One has to wonder if Matt Hackett gets confused when a fellow AHL goaltender complains about being called up and not getting to play. Hackett makes his way into the crease whenever he gets the call. Too bad it wasn’t a few minutes earlier tonight at the United Center.
The Wild dropped a Western Conference fight 5-2 to the Chicago Blackhawks, and while starting goalie Josh Harding’s performance was definitely subpar, he wasn’t the only player in a Minnesota sweater having problems tonight.
Let’s start at the beginning. Mike Lundin was a scratch yet again (why, nobody seems to know). The Wild’s injury issues continue, with Pierre Marc Bouchard, Guillaume Latendresse, and Colton Gillies all out with battered heads and bodies. Top netminder Niklas Backstrom was out sick, leaving Harding to start between the pipes with Hackett as his backup.
The first period went relatively well for the Wild, with solid pressure to start the game. Devin Setoguchi looked for absolution for last game’s disciplinary scratch by putting the Wild up 1-0 with assistance from Marek Zidlicky.
Later in the first period, rookie Andrew Shaw beat Harding on a semi-screen, and that was the end of any offensive pressure from the Wild for the rest of the first 20. Score at the end of the 1st, 1-1.
Enter the second period. Fellow Wild fans, you may wish to stop reading here, because it’s about to get painful.
Defenseman Justin Falk blocked a shot and painfully hobbled back to the bench. The good news is that he’s ok. The bad news is that he shortly thereafter went to the box for hooking, and Jimmy Hayes (another rookie) made it 2-1 in favor of Chicago.
Only a few seconds later Viktor Stalberg, fresh off his hat trick against Columbus, smoked Harding to raise it to 3-1.
The Wild found themselves on the unlucky end of a referee’s raised arm on a questionable goaltender interference call against Cal Clutterbuck, Harding gave up a poorly thought out purposeful rebound to Dave Bolland who found twine and Harding got the gong.
And that, folks, is the way it would stay until Bolland put in an empty net goal with 1:27 left to end it at 5-2.
Notes from the Star Tribune’s Mike Russo after the game:
– Greg Zanon won’t talk about his personal performance.
– Josh Harding called his own performance “unacceptable”.
– Mike Yeo burst out of the locker room (I’m guessing to head to the post-game presser).
Harding takes the bullet for tonight, but changes have to be made on the defense. Why won’t Zanon talk about his game? Probably because he knows what the rest of us are seeing…as of late, he stinks. He’s gone from being the top shot blocker in the NHL to a lump of dirt that any rookie can (and tonight, did) skate around enroute to a goal. Stoner, his D partner, was just as off tonight. Lundin may have contributed more from the press box.
The Wild got beat by rookies, not by the Hawks’ top line.
Offense? After a solid start to the game, there was barely any offensive pressure from Minnesota. Koivu had zero, none, nada, zip, zilch shots. Dany Heatley was better…one shot. Setoguchi called it correctly in his post-game comments; he said his goal meant nothing because of the loss. He’s right.
With road games against a white-hot St. Louis, the Flyers, and the Maple Leafs in their immediate future this team needs to find motivation this very instant, or they will find themselves once again on the outside of the post-season looking in from the golf course. Yeo’s apparently angry as hell. For good reason.
Tags: Cal Clutterbuck Chicago Blackhawks Clayton Stoner Colton Gillies Greg Zanon Guillaume Latendresse Josh Harding Justin Falk Kyle Brodziak Marek Zidlicky Mike Yeo Mikko Koivu Minnesota Wild Niklas Backstrom Philadelphia Flyers