Thursday, March 3, 2011

Some Called it a Goaltending "Masterpiece", I agree

I'm not posting all of Russo's blog, so feel free to click the link to see the whole thing.

Wild prevails thanks to Wellman's winning goal, Theodore's goaltending masterpiece

Posted by Michael Russo
Last update: March 3, 2011 - 10:28 PM

I bet my career on Twitter tonight that José Theodore starts Sunday against Buffalo, so Todd Richards may go back to Nik Backstrom to spite me.

I'd think you'd got to run with the hot goalie now. Theodore made 46 saves in Anaheim in a 3-2 overtime win, and tonight, he made 40 saves in a game the Wild was outshot 41-19 yet prevailed 3-1.

Theodore likes the big stage. If you see the way he holds court after games in LA with bigwigs and celebs, you could understand why this guy thrives in situations like Madison Square Garden. This is a famous venue, and not an easy one to play in, yet Theodore's 9-0-1 in his past 10 starts on Broadway and 13-3-2 in his past 18 overall against the Rangers.

He had to be good early. The Wild spent the entire first period hemmed in its own end. It didn't take a shot until 17:15 into the first. But Theodore settled things down with a great performance after the Rangers scored early and Theodore accidentally shot the puck in the crowd.

The press box at MSG is in the lower-bowl corner. After his penalty, Theodore skated into the left circle right in front of us, kneeled one what knee, shook his head at his gaffe and then just looked straight ahead. Not shockingly, he was focused and brilliant the rest of the way. The turning point save was keeping a 1-0 deficit to 1 when he robbed Ryan Callahan with a reaching paddle.

So as badly as the Wild played in the first, the bonus was they were down only 1-0, not 3- or 4-0. Win!

One shot, and the Wild's right back in it, and yes, they rallied -- first on Kyle Brodziak's deflection (14th goal, tying career high), then Casey Wellman's second career goal and first winner.

That was a redirection of Brent Burns' shot, coming in Wellman's first game since Nov. 20 after 12 goalless games to start the season.

Wellman was recalled upon emergency conditions if Cal Clutterbuck couldn't play because of Wednesday's head hit. But with Clutterbuck able to play (six hits), the Wild was able to swap Wellman and Jed Ortmeyer because Ortmeyer was also up on emergency conditions.

If Clutterbuck wasn't able to go after warmups, Ortmeyer could have immediately been recalled and he would have played without the benefit of a warmup.

Teams get four non-emergency callups post trade deadline. The Wild's already used two (Warren Peters and Jared Spurgeon, who from a paperwork standpoint had to be technically reassigned and called back up just to make him eligible for the AHL playoffs).

Wellman provided the spark the Wild had hoped. He brought speed and energy, offense and his backcheck to perhaps save a goal came moments before Brodziak won a wall battle and Martin Havlat set up Pierre-Marc Bouchard's back-breaker.

One storyline I couldn't get into in the gamer due to space was Richards’ objective coming into the game being to try to get veteran Andrew Brunette more involved with the game.

He had one point in six games since Mikko Koivu was injured and no goals in the previous 10 games.

He skated with Eric Nystrom and Antti Miettinen, but Richards spotted Brunette in with Warren Peters and Wellman, and it was Brunette who valiantly did the wall work before Wellman's goal.

Spurgeon had a great game. So did Burns and Bouchard. Warren Peters recovered nicely from stick checking instead of body checking on the Rangers' goal. Brodziak was great.

I love the MSG press box also because for a change, we're right at ice level, so you get a true appreciation for how little time and space these players really have. The game is simple and easy all the way up in the press box in most buildings.

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