Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways vs. Nashville
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 2-0 shutout victory over the Nashville Predators:
It was the same early-season theme, but tonight had a much better results for the Minnesota Wild. After outplaying the Predators for just about all 60 minutes of tonight’s contest, the Wild was rewarded with a win.
The Wild again outshot its opponent, tonight peppering 29 shots compared to the Predators 16, but with a much different result than recent games. While the floodgates weren’t opened, it doesn’t matter because Minnesota finished with hard-fought two points tonight against a divisional opponent.
Goaltender Josh Harding again was outstanding, registering his eighth-career shutout in the process. While he wasn’t tested as often as his counterpart, Pekka Rinne, it sometimes can be tougher for a goaltender when they don’t face a ton of rubber. However, Harding was up to the test when he wanted to be and helped end the team’s three-game skid.
The Wild’s blue line continues to impress and it was tested tonight. On only his second shift of the game, Jonas Brodin left the ice after taking a puck to the face. Afterwards, Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said that Brodin went to get X-rays. Hopefully the 19-year-old is okay and we should know more tomorrow after practice.
Minnesota was left with five defenders and they played one heck of a game. It was a team effort for the blueliners, as the remaining five all racked up more than 20 minutes of playing time. Seeing only his second game of the season, Nate Prosser finished with a plus-1, 20:28 TOI and a fight against Eric Nystrom. Prosser might not be known for his fisticuffs, but when he’s inserted into the lineup, he always mixes it up and brings a physical element to the blue line.
With less than a minute to go, Jared Spurgeon made a goal line stand that preserved the Wild win. Spurgeon used a quick stick to block a Matt Cullen chance as the puck tiptoed towards the goal line. The save directly led to Jason Pominville’s empty net goal.
Some coaches really like to shake things up. Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo isn’t known—like some bench bosses—for changing lines around, but with Minnesota struggling to find the back of the net, Yeo has been tinkering with the line combos like a mechanic trying to figure out why a car won’t start. Yeo doesn’t often change lines in-game, but he did tonight and it paid off.
In the second period, Yeo moved Justin Fontaine up to the first line with Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise and the former University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldog hit pay dirt on one of his first shifts on the top line. Going to the net hard, the rookie found a Clayton Stoner rebound and popped it home over Rinne. Fontaine has scored at every level and has a nose for the net. Earlier today he told WildTV the team needed to score some “greasy goals.” Well, he delivered tonight hacking a dart home.
It is apt that on Hockey Fights Cancer night, there would be a few fisticuffs, and its no surprise that forward Zenon Konopka would be one to drop the gloves. Konopka’s dancing partner tonight was Rich Clune. It’s the third time these two have squared off.
While Konopka might be known more for dropping the mitts, he left them on for the rest of the game and was strong throughout. He and linemates Stephane Veilleux and Torrey Mitchell turned in one heck of a game against the Preds. The trio was all over Nashville in the offensive zone and created chances, especially in the second period. If you could give a Star of the Game to an entire line, the Minnesota’s checking line would’ve earned my vote tonight. The Wild’s fourth line is often given the unenviable task of taking draws in the defensive zone, which makes it difficult to get offense going when you’re starting 180 feet away from the opponent’s net. However, Konopka is one of the better draw-men in the League and has become a big part of the Wild’s defensive strategy, as he can be put on the ice to take a draw in any situation.
Tonight, you might’ve noticed a lot of lavender inside Xcel Energy Center. Well, that’s because the Wild hosted Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night. Several players used lavender tape during warmups and the dashers were lavender as well. The Wild also present a $5,000 check to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.
Jalela O’Brien delivered a very special “Let’s Play Hockey!” The 13-year-old from Blaine has leukemia and is battling to get back in goal. Stick salute to that brave girl and her family as she fights the disease.
Pretty much everyone is affected by cancer, whether it is being afflicted with it or knowing someone who’s had it. So, stick tap to Hockey Fights Cancer, the joint initiative from the National Hockey League and the NHL Players’ Association, in its 15th year this season.