The Wild and Islanders are both important teams to the staff here at Barry Melrose Rocks. As a resident of the Twin Cities metro area, I am a Wild fan. Revered founder Kevin Schultz was once an Islanders fan, but now he covers them in a more serious, professional gig at Islanders Point Blank. As luck would have it, the Islanders were in St. Paul Sunday night, and I was also in St. Paul. I was in the second from the top row, so I can't give you any peronally taken pictures, but I can give you a few thoughts from the game.
First, a quick recap. The Wild scored the first three goals of the game, and by the time we were 3 minutes into the 2nd period, it was clear that the Wild were the better team. And then New York scored the next 5 goals, and went on to win 5-4. Dang. Now, some fresh hot opinions.
– There isn't a bad seat at XCel Energy Center. My fiancee and I sat in the second row from the top, and had a great view of the ice and were easily able to track the action, and the jumbotron wasn't at all in the way. If you haven't been, you should totally check out the X. Wait though. It was -7 when we left, and it's only getting colder.
– The Wild, as I said, were the clearly better team, but they were beset by two problems, with one causing the other. First, Kevin Poulin started the game strong. The Wild peppered the net and Poulin held Minnesota to only 1 in the first period. Perhaps a little trigger shy in the final half of the game, the Wild started driving their fans nuts. Instead of continuing their assault on the net, they spent too much time cycling and passing and looking for the perfect shot and all too often were left wanting. There were a pair of awful power plays where the Wild held onto the puck for 2 minutes and just wouldn't shoot it.
– This was Cal Clutterbuck's first game back in Minnesota. There was a tribute video for the former Wild. He was traded for Nino Niederreiter over the summer. Both players scored in this one, so that's all settled. There were a lot of Clutterbuck sweaters in attendence.
– On John Tavares' goal, the first for the Islanders, Kyle Okposo and Thomas Vanek, both attendees of the University of Minnesota, got cheers when their names were announced. Okposo was later booed when he scored his first goal, even louder on his second.
– The Isles went ahead 12 minutes into the third. The Wild tied it less than 2 minutes later. The Isles went ahead again (dammit, Okposo) 27 seconds later.It was fairly unpleasant for Wild fans in attendence.
– Two players that seemed to be all over the ice were Casey Cizikas for the Islanders and Mikael Granlund for the Wild. I like the hustle.
In the end, I guess the takeaway is this. The Wild were clearly the better, fresher team (New York played at home against the Devils last night) and they needed to lean on their opponents a little harder. They didn't, and they lost.