It had been a long damn time since a game between the Hawks and any Minnesota-based team had any kind of importance to it, or ever in the case of the Wild since their inception. But tonight's game about 3/8ths deep into the season between the top two teams in the west had a near playoff-like atmosphere, complete with the 6th largest crowd ever on hand at the Xcel for a regular season game.
For the most part, the game lived up to the billing, and a see-saw battle in which the Hawks never trailed, and there was more than a little questionable officiating ended with two points gained and one kinda-sorta given away. Even though the game was early and the wrap is timely, the linear recap is getting bypassed for the meaty, meaty bullets. Enjoy.
- The officiating. Yes the big fuck up was the ice/no-ice call that led to Minny's first goal, but the calls were bad all the way around for both teams tonight, and it's something that has to be rolled through. Mikko Koivu's "trip" on Brent Seabrook was pretty much Seabs blowing a tire for no reason, and the only fathomable reason to give Cullen and unsportsmanlike would be because he said the "magic word" to the official. There was much consternation and bleating from the Wild side regarding the Duncan Keith breakup of Cullen's breakaway which drew his ire in the first place, but I've yet to see a replay where there's anything but stick-on-stick from Keith, who made a beautiful play to deny a chance.
- So back to that icing call. Yes, the linesman did apologize for it, which Regis McGuire later declared on national TV, but that does not absolve John Scott of the irredeemably stupid manifold decisions he made.
First, whether he knew icing was on or off, there is zero reason for him to skate to the exact same spot as his partner Steve Montador, who had clearly and embarassingly beaten him from across the ice to the puck. In fact, there's hardly a reason for both defensemen to be in the same spot like that anywhere away from the goal mouth EVER. Given the oncoming forecheck, Scott should have either a) held up at the hash and given Monty a target, then gone in if he needed help, or b) just gone to the front of the net to take up space.
Secondly, upon arrival, there's no need for him to just stand still and try to decapitate someone, though I suppose he felt he's been deprived of those opportunities lately, with no one stupid enough to engage him. Either way, once again, a John Scott shift on the ice on the road led to a goal against that changed the complexion of the game. At what point is anyone going to ask Quenneville what specific reasons he has for trotting him out there, especially on the road?
- And for his troubles, Steve Montador found himself benched in the third with Scott taking shifts with Keith, Seabrook, and Leddy. I'm not sure what is expected of Montador (or Lepisto or OD for that matter) as a third pairing defensemen that John Scott somehow provides, but again, I'd be happy to hear it.
- Relating to the previous point, the ice times were once again completely cockeyed, with Duncan Keith skating over 30 minutes, Toews nearly 24:00, but with Montador, Frolik, and Brunette (the latter two of whom actually had decent games) all dry-humping 10:00 minutes TOI. It became pretty clear last year what leaning on the top of the roster for an extended period of time can do. Let's not go through that again, shall we?
- Pretty solid game by Razor all the way around, including in the shootout, where he hadn't inspired much confidence prior to tonight. However, all three Wild goals came with Emery being just a touch slow moving laterally, which shows the toll his hip condition has taken. For the most part though, Razor's shown that if he can see it, he can stop it.
- So Toews pretty much once again just kinda threw it right down on the kitchen counter for everyone to behold on that goal, didn't he?
- Oh hey, Michael Frolik is alive.
- Not Brent Seabrook's best night, but he's been generally better since his first game or two back from injury.
Marcus Kruger just keeps getting better. He's still a little too light in the ass, but he's got the hockey IQ to make up for it. And he's going to keep trying that blind, between-the-legs pass until it works it seems.
- I'm not sure if what was observed tonight was the Hawks letting off the gas in the 3rd, or one of the league's hottest teams of late making a big push, but the blown third period leads are still a bit worrysome.
- John Scott was a +10 in Corsi. Excuse me while I set myself on fire.