Minnesota Not So Wild

 They may have been 6-0-1 when they came into the AAC , but they left 6-1-1 . But that was not all that mattered . It was how Our Stars won that was the important part .

 In the pre-game show Ralph , Razor , Radigan and Ludwig were all talking about how Steve Ott was coming back in this game . I had to laugh when Ott was interviewed by Razor and he said all his line was going to do was dump the puck in the zone , mow people over and get the puck on net . I liked the order that he said those things . Dumping the puck first running people over then get the puck on net . I loved to hear that hitting and agitation was his priority . That is Steve Ott to a the letter . 
 Ralph , Razor , Radigan and Luddy also talked about how Marty was not going to start this game . It was said that he was trying to help the team too much and not being able to focus on his own job of stopping pucks . I was annoyed when The Cap’n point blank laid the fault on Marty’s shoulders . Of course I did not hear the entire question asked of him , but allthe goals scored against Marty were not his fault . Some of the reason for his atrocious goals against average is clearly laid on the feet of the team who has not been playing in front of him . He has been hung out to dry more than a couple of times . Given , he has allowed some pretty soft goals , but to say that it is allhis fault would not be correct in the slightest . Tippett said that we (both the team and Marty) needed the change and that was good enough for me . I think Marty needed the time off for (insert your own reason here) .

 The game itself started off with the kind of bang that I love to see . The Cap’n scored on his first shot on goal and on the first shift of the game . Ott was called for tripping , giving a powerplay to the Wild . Our penalty kill looked good until somebody slipped their coverage on Bergeron . He beat Stephan with a severe angle shot right above Stephan’s shoulder . Bergeron was called for interference later , but the Wild showcased their penalty kill very well . When the powerplay for Our Stars ended , it was clear that momentum had shifted in our direction . A nasty scramble in front of Backstrom ended with Ott on his backside and the puck in the net . The “Chip and Chase” game continued for a little while but Our Stars were definitely getting the better end of the stick . Richards , Fistric and Barch got together and they managed to get a solid and frustrating attack on the Wild and that netted Richards his third goal of the season . Richards , The Cap’n and Ribs had a huge attack immediately after that and it was led off by Ribs’ great break-away chance that was not fouled up by the obvious slash put on him . Avery and Richards carried on that attack after Ribs and The Cap’n had ended their shift . This period was excellent by almost all standards . Our Stars were swarming the puck , displaying good , solid forechecking , and the Wild could get no sustained pressure . The few chances that they did have this period (including the goal) were off of rushes on the net . And even then those came in no great amount . The only negative thing was that Razor Halloween masks started showing up on fans . That is truly scary .

 The second period started with a new goalie in net for the Wild . Harding came in for Backstrom and The Cap’n tested him almost immediately . Poor guy . The Wild actually started hitting in a hopeless attempt to slow up Our Stars’ attacks . Bergeron took a tripping call for bringing Avery to the ice with his stick . That powerplay was alright , but still , the Wild kept the goose egg in the “powerplay goals scored against” column . Our Stars kept up the dump and chase game and kept the Wild backing up for the majority of the time . Schultz took a hooking call for a yet another powerplay for Our Stars . The resulting powerplay seemed decent until Niskanen made it great when he scored his first goal of the season . Our Stars stayed on the powerplay due to an “abuse of officials” call that was assessed to the Wild bench (Nelson Ha-Ha!) . Avery attacked on this powerplay , but otherwise the powerplay was very weak . The dump and chase play continued on well for Our Stars until Robi took a hooking penalty . Fistric took a puck in what looked like his sternum and was taken off the ice clearly in pain . Neal , Daley and Petersen had a neat little short-handed chance on Harding , too bad it did not net our first shorty of the season . Stephan was forced to make some huge saves , and Our Stars steal the puck from the Wild . Our Stars raced down the ice and made a decent attack on which Burns was called for cross-checking Eriksson at the end of the period . Even with only a few seconds left , Mo and Robi managed to get a few shots at Harding . The Wild started this period looking like they were going to amp up their play , but with all the penalties handed to them , it was hard for them to not look like they were standing . Stephan faced his first true challenges in this period . In the first period , he was not really tested . He stood up to the test and shined .

