Myers: Winless through two games, Wild fans must remember it's early
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - It's early. Keep telling yourself that. In fact, compared to last season, which started in late January, it's really, really early.
True, the Minnesota Wild are winless - but not pointless - after two games. And it's true that the start of this season is starting to look alarmingly like the end of last season, with the Wild often dominating very strong opponents, and losing. But it's early.
"The start just killed us," Wild defenseman Keith Ballard said, after recording his first point with the team in Saturday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks. "I'm not ready to get frustrated. It's a long year. There are a few imperfections in our game right now. I just think the start wasn't there."
By "the start" he means not the first two games of the season, in which the Wild are now 0-0-2, he means the start of this game. The Wild fell behind 2-0 and 3-1 to the desperate Ducks, before rallying for a 3-3 tie and producing one of the craziest final minutes of overtime that we've seen in a long time. Before Mathieu Perreault ended things for Anaheim with a goal in the final five seconds of sudden death, both teams had 2-on-1 chances to score, bringing the crowd to its feet more than once.
Nearly 50 years after the NHL first came to Southern California, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau knows they're still introducing the game to many fans in the L.A. basin, and although it bothered him from a tactical standpoint, he admitted the entertainment value of the final 60 seconds.
"I don't want to see it, but it sure is good for hockey," Boudreau said. "They could show that last minute in the highlights all day long and I think people would say, 'hey, I've got to see that sport.' The average fan's not looking at how many dumb mistakes there were."
For the Wild, the dumb mistakes started early, as defensive breakdowns and less-than-stellar goaltending, at times, from Niklas Backstrom had them playing from behind most of the night. They also lost second line center Charlie Coyle to a lower body injury, which coaches feel may keep him out of the lineup for the coming week. Still, it's early.
"I'm not going to say I'm concerned about this play, I'm not going to say anything bad about anybody right now," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "We're two games into the season. I'm not going to sit here and try to paint a pretty picture of anything, I'm not going to try to do that, but like I said, there's positives in the game and right now for me is the time to point to those, and anything that we think needs to get picked up we'll pick it up inside closed doors."
The Wild are scoring goals (five in two games) and the first power play unit has looked scary effective. They got a pair of goals from Zach Parise and another from Jason Pominville. They've out-played and out-shot two opponents with long playoff runs in the last few years. They just haven't won one yet. There are three more winnable games on the horizon (a one-game road trip to face new Central Division rival Nashville, followed by home games with Winnipeg and Dallas).
So don't get too excited. Hey, it's early.