Thursday, January 21, 2010

Miller Time, but not Buffalo's: Red Wings 4, Wild 3

Eight-round shootout ends after Sabres' goalie's brother scores game-winner: Harding injured?

By Wild Road Tripper

It was not the kind of game that Minnesota Wild fans were accustomed to, against one of the best franchises in pro sports of the last 20 years, but considering they were down two goals with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation time, losing to the Detroit Red Wings in a marathon, eight-round shootout really doesn't seem all that bad.

Yes, the Wild lost their 4th game in a row and their 6th in their last 10 games. Yes, they even let the Wild fans' uber-villan, Todd Bertuzzi swoop in on a breakaway and beat starting Wild goaltender Josh Harding, who left the game after the first period with an apparent hip injury, following a sequence where he had to make two stops on the same breakaway.

The first period was awful to watch, as the Wild defense let Harding down time and again, leaving him be the 'Lone Ranger' at least three times in the period. After the first, Harding was replaced by Niklas Backstrom, who, although letting in two goals himself, could not be faulted for either one, as one was a classic tip-in and the other a wrist shot which frankly had eyes.

Through the shootout rounds they went, back and forth, burning up both benches, but did anyone tell the Wild that Detroit still has probably the deepest bench in the Western Conference? Drew Miller, who scored Detroit's third goal on that tip-in, got the shootout winner in the eighth round to win it for the Wings, who broke their own three-game losing skid.

Yes, it was exciting to see the Wild come back on goals by Martin Havlat and Andrew Brunette exactly one minute apart in the waning moments of the third, but you have to sit back and ask this question, if you are a real Wild fan:

When will this team play a solid, 60-minute hockey game? A game that start to finish, they can point to and say, 'that's the type of play we needed to win tonight', and they'd actually GET it?

When they do that, is when the Wild will start to consistently win. Until then, it's all pointing towards a fire sale at the trade deadline. Or, sooner...

Next Game: vs. Columbus, Saturday, January 23, 8:00 PM Central (9:00 PM Eastern) Time, Xcel Energy Center, for 'Hockey Day Minnesota' (Wild TV: FSNorth (in HD), along with five other hockey games, ranging from Gophers vs. St. Cloud State to a girls' high school game. 16 hours of hockey in all, in one day! Jackets TV: FSOhio; XM Radio, Ch. 238)

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