How a team wins can say a lot about them. How a team loses can say even more. If that's true, then the resounding message from the Minnesota Wild's 5-1 loss to the Avalanche last night was "We're pathetic." After falling behind four goals to none in the second period, the Wild gave up completely and decided to spend the rest of the game trying to injure their opposition. It was shameful.
119 penalty minutes, including seven misconducts and two unsportsmanlike conducts pretty much sums up what the Wild are all about. They didn't come into game 4 looking to play hockey. They came looking to make Mark Kiszla---who wrote a piece lamenting the cheap, dirty play of the Wild prior to game 4---look like a soothsayer.
Anywhere the Wild goes, flowers wilt, the sky turns gray and beauty dies.
After three games, can there be any doubt?
This series is doomed to be a bloody mess.
The moans and groans from the Wild fanbase were loud and obnoxious. You have to have some pretty thick blinders on to ignore how shameful Minnesota has played this series. I understand homerism, of course, but when Cody McLeod started going for knees during the regular season, every person here at MHH called him out. There's no reason to ever try to hurt an opposing player on purpose. That kind of dangerous bush leaguery has no place in the NHL.
Mike Russo at the Star Tribune ridiculed Kiszla prior to game 4:
When an article is so absurd and based on such little facts, to me, it’s almost comical, so calm down. Obviously the writer doesn’t know hockey. Obviously the writer doesn’t watch playoff hockey. Obviously the writer hasn’t watched the Calgary-San Jose series. Obviously the writer has never heard of the Broad Street Bullies. Obviously the writer doesn’t know the Wild’s makeup.
Russo, to his credit, acknowledged his own moronity this morning and gave Kiszla his due, but it still doesn't erase the fact that the majority of people who support the Wild are incapable of an honest perspective about this series.
To deny that the Wild, specifically the five players pictured above (Voros, Veilleux, Boogaard, Johnsson and Fedoruk) were somehow picked on by the officials is to have your head firmly up your ass. But leave it to Wild fans to do just that:
Look, I'll concede the fact that the Wild dug themselves a hole with several defensive lapses - here's looking at you, Martin Skoula - but the officiating in this game was terrible. The Wild racked up 111 penalty minutes and the Avalanche spent nearly a whole period's worth of ice time on the power play. Minnesota spent just over 7 minutes on the power play, and most of that came after the game was already out of hand. I'd write more on how lopsided the officiating was, but by doing that I'd be heavily acknowledging said referees for their role.
Yes, the reason the Wild were so penalized was because of lopsided officiating. I've taken the officiating of this series to task way too many times so far, but only because the Wild have gotten away with murder. They finally get called for being the petty cheap shot artists that they are and now they're mistreated? Ridiculous.
Stephane Veilleux especially embarrassed his team throughout the night, and should be suspended for a feet-leaving boarding penalty on Paul Stastny in the third period. Veilleux clearly tried to hurt Stastny, and just because Stastny got right up doesn't make the play okay.
Minnesota, your hockey team is a joke and so are your fans. The only guy who deserves an ounce of respect is Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse, who called out the Wild and their fans for being said pathetic jokes.
Even if the Avs end up losing this series, it won't justify the Wild's tactics in the least.
photo courtesy of David Zalubowski/AP
Now, as for the Avalanche, they came out early with a vengeance, just like we all hoped they would. Three fast goals, including one by Tyler Arnason, and the game was already over. Andrew Brunette, Wojtek Wolski (on the fourth line, WTF?!), Arnason, Milan Hejduk and Ruslan Salei were the goal scorers for Colorado. The only goal against Jose Theodore was scored shorthanded by Mikko Koivu, but the replay showed that a horribly missed offsides call was the only reason it was possible. So, if there was one really awful screw up by the refs, it was that missed call.
Coach Q looks like a genius this morning, too, because he made some great calls. Playing Jordan Leopold over Jeff Finger worked like a charm (two assists and a ton of great work in his own zone), and sitting Peter Forsberg for the entirety of the third period kept him safe and let him rest. Q, good work.
But don't get too high on yourself, buddy. The power play is still god awful. Just two goals on thirteen chances is 15%. Yeah, that's better than the season average for the Avalanche, but it's still horrible. The score should have been 7-1.
The series is now tied heading back into Minnesota for game 5. I hope that the Wild decide to play hockey from this point on, and to redeem themselves for their douchery. But I have a feeling we haven't seen an end to the crap they've been pulling all series, or to the endless string of stupidity flowing from the keyboards of their fans.
Such is life.
Stars of the Game:
- Ruslan Salei (1g, 1a)
- Tyler Arnason (1g, 1a)
- Jordan Leopold (0g, 2a)