By Michael Russo
As usual inside Joe Louis Arena, and really in general, the Red Wings picked the Wild apart. They’re now 20-4-6 against the Wild, with a .767 points percentage.
Tonight, they were constantly on the attack and almost toying with the Wild. They fired 79 pucks at Josh Harding (registered shots, shots missed and shots blocked by the Wild). Often times, they’d work the puck down low. And if nothing was going, they’d just reset and start over by sending the puck back to the point.
It was like they were working the half court offense as somebody said. They fire the puck from everywhere, and it seemed every shot was a scoring chance.
With that said, the Wild was in this game for awhile — thanks to Detroit taking two hooks on one play and giving the Wild a two-minute 5-on-3 that Brent Burns converted on. Harding gave up one, maybe two bad goals, but it’s hard to pin anything on the seldomly-used backup when he was assaulted with phenomenal scoring chances.
I’ll tell you what, I don’t want to suck the optimism right out of you, but I was thinking as I was walking downstairs after the game, even if the Wild makes the playoffs, how won’t this be another first-round exit and out?
The No. 1 seed right now is San Jose. The No. 2 seed right now is Detroit. The No. 3 seed right now is Calgary.
The Wild can’t win in any of those buildings. This is my fourth year as the Wild beat writer. Since, the Wild’s won twice in Detroit, once in Calgary and, is 3-3-1 in San Jose, 0-3-1 last four (updated).
The Wild better pray it gets to fifth. Or, I just gave them some juicy locker-room material as usual.
There were some guys that really struggled tonight. The second goal, in my opinion, was caused by Pierre-Marc Bouchard pulling up on a simple check on Brian Rafalski. I know Bouchard isn’t physical, but once in awhile, it’s OK to put a body into a player — especially a player who’s not about to hit you back in Rafalski.
The Red Wings got a free exit, and bang-bang, Hossa to Hudler, 2-1.
Eric Belanger struggled dramatically. He just couldn’t get any speed going, and in the offensive zone, he was where possessions went to die. Maybe that line just tired itself out against Colorado because the trio, which includes Owen Nolan, was very good against the Avs.
Mikko Koivu scored a beauty of a shorthanded goal tonight. He realized immediately that Mikael Samuelsson was a forward playing the point, so defensively, he’d likely be vulnerable. Koivu used and abused him, and then made a great play to reach around Chris Osgood and score. Unfortunately, the goal meant nothing because it made it 4-2 with 10 minutes left against one of the best teams in the league.
Anyway, that is it from here. Very early flight in the morning. Stensaas is on tomorrow, and I’m back on for the Ottawa game.
Plan to check out the Gophers game for the second weekend in a row Friday night, too.
Coming to you from the Joe Louis Arena press box, where the Wild and Wings are about to clash. Derek Boogaard is scratched (like I mentioned on the previous blog, I think he would have been scratched regardless of the penalties last night).
Only news so far today? The Sheldon Souray-Craig Weller thing just won’t die a natural death. Like I mentioned the other day, the new video is damning. I watched it again today and for somebody who has a lot of respect for Souray, the Oilers’ sharpshooting defenseman, it’s pretty sickening.
Basically, what happened was FSN dumped its highlights from its Jan. 15 telecast onto what’s called a “melt reel.” Before the KSTC telecast the other day, director/producer Pat O’Connor, who works for the Wild, was going through the video highlights for the Oilers’ rematch to be televised on Ch. 45.
He suddenly found an angle that FSN shot that never aired. It’s a closeup of Souray undeniably, and seemingly intentionally, punching Weller with his forearm, where his plastic wrist guard resided. It’s so clear. It’s so obvious. He could have landed fists. Instead, he turned and repeatedly hit him with the forearm. He might as well used brass knuckles.
On the fourth punch, Weller went down. It’s believed he was briefly knocked unconscious. At the very least, he sustained a serious concussion and hasn’t played since.
Anyways, assistant GM Tom Lynn confirmed to me that the Wild sent the video to the NHL today. Still, this happened nearly a month ago, so I just can’t see anything coming from it.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but radio analyst Tom Reid is a trooper. The guy’s had knee surgery three times in the past two weeks, and still crutches around. And let me tell you, the Joe is not an easy place to navigate. You’ve got to go up and down stairs, and through the stands, into a very cramped press box. It’s amazing to me that Reid took this trip. It hurts just watching him move around.
You can tell he was a hockey player. If it were me, I’d want my mom.
Lastly, I was just watching the highlights of last night’s game again. Unsung moment in that game? Andrew Brunette on the last goal. Sometimes it amazes me how he protects the puck behind the net. But that was a classic example. He and the puck are pinned along the wall and then, boop, puck’s in front for Antti Miettinen.