Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways vs. Chicago
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 5-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks:
With Halloween on the horizon, it was a trick-or-treat series for the Wild with the Chicago Blackhawks. After the Wild took the first game of the home-and-home in Chicago on Saturday night, the Blackhawks responded with an offensive outburst at Xcel Energy Center. Tonight we saw why the Blackhawks are the defending Stanley Cup champions. After the Wild took it to the Hawks on its home ice, Chicago came into the State of Hockey and protected the front of the net and finished chances in the offensive end.
This series is a perfect example of why coaches don’t want to get too high or too low about any single contest in an 82-game regular season. If you think of the National Hockey League season as a rollercoaster: the key is for a team to control its peaks and valleys. There will be highs and there will be lows, but clubs never want to get loose on the highs nor too tight on the lows.
We haven’t seen chemistry like this since Walter White cooked up his last batch of blue. Jason Pominville and Mikael Granlund hooked up for the third time in two games against the Blackhawks. With the goal, Pominville takes over the Wild goal lead with seven, while Granlund takes over the team’s assist lead with eight.
It’s been fun to watch the progression of Granlund this season and the blossoming chemistry with his new running mate. The Finn is a natural pass-first center and Pominville, like Heisenberg, is not afraid to pull the trigger. If chemistry truly is the study of change, the bond between the elements MG and JP will transform into a whole lot of PTS.
It wasn’t the type of milestone night that Dany Heatley and Zenon Konopka would’ve liked to be a part of. Heatley played the 800th game of his career, while Konopka skated in his 300th. The two took much different paths to the NHL, but have carved out productive careers in their own way.
Heatley has made a career out of putting the puck in the back of the net. The winger has 766 points (361-405=766) in 12 NHL seasons, and since entering the NHL in 2001-02, he ranks first amongst all players in power play goals (140), third in game-winning goals (62) and fifth in goals. Meanwhile, Konopka has grinded his way into an everyday player. Since beginning his full-time NHL career in 2009-10, Konopka leads all NHL players with 912 PIM—188 more than any other player—and ranks first amongst all active NHL players, winning 59.3 percent of his faceoffs.
Minnesota has a decision to make in regards to defenseman Mathew Dumba. Tonight, he hit the nine game mark—the max he can play in without his contract kicking in. If he skates in a tenth NHL game, the first year of his contract will go into effect. He could still be returned to juniors, but wouldn’t be able to be recalled unless in an emergency situation.
After the game, Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said that the team wouldn’t make the decision based on one game. The team will decide which options, staying with the Wild or retuning to Junior, will be the best for his development. Postgame, Dumba told the media that he put too much pressure on himself. It would be hard to think Dumba wouldn’t be feeling the pressure, but regardless of his future, tonight’s game will be a big learning experience for the 19-year-old.
Tonight was a little bit of a flashback night for pre-millennials, who can remember the time when home teams in the NHL always dressed in white sweaters. Beginning in 2003-04, the League switched to white on the road and colors at home, as many teams began producing an array of shades for the popular and upward trending third jerseys.
But tonight, the Wild petitioned the League so that it could show off its stylish new road whites at Xcel Energy Center. While the whites at home might leave a sour taste with State of Hockey fans after tonight, I like the idea of wearing the whites at home every so often. Well, maybe I’m biased because I grew up in the age when hair metal ruled the radio, television had only five channels and white sweaters indicated your favorite team was at home.