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Best Wild Week Ever

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild

 These guys were focused on making last week the Best Wild Week Ever. (cr. Bruce Kluckhohn)
I know what you were thinking. After the Minnesota Wild’s 6-1 loss to Ottawa on Monday night, your first thought was that there was no way that January 16 through January 22 could become the Best Wild Week Ever. Don’t argue with me. I know it was.

Then, you remembered something. This is the Best Wild Week Ever, and all that negative energy will just make our boys stronger.

With three wins over two Original Six teams, you can bet your favorite Teddy Bear that last week was the Best Wild Week Ever…guaranteed!

If you agree, you can surf ahead to check your bank account balance or look for funny Internet videos of a dog battling his own foot. However, if you need further proof, follow along and find out just how we achieved yet another Best Wild Week Ever.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Some days are better than others, but most days are better than this. The Wild hosted the Ottawa Senators, who showed why they are the talk of the National Hockey League this season. The Senators looked like the best team in the NHL on this night, and one would have to think that a lot of it has to do with the familiarity between players they have that were either drafted, or acquired in trades.

The Wild scored first, and then the Senators scored six times. That’s about all we need to say about it at this point. We’ll just wave to the Senators and hope they aren’t on the schedule next year.

If had a weekly feature called “Worst Wild Week Ever,” this would have been a good start. Thankfully, there is no such feature, and plus, we still have six days to turn this thing around and make it the Best Wild Week Ever. I for one think it’s nothing but a formality.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

 Todd White looked like a seasoned veteran in his Call of the Wild debut on Tuesday. (cr. Maggie Kukar)
A funny thing happened on Tuesday. Even though the Wild was soundly beaten by the NHL’s best team the night before, the sun still came up right on schedule on Tuesday.

Obviously, the Wild dressing room at Tuesday’s practice was a bit more subdued than usual, but the players realized the words of hockey fanatic Yoda are so true, “one game does not a season make.”

But a Call of the Wild appearance by Todd White can certainly make someone’s day. White joined host Jeff Grayson at the HALSA Fitness Center in Woodbury and didn’t show a trace of nervousness in his first-ever COTW appearance, answering each question with aplomb and a winning smile.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

We preach positive energy here at BWWE, but we may or may not have felt a severe stomach pain in the

 Blake Alexander may be a superstar, but he’s always happy to oblige the media for interviews.
first period of Wednesday night’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the only team the Wild has never defeated. Less than three minutes into the game, Brian Rolston and Andrei Zyuzin got their wires crossed in the Wild zone and Toronto’s Matt Stajan capitalized on a costly turnover for a 1-0 lead.

Kurtis “Bananaz” Foster erased that deficit with his eighth goal of the season, and that set the stage for Blake Alexander to steal the show during the first intermission as the MVP goalie during the Old Dutch Little Chippers game. Alexander then delivered the interview of the century while remaining in his goalie stance after the game.

The Wild was inspired by Alexander’s performance, because right out of the gate in the second, Wes Walz threw in a goal for a 2-1 lead just 33 seconds in. The Maple Leafs got the equalizer, but Marc Chouinard and Marian Gaborik built the Wild lead up to two. A late goal by Jason Allison caused a feeling of uneasiness inside the building, and that uneasiness developed into heart attack-inducing fear when Andrei Zyuzin took a holding penalty with 53 seconds to play.

Marc Chouinard provided the defibrillators with 22 seconds to go on a sound defensive play, blocking a shot, grabbing the puck, and throwing it down the ice into an empty net.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Wild was refreshed at Thursday’s practice in Minneapolis, having taken a step towards redemption with Wednesday’s big victory.

It was now time to work on the game plan for an upcoming home-and-home series with the Chicago Blackhawks. I have a feeling that the prep work was a success.
Friday, January 20, 2006

 Beating the Chicago Blackhawks twice in one week was a key component of making last week the Best Wild Week Ever. (cr. Bruce Kluckhohn)
The Wild welcomed the Chicago Blackhawks to the Xcel Energy Center for the first time this season. The Hawks were coming off their best performance of the season, having ended the Colorado Avalanche’s eight-game winning streak the night before.

The Wild paid that little mind, taking advantage of some undisciplined play and skating away with a relatively easy 4-1 win. Manny Fernandez continued his Frank Brimsek imitation that he’s been perfecting all year, stopping 31 shots. Kyle Wanvig, Marian Gaborik, “Bananaz”, and Randy Robitaille accounted for the goal support in the Wild’s second consecutive win.

The win capped off the franchise-record seven-game homestand, and although three wins and four losses wasn’t what we all wanted coming in, we admire the strong finish. Plus, we here at BWWE take games one week at a time, and this week is beginning to shape up as the best ever.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

With the lacrosse turf being thrown down over the Xcel Energy Center ice for an upcoming Minnesota Swarm game, the Wild bussed over to Inver Grove Heights in full gear for practice before jetting to the home of Al Capone.

Pascal Dupuis, who participated in most of the skating and shooting drills, provided the brightest light at practice. Dupuis would not accompany the team to Chicago, but the timetable for his return appears to be short and his game appears strong to very strong.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Playing in an arena like the United Center has to make the Wild players appreciate what they have back home. After seven straight home games played in front of more than 18,000 fans, the Wild was now playing in front of a sparse and indifferent Blackhawk crowd that was still trying to figure out what happened to Da Bears last week.

Not surprisingly, the Hawks weren’t exactly amped up to perform for the home crowd, and it showed early as Walz was given a present in recognition of his 500th NHL game. He bagged a gift goal on a 60-foot slapper from the blueline that squeezed through the pads of Adam Munro. “Heavy shot,” Walz said with the slightest hint of sarcasm to the Pioneer Press. “Not much (Munro) could do there.”

Brian Rolston picked up his 19th and 20th goals of the year in the second period, marking the fifth time a Wild player has scored 20 goals in a season. Marian Gaborik’s done it twice while Alexandre Daigle, Pascal Dupuis and Andrew Brunette did it once.

Not only did the Wild get the win, but also Derek Boogaard was able to shut Matthew Barnaby up for a record 10 seconds as he shoved his glove in the antagonist’s mouth during a first period fracas. He then introduced his beer barrel fists to the noggin of Jim Vandermeer in a one-sided second period tangle.

When all was said and done, the Wild had win number three on the week under their belts. That my friends, is how you erase the memory of a 6-1 trouncing and cap off the newest Best Wild Week Ever.

But we’re not done yet; we still have to find out…

…Who had the Best Wild Week Ever?

Manny Fernandez has looked for the BWWE award all season, and like spotting a bouncing puck, he finally found it. (cr. Bruce Kluckhohn)
Manny Fernandez. Fernandez might be having his best year ever, but he has yet to have the Best Wild Week Ever…until now. The Wild netminder rattled off three straight wins last week to up his record to 18-7-3. His career high for wins in a season is 19, which he accomplished in 2000-2001 and 2002-2003. With 34 games to play this year, I have a sneaking suspicion that he’s going to better that total this season.

Fernandez has been patient ever since he came to Minnesota in 2000, and for that, we reward him with his first Best Wild Week Ever award.

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