Friday, January 13, 2017

The Game: Wild 7, Habs 1 - Takeaways

By Nick

I just can't deny my feelings any more.  I know, I know, I know, shut up.

But the statistical evidence is just overwhelming.  You know all the numbers.

Okay, yes, the Habs were both tired and injury-depleted.  We had the fortunes of the schedule aiding us.  No doubt.  But, look, in addition to the four B2Bs we've already had, we have nine more this season.  Nine.  We'll get ours.

Ed Rooney knows how many times the Wild plays back-to-backs
You can't control who you're playing on a given night.  Your job is to beat whichever team shows up.  So, with that said, here are my takeaways from last night's game.

1) Should Stewy have put the Habs on the power play at the end?  It cost Duby the shutty.  Yes.  The answer is yes.  Period, the end.  I have been begging for this team to not be soft for years.  Especially when it comes to the goalie, and double-especially when that goalie is the Vezina and Jennings winner to this point, and maybe even gets some Hart consideration.  Could the refs have obviated the skirmish by calling the guys bumping Duby?  Yes.  But even if they had, just sending the message that our goalie is off-limits is something I have been campaigning for from this team - so I'm not changing my tune now.  Good on Stewy.  And I'll fight anyone who disagrees with this.

B) My favorite part of the game was that the Wild didn't sit on their lead.  Well, I guess you could say they sat on the 1-0 lead in the first.  But they just kept coming.  I said it on the ITC twitter account, but I like "keep attacking" Wild so much better than "sit back and hope you don't fuck up".  Confidence, killer instinct, coaching, whatever is behind that, I'll take it.

3) We've all been saying Staal has helped Mikko this year by making him not have to shoulder all the burden of a top line center.  It's plain to anyone who follows this team that Mikko has not been a pure #1 center maybe ever.  He does a lot of things well, a couple things extremely well.  But he has never scored enough to be a legit top line center.  But, thinking about how this team did keep the pedal to the metal, and has bounced back, maybe Staal also really has helped by offering a new take on the leadership dynamic.  We know he's stepping up in the room.  And he has something that no one else in our leadership group (9, 11, 20, 29) has: a ring.  I don't think we can overstate the impact of the Staal signing.  Kudos to Fletcher on that one.

IV) This is irrelevant, but as long as I'm talking about awards prematurely, when the BJs were running their streak to an amazing 16 games, all the talk was that Tortorella would be an automatic for the Jack Adams if the season ended at the half-way point.  But, since then, the BJs are 1-3.  Since the Flyers completed their 10-game winning streak they are 3-6-2.  Since the Wild lost to the BJs, they're 3-0-1.  And those three wins are over San Jose, Anaheim and Montreal - so not like they're beating Arizona, Colorado and the Islanders.  I wonder, now that we're at the actual mid-point, games-wise, if Bruce would sneak past Torts in Adams voting.

Please join us in the message boards to discuss this article, and everything else.