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Best Wild Week Ever

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild

 Jarkko Ruutu in his most comfortable surroundings. (cr. Jeff Vinnick)
Matt Cooke and Jarkko Ruutu can jab, and hook players on the ice from the bench, and trash talk, and whine, and knee, and turtle, and hide behind 5-foot-7 referees all they want.

It may make us want to rip our hair out and burn it, but we’re better than that. It takes a lot more than two one-goal losses and a couple of cheap-shot artists to deter us from having the Best Wild Week Ever.

Let us not forget that we also got two big wins over teams sitting just ahead of us in the Western Conference standings, not to mention some festive player appearances featuring Randy Robitaille, Alex Henry and Marian Gaborik. To top it off, we welcomed a brand new member to the Wild family.

It all amounts to the State of Hockey legion experiencing yet another Best Wild Week Ever. Should you disagree and think you may need to check my research, feel free. Before you go out and get some hair plugs, read below to recap February 6 through 12, or as it is now known, the Best Wild Week Ever.

Monday, February 6, 2006

We weren’t messing around at the beginning of this week. The Wild brought in the heavy hitters to get this week started off right. The only way to wipe away those Monday blahs in early February is to heat things up with a Hockey Unplugged appearance featuring Alex Henry, Marian Gaborik and Kevin Falness.

A record crowd turned out to see Falness in action, and, in fact, the place was so packed that some had to be turned away at the door, unfortunately. Those who got inside were treated to revelry from the special guests, as well as an autograph session that quickly turned into a Beatles appearance circa 1969. You don’t need to read all about it though. If you missed it, let Falness tell the story to you by clicking here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

The Wild built off a strong Unplugged appearance on Tuesday when it welcomed the Los Angeles Kings to the Xcel Energy Center for the first time this season. It wasn’t what you might term a “warm” welcome, as the boys kicked the Crowns to the curb with a 5-1 thumping thanks to a team-record five power play goals.

Pascal Dupuis and Gaborik were responsible for two of those tallies, and Brian Rolston picked up another in a contest the Wild never trailed, and never really felt threatened.

Dupuis’ second tally of the night (which can be viewed here) will go down as a candidate for goal of the year. He, along with Gaborik, Rolston and Wes Walz, looked like the Harlem Globetrotters on skates with a tape-to-tape passing display that had King’s players reaching for Pepto Bismol on the bench.

The Kings were once thought to be shoo-ins for the postseason, but a recent slump has them within striking distance of the Wild after this one. If that’s not cause for tabbing this as an early favorite for the Best Wild Week Ever, I don’t know what is.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Randy Robitaille missed Tuesday’s win because of food poisoning, but you would have had to chain him to his bed to keep him from appearing at The Bierstube for the season’s final taping of Call of the Wild.

After fielding some softball questions from host, Jeff Grayson, Robitaille took some hard-hitting queries from the fans, including one from a youngster who wanted to know how many sticks the Wild forward has broken this year.

That is the kind of hard-hitting journalism we need in these parts, and quite frankly, the type of questions those slackers should be asking.

Thursday, February 9, 2006

As the season matures, the games just keep getting more and more important, and Thursday’s contest against the Colorado Avalanche was no different. The Wild’s last home game until March 5 was a biggie, considering the Avs were the closest playoff team to the Wild, ahead by just five points.

Who would have thought we would be longing for the days of Patrick Roy? David Aebischer, who apparently is having an “off” year, looked like Frank Brimsek all night long, repeatedly robbing the Wild coffers on scoring chance after scoring chance.

Todd White finally solved the Swiss sensation, scoring yet another clutch goal midway through the third period to tie the score at 1-1, and a victory seemed near. Was it not for Joe Sakic and his penchant for tormenting us, we’d cut this Best Wild Week Ever short because we wouldn’t need further justification. But Sakic capitalized on one Wild mistake by firing a laser wrist shot past Manny Fernandez for the game-winner.

Leave it to Joe Sakic to plant doubts in our heads that this may not be the Best Wild Week Ever. A weekend usually helps to put us over the hump, so let’s see if that was the case this week.
Friday, February 10, 2006

 In a week that features a game against the Vancouver Canucks, you begin to find respect for players like Georges Laraque, who won’t shy away from The Boogeyman. (cr. Andy Devlin)
Edmonton, Alberta, the home of bitter columnists who get their kicks on blasting the Wild’s “boring” style of play. That’s where the Wild found itself one night after the loss to Colorado, looking to narrow the gap with another division rival, the Oilers.

Ho hum. The Wild scored six goals to up their season total to 14 tallies in three games at Rexall Place. Pierre-Marc Bouchard piled up a career-high four points on two goals 16 seconds apart, and two helpers. Marc Chouinard, Pascal Dupuis, Andrei Zyuzin and Wes Walz accounted for the other goals. Booooaaarrrr-ing!

Dwayne Roloson was solid; making 23 saves to earn his first win since his epic performance in Detroit on January 3.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Wild stayed overnight in Edmonton on Friday night, and then jetted west to beautiful Vancouver, where the boys held one final practice before the Olympic break. According to the Star Tribune, Brian Rolston wore red, white and blue gloves to get used to the equipment he’ll be wearing in a matter of days while playing for Team USA at the Olympics.

The big story out of practice was Todd White getting hit in the mouth with a puck from an Alex Henry shot. The incident certainly wasn’t funny, but with nothing but a swollen lip, the trepidation turned to laughs. White was given the new nickname of “Bubba” (of Forrest Gump fame), and that my friends, is funny ha-ha. You always need a little humor to throw into the Best Wild Week Ever.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Sunday marked the sixth time the Wild faced the Vancouver Canucks this season, but it was the first time since the Canucks played their final game at the Xcel Energy Center. Sure enough, that meant firing cheap shot after cheap shot at Marian Gaborik and other Wild players and then ducking for cover at the site of Derek Boogaard.

I’m not bitter.

The Wild didn’t come out with its best performance of the season, but it did get a point, thanks to goals by Walz and Dupuis. In overtime, Daniel and Henrik Sedin hooked up on a play they likely perfected on the driveway in Sweden after their dad moved the Volkswagen. Their yo-yoing resulted in a goal, and the only pretty play of the entire game to end the week and start the most despicable sight of Canuck players and fans celebrating a win.

It was certainly not the ideal way to end the week, but it was definitely not enough to hamper the Best Wild Week Ever. After all, when you realize we don’t have anyone named Cooke or Ruutu on our team, you’ll realize that every week is the Best Wild Week Ever.

I feel like I forgot something…Ah yes! We have to find out…

…Who had the Best Wild Week Ever?

 Hugs all around for Daddy Dupuis, who had the Best Wild Week Ever. (cr. Bruce Kluckhohn)
Pascal Dupuis. Dupuis wins this week’s award going away…literally. If anyone deserves a couple weeks off, it’s Dupuis. It had been a rough year for the hard-shooting winger, until Tuesday, when he buried two goals in a big win.

On Thursday, he welcomed his second child into the world with his wife, Carole-Lyn. Kody Dupuis was born on Thursday afternoon, and the media guide lists him at one-foot, six inches, and six pounds, eight ounces, with a left-handed shot, like daddy.

Dupuis’ work on Thursday was not finished. Prior to joining the team for a late-night flight to Edmonton, he swung by the Manny Fernandez estate to grab the goalie’s passport, which was accidentally left behind.

Just to solidify his well deserved standing of having the Best Wild Week Ever, Dupuis delivered the game-winning goal in Edmonton, and a tying goal in Vancouver, that earned the Wild a much-needed point.

Tres bien, Pascal! Tres bien.

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