By Michael Russo
One more loss. One more injury. And a team already in deep, deep trouble.
First to the injury, Martin Havlat pulled his groin on the first shift of the third period tonight and is day-to-day. Not that I’m a groin expert (but I have covered some notorious ones), but I’m betting Havlat, who talks often about needing to keep his groins warm, cooled down bigtime during the second intermission.
Not just because of the intermission, but he didn’t play the last five minutes of the second period — benched for the second time in three games — because of what Todd Richards must have deemed a defensive mistake.
On the Ryan Carter goal, which became the winner, Havlat was streaking out of the zone when Kyle Brodziak whiffed on an outlet pass and turned it over. Seconds later, Carter, who was Havlat’s guy, scored. Havlat didn’t play again in the period.
It looked to me like Richards was giving Havlat the business on the bench after the goal. Then, he gets hurt on the first shift of the third.
After the game, Richards was very disappointed with his team’s effort and how the majority of team didn’t “battle” or “compete” in the first period. He said it was now up to him to bring the urgency and desperation out of them.
The Wild played a great, great second period, outshooting Anaheim 18-8. At one point, it was 10-1 in shots, but the Wild’s power play ruined momentum for the second game in a row.
Hard to name names on a night like this, but Kim Johnsson, VERY tough night. Mikko Koivu 3 of 14 on faceoffs, three shots. Havlat minus-2, one shot and now laboring.
This team’s in a lot of trouble. Four injuries now and a team that’s just a mess on the ice.
Tonight wasn’t about a team in transition. Tonight was about a team that in the first period couldn’t win a puck battle, couldn’t make a play in the offensive zone and was just mindless at times in its own zone, and especially in the neutral zone.
I mean, four players went for a line change with the puck on its side of the red line before Corey Perry’s first goal. Richards called it “selfish.”
Richards praised Owen Nolan and Brodziak, callups Andy Hilbert and Nathan Smith. He said many others were standing around and watching.
James Sheppard, supposed to “step up,” played 12:23. Benoit Pouliot played 13:21, but he did work pretty hard at times. I thought Antti Miettinen was good. Nick Schultz was much better (plus-2).
But the Wild can’t continually play catch-up. Onward to Edmonton. Man, I wish I could make it to practice Thursday because it could be a doozy, but I don’t get in until 3:10 if I’m on time. Although, with so many injuries and back-to-back games, Richards probably should unearth that urgency and desperation from the team in some way other than skating the you know what out of them.
Lots of pressure on the Wild now because things could really spiral. I sensed a very angry coach tonight, and a very frustrated group of players after the game.