Minnesota Wild (13-10-2) 28pts 2nd in the Northwest
2.24 Goals For (27th)
2.40 Goals Against (7th)
16.5% Power Play (21st)
87% Penalty Kill (4th)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 4G 16A = 20pts
2. #11 Zach Parise ~ 11G 8A = 19pts
3. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 1G 17A = 18pts
4. #7 Matt Cullen ~ 3G 12A = 15pts
5. #15 Dany Heatley ~ 8G 5A = 13pts
Top 3 PIM's:
1. #28 Zenon Konopka ~ 66 PIM's
2. #27 Mike Rupp ~ 34 PIM's
3. #4 Clayton Stoner ~ 20 PIM's
1. #32 Niklas Backstrom (11-7-2) 2.29GAA .914%SP
2. #35 Darcy Kuemper (1-2-0) 2.02GAA .924%SP
3. #37 Josh Harding (1-1-0) 2.92GAA .885%SP 1 SO
Colorado Avalanche (10-11-4) 24pts 5th in the Northwest
2.44 Goals For (23rd)
2.88 Goals Against (21st)
14.3% Power Play (26th)
78.8% Penalty Kill (21st)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #9 Matt Duchene ~ 11G 15A = 26pts
2. #15 P.A. Parenteau ~ 10G 15A = 25pts
3. #26 Paul Stastny ~ 7G 9A = 16pts
4. #7 John Mitchell ~ 8G 5A = 13pts
5. #11 Jamie McGinn ~ 4G 9A = 13pts
Top 3 PIM's:
1. #58 Patrick Bordeleau ~ 48 PIM's
2. #55 Cody McLeod ~ 46 PIM's
3. #3 Ryan O'Byrne ~ 43 PIM's
1. #1 Semyon Varlamov (8-10-3) 2.77GAA .912%SP 2 SO
2. #35 Jean-Sebastien Giguere (2-1-1) 2.70GAA .918%SP
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Just when you think this team is heading in the right direction, ugliness will rear its head and bring you back to reality. The reality being, questions of whether or not this team has the heart and desire to take a stand. By taking a stand is multi-faceted. It means everything from can and will they stand up for themselves and their teammates. It means, do they have the desire to work hard. It means do they care enough for the fans, especially when at home, to give them a good game for their precious dollars. I would wager a bet, that if you asked most fans, they would say that after Tuesday night's game against Anaheim, this team fails on each and every one of those facets. Now failure isn't always the worst thing ever, however failure is only good if you learn something from those mistakes. Yet it feels like very few lessons have been learned by these failures, as they continue to make the same mistakes over and over.
Right now, the most grievous of offenses when it comes to lack of heart and desire, is the willingness and/or ability to stand up for teammates. We have seen this happen twice now. First, when Cal Clutterbuck was injured by Taylor Hall and now with Jason Zucker by Corey Perry. Now, I'm not advocating going headhunting or looking for blood. But at the very least, in both cases, the Wild should have pushed back against their opposition in a two-fold manner. They should have become more physical, within the rules of course. Being physical doesn't mean bonecrunching hits along the boards (of course those can make a difference), but you can use your body to make it difficult to maintain an offensive presence in the zone. You can also take a physical stance that tells the opposition that says, "you take out our player and we'll possibly take out one of yours." This can be done legally. While both Clutterbuck and Zucker left the ice due to illegal hits, you can cause pain within the rules. The Wild failed to do either against Edmonton and Anaheim. And in fact in Zucker's case, the team seemed to fall apart instead of picking themselves off and getting back at Anaheim in the ultimate way, the scoreboard. They couldn't even play hard for a fallen teammate, and that just might be the saddest part of it all.
As a related off-shoot to the Zucker incident, the Wild failed to show heart by working hard. The Wild have several fantastic power play advantages. First off, they had a 5-on-3 at one point. Then there was the 5 minute major issued to Perry. You would think that one of those times would have generated a goal, but that was not the case. Minnesota went back to their lackluster, static power play. Among fans, we jokingly call it the "powerless play" because that is what it is. It's ineffective and depressing to watch. Even worse, the Wild have their moments where they look like they're on the penalty kill instead. If you can't generate shots on the power play you can't generate goals on the power play. Teams should score with the man advantage more times than not. But with the Wild, that doesn't feel like the case. Once Zucker left the game, the Minnesota Wild essentially just handed Tuesday night's game right over to the Anaheim Ducks. Which leads me to my third point.
As fans, we have the right to expect quality for our money. Fans have different amounts of money involved. Season ticket holders probably have the most at stake. Fans that catch the occasional game here and there or those who watch from home via NHL Center Ice have varying dollars in the collective pool. Every fan has some sort of team merchandise in their homes. But regardless of how much we as fans have invested with this team, we expect to see hard work. We expect to see a team that doesn't blow a 5-on-3 or a 5 minute major. We expect our team to fight back both physically and offensively after a team takes out a player. Yet, we got none of that. The fans that showed up on Tuesday night, might as well have gone home after Zucker was injured, because the Wild pretty much left the ice with Zucker.
If they don't come out tonight and take a stand, even against the worst team in the Northwest Division, we will have the proof that the 2012-13 Minnesota Wild simply don't have the heart and do not care whether they succeed or fail. And right there, that is the biggest failure of all.