Friday, October 15, 2010

It's a start...but now what do they do for an encore?

As Wild perform PP lube job, Oilers fall for 14th straight in St. Paul

By Wild Road Tripper

Would the sellout crowd of 18,449 Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center believe, that the Minnesota Wild team they saw win 4-2 against the Edmonton Oilers, was a harbinger of things to come? Or would they say that this game was just a fluke, an aberration, another step in the development of the young, baby Grease, and the Wild were just there for the ride?

Whatever the point of view you take towards the Wild's North American home opener, it was a chance for the three Finns on the Wild roster -- Mikko Koivu (2 goals, 1 assist), Antti Miettinen (1 goal, 1 assist) and Niklas Backstrom (26 saves) -- to make up for their team's lack of scoring punch in Helsinki last week. Throw in the efforts of Matt Cullen (1 goal, 1 assist) and Andrew Brunette's two assists, and you have finally enough scoring punch to get some goals. Granted, all 4 were with the man advantage, but considering the last two games were about as interesting as watching reindeer graze, well, you get the idea.

Now, the question: What will they do for an encore? They will play a Columbus Blue Jackets team who will be on the second half of a back-to-back (the Jackets face off Friday night, against the Chicago Blackhawks at Nationwide Arena) while facing their own offensive demons (but at least the Jackets won one of their two games vs. San Jose in Stockholm, Sweden, last weekend, despite scoring only five goals in the two Swedish games).

Indeed, the coffin destined for the career of Wild Head Coach Todd Richards has halted upholstery, at least for now. Two of the next three games are against teams the Wild should be able to beat, if they put the same amount of effort into the next game, as into this last one.

But, as Wild fans saw as they chowed down while watching from Finland, with this club, that's always a big, BIG 'IF'.

Best moment: Greg Zanon's crushing cross-check on Gilbert Brule. Instant highlight.

Worst moment: In-arena Emcee Jim Cunningham introducing a new, even dumber in-arena intermission activity. At what point do fans throw their hands up (or, just throw up)? To watch another 'great Zamboni race' on the scoreboard, driven by fan noise? Sounds like 'Section 303' Nashville stuff to me. What's next? 'Face-Off Live' from FSNorth?

Where were you, Mikko Koivu? Now that the Finnish press isn't hounding the Captain constantly, he can concentrate on scoring goals, winning know, the stuff the folks back home WANTED to see from Mikko.

Need a new barn picture: Antti Miettinen missed twice from point-blank range. So what else is new?

Next Game: vs. Columbus, Saturday, Oct. 16, 7:00 PM Central Time, Xcel Energy Center. (TV: KSTC-45, FSOhio (both feeds in HD)

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