Sunday, March 14, 2010

Beat Down Sunday: Wild double up, punch out Blues 4-2

As Koivu, Harding shine, Boogaard wins fight, but you'd never know it by looking at him

By Wild Road Tripper

To look at the face of Derek Boogaard as he left the ice following his first-period scrap with St. Louis Blues enforcer D.J. King, you'd never know that Boogaard's Minnesota Wild was, at that very moment, en route to a 4-2 win on Sunday evening at Xcel Energy Center, before an announced 18,580 who were just as happy for Boogaard, as for the rest of the squad.

After all, Boogaard was doing what he is paid to do -- enforce -- and the rest of the Wild, most notably goaltender Josh Harding (36 saves) and Mikko Koivu (goal, two assists) were doing what they get paid to do -- that is, win hockey games -- as the Wild gain a needed two points to place them still on the cusp of the fast-fading Western Conference playoff chase. The Wild win against St. Louis, coupled with Dallas losing at home to Colorado, now finds the Wild in 11th place in the West, six points behind eighth place Detroit, with 14 games left to play this season.

Boogaard's face looked like he had been in a fight, but King's head was primarily used as a) a helicopter beanie holder, b) a punching bag, or c) a conveinent place to put ice after the fight was over. The correct answer was d) all of the above, as Boogaard went around and around with him (literally, they kept sticking and moving thru the zone) until King's helmet was in the corner, he was behind the net, and the linesmen were just happy it didn't escalate into worse.

(The fight rates nearly even, with a slight advantage to Boogaard, according to

The game? Oh, that. Yeah, yeah, let's talk: Andrew Brunette started the scoring 1:54 in as he tipped a Cam Barker shot past starting St. Louis goalie Chris Mason. Guillaume Latendresse had a textbook tip-in goal in the first period from a Martin Havlat give-and-go. The Koivu goal was a beauty, also, insofar as he didn't give up on the bouncing puck in the slot when the first shot didn't get by the St. Louis defense. Even Antti Miettinen managed a 'pretty' goal, when Koivu's backhand pass in the slot in the second period found Miettinen alone against relief Blues goaltender Ty Conklin.

Is this a case of too little, too late? Or are Wild fans just resigned to the fact that this team will not make the playoffs, no matter what they do, and should just ride it out until the NHL Draft in late June in Los Angeles, and the start of Free Agency on July 1st?

Face it, the Wild are 3-2-2 since coming back from the Olympic break, and that just won't cut it. They are entering a stretch that in the next three games they could easily pick up six points, as they take on the two worst teams in the West (Edmonton, Tuesday night at home, and at Columbus on Saturday) and a team which they have defeated each of the last two seasons on the road (Nashville, Friday night away) in the next six days. The schedule becomes considerably tougher after that point, so for the Wild, this week is critical to answer this burning question:

Will they finish low enough to aim for the draft? Or high enough to be in the playoffs?

We'll talk later.

Until then, let's remind you of the Next Game: vs. Edmonton, Tuesday, March 16, 7:00 PM Central (6:00 PM Mountain) Daylight Time, Xcel Energy Center. (Wild TV: KSTC-45; Oilers' TV: Rogers SportsNet-West; XM Radio, Ch. 237)

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