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Best Wild Week Ever

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild

I know, I know. It may be a bit of a reach to say that a week with zero Wild wins in three games was the Best Wild Week Ever. But, we must delve beneath the surface people. There was just so much more to last week than a couple of heartbreaking shootout losses.

For example, another edition of Hockey Unplugged, a milestone night for a Wild original, and a brand new captain all contributed to the Best Wild Week Ever. Plus, even when the Wild lose three games, they still picked up two points. Now that’s something to hang your hat on.

Let us share some time together and recap the Best Wild Week Ever, shall we?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Randy Robitaille and Kurtis Foster appeared at Babe’s in Lakeville for the always-entertaining Wild Hockey Unplugged, featuring Wild radio producer, Kevin Falness. Despite some less than ideal driving conditions, the fans came out in droves to spend some time with “Bananaz” Foster. The newcomer was more than gracious in answering fan questions and playing trivia games, but he was unwilling to predict a scoring title and an ensuing Calder Trophy for himself at the end of the season. You have to admire the modesty of the young scoring sensation.

Click Here for an audio recap of Wild hockey unplugged provided by Mr. Falness himself.

Meanwhile, Robitaille touched on how much he enjoys the fans in Minnesota. And he has plenty of NHL fans to compare them to, including Boston, Nashville, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, New York and Atlanta. Those cities may have clam chowder, country music, famous celebrities, Troy Polamalu, the Empire State Building or Jermaine Dupri, but they don’t have the Greatest Hockey Fans in the world.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Wild squeezed in one more practice as the schedule was about to shift from “Merry-Go-Round” mode, to “Wild Thing” mode, in a matter of 24 hours. Minnesota had played a measly three games in a 15-day span, but the upcoming Wednesday game against Columbus was the start of a brutal stretch of 11 games in 20 days.

Tuesday’s practice was a sight for sore eyes, as every single player on the Wild roster was out on the ice, and in good spirits. There wasn’t a soul in the trainer’s room, or riding the exercise bike, except for Wild media relations rookie Wayne Carlson, who is diligently working on achieving “guru” status.

The optimism was high for the week to develop into the happiest, healthiest Best Wild Week Ever.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

 Rookie goaltender Pascal Leclaire did not do his part to make this the Best Wild Week Ever.
The first game action of the week saw the Columbus Bluejackets make their way inside Xcel Energy Center. These Bluejackets were acting as if someone whacked their hive with a Koho in the first period, storming out to a 2-0 lead.

The Wild chipped away relentlessly at the two-goal deficit, and despite a superb performance by the young Pascal Leclaire in goal, the Wild tied the game up in the third period on a pretty tip by Randy Robitaille.

The W’s had “Big Mo” on their side, but two penalties in overtime nixed the chances of winning in a game situation. The teams headed to the first-ever shootout at the Xcel Energy Center. Jaroslav Balastik, owner of a sweet hockey name, was also the owner of the only shootout goal on the night. Leclaire put the clamps down on the Wild shooters, and Minnesota picked up one more point to close out the month of November.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

The Wild has had its troubles in the second game of back-to-back nights, and Thursday night’s 2-1 loss in Nashville was no exception. The Preds proved they are hockey’s “Real Deal,” exacting revenge on Minnesota, who handed Nashville one of its four regulation losses back on November 19.

“Bananaz” Foster continued to haunt the Preds, scoring his fourth goal of the year, and third against Nashville. Dwayne Roloson was also brilliant, stopping 44 of 46 shots, but that was it as far as highlights go. Sometimes, the dragon wins.

Friday, December 2, 2005

The big news coming out of New Jersey on Friday was the naming of Willie Mitchell as team captain. Mitchell has always been a fan favorite since being shipped to Minnesota from New Jersey in a trade for previous captain Sean O’Donnell, near the end of the 2000 season.

Since then, Mitchell has won our hearts by cracking jokes in the locker room, immersing himself in the community, and owning Todd Bertuzzi in the 2003 Western Conference semifinals. Mitchell has always coveted the role of team captain, and it couldn’t have gone to a nicer, or tougher blueliner.

Saturday, December 3, 2005

The Wild brought its proverbial “A” game to Continental Airlines Arena on Saturday afternoon to face the New Jersey Devils, and Martin Brodeur’s A-plus game. Sometimes, even the most inspired effort of the season doesn’t lead to two points when a goaltender like Brodeur is between the pipes. At least the superior Wild effort led to one point in, yet another, shootout disappointment.

Minnesota fired a season-high 39 shots on the Devils future Hall of Famer, and a win appeared to be in hand after two third period goals by Brian Rolston and Andrei Zyuzin. But, Viktor Kozlov erased the 2-1 lead late in the third period.

A highly entertaining, yet scoreless overtime led to the second shootout of the week, in which Kozlov scored again, and the Wild found it difficult to pound shots directly through Brodeur.

Oh well, live and learn. Minnesota did get a point, and some momentum after an up-tempo, mostly mistake-free game.

Sunday, December 4, 2005

The conclusion of a winless Wild week gave fans a chance to shift their focus to football for a day. And the Vikings came through, getting past the miserable Detroit Lions, and making the playoffs look more and more like reality. The previously dead-in-the-water Vikings deserve a collective fist bump for providing just enough of a boost in making the week of November 28 through December 4, the Best Wild Week Ever.

Now then, let’s find out who had the Best Wild Week Ever.

Who had the Best Wild Week Ever?

Congratulations Tony, You are having the Best Wild Week Ever!
Tony Dacosta. The Wild’s head equipment manager worked his 1,000th NHL game on Thursday night in Nashville. Dacosta started out in hockey 25 years ago as a stick boy in Winnipeg Arena, working for the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets! He showed his loyalty (and love of the sun) by staying with the organization when it moved to Phoenix, before migrating to Minnesota prior to the Wild’s inaugural season.

The team members recognized Dacosta’s accomplishment by donning T-shirts prior to Thursday’s game that featured logos of the Jets, the Coyotes, and the Wild.

When you spend 25 years sharpening skates, sewing up jerseys and cleaning sweaty hockey equipment 1,000 games, you too will be recognized as having the Best Wild Week Ever.

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