Watched the Wild at 3 AM on my DVR. Don’t ask me why I was up, I was just glad to have something to do at that hour. Here are some quick, random thoughts on the game:
1. Darcy Kuemper looked very solid. He wasn’t facing THE Penguins, but 32 saves can’t be sneezed at, and the play he made on Steve Downie in the third period was top notch. Most importantly, he played a quiet game. My biggest criticism of Kuemper’s game last year was a tendency to overplay pucks at times, which is bad form for most goalies, particularly those that push 6’5″ and have spider legs. I didn’t see anything like that on Monday, which is a great sign. If you are counting, Darcy has now stopped 45 of 47 preseason shots. You can probably cancel that tryout contract now, Ilya.
2. Thomas Vanek did not. Fair play, it was a) just one game and b) Vanek’s first game at the XCel Energy Center, but he looked fairly hesitant on the ice. Overall, the line of Coyle-Koivu-Vanek didn’t look the strongest, and raises some major speed concerns.
3. Matt Dumba has won a job in my eyes. It’s tough to gauge him vs. Folin. They don’t play the same type of game, and Dumba’s style will get noticed more, as he’s a much more active puck carrier, among other things. That being said, Dumba stood out for the right reasons for a second straight game. Sharp passing, good positioning for the most part (the worst aspect of his game in the past). He looks ready. Folin, remember, has one NHL game to his credit, heading to the minors shouldn’t be seen as a failure.
4. Pittsburgh’s broadcasting team is atrocious. I know many people have trouble dealing with the homerism frequently displayed by Anthony LaPanta and Mike Greenlay, for good reason, but next to Paul Steigerwald and Bob Errey they look like Al Michaels and Bob Costas teaming up.* Play-by-play man Steigerwald literally gave so little attention to the Wild that he called them the Lightning in the third period. He felt so bad about the mistake that he did it again 45 seconds later before finally apologizing. He then tried to cover it up by mentioning how many players on the ice played for the Lightning at some point in their careers (there were two, Stephane Veilleux and Steve Downie, in case you care). That’s teeth-grindingly inexcusable.
5. A win, but a sloppy win. Remember, these weren’t THE Penguins. Evgeni Malkin hasn’t played at all, and Sidney Crosby missed the game to attend his grandmothers funeral (he would have played, otherwise). Also missing were Olli Maata, Brandon Sutter, Rob Scuderi, Simon Despres and Marc-Andre Fleury (quit giggling, he’s still the best goalie they have). On a night where the Wild were a Spurgeon and a Niederreiter away from essentially a full-strength team, they were sloppy in possession, especially in their own zone, and out-shot 33-18.
*And no, I don’t mean like when they teamed up in Baseketball.