On the heels of their first home loss, the Wild were out for blood. Luckily the unfortunately named Mighty Ducks of Anaheim were in town. Though the Brothers Neidermayer are now playing for the Ducks, the rest of the team doesn't seem to be hustling. J.S. Giguere, once a total brick wall, is now a shell of a goalie. Perhaps they miss Martin Gerber now? Well, let's review the game.
Right off the bat, the Wild came out fast and furious. Almost six minutes in to the period, Brian Rolston slammed home a power play goal. Here's my first question: Why aren't the sports pundits coming out and apologizing to the team for such an underestimation? They have the league's top power play AND penalty kill. How about them apples?
Eight minutes later, on their second power play, Filip Kuba slapped in his first goal of the season off a Chouinard rebound. It's good to see Kuba getting his points. He is one of the longest tenured Wild players.
On the other side of the ice, Manny Fernandez (starting in place of Roloson) was superb. He faced 7 shots in the first period and pushed aside every single one. The highlight of the first period however was not a save or a goal. No, it was Derek Boogaard's two (count 'em: TWO!) fights. The first, with Kip Brennan, came right after a face off. Boogaard was able to whomp on Brennan until Brennan fell to the ice. The crowd exploded with cheers even louder than when the team scored. The Ducks, already down a goal, had their little bit of momentum taken away. Only 9 minutes later, Boogaard dropped the gloves again and started brawling with Todd Fedoruk. This time, the Duck player was able to pull Boogaard's jersey almost clean off, but showing that Wild enthusiasm and grit, Boogaard kept swinging even though he couldn't see. Fans were shouting directions at Derek. "He's on your left...YOUR LEFT!!!! Swing!!" Because he won both fights (and he really did), the momentum of the game was totally on the Wild's side.
The second period saw things slow down. The Wild got a goal from Bouchard (and Marc Chouinard got his third assist and point of the night) with seven minutes left in the period. Though he only saved five shots, Manny Fernandez was looking impressive and had people murmuring about a shut out (again, an old superstition: Never talk about the shutout. It's bad luck).
The third period was a big period for Manny Fernandez. After facing a combined 12 shots in the first two periods, Manny would face 17 shots in the third period. Once again, the Wild owned the period. Kyle Wanvig made it 4-0 about 4 minutes in to the period. Being that it was a rough day for most Minnesota sports fans (wow, don't those Vikings suck?), many were elated to see at least one team doing well. Others were so happy that they left early (for shame people). Sadly, with only a 14 seconds left, the Ducks were able to get a goal and end the shutout. Still, fans knew what an incredible game he had and gave him a well-deserved standing ovation. When the horn sounded, Minnesota fans saw their beloved Wild down those (Not-so) Mighty Ducks 4-1.
Interesting notes during the game:
The "Let's Play Hockey" moment was done by two players from the Minnesota Swarm. "The what?" you ask. The Minnesota Swarm...You know...The Lacrosse team...Hello? Ok, well, there's a Lacrosse team in this town now...Really.
In-between the first and second period, they had some pee-wee hockey action (by the Little Chippers, no less). One kid had a beautiful breakaway goal that had the crowd really cheering for him. Of course there were other fans screaming for the little tots to hit each other or start fighting. Though there was some (inadvertant) tripping, the game was clean. The best moment, however, came after it was finished. The Wild announcer brought out the kid who hit the breakaway goal. This was the conversation:
Wild Announcer: We have Jimmy, the star of the game, with us. Jimmy what were you thinking when you hit that breakaway goal?
WA: When you hit that goal. What did you think about that?
K: What are you talking about?
WA: Well, nice playing Jimmy....
One fan astutely said, "Perhaps that wasn't the right kid?" (It turned out it wasn't.)
Another great moment came when the camera man found a fan in a Vikings jersey. Almost immediately the fans started booing. The fan turned bright red and quickly grabbed a hockey stick that read "Minnesota Wild." He then asked the camera guy to zoom in and held the stick up to the camera. Looks like the Vikings are in some hot water up here in the frozen north.
All in all, it was quite an exciting game on a sleepy Sunday evening.
I mentioned shutout superstition earlier. You see, you never talk about the shutout when it's happening. It's like a no-hitter. Halfway through the third period, several fans, including the guy next to me, began talking about how, "Manny's going to get his shutout." NO, NO, NO! You never talk about it. That's a gremlin. Ever see the film Forget Paris? You never say, "Piece of cake." Why? Because it will be anything but. Same with the shutout. "He's got it," said the fan. What happened? Goal! There goes the shutout.
Then again what do I know? I was the guy telling people, "Don't talk about his inevitable shutout." I could be wrong.
4 down, 37 to go.