and feathered a perfect backhand saucer pass onto the stick of Brodin, who one-timed the puck over goaltender Jonathan Quick’s shoulder. Brodin, a left-handed shot, one-timed the puck on his strong side, and went against the grain over Quick’s left shoulder. This is one of the most difficult types of shots to get off hard, let alone accurately. I’ve wrote about it before, but Mikko Koivu is one of the best in the NHL at doing this, and I wonder if Brodin has picked up the shot from the Wild captain. At only 20, the sky is the limit for Brodin, but you already knew that…
Minnesota’s second unit is all in their early 20’s, with Jared Spurgeon the wily vet at 23. To put this in perspective, and a reminder or how old I’m getting, Milli Vanilli released “Girl You Know It’s True” the year Spurgeon was born. When Brodin was born in 1993, the Counting Crows released “August and Everything After.” While that is awesome for the Wild and the team’s fans, and shows how pop music can change in four short years, it is kind of depressing for this guy.
This sprung some chatter up on press row of what we can call this young unit. My first thought was Y-Unit, short for Youth Unit, but the brain trust over at @mnwild asked the fans for some suggestions. Some of the suggestions were the Babyfaced Brigade, Youngbloods, Young Guns (two amazing 80’s movie references) and the Baby Bombers. My personal favorite is the Babyfaced Brigade, but we’ll keep working on those. You might’ve noticed how we’ve integrated a lot of our game coverage with social media, creating @mnwildLIVE last season. Well, we’ve been able to reach fans through social media and even a self-proclaimed Luddite like myself enjoys live-tweeting the games, so we’ll tweeting if you keep following and interacting.
Matt Cooke made an immediate impact in his first game with the Wild, scoring the season’s opening goal just 56 seconds into the first period. Cooke has been described as things ranging from agitator to dirty. When he was introduced, a smattering of boos came from the crowd. Someone who’s been around the game for a long time insightfully quipped, “That will be the last time he’s booed here.” Prophetic call as Cooke quickly won the crowd over with a goal and effort, killing penalties for 2:13 in the game. If you were one who was booing, check out this long feature in City Pages and your tune towards Cooke will change.
Cooke’s linemate, Kyle Brodziak had a strong game. Last year, Brodziak started the year with pneumonia, unreported, and lost a lot of weight and strength. However, Brodziak is back to full strength and was playing the type of two-way game Wild fans have come to expect. Brodziak and Cooke are a coaches PK dream and, teamed early with Granlund, will have a big impact in the offensive zone this season.