We had the Boys’ State Hockey Tournament, the first round of WCHA playoffs and most importantly, three Wild wins. The weather is warm. The cold and snow are melting away. The gas tank is full. And I found a five-dollar bill in the pocket of my khakis that I put on this morning.
Yep, life is good when you’re living the good life in the State of Hockey. I ask you to join me as we skip through the grassy meadow dotted with sunflowers otherwise known as the Best Wild Week Ever.
Monday, March 5, 2007
Not only did we know it was going to be a great week on Monday, but we already knew the BWWE staff was going to be dealing with a fair amount of consternation when choosing the distinguished honoree of the Best Wild Week Ever award.
James Sheppard, the Wild’s first round pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft became the early front-runner on Monday when he was named the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Player of the Month for February.
Check out these February stats for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagle: 10 games played, seven goals, 16 assists, two game-winners, two power play markers and a plus-16 rating.
Yeah, that’s what I thought!
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
| Homer Simpson is a wise man, but his words cannot compare to those of Bill Robertson’s. |
As Homer Simpson once said, “We’re none of us perfect.”
And, that was certainly evident in the Wild’s case on Tuesday when party pooping Evgeni Nabokov and his band of party crashers, the San Jose Sharks, shut out our favorite local professional team.
It was the Wild’s second straight loss, but as Wild Vice President of Communications and Broadcasting, Bill Robertson once said, “it’s no time to be hitting the panic bucket.”
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
The Wild team boarded a plane bound for Boston, Massachusetts at approximately noon on Wednesday, which is a shame because the boys would be missing out on the start of the country’s premier high school hockey tournament.
The Class A quarterfinals kicked off just as the Wild plane taxied on the runway, beginning a stretch of 14 games at the Xcel Energy Center in four days. More on this later.
Thursday, March 8, 2007
They may not have had bands playing the Wild anthem, or cheerleaders in white skates rooting them on, but the boys in white and green did have their boosters in the TD Banknorth Garden stands thanks to the Season Ticket Holder Road Trip to Beantown. As if playing in front of some die-hard travelers wasn’t enough, the Wild had some extra motivation.
All the boys had to do was check the Boston Globe newspaper (former stomping grounds of Director of Hockey Operations, Chris Snow) to see that the Colorado Avalanche had moved to within six points of the Wild in the Western Conference.
That meant trouble for that team in the classic black and gold sweaters. The Wild used goals from Brian Rolston and Pierre-Marc Bouchard to build a 2-0 lead, and Niklas Backstrom held the fort from there, stopping 29 shots in the victory, which went over well with the folks in Wild jerseys sitting in the crowd.
The only downside was some uncalled for infractions from Bruins players, and the emergence of Marco Sturm who has gained entrance to the Minnesota Wild Matt Cooke Hall of Disdain after sucker punching Kurtis Foster in the back of the head at least five times.
Friday, March 9, 2007
Thursday featured a showdown with the Bruins, but come on! The Wild owns the Bruins like I own the five-year-old kids in my neighborhood in Capture the Flag. In fact, the Wild has won all four times it has played in Boston, becoming just the second team – and the first in 81 years – to win each of its first four games in Boston. The other team was the original Ottawa Senators franchise, which won its first five games in Boston Arena from 1924 to 1926. And you didn’t think this was an educational piece.
Anyway, the real test would be the Buffalo Sabres – the highest scoring team in the National Hockey League.
Please. Bring the Wild a real challenge. The Sabres were rather dull as the Wild trounced them, 5-1, and Josh Harding nearly bagged his third career shutout in his fifth career start. Dominic Moore scored his first two goals in a Wild sweater to open the scoring, and he was followed up by Pavol Demitra’s second goal of the season that he banked off a goaltender’s noggin, Keith Carney’s seeing-eye single, and Todd White’s near three-on-five shorthanded goal that would have made Wild history if not for Marian Gaborik getting out of the penalty box one second too early.
Anyway, after Moore’s breakout game, it dawned on the BWWE staff that the Wild has yet to have a player that we can bestow a first initial, hyphen and last name nickname on. You know, like A-Rod, T-Mac or M-Green (Mike Greenlay). M-Gab, M-Par and F-Kuba just didn’t have that catchiness we were aspiring to find.
The search is over. We are going to heretofore refer to number 11 as D-Moore and see if it sticks.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
| This is what the Best Wild Week Ever is all about. |
We try not to pump our own tires here at BWWE, because we’re busy pumping the Goodyear’s of the Wild players, coaches, management and fans. But, if you’ll indulge us for just a bit, you’ll hearken back to one week ago today when we made our predictions for the State High School Hockey Tournament.
I’ll provide you the link, but I know you’re not going to want to expend energy by making one extra mouse click, so I’ll paste the text of last week’s BWWE tourney predictions here:
“The Best Wild Week Ever picks?
Northern Rule my friends. Grand Rapids and Hermantown will be your 2007 State Champions. Fill out your brackets accordingly.”
That’s not too shabby, is it folks? We just missed on the Rapids selection, but we did call the Northern Rule, and Roseau is about as far north as you can get.
Starting now, for the rock bottom price of $5, BWWE will make suggestions for all of your NCAA basketball and hockey brackets, provided that you can assure us that you are not taking part in any illegal office pools. They have to be for recreation only.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
We’re partial to Wild draft pick Chris Hickey in these parts, but if he can’t win, we’re glad the Minnesota Mr. Hockey Award went to Hickey’s high school teammate, Ryan McDonagh. The Cretin-Derham Hall defenseman put up 14 goals and 26 assists in his senior year and became the third straight defenseman to win the award, following Moorhead’s Brian Lee and Apple Valley’s David Fischer. Cloquet-Esko-Carlton goaltender Reid Ellingson was named the state’s top netminder at the award ceremony in the St. Paul RiverCentre.
Just across the skywalk at the Xcel Energy Center, the Wild was closing out the Best Wild Week Ever with a game against the Colorado Avalanche. With the gap between the two teams at 10 points, the Wild needed a win to essentially dispose of the Avs once and for all.
Mikko Koivu scored two goals in regulation, giving him seven goals in seven games against the Avalanche this season. The game moved into overtime, and with 18 seconds left, Brent Burns roofed the rebound of a Gaborik shot to seal the Wild’s 200th franchise victory.
Are you kidding me? A week like that and the 200th win is but an afterthought? Well how about this: the Wild reached the 200-win plateau in 480 games, faster