Tag:Mikko Koivu
Posted on: October 28, 2008 2:06 am

Wild survive another third period comeback

Good evening State of Hockey,

So yeah...it's been nearly two weeks since my last game analysis. A combination of applying for grad school and a needy girlfriend can really put the kabash on watching my Wild. Anyhoo...

Once again, the Wild looked great for the first two and a half periods. The power play was clicking - scoring on one, getting another goal as the power play expired. Andrew Brunette's goal gave the Wild momentum going into the second period, which again, they dominated. Versus network put up the stat that the Wild have outscored opponents 9-3 (now 11-3) in the middle frame this season, best in the NHL. The Antti Miettinen 3-on-2 goal was great, and the feed to Brent Burns for the power play goal was a thing of beauty. Despite a late third period goal by the Blackhawks, the Wild held on for the 3-2 victory and remain the only unbeaten (in regulation) team in the NHL.

Tangle's game puck is awarded to: Center Mikko Koivu. What else can you say about this rising star? Assists on all three goals (two of them were beauties), and his two-way game continues to impress. He did have a bad pass leading to the Duncan Keith goal, but that was overshadowed by his otherwise dominant performance. This AMA line is one of the best in hockey this season. Minor awards to Niklas Backstrom minding the net. He gave up another third period goal, yes, but his 30+ saves made up for it. The power play, as said before, is creating a lot of opportunities, and let's not leave out the penalty kill, silencing a 5-on-3 'Hawks power play opportunity. The Wild have yet to give up a power play goal this year. Finally, Cal Clutterbuck gets a nod for playing a very physical game. He landed several solid checks and provides a lot of intensity on the fourth line.

Tangle's "WTF?" award goes to: Defenseman Martin Skoula. Dammit, I hate this guy. His back was consistently turned when the puck got near him, he had a couple of turnovers in the defensive zone, and his "defense" on the two-on-one opportunity early in the game made me wonder whether if he was doing his best "Stephen Hawking tries to ice skate" impression or if he just gave up. He refused to commit to the puck OR the trailer, and ended up just going down to his knees. In the process, the only person he ended up blocking was Backstrom. I'm thinking the only reason Chicago didn't score on that play was because they were utterly shocked by Skoula's complete lack of defense. Minor harassment goes to Jacques Lemaire for not playing the third and fourth lines enough - I think Derek Boogaard has made leaps and bounds this season in his overall game...amazing what you can do with a healthy back. And finally, though this doesn't need mentioning, a thumbs-down to Marian Gaborik for continuing to be an injured and selfish douchebag.

Wild grade: B. Power play was great, penalty kill was great, but we still can't play a full 60 minutes yet. These third periods are getting way more tense than they should be. Luckily Backstrom is undefeated when leading after two periods but it's still frustrating to know that your team can't seal a victory.

It's good to be on top of the NHL, isn't it, Wild fans? For the second straight year, we're the last team standing without a regulation loss, and for the first time in over 40 years, there has been a team to not allow a power play goal through the first seven games of the season (the Leafs were the last to do it).

Keep your stick on the ice.

~ Robtangle
Posted on: March 27, 2008 9:03 am

Diagnosis: Bipolar Disorder

Just when you're ready to count out the Minnesota Wild, they come back with an A+ performance like they had last night against the Oilers. It's like the roles were reversed from the previous matchup. The Wild came out strong, scoring two goals in the first ten minutes of the game and went on to score a goal shorthanded, on the power play, and at even strength. Defense was more or less solid, as were the line combinations as Lemaire didn't do nearly as much juggling as he usually does.

Tangle's game puck is awarded to: Center Mikko Koivu. Talk about being unselfish, the guy acted like Pierre-Marc Bouchard last night. His assist to Sean Hill was great - he could have tried to jam the puck in the net but made the extra pass to give Sean Hill the open net. His saucer pass to Brian Rolston on the shorthanded break was a thing of beauty. The only part of his game that was flawed was getting inexplicably kicked out of the faceoff circle time after time, and for what, I have no clue. The refs were pretty inconsistent on those faceoffs, and Koivu wasn't too happy about it. Other props go to Hill, getting back to back goals after going 90+ without a single one. Backstrom stopped 31 of 32 shots; that is, if you count how much the posts bailed him out. Sometimes you get those kind of breaks. The final prop goes to Coach Lemaire (who I will get to more fully later), he kept his line combinations pretty consistent AND broke up the Dildaphonic Duo of Martin Skoula and Kim Johnsson. Surprise, surprise, the defense suddenly got better (though Skoula finished with a -1, I believe...it's hard to tell using CBS's stats because they also say that Hill finished with a -1, which is impossible considering he scored a goal (+1) and the Oilers only scored one goal total (-1) so the worst he could do is even).

Tangle's "WTF?" award goes to: Coach Jacques Lemaire. Now you may be thinking, "Tangle, what kind of Kool-Aid are you drinking, you just gave Lemaire props earlier." Well, here's my response. While I'm glad he kept lines consistent last night, there was one line combination I didn't like - Derek Boogaard, Aaron Voros, and James Sheppard. Huh? How is Sheppard going to excel with two enforcers on his wings? Second, Lemaire had Branko Radivojevic on the 5-on-3 power play. I like Radio but I don't think he's power play material, and had we scored with the two-man advantage, we would've put the game away much earlier. Finally, where was Benoit Pouliot? He's been playing incredibly well, and he was the odd man out last night with a healthy scratch. I know Bouchard and Pavol Demitra are better players but you ride somebody when they're hot. The other harassment award goes to the Oilers' power play unit. Granted, we've got the third-best penalty kill in the NHL, but Edmonton is now 0 for their last 21 power play chances. For a team fighting for their playoff lives, that's a shot in the foot. Finally, Zack Stortini - why would you even try your luck against Boogey? The ref got in front of the camera so the angle wasn't great but Boogey leveled him with a left, then picked him up and started donkey punching him. Serves you right.

I'll be coming to you again Friday night, either covering the game against the Canucks or watching my Badgers take on upstart Davidson in the NCAA tournament. Picture in picture, anyone?


~ Robtangle
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com