The Wild was 20 minutes shy of finishing the week off with three wins, but a nightmarish third period in Ohio led to the club’s first loss since January 16.
Still this week included wins over Phoenix and Nashville to go with four Wells Fargo player appearances on Wednesday, plus a fifth Wild player being named to a 2006 Olympic Team.
If I’m not mistaken, those are key ingredients to making last week the Best Wild Week Ever. If you’ll take a moment to recap the week that was January 23 through January 29, I have no doubts that you’ll wholeheartedly agree with me.
Monday, January 23, 2006
Fresh off a nice little road victory in Chicago on Sunday, the Wild was back at home the next day to prepare for the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday night. Our boys were having fun, telling jokes and working hard at the same time during practice at the Xcel Energy Center. The memory of the Ottawa loss a week before was…wait a minute, why would I even mention that? I apologize; we must continue to focus on the recent past, not the distant past.
Following Wild practice, it was time for the pretenders to take over as Minnesota Wild employees took the ice for an intra-office scrimmage. The Wild front office has its share of stick masters including Jamie Spencer, the Wild’s Senior Director of Customer Sales and Service, who spent four years wearing a red and white jersey in hockey purgatory, also known as Madison, Wisconsin.
But the guy turning heads on this day was Dewayne Hankins, the Wild’s Creative Services coordinator, who just took up hockey this year. Hankins was previously known for his ability to turn an EPS file into a jpeg with the flick of his index finger. He’s now known for his knack of embarrassing goaltenders with a flick of the wrists.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
| Coyotes D-man Keith Ballard would tell you how intense Tuesday’s game was, as long as he can still breathe regularly. (cr. Bruce Kluckhohn) |
The first game of the week brought a visit from the Great One, but enough about Clay Matvick. We’ve got to get to the big, big game between the Minnesota Wild and the Phoenix Coyotes. The two teams came into the night in a tie for 10th place in the Western Conference, but that was guaranteed not to last past 9:30 PM.
The intensity of this game had that tinge of playoff urgency, as these two teams fought tooth and nail for an edge. They traded goals, and on occasion, punches. Captain Willie Mitchell earned some serious respect among his shipmates when he reacted to a crunching hit by Shane Doan on Andrei Zyuzin that left the Wild defenseman bloodied on the ice.
Whether you’re a fan of NHL fights or not, one had to admire the way Mitchell stood up for his fallen comrade by pummeling Doan for his bloodying hit.
That got the fans going, but Brian Rolston’s rocket slap shot that beat Brian Boucher during a third period penalty kill set the roof ablaze. The Wild hung on despite a depleted defensive corps that was missing Henry and Zyuzin, as well as Mitchell for an extended period of time. The final score was 3-2, and the final verdict…this is quickly becoming the Best Wild Week Ever.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
A day at home in between games makes for a golden opportunity to get the players out on the town to meet their adoring fans. Of course, there are so many Wild fans spread out around the state, so the W’s did their best to scatter amongst themselves, allowing them to touch as many hearts as possible.
Brent Burns, Alex Henry, Dwayne Roloson and Todd White each visited a different Twin Cities Wells Fargo branch for two hours of autograph signing and mingling. By all accounts (meaning Corporate Services Senior Manager Kathleen Borschke), the events were rip-roaring successes for the fans, the players, and for Wells Fargo.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
| Daniel Tjarnqvist was on the ice for the entire two minutes of Nashville’s 5-on-3, better known as "The Kill." |
If the Wild wanted a fifth consecutive win, it would have to get by one of the best in the west, the Nashville Predators, who had just won two games in two nights against the mighty Detroit Red Wings.
The Wild grabbed a 2-0 lead after one period, but the Predators appeared poised to knot the score after a Greg Johnson goal, followed by Mikko Koivu and Derek Boogaard getting called for penalties on the same play in the second period. A 5-on-3 Nashville advantage could have yielded disaster, but all it did was etch a memory in Wild history that will simply be known as “The Kill.”
Less than a minute after Koivu and Boogaard burst from the sin bin, Pierre-Marc Bouchard ripped a shot into the top shelf for a 3-1 lead, which was padded by goals from Todd “Trey” White and Marian Gaborik.
There you have it, a five game winning streak, and proof positive that we are smack dab in the middle of the Best Wild Week Ever.
Friday, January 27, 2006
The day started out just fine and dandy. First of all, it was Friday, which is always a feather in the cap. Second, we were still collectively beaming from a big win over the Preds. Then, we get official word from the homeland that defenseman Daniel Tjarnqvist has been added to Team Sweden for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. All was right with the world.
Later that evening, the Wild was battling the Columbus Bluejackets inside Nationwide Arena, which has never been a popular destination among Wild players. Nevertheless, the Wild jumped out to a 3-1 lead after two periods thanks to two goals and an assist from White. We were a measly 20 minutes shy of making this week the uber-Best Wild Week Ever.
Alas, some costly penalties led to three unanswered goals by the BlueJax, and the five-game winning streak was kaput. That’s OK, as the knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail said after his arms and legs were chopped off, “Tis but a flesh wound!”
Saturday, January 28, 2006
| Where would we be without mufflers? We certainly wouldn’t be able to listen to iPod’s. |
Saturday was supposed to be the much-anticipated debut of the Wild Pond Hockey Championships on beautiful Lake Phalen in St. Paul. Unfortunately, due to Sahara-like temperatures throughout our great state, the tournament was postponed until the weekend of February 4-5.
As they say, every cloud has a silver lining, and there were plenty of clouds on this dreary, rainy day. So what better way to spend it than watching a brand new episode of Minnesota Wild Country on KSTC.TV Channel 45 and 12 every Saturday at 5:30 PM?
Quite honestly, this was the first time I got a chance to watch the show, and I gave it two very enthusiastic thumbs WAY up! Hosted by the venerable Matvick, it was almost like a Best Wild Week Ever with moving pictures. After the weekly recap, there was a segment on Wild players drafted in the first round and other news from around the NHL.
My favorite segment was “Two Minutes In The Box” with Anne Hutchinson and Todd White. It was a rapid-fire question and answer session, and Todd did quite will except on the last question, when he said the best invention was the iPod.
Oh Todd, everybody knows that the iPod is the second best invention behind the car muffler. Could you imagine if we didn’t have mufflers? Our hands would become permanently attached to our ears!
Sunday, January 29, 2006
You may have guessed that due to the Pond Hockey Championships being cancelled on Saturday, they were subsequently cancelled on Sunday as well. We have to be optimistic that Mother Nature will bless our state with frigid conditions this week, especially since I’ll be on the Wild road trip in San Jose and Phoenix. Bring on the sub-zero temperatures!
Now that I’ve gotten everyone in Minnesota to erase any doubt about whether or not they despise me, I’ll tell you…
…Who had the Best Wild Week Ever?
| Feel free to pump that fist Mr. Rolston. You are having the Best Wild Week Ever! (cr. Bruce Kluckhohn) |
Brian Rolston. The Wild’s leading scorer has had his share of memorable weeks this season. Last week was his best ever, unless you count his wedding day and the birth of his three children. And the time he won a national championship or the Stanley Cup was probably pretty special too.
But in any of those weeks, did Rolston pick up two points in every game? I didn’t think so (actually, he may have, but I know he didn’t do it in a Wild jersey). Rolston bagged two goals on Tuesday, two assists on Thursday, and two more helpers on Friday. If my math skills serve me correctly, that’s a whopping six points in just three games. That kind of production earns you the distinction of having the Best Wild Week Ever.