Two Minny games in a row, I'm glad I didn't have to try to grade that last one against Buffalo - I think Staples was a lot more generous than I would have been. Smid was scratched, MacIntyre played, and Strudwick dropped back to D. One thing that puzzled me was - again - MacTavish's treatment of Penner. I have to admit, I'm a Penner fan, have been since the signing. Last year I wondered why he didn't get any PK time, and this year he's had some, and done ok. Unfortunately, the PK time was at the cost of his PP time, and his points have suffered. Tonight he's benched in the third in favour of Reddox, who wasn't playing any better. In fact, at least Penner was standing in front for Hemsky's goal. Is he hurt? Did he run over MacT's dog? Anyway, I digress.
Horcoff, 7: Only 21:48 for Horcoff tonight, 4:26 on the power play and 3:11 killing penalties. Another strong game with 3 shots on goal, but 3 giveaways to go with. Hard to say much other than a typical hard-working Horcoff game.
Nilsson, 6: Almost 16 minutes on the ice, saw 4:11 of power play time - he got most of Penner's PP time. He was skating hard most of the night and even knocked Boogard over somehow, something I'm sure neither of them were expecting. Took a needless penalty out of it too. Still, he had an assist, but only one shot. He needs to do more if he's going to get that much power play time.
Cogliano, 7: one of the quietest two assist nights I've seen from him. He was decent all over the ice, he had a shot and actually won more faceoffs than he lost. MacTavish rewarded him with icetime; listed as a C on the lineup sheet, I think he played the wing a fair bit too as lines were juggled around.
Moreau, 7: tough all night, no stupid slashing penalties, he crushed Vielleux at the start of the second period, was ready to defend Staios... he made a few mistakes, I hated the Oilers' play near their own blueline in the third and late in the first and nabbed him for a terrible pass then. Still, the pucks went into the right net when he was on the ice.
Potulny, 5: How he played more than Penner and Brodziak is beyond me. 6 shifts in the third. I didn't think he got a great deal done offensively, he wasn't terrible defensively but 3 giveaways including a brutal one to Nolan in the first that forced Roloson to make a great save... the bad didn't outweigh the good, since the player was even, but he was what he is: deserving of fourth line minutes.
Staios, 8: Maybe it's rose-coloured glasses for the old warrior this game, and some sympathy points after a brutal showing vs CBS, but he had it going early. Crushed Veilleux early in the first, held his own against Clutterbuck and skated off screaming for more. 16:18 of icetime, he had 2 giveaways scored against him, but Bullet Magnet had 3 blocked shots to go with. No points, but who cares? He was also good on the PK in the third, with Minny buzzing and Roloson down, he knocked the puck out of the air to take away the 3-2 goal.
Cole, 7: A lotta hustle and a drawn penalty or two, 3 hits, but no points. He wasn't great on the PP, was good enough on the PK. Sort of a Mike Peca game, except with less faceoff mojo. He was on the ice for Visnovsky's PPG, but I'm not sure he had a lot to do with it - it was more just 71's drive to the net and maybe 12's buzzing around.
Penner, 6: Like I said, I like the guy, and his grade reflects his results more than his play, I think. He was instrumental in Hemsky's 1-0 goal - if he's not standing in the crease, Burns isn't playing so desperate and the puck stays out. But it's hard to have anything more than a good game when you only get two shifts in the third and five each in the first two periods. One shot, one credited hit, although he soaked up his usual amount of punishment and cycled well when he got to play with 10/83. An enigma.
MacIntyre, 5: At first every time Boogaard jumped over the boards, so did big #33. Their fight took so long getting started that the linesman was obviously telling them to hurry up or knock it off, but the fight was a decent go by both big men. I scored it a very weak win for Mac, just because he was a bit more active than Boogaard. Two hits, 2:13 of icetime - he did exactly his job.
Grebeshkov, 6: He wasn't high-risk, and actually played fairly well, gobbling up almost 18 minutes of icetime and garnering an assist on Hemsky's goal. Still, I didn't like the hooking penalty he took in the third, although he was otherwise fairly solid most of the game. Call it a strong 6.
Strudwick, 5: A workmanlike game, he took Smid's spot on the blueline almost minute for minute. A few mistakes, but mostly played a simple and effective defensive game.
Souray, 6: -1 on the night, although I didn't tape the game and missed who made the biggest mistake on Sheppard's goal. He got a couple shots off on the PP before the Wild wised up and cheated to him, 4 shotblocks. No points, but he was good defensively and very good on the penalty kill. He played 26:36, including 6:11PP and 3:55PK.
Brodziak, 5: He was out with Horcoff for a lot of d-zone faceoffs; at the start of the game he'd yield for Penner, then later for Reddox. No shots, 2 hits, a give and a take with 60% faceoffs.
Visnovsky, 7: Great determination on his goal, 23:38 of quality icetime and some great PK work. Good game.
Gilbert, 6: 20 minutes of icetime, almost 3 on the power play, and 0 shots isn't good for an offensive dman who doesn't hit. Still, he made some good passes and gobbled up icetime, so hard to complain too much too.
Pouliot, 6: I was surprised to see 4 shots for him, he was at times hard driving the net and others invisible. Started the play that led to Moreau's goal. He even won his faceoff.
Hemsky, 7: 2 shots, 1 goal on a brilliant play and another few great plays that finished nowhere. He was dancing around for parts of the game, but the plays just weren't working. 3 takeaways led all players on both teams. Maybe worthy of an 8.
Reddox, 6: 3 shots and he was skating hard, but I didn't think his chances were dangerous and no goals while he was on the ice. He got more icetime as the game wore on and I wasn't sure he did much with it. He was good enough defensively though.
Roloson, 8: Made some great saves to keep the team up, including a great one (involved some luck, but hey) on Zidlicky as he got the old "out of the penalty box and onto the puck" breakaway. He made another great save in the third on Nolan, and a good one on Miettenen after Potulny coughed the puck up to Nolan in the first. Maybe he didn't steal the win, but he made some great stops.