By Michael Russo
Well, that was a huge win for the hometown gang over that hapless group from Florida (couldn’t even imagine what it must be like to cover them), which hasn’t won a playoff round since the 1996 Eastern Finals or playoff game since 1997.
Calgary and Colorado lost, meaning the Wild tied Vancouver for seventh/eighth, moved within a point of division-leading Calgary and even more important, now has an eight-point playoff cushion. Ninth-place Colorado and 10th-place Edmonton are eight points in the rear.
Big win to say the least.
– Boogey got a point. Hallelujah! Nice bounceback game after being called out by Mssr. Jacques.
– Branko Radivojevic, after an awful icing the other night in Dallas ed to the tying goal, had a big night. Three assists, and victorious puck battles just prior to all of them. This is exactly the type of player the Wild expected to be getting when it signed him the same day it re-signed his good pal, Marian Gaborik. Jacques called Branko out, too, so nice bounceback game.
– Brent Burns, who’s also been called out by Jacques lately and had to make a good impression tonight because Kurtis Foster is on his way back in, scored a big bounceback goal after a nightmarish shift that led to Martin Gelinas’ goal. (Gelinas, incidentally, had a great game and looked to be showcasing himself for the Wild brass). Burns got caught in between, didn’t look around and, just like that, the Panthers were back in the game. But Burns came through when it counted.
One final thought: Lemaire has a big decision to make with Foster returning. That gives the Wild seven healthy D, and Burns would seem to be the scratch contender. My opinion: It would be a big mistake if Lemaire decides to put Burns back at forward just to keep him in the lineup. He’s played 28 games in a row at defense now. The Wild has messed with the kid’s mind enough by bouncing him back and forth. His future is at D, so keep him there. Although, that doesn’t solve the problem of too many D.
That’s it from here. Kent Youngblood’s on the next two, maybe three days. I’ll pop on to the blog, say hello and make sure Kent’s treating you right.