It’s been about a month and a half since the Wild acquired Guilluame Latendresse from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for former Wild first round draft pick Benoit Pouliot and about a month since I wrote about Guilluame’s first couple of weeks as a member of the Wild. Well, in the last month Latendresse has notched an impressive 8 goals, 4 assists, and a plus 4 rating. Also, since December 15th Latendresse leads the NHL with 8 even-strength goals. Consider me officially on the Latendresse bandwagon. As if his consistent play and much needed physicality weren’t enough to win me over he has sealed the deal with the unbelievable game he had on Saturday night against the Blackhawks. **Believe it or not, I started writing this article prior to his 1 goal, 3 assist effort against the swooning Penguins, updated statistics are reflected above.**
Against all odds the tenacious Wild fought their way back from a 4 goal deficit after two periods to beat the NHL best Blackhawks in a stunning shootout victory in front of a season high 19,310 attendance at the crazed Xcel Energy Center. I have the honor of saying I was in attendance on Saturday night for what could be considered one of the greatest regular season Wild games in their 9 seasons of existence. If it sounds like I’m bragging it’s because I am. Easily one of the most fun hockey games I’ve been to, ever! Credit where credit is due, there was an impressive contingent of ‘Hawks fans at the game that braved the single digit temperatures to watch their squad lose in a colossal meltdown.
The Wild left the ice after the second period to a chorus of boos and deserved every one of them. However, like they’ve done so many times this season they came back with a brilliant third period effort and managed to steal points in a game they would typically have lost. In fact, this season the Wild have trailed in 14 of their 23 wins. One of those wins being a comeback from a 3-0 deficit in the home opener against the Anaheim Ducks. Latendresse contributed two game tying goals on Saturday, the first goal to tie the score and 1-1 and again to draw the score even at 5-5 with 1:33 left to play in the third period. As a hockey fan that was all together unfamiliar with The Tenderness in Montreal it is almost impossible to believe that Latendresse was thought to be incapable of putting things together for the Canadiens. I guess their loss is our gain, but in all fairness Benoit Pouliot is seemingly more comfortable in his new surroundings than he ever was in Minny. In the last 9 games Pouliot has scored 4 goals including a game winner. It would appear that both teams are reaping the benefits of this mid-season trade, with an obvious edge to the Wild thus far.
As I mentioned above, I started writing this article prior to the Monday night tilt on VS. between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Minnesota Wild. Wow, either I’m omniscient or Latendresse is good enough to light up the scoreboard night in and night out. My lack of success playing the lottery and propensity for losing my keys is all the evidence you need to prove that I’m am in fact not omniscient. With an impressive 4 point night against the current Stanley Cup Champions, Latendresse has shown his mettle on a national stage. Hopefully, people will start realizing that he is the real deal. OK, he’s not going to win an Art Ross Trophy any time soon, but at the very least he deserves some consideration on your fantasy hockey team. In Yahoo leagues he has dual-eligibility at left wing and right wing. In ESPN leagues he is only eligible at RW, but any production is welcome at the shallow right wing position. Please, in deeper leagues give Guilluame a test run. If you can start 2 or more RW’s and have a roster size of 15+ skaters in leagues of 10 or more teams you need to allow your team to benefit from The Tenderness. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…twice.