That said, it was a fine week in Wild land. In fact, it was the finest. Dare I say it was the Best Wild Week Ever?
Certainly I dare! Minnesota won three games, surrendered a token loss to the Calgary Flames, won two shootouts at home, signed a prospect, and debuted the goaltender of the distant future. That’s the formula for creating the Best Wild Week Ever, and the Wild followed it to a “T.” Throw in a couple appearances by the Boogeyman and it’s a no-brainer.
To recap, put your cursor on the right-hand side of the screen, and pull the page down by left-clicking on your mouse and moving it down. Or simply hit the “down” arrow on your keyboard. I really don’t care how you do it, so long as you recognize April 3 through April 9 as the Best Wild Week Ever.
Monday, April 3, 2006
There really isn’t a better way to spend an off day than taking part in a Wild player appearance. Hundreds of Wild fans shared that very sentiment on Monday at a Coca-Cola appearance featuring Derek “The Boogeyman” Boogaard at the Cub Foods in Stillwater.
Not only did fans get autographs from the gentle giant, but 20 people also got a chance to move a step closer to winning a Chevrolet HHR, which will be awarded to one of three finalists on April 11.
Tuesday, April 4, 2006Josh Harding
admitted that he slept about 45 minutes Monday night, and unfortunately, it wasn’t because he was reading wild.com all night. Harding was given the news on Monday that he would make his NHL debut on Tuesday at home against the St. Louis Blues and he was battling a severe case of pre-NHL debut jitters.
Harding has been highly touted ever since the Wild selected him in the second round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. But no one expected him to make history in his first game. Harding recognized that’s what he would have to do to take some of the spotlight off Manny Fernandez, who has been superb all season long.
So, Josh led the Wild to a victory while becoming the first goalie in NHL history to make his debut in a game decided by a shootout.
Leading up to the bonus round, Harding stopped 22 shots, including five in overtime, while four different players scored, including Mattias Weinhandl, who got his first tally in a Wild sweater.
Keith Tkachuk scored for St. Louis with the opening shot of the shootout, but Mikko Koivu followed up with his patented forehand-to-backhand-to-top-shelf move to tie the score. After Harding stonewalled Dean McAmmond and Petr Cajanek, Brian Rolston put the puck and Reinhard Divis into the net to seal the win for the home club and its rowdy fans.
A Boogaard appearance and a shootout win at home? Not a bad way to start the Best Wild Week Ever.
Wednesday, April 5, 2006
The Wild signed two new wingers on Wednesday, but only one will ever have a chance of wearing a Wild
| "The Edge" can’t play guitar, or score many goals, but he will claw your head if you don’t think last week was the Best Wild Week Ever. |
Boogaard and Kurtis Foster appeared at the Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium along with a slew of youngsters (younger than them I mean) in hopes of seeing “The Edge.” No, the U2 guitarist was not in the house, but this was better. “The Edge” is a nine-month-old peregrine falcon making his flying debut indoors at The Roy.
The players signed autographs for the kids, but both had to split before “The Edge” was released into the air, much to Boogaard’s chagrin. He lobbied to stay a bit longer, but “Bananaz” Foster didn’t think seeing one of the fastest birds on the planet would be a valid excuse for being late to practice in Jacques Lemaire’s book.
The kids did get to see the bird in its preparation for the Minnesota Zoo’s World of Birds show this summer.
Although “The Edge” would be a great name for a Wild player, Danny Irmen would be even better. Irmen decided to forgo his senior season at the University of Minnesota to sign a 2006-2007 contract with the Wild. He will report to the Houston Aeros for the remainder of the season, and he’ll have his shot at the Wild roster next season. Irmen is a big boy who can get the garbage goals in front of the net. As Mike Greenlay would say, “We need more of that!”
Thursday, April 6, 2006
| Oh that sneaky Rolston. He takes a gift from Dwayne Roloson, then scores on him in a shootout and punctuates it with his signature left-fist-pump. |
After the Wild’s morning skate on Thursday, Brian Rolston caught up with his buddy and former teammate, Dwayne Roloson. The former Wild goaltender gave Rolston an autographed goalie stick for his son.
