In my continuing efforts to provide you with complete Wild playoff coverage, today I offer a guest column, from a hockey guru I'll call "Hat Trick":
I have no problem with the Wild losing, Anaheim was the significantly better team. In feeling bad about the irony that they scored the winner so shortly after we had a couple of good chances don't forget that they had rather a lot more "could've beens" then we did.
Our defensive corps proved to be exactly what we were worried about - pretty good, but no better. There is still not a single great defenseman there. Burns may be a year or two from being a great one, Foster's progress has slowed drastically, but he still may prove to be "very good" - in a year or two. Carney is solid, Schultz at best is pretty good and his weaknesses are exposed by Anaheim's speed. Johnsson is good, but flaky, bad penalties and little offensive spark. And Skoula - plays pretty good positionally, but handles the puck like he doesn't want it AND doesn't know what to do with it anyway. He's not terrible - but he just doesn't have any confidence it seems like. I don't hate any of them like I hated Kuba, Sekaras and Zyuzin (sometimes) but that crew isn't good enough to win a Stanley Cup.
The forwards looked nervous - Rolston was like a hyperactive kid and was just as productive as one. And how many times would he have been able to clobber someone with a clean check...and he doesn't.
The shots of the bench were very telling I thought. Grim, serious faced, they looked nervous to me. Maybe it takes a game to get them over the jitters.
Seemed like every pass Anaheim made was sharp and on target, how many times did Wild passes look like they had been tipped even if they hadn't? Wobbly little flips across ice.
I don't know why Demitra gets no respect from the officials, I'm tired of seeing him run down from behind and elbowed in mid-ice.
All in all a pretty good game, but they are definitely tougher, at least a hair faster and their defensive corp is head and shoulders above ours.