It’s going to be a short one tonight because, frankly, it’s late and I’m tired.
The Wild responded against the Dallas Stars and responded in a big way. They fell behind in the first period, after being outshot 11-5 (but not being outplayed) when Eric Nystrom repaid the Wild’s “betrayal” by putting the Stars up 1-0.
If we’ve learned anything about the Wild over this last stretch of games, it’s that when the going gets tough, they fold, right?
Not this time.
Minnesota fought back, this time, and Devin Setoguchi potted a power-play goal to tie the game.
The Wild continued to play good hockey but, again, the Stars got the upper hand with Phillip Larson scoring to put them up 2-1. After that, Darroll Powe manned up and answered the bell against Steve Ott, and everything changed.
Just over two minutes over that fight, Cal Clutterbuck potted his 12th goal of the season after a Dallas turnover and a missed check then, not even 20 seconds after that, Chad Rau scored his first NHL goal, banking the puck off of Brendan Morrow’s stick and past Kari Lehtonen and 59 seconds after Clutterbuck scored, Kyle Brodziak fired a one-timer past Lehtonen to put the Wild up 4-2 and they never looked back.
Dany Heatley capped it off in the third with a goal for his first three-point night since November 2010 and the Wild, all of a sudden, look like they remembered how they got to the top of the standings in the first place.
- The entire defensive unit looked cohesive, once again. In fact, they looked better than they’ve looked in weeks. I don’t want to point my finger and say it was Zidlicky but, after the best defensive performance that the Wild have had in the past few weeks, it’s going to be hard to put him back in the line up. Stoner and Falk were both beasts, Prosser got an assist in his first game back with the team, Spurgeon played out of his mind, Schultz and Zanon were steady again. No one played their way out of the line up, so I don’t see number three coming back in.
- Heatley played, in my opinion, his best game in a Wild uniform. A goal, two assists, three shots and, most of all, he wasn’t a liability and he was noticeable when he was on the ice. All of this after getting bumped down to the second line and playing with a couple of grinders in Brodziak and Johnson.
- Harding looked sharp and, despite Backstrom’s record against the Avs, I don’t see Harding leaving the net after this one. No way Yeo changes anything after this one.
1) Dany Heatley – A goal, two assists and, best of all, he wasn’t invisible.
2) Chad Rau – Scored his first NHL goal.
3) Justin Falk – Could be that he was the Wild’s best defenseman on Friday. He was physical, played great defense and had a great bounce back game after being scratched in Toronto.
You know that something that I keep saying has to give?
Well, the Wild have sent down Casey Wellman and David McIntyre to the AHL, per Kent Youngblood via Twitter.
So, basically, something’s changing whether it’s someone coming in from the outside or someone coming up from Houston and, while someone coming up from the AHL might not necessarily be as noteworthy as someone coming in from elsewhere, a change is a change and the Wild are certainly a team in desperate need of just that right now.
After storming out of the gates, Wellman has looked lost the last few games and McIntyre, while he’s had good moments, has really looked like an AHLer playing against NHLers.
So, is this a precursor to a bigger move?
I’d like to think so but, truthfully, it’s hard to tell until something has happened. Keep it here and we’ll have updates for you as the situation warrants.
UPDATE: Per Kent Youngblood, Matt Kassian, Jed Ortmeyer, Chad Rau and Nate Prosser are all on their way up from Houston.
So we’ll combine the roster and the game day threads again today, since I’m pressed for time again, but here it is. Wild fans finally get to see the line they’ve been waiting to see tonight, against Columbus.
So, we’ll see the first and third lines in action tonight (just like Russo promised), but we’re also going to get to see the Foucault/Phillips/Bulmer line again. It looks like they might have done enough to make Mike Yeo want a second look at them, which is very encouraging.
No real surprises otherwise. Eden Prairie native Chad Rau gets his first action of the preseason, as does Kris Fredheim and Darcy
No inside information here, but it looks to me like Marco Scandella and Nate Prosser might be the front runners for the extra defensive spot as they get the nod again. It will be interesting to see how they respond, especially since they likely won’t be seeing the ice time they did last game with Zanon and Zidlicky in the line up.
For comparison’s sake, here’s the Jackets’ roster, again per Wild.com:
Forwards: Jeff Carter, Maksim Mayorov, Vinny Prospal, Derek MacKenzie, Ryan Russell, Cody Bass, Cam Atkinson, Nick Drazenovic, Oliver Gabriel, Antoine Vermette, Rick Nash, Adam Payerl
Defensemen: Radek Martinek, Aaron Johnson, Kris Russell, James Wisniewski, Dalton Prout, Fedor Tyutin, Anton Blomqvist, Steve Delisle
Goaltenders: Curtis Sanford and Allen York
Some questions to ponder and discuss for tonight’s game:
How will Yeo’s chemistry experiment go with the de facto first line of the team? Will Setoguchi, Heatley and Koivu mesh well?
Foucault, Phillips and Bulmer are all getting another look. Will they impress again?
How much will Harding play? Will he get the full two periods tonight to see where his knee is at?
Scandella, Prosser and Chay Genoway are all getting another look. How will they fare?
Can the Wild finally put everything together and outshoot their opponent now that they have their big firepower in the line up?
Can the Wild contain the Jackets’ big line of Prospal/Nash/Carter?
Wild.com will have live in-game commentary and you can listen to the game here. The puck drops at 7pm from the Xcel Energy Center.