If the Minnesota Wild come up with some collective New Year’s resolutions, “Beating the Edmonton Oilers” shouldn’t be one of them. In a strange scheduling quirk, Thursday’s slump-busting 4-3 win will be their last game against the Oil this season – unless the two meet in an unlikely playoff series.
They might just miss the Oil a bit – they went 4-2-0 in their 2011-12 series – although the Wild’s other three wins against Edmonton came via shootouts.
Either way, the Wild will take this win, which ends an eight-game losing streak in which they went 0-5-3. Mikko Koivu scored a goal and an assist while Marek Zidlicky looked like his old, offensively potent self with a trio of helpers.
Oh, and Brad Staubitz did this to Theo Peckham:
Yup, that’s about all the Wild could really ask from a game.
The Vancouver Canucks will maintain the first spot in the Northwest regardless of how their game against the Anaheim Ducks turns out tonight (they’re currently leading the hapless Ducks 2-0), but Minnesota is currently “tied” with them at 48 points. Perhaps most importantly, Minnesota has a chance to go into the New Year on a positive note, as they’ll finish 2011 with a winnable game against a Phoenix Coyotes team that is struggling without Mike Smith.
In the big picture, the Wild are still in a better position than they likely expected to find themselves in, so they can focus on the positive with that eight-game monkey off their backs.
As PHT’s mentioned before, the Florida Panthers stand as a fascinating contrast between youth and experience.
Let’s not kid ourselves, though; fresh faces usually beat out gray beards, at least when it comes to teams that are still trying to build toward contender status.
While it’s by no means official, two Panthers beat writers – the Miami Herald’s George Richards and the Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov – report that the Panthers are likely to pass on Martin Havlat.
It wasn’t just about the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad leading the charge. Other young Panthers (maybe most notably Quinton Howden and Connor Brickley) made the team, thus making Havlat less necessary.
One would assume that it might be tough for the 34-year-old to find work, at least if he insists upon only an NHL deal.
Health issues continue to dog him, but he’s no longer one of those guys who tantalizes with talent when he is healthy enough to play.
Havlat also doesn’t really bring much to the table defensively. While other veterans can kill penalties and show a little more verstaility, Havlat’s greatest selling point is scoring.
Could this be it for a solid career that may nonetheless end with a “What if?” or two?
Considering all of the controversy surrounding the 41-game suspension for Raffi Torres, some might have lost track of the guy who received that hit: Jakob Silfverberg.
The good news is that, at the moment, it seems like he’s OK.
The Anaheim Ducks announced that he skated on his own and will be involved in the team’s next practice:
That falls in line with some of the fall-out from the hit, as head coach Bruce Boudreau let out a relieved “thank goodness” at the young forward seemingly dodging a bullet.
Here’s video of the hit and the suspension decision:
Silfverberg, 24, enjoyed a nice breakout in 2014-15, especially during the playoffs.
Keep in mind that injuries can sometimes crop up later than expected, especially potential head injuries/concussions. Still, it seems like the initial reaction is that the damage was minimal.