How did Rolston pay his friend back? By scoring on Roloson with another winning goal in the final round of a shootout.
But let’s rewind a bit. This shootout was made possible by a Stephane Veilleux goal in the first period and stellar performances by both Roloson and Fernandez. There was also the tiny incident involving an Edmonton non-goal being reviewed, but still not being allowed, despite an overhead camera showing that Michael Peca’s shot in the second period probably crossed the line before Fernandez batted it out with his paddle.
Our hearts certainly go out to the fans of Edmonton, but try having an opposing team’s goal count after it slides underneath the side of the net. As Jacques Lemaire said after the game while admitting it was a goal, “we got one back, but we still have four more to go.”
That’s true, and we still have three more days to go in what is rapidly shaping up to be the Best Wild Week Ever.
Friday, April 7, 2006
The Wild flew through the night like a peregrine falcon looking for a shrew to feast on. The boys caught a few winks to rest up for Friday’s game with the mighty Calgary Flames.
It marked another NHL debut for an Aero-turned-Wild as Erik Reitz made his first appearance on the Minnesota blueline. Reitz is known as a rough-and-tumble type of player, but that couldn’t prevent Calgary getting on the board early with Tony Amonte’s fluke goal off of Wes Walz’ stick.
Minnesota finally came back to tie the game on Brian Rolston’s shorthanded rocket slapper early in the third that snuck past Miikka Kiprusoff. But the hopes of a third straight shootout were wiped away by Jamie Lundmark with 5:20 to play, and the Wild’s playoff chances were officially dashed if you want to get technical about it.
Saturday, April 8, 2006
| Evan’s smile turned to a frown later on Saturday when Anthony Aiello and the B.C. Eagles fell to Wisconsin. |
Good things always seem to happen on April 8. Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record in 1974, Clint Eastwood was elected mayor of Carmel, California in 1984, and Evan Sickman, son of Wild media relations guru, Aaron Sickman, was born in 2004.
Evan munched on a train-shaped cake while watching Wild prospect Anthony Aiello and the Boston College Eagles take on the Wisconsin Badgers for the NCAA men’s hockey national championship.
Aiello scored his first goal of the season in B.C.’s Thursday win over North Dakota, but the freshman defenseman couldn’t help the Eagles to a win over the Badgers, who won their first national title since 1990. That’s five straight national titles for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association if you’re scoring at home.
Sunday, April 9, 2006
Brent Burns shattered a pane of Plexiglas at the Pepsi Center during the Wild’s morning skate on Sunday. “It was at least a 113-miles-per-hour snap shot,” Burns said to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Burns was proud of his glass-shattering effort, but Manny Fernandez and Marian Gaborik were breaking the hearts of Avalanche fans later in the evening. Manny turned in a brilliant 40-save effort in what may have been his best performance of the season, and possibly his regular season career.
Marian Gaborik was equally special. He pumped in three goals via two breakaways and one pretty roof-job from an awkward angle. It all added up to a 5-2 trouncing of the Avs, who still have some work ahead of them to make the postseason.
The dust settled, and Gaborik is now three goals away from 40 for the season with three games to play. Fernandez now has 30 wins on the year. And someone is...
…having the Best Wild Week Ever?
Josh Harding. Fernandez might have been the best goalie on the planet last week, but can he say he is undefeated in his NHL career? The answer is no, he cannot. In fact he’s lost an eye-popping 18 games this season to go with his 30 wins. That’s exactly 18 more than Josh Harding, who has never lost an NHL game. Ever!
| Josh Harding will always have the puck from his first win. And, if he prints this web page, he’ll have a reminder that he had the Best Wild Week Ever. |
Harding improved his record to an unblemished 1-0-0 on Tuesday in his NHL debut, and that’s not a bad way to start out. We finally got to see the retro pads in action, and they served us well.
Harding will make his next start against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night, and it’s possible that he may finally experience what it’s like to lose an NHL game. But no matter what happens, it won’t change the fact that he had the Best Wild Week Ever.