5 Things I learned Watching the Wild-Edmonton Game

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1. When the Wild are good they are very good (see Vancouver game) but last night they were not good. The Wild rode an early flurry of momentum, including two goals from former Oiler Kyle Brodziak to a 4-2 victory. But much of the game felt like you were on a roller coaster and your seat belt had failed and you were just holding on for dear life until the ride was over.

2. NHL officiating has been nuts this season but this game was ridiculous. Many of the calls against the Wild were good, but the whistles seemed to stop working when penalties were being committed the other way. I hate blaming referees and I loathe conspiracy theories but the balance was way out of whack in this game. I’m all for “letting them play” as long as they both get to play.

3. If the Wild had lost you could not have blamed the refs. The Oilers out-skated and out-fought them and the Wild were lucky to win this game. However, its a good sign that the players seem to realize that and that what happened was unacceptable. The worst thing a team can do is take satisfaction in a garbage win. They should breathe a sigh of relief that they won, but work even harder tonight to win again tonight.

4. The future for Edmonton is bright. Those kids can play. While Jordan Eberle was good, Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson and Taylor Hall really stood out to me. As I watched I was quite certain either one of them was going to light the lamp at any moment. The goals are going to come for those guys and they are going to come in bunches.

5. Niklas Bäckström proved he can still steal a game. He has taken a lot of flack for last season and many, myself included, have worried that he was not the same goalie under the new system. But for goalies, confidence is a big thing. Bad play by the team leads to goals and eventually that can get into a goalies head. Bäckström needed a game to prove he still had it and build his confidence, this game did just that.

Bonus: When you are protecting a 1 run lead in a baseball playoff game is there anyone you would rather have on the mound than Mariano Rivera? When you are protecting a 1 goal lead in hockey is there anyone you would rather have on the ice than Mikko Koivu? Mikko came up with two big face off wins at the end of the game that eventually lead to Brent Burns’ empty net goal. You would be hard pressed to find anyone in the game that works harder than Koivu.

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Tags: Brent Burns Edmonton Oilers Jordan Eberle Kyle Brodziak Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson Mikko Koivu Minnesota Wild NHL Refrees Niklas Backstrom Taylor Hall

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