Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Can I Get Some Love For Chad Rau?

On Saturday afternoon, Wild Center Warren Peters delivered an illegal cross check to the head of St Louis Captain David Backes. NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan came down on Peters handing him a one game suspension, which left an open spot on the Wild roster for Sunday’s game against Boston. Enter Chad Rau, called up from Houston for Sunday’s game (His second stint with the Wild this year), and he did not disappoint.

In front of a national audience, Rau broke a scoreless tie with the defending champs in the second period as he broke out on a 2 on 1 with D-Man Marco Scandella and wristed a shot past Thomas just inside the left faceoff circle. It was Rau’s 2nd goal in 5 games played this season (His first came on Hockey Day Minnesota against Dallas). On the season Rau holds a line of 2-0-2 and is a +2. But stats don’t tell the entire story here.

If you watched Sunday’s game, you should of come away very impressed by Rau’s performance. He had just the one goal, but he was given nearly three minutes more of ice time than he averaged in his first stint with the club, due to his stellar play in both ends of the ice.

Mike Yeo was so impressed by Rau’s performance after the game he noted this to the media, “I thought his D-zone coverage was very strong. I thought his puck execution was very good. He knows when to make a smart play and when to make more of a skilled play. And I was impressed with his puck strength.” (Quote courtesy of Mike Russo)

As I mentioned on Twitter Sunday, Chad Rau was a breath of fresh air on a team full of dead air on Sunday. And with all that said, one has to believe that he would be sticking around for most of, if not all of, the remainder of the season, mainly as the fourth line center.

Rau does what Mike Yeo is looking for from the rest of his squad: He plays hard, he plays smart, and he takes care of the little things that helps the team win. If he can continue to do that, he will not only finish out the year in a Wild uniform, it should also help him remain in one for the next season as well. And with any luck, his hard play can rub off on his teammates too, and propel us back to those winning ways.

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