Best Wild Week Ever
October 24-October 30
Okay, I'll freely admit that this title is eerily similar to the title of a humor show on VH1, where comedians poke fun of just about everybody in the pop culture world. The show recaps the past week in the news of entertainment and zaniness.
Well, this column does not serve to make fun anybody, but it does serve to tell you why the week of October 24 through October 30 was the Best Wild Week Ever. And, we'll tell you who, in particular, is having the Best Wild Week Ever.
Granted, the Wild were 1-1-1 over the past seven days, but that doesn't mean it wasn't the Best Wild Week ever. Let's recap it, shall we?
Monday, October 24, 2005
Wild fans couldn't help but have a "case of the Mondays" on this day. Not only were the skies gray and the air a biting cold, but the news worsened when we opened up the morning newspapers. We read that Marian Gaborik re-aggravated his nagging groin injury after scoring two goals in a 4-2 loss at Chicago. This was not what we needed to read, considering Gaborik had scored two goals and four assists in just eight periods since his return from his original injury.
At practice, news was a little confusing, and it was tough to know what to think. What was thought to be a re-injury to the groin was actually diagnosed as a strained hip flexor. What does this news mean? Should we feel relieved that it wasn't the groin again? Or do we cringe, knowing that a strained hip flexor isn't the same as an in-grown toenail?
Here's the thing about an injury to your star player: the day after is the most stressful time frame. You start to worry about when he'll be back. You worry about how the team will react. You worry about where the goal scoring will come from. You worry about Gabby himself, who has already gone through so much in his young career. It's so obvious that he just wants to get out there and play again.
The next day, you move on. You realize that there is nothing that can be done, but to cheer on the players we have. Then, you start thinking about how well the team performed in the past without the aforementioned star. Finally, you hope for the best, and look forward to his return. Gabby will be back, but while he's out, life will go on, and so will the Wild.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
At the morning skate, we find out that not only will Gaborik be out for tonight's match up with Vancouver, but so will Filip Kuba, Alex Henry and Pascal Dupuis. That's a heaping helping of leadership absent against arguably the best team in the Western Conference.
The rest of the boys in Forest Green and Iron Range Red mustered a valiant performance against the 'Nucks, but it was not enough in a 3-1 loss. Sometimes, the dragon defeats the brave knight, and that's what happened on this night.
Still, Wild fans were comforted when they learned that the new Wild.com powered by Comcast was launched. There were early reports of spontaneous parades breaking out from Willmar to Grand Marais with news of the new website. It's got a new look. It's got more video. It's going to be more fun. And it will continue to get better! What more could anybody want?
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Wild players were given Wednesday off of practice to lick their wounds and get healthy. Quite frankly, the day off couldn't have come at a better time. The boys had just played three games in four nights. They were bruised and weary. It was a splendid time for a one day hiatus.
No reports in as far as what the players did on their day off. Perhaps they browsed some thrift shops for a Halloween costume. They may have taken in the Paul McCartney concert at the Xcel Energy Center. Or, like me, perhaps they watched some baseball and wondered, how the Chicago White Sox could possibly be the best team in baseball. Seriously, how can this be?! The same team that gloriously choked every August and played second fiddle to the Twins for the past four years was now the World Series Champion? What ever happened to getting into the playoffs and losing for a couple years before getting a crack at ... whoa, sorry, went off on a bit of a tangent there and forgot that this is a hockey website.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
The Wild departed for Columbus, Ohio where they prepared for Friday's game against the BlueJackets. No real news came out of Columbus on this day, but then again, no news has come out of this state since last year's presidential election.
Back at Wild headquarters, a going-away party was held for Jason Duffy, the Event Manager of the Xcel Energy Center who was recently called into service for our Armed Forces. Former co-workers wished Jason well, and shared stories filled with hilarity. The highlight came when someone asked, "Who can ever be better than Jason at saying, 'I'm very sorry that person threw up on you. I'm sure they didn't mean it,' and still holding a straight face?"
Good luck to you Jason, and thanks for everything you do for us.
Friday, October 28, 2005
The Minnesota Wild took part in the club's first-ever shootout, and it didn't end the way the State of Hockey legion would have hoped. The eight-round shootout seemed to last as long as the first three periods combined.
The game was just the Wild's 11th of the season, so why did this one feel like losing in Game Seven of the Western Conference Finals? Probably because goaltender Dwayne Roloson deserved a better fate after an amazing 51 save performance, that had Columbus players slamming their sticks against the boards in disgust. He then stopped six of seven Columbus breakaways before Trevor Letowski finally ended the charade with a wrist shot that barely eluded our beloved "Roli."
Saturday, October 29, 2005
The Wild didn't have long to ponder the heartbreaker in Ohio, because they were right back in action against the BlueJackets less than 24 hours later. This time, the setting was the friendly confines of the Xcel Energy Center. And, this time, the Wild were firing on all cylinders. Todd White picked up a pair of goals. Manny Fernandez was on his game, yet again. The defensive corps yielded very little in the way of scoring chances and the special teams were downright special.
It was a well-deserved win for the team, and for Wild fans, who needed to end the week on a good note, considering how it all started on Monday morning.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Unlike the Vikings, the Wild were back at work on Sunday, hitting the Xcel Energy Center ice for one more practice before a four-game trip out west.
That brings us to who had the Best Wild Week Ever...
Dwayne Roloson. "Roli" was everywhere last week. On Wednesday, he joined Wes Walz on a hospital visit to Children's Hospital in St. Paul where he brightened the day of the youngsters there by signing autographs and talking with the patients.
His good deed led to good karma two days later in his only starting appearance of the week. Roloson was sensational on Friday night against the BlueJax. He made 51 saves through regulation and overtime. He didn't get the win, but he received hero status for a night because of his supreme efforts.
Roloson capped off his week with an appearance at a local Byerly's, sponsored by Coca-Cola. "Roli" is a popular guy, but the affection for him among the State of Hockey legion likely tripled after this week, though I have no statistical evidence to back this up. Doesn't matter. Dwayne Roloson is having the Best Wild Week Ever!