This is crunch time my friends, and you don’t take days off at crunch time. When you start slacking, unexplainable things happen. Case in point: someone was asleep at the switch when Brian Rolston was passed over for the Hardest Shot Competition at the All-Star Skills Competition.
Things like this can’t happen. After all, the title of this column is “Best Wild Week Ever.” It is not “Averagest Wild Week Ever.”
We don’t miss things here at BWWE, with the exception of a couple spelling or grammatical errors. Just keep reading and you’ll see what we mean.
Monday, January 22, 2007
Despite Monday falling on the second day of the All Star break, there was some brand of hockey being played on the Xcel Energy Center ice surface, although we are going to stop short of calling it “high caliber.”
Members of the Minnesota Wild staff battled staff members from Olson & Co., the local firm that handles various marketing efforts for the Wild and the Minnesota Swarm.
I would post the final score of the game, but I was advised against doing so if we want any semblance of a marketing campaign for next season. Everybody had fun. How’s that?
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
The National Hockey League hosted the Skills competition on All-Star Tuesday. The Best Wild Week Ever staff did some research, and they have never fielded as many complaints about a skills competition as they did on Tuesday, when it was revealed that Rolston would not be entered into the Hardest Shot competition.
After looking into it further, the NHL had it right. It would have made way too much sense to put Rolston in there. After all, you wouldn’t put Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in a home run contest would you? Who in their right mind would want to see that?
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
| Brian Rolston certainly looked like he belonged in the NHL All Star Game. |
The first All-Star Game since February 8, 2004, was played on Wednesday in Dallas. And, while it looked like a good time, it didn’t hold a candle to the Twin Cities’ All Star Weekend three years ago, as was reported by Charley Walters in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. We can trust what “Shooter” says because we know he doesn’t have any local bias.
Rolston was the story on this night. The first-time All Star scored two goals (both on the NHL’s best goaltender, Martin Brodeur) and added two assists. He posted a +5 rating and was not on the ice for a single Eastern Conference goal despite playing a majority of the time against Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. He also was on the winning team, so again, choosing him as the game’s Most Valuable Player would have made way too much sense.
Fortunately, Daniel Briere, who scored one goal and four assists in a losing effort, took home a Dodge Nitro.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
The break was over on Thursday as the team returned to Xcel for practice. Even recently injured Manny Fernandez was out there, getting ready for the crucial home stretch.
Fernandez was one of three goalies out on the rink, along with Niklas Backstrom and recently recalled Josh Harding. Three goaltenders on one ice sheet is chaos waiting to happen, so Fernandez left early to receive treatment on his sore knee.
Friday, January 26, 2007
| Marian Gaborik is a Formula One fan, but it looks like he’s right at home in a NASCAR simulator as well. Click here to see the video. |
Following the Wild’s morning skate on Friday, Marian Gaborik had one more appointment on his agenda before heading home for his gameday nap. A racecar aficionado, Gaborik took on NASCAR driver, Todd Kluever, in a simulated stock car race in the Xcel Energy Center concourse.
The first race was a test drive for Gaborik as he got the feel for the controls. In the second race, he made a bold move to the outside and passed six or seven cars on the second turn. Gaborik then made a bold move to the inside, which ultimately cost him. His car was swept up in a wicked shimmy (racing term) and spun out of control.
Click here to see the video.
Still, Kluever was impressed with Gaborik’s driving ability, and offered him a spot on his racing team, so the two could be forever known as Shake and Bake. Gaborik opted to keep his night job, which included a 2-1 shootout victory over the Calgary Flames.
Minnesota fired 41 shots on goal, and that doesn’t include five shots that hit the post. Rolston’s power play goal was the only shot that actually crossed the goal line in regulation. A third period goal by Calgary’s Mark Giordano set up another shootout.
Most of the Wild’s shootouts this season have been white knucklers, but this one was relatively relaxed. Pavol Demitra and Perfecti Nummelin, who is now six-for-six in shootouts, scored in rounds one and two, while Niklas Backstrom stopped two shots and earned the win.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
A memorable All-Star performance by our captain; a huge win over a division rival; the Pond Hockey Championships starting on Saturday; the only thing that could derail the Best Wild Week Ever is a trip to Columbus, Ohio.
We’re sure Ohio Columbians mean well, but they have never been overly hospitable to the Wild. And since their college football team was soundly beaten earlier in the month, Ohio residents have been downright surly and unbecoming of the Best Wild Week Ever.
This includes the hockey team, which actually gets pleasure in making the Wild miserable when visiting. On Saturday, the Wild made things worse by taking ill-advised penalties in the first period and surrendering two goals while playing two men short. The Blue Jackets added one more goal before Rolston and Pascal Dupuis closed the gap to one goal. That was as close as the Wild would creep as time ran out on a furious comeback attempt.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
| Eagan came out on top in the Pee Wee division of this year’s Wild Pond Hockey Championships. Click here to view a photo gallery. |
Mark Parrish, who is doing his best to break Dwayne Roloson’s one-year record of player appearances set in 2005-2006, made another Coke appearance at Cub Foods in Rogers on Sunday. His appearance put the week in a tie for second with previous weeks that held the BWWE title.
It was the Wild Pond Hockey championships that put the week over the top. As part of the St. Paul Winter Carnival, the Wild hosted the two-day outdoor tournament on Lake Phalen. This year, the event featured an adult division of 32 teams, as well as a Pee Wee division featuring eight teams.
Click here to view a photo gallery from the tournament.
In the Pee Wee championship, Eagan snuck past Lakeville by the score of 21-19. In the adult division, West Central Environmental Consultants defeated Team Darblitz, which featured former Gopher stars Natalie Darwitz and Kelly Stephens, to the tune 24-13.
It should also be noted that goaltenders were not used in either tournament. Their goals against averages would not look pretty, and they would not have been having the Best Wild Week Ever, unlike the person…
…Who Had The Best Wild Week Ever?
| It might not be a Dodge Nitro, but Brian Rolston still got a puck for having the Best Wild Week Ever. |
Brian Rolston. There! He finally gets the recognition he deserves. Through no fault of his own, Rolston should have been the All-Star Game MVP, and he should have won the Hardest Shot competition.
When you score two goals, and assist on two others in the NHL All-Star Game, you’re off to a good start in the week. When you return home and score a goal in each of the next two Wild games, you’ve pretty much guaranteed yourself the Best Wild Week Ever.
While Rolston was previously a stranger to the NHL All-Star Game, he is no stranger to this award. If the powers that be can’t seem to get their awarding procedures correct, we know our role is to step up and deliver the accolade that is most important: Brian Rolston had the Best Wild Week Ever.