Mike Doyle's Five Takeaways at Winnipeg
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 6-4 loss against the Winnipeg Jets:
I hope you didn’t tune in to tonight’s game late. In the opening seven minutes, the Wild and Jets combined for five goals. It was an offensive explosion for a couple of teams that struggled to score before the Christmas break. After scoring only four goals in the last three games, the Wild exploded in the first period for three tallies. Unfortunately, the Jets were a little hotter in the opening frame, scoring four.
It was one of the craziest games we’ve witnessed this season. Well, at least the opening period was. Things slowed down as Mikko Koivu scored the lone goal in the second period, putting home a pretty pass from Charlie Coyle, to tie the game. However, Winnipeg pulled out the win in the third as Minnesota native Blake Wheeler jammed home a puck for the game winner and his second of the game.
Wild forward Zach Parise and defenseman Clayton Stoner both missed their second-straight game tonight. The team’s bugaboo of late has been in the offensive end and missing Parise again, the team needed a number of players to step up, and they did. Unfortunately, the team just came up short on the road.
Jason Pominville had a pair of assists and led things off with a great play. The winger took a puck out of his skates and made a no look pass right onto the tape of Dany Heatley, who buried it for his eight of the season. In the first, the Wild rounded out its scoring from a couple of players who might’ve been an unlikely source (we’ll get to that).
Injuries are a part of the game, and every team has to deal with players missing parts of the season. It comes down to a matter of depth when players go down, and the Wild showed its depth tonight.
With all the craziness that took place in the opening period, you could guess that there was some kind of record set between the two teams. Sure enough, the Wild set a franchise mark for the quickest two goals apart on the road when Justin Fontaine and Stephane Veilleux scored only 10 seconds apart. They bested the record by a second, previous set on April 15, 2006 (11 seconds).
Both players broke out of goal droughts, one just a wee bit longer than the other. Veilleux put home an absolute snipe in transition, set up just inside the blue line by Jared Spurgeon. The last time Veilleux scored for the Wild was on March 22, 2009. Fontaine’s stretch wasn’t quite so long, 15 games. The winger scored the way he’s been successful in his rookie season, going to the net. The puck ricocheted off his skate and past goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. The back-to-back goals set the netminder off…
Tonight wasn’t easy on the goaltenders. Pavelec was pulled after Veilleux’s goal and, as best as he tried, didn’t bottle his emotion with him to the locker room. Pavelec slammed his stick against the Jets bench as his way off the ice. Cameras then caught the netminder turning his stick into firewood as he continued splitting his paddle down the hall, slamming it onto the ground like he was a lumberjack.
Hockey is an emotional sport and sometimes it spills over onto inanimate objects, like a goalie stick. I’ve thrown some epic beat downs on plenty of locker room garbage cans in my day, but it doesn’t bring any relief from playing poorly. While it relieves some frustration endorphins initially, it gets your blood boiling like it’s in a caldron, which only makes things worse. It takes a while to cool off and it can last until about the postgame shower before calming down.
After a rocky road stretch, the Wild will finally get to spend some much needed time at home. Tonight the team finished a stretch where seven-of-eight games were away from the friendly confines of Xcel Energy Center. During that period, Minnesota went 2-6-0, with one of the wins coming during its lone home game.
The club will skate at home for the next four games and Minnesota has been dominant in the State of Hockey, tied for the league lead in wins at home with the St. Louis Blues (14). During the club’s next home game against the New York Islanders on Sunday, Dec. 29, the Wild will welcome the 10 millionth fan in the team’s history, pretty amazing. A total of 9,986,408 patrons have attended Wild games at Xcel Energy Center in team history. Minnesota played its first game at Xcel Energy Center on Sept. 29, 2000, a preseason match against the Anaheim Ducks, and has played 493 regular season games, 36 preseason games and 15 playoff matches at Xcel Energy Center.