 The third period started with almost a full two minutes left on the powerplay . Despite The Cap’n’s , Ribs’ and Richards’ best effort , we came out without a goal . Mo was called for a phantom hooking at about the three minute mark and off of a centering pass , the puck bounced around like a pinball and somehow ended up behind Stephan . Later on in the period , there were shoving matches between Ott and Nolan and Zidlicky and Avery . The Wild tried to come back to life , but Our Stars were still not giving them any time or space to achieve anything . The Cap’n took a puck in the face (and several stitches as I understand) and Mo took a hooking call with only a minute and a half left . Harding left his net , but even then the Wild could not manage to keep the puck in Our Stars’ zone  .

 The Wild lost this game because Our Stars took this game from them from the outset of the game . Our Stars did what they were supposed to do . They took away space and time from all of the Wild players . Our Stars hounded the puck and displayed great team play . No one individual tried to do too much and they trusted each other to be there when they were needed . When they needed somebody to help out , there was somebody there to help . It is amazing to see the results when a team sport is played by a team instead of individuals . The Wild looked off and many times they seemed to be caught standing . Turnovers were huge . Our Stars forced so many of them and not just in the neutral zone . Every one of those turnovers cost the Wild any momentum they were trying to build .

 Richards , Avery and Ott dominated the Wild every time they took the ice . You need not take my word for it , they showed up on the score sheet often enough to prove it .

 Stephan may have a .934 save percentage but the real difference was the team on the ice in front of him . They played better with Marty on the bench . While I do not truly believe that having Marty on the bench was the inspiration for them to win , I do not believe it hurt . Perhaps the team just needed to be afraid to hang a young goalie out to dry . I really do not know . I am just glad Our Stars won .

 Tippett called this win “a step in the right direction”* . I would be forced to agree . The Wild came into the game with one of the best records in the league . While they are still one of the best record holders , they were beaten when Our Stars tried . If they remember that they can win , Our Stars will win .

 With all of this “moving around” I noticed that ice time had been cut for the fourth line . Brunnstrom got a measly three minutes , Barch got almost three minutes and Petersen only got a little less than six . To me , that is no big deal considering that we were only rolling three lines when we won Lord Stanley’s Holy Grail . I also noticed that a few defensemen’s shifts seemed shorter as well . I was happy that I did not notice Daley making horrid mistakes that he had been . I was again pleased that Niskanen contributed in a goal that counted for us . Fistric’s assistance on the second Wild goal was unfortunate , but he has done his job of blocking shots well even when everybody else had forgotten that that was what defensemen do , so I forgive the accident .

 My three STARS of the game ;
 I cannot fault that stupid Tracy Meyers for picking who she did as the stars of the game , but I still disagree with her a little .
 1. Brad Richards – Undoubtedly he earned this place here . He was everywhere almost all at once .
 2. Steve Ott – He made a huge impact on this game . His pounding of people into the boards and constant drive towards the net made a big difference . Our team obviously missed him .
 3. Cap’n Morrow and Mike Modano – They have to share this one . They both played very well and went on the attack while still playing good supporting defensive roles when they were needed to .
 4. Tobias Stephan , Stephane Robidas , Mike Ribeiro , Sean Avery and Mark Fistric – They all share this because it would be a crying shame to let their great game play go unnoticed . Stephan played very well for this being only his second outing in a Stars uniform . Robi , he does not need an explanation , just watch him play . Ribs did what he does . He handled the puck and bought all kinds of time for his line mates and hit . Avery has his detractors , but he has cleaned up nicely and is now proving that he can play hockey instead of just fighting (and being a general nuisance) all the time . Fistric took a puck in a place on his chest that had no padding . Next game he will do it again . In my book , self-sacrifice is what team sports are all about .

 Bring on the Chicago Chickenhawks and let us hope that it does not go the same way as the pre-season game went (only because I do not want to see that many of our players in the box , even though I liked seeing standing room only in their penalty box – that was wonderful) .

*quote taken from DallasStars.com

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~ by Adam on October 30, 2008.

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