By Michael Russo
Just noticed something, look what I wrote in the pregame:
No Keith Carney tonight. I’m a little surprised. I thought after a couple early difficult shifts Sunday, Carney recovered to have a good game.
But Lemaire wanted to get Nummelin back in, maybe for the shootout After all, seven of last 12 mtgs between these two squads have gone to OVERtime.
I’m psychic. Unfortunately for the Wild, Nummelin’s shootout goal was the only thing that went well for the Wild in the shootout. Backstrom gave up goals to all three Kings. He’s never been good in the shootout — that was Manny Fernandez’s strong suit — although Backstrom could have been tired from a ridiculous overtime in which he had to face two Kings power plays.
Of course, Backstrom didn’t use it as an excuse, saying it had nothing to do with it.
The lack of discipline in overtime epitomized the entire game for a team that’s characteristically very disciplined. Nine power plays tonight for the Kings. Eight for the Ducks.
Brent Burns took five minors tonight. Coach Jacques Lemaire said, “Burnzie didn’t play a good game. You know, 10 minutes, no fighting. It’s not a sign of a good defenseman.”
Hey, the Wild was ripe for a letdown after starting 5-0 and beating Anaheim. But it’s got to get this discipline thing solved, and it’s got to start scoring on the power play and not getting scored upon on the power play.
I also don’t think things were as grand as they seemed. Let’s keep it in perspective: Very impressive win in Anaheim. The Wild dominated 5-on-5, as most the Ducks chances came on the power play. But the Wild’s four other wins came against Chicago, Columbus, Edmonton and Phoenix, four non-playoff teams last year and probably four non-playoff teams this year.
And the Wild didn’t even play well enough to win the Chicago game or the Phoenix game. Phoenix, they stole. Chicago, Backstrom stole.
It’ll be a tough game Saturday in St. Louis as the Blues will be very motivated to face Boogaard and Gang. Remember, I won’t be around the next four days, but you’ll be in good hands with Allstate, I mean, Kent Youngblood.
I just noticed your discussion on changing goalies in the shootout. I recalled writing this story last year. I think it’s risky because of the possibility of injury, but here it is:
Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)
December 13, 2006 Wednesday
Risebrough says he’d swap goalies in a crucial shootout
BYLINE: Michael Russo, Staff Writer
SECTION: SPORTS; Pg. 8C
LENGTH: 499 words
DATELINE: Calgary, Alberta
Wild General Manager Doug Risebrough has taken note of the distinctive early-season difference between starting goaltender Manny Fernandez and backup Niklas Backstrom in shootouts.
Fernandez is 6-0 this season with a .720 save percentage (seven goals on 25 shots), and 10-2 in his career. Backstrom is 1-2 and ranks 41st out of 46 goaltenders with a .300 save percentage (seven goals on 10 shots).
It got Risebrough thinking. Later this season, if points are essential and Backstrom got the team into a shootout, he wouldn’t mind seeing coach Jacques Lemaire replace Backstrom with Fernandez.
“If you’re going to put your best shooters out, why wouldn’t you put your best goalie out?” Risebrough said. “If it came down to late in the season and it was a needed game … the general manager’s already decided.”
In October against Philadelphia, Thrashers coach Bob Hartley pulled backup Johan Hedberg before a shootout in favor of Kari Lehtonen, who went 5-0 in shootouts last year. Lehtonen lost and was injured, yet Hartley said, “If you have Mariano Rivera sitting in the bullpen, you use him.”
Last season, Edmonton yanked Jussi Markkanen and Ty Conklin for Mike Morrison. Conklin was furious.
Fernandez didn’t seem thrilled with the hypothetical idea.
“I mean, they’re my boss. If they decide I go, I go,” Fernandez said. “There’s a lot of positions that a goalie wouldn’t want to be in, but I’ve worked through it in the past. … It’s their call, obviously. I’m getting paid to stop pucks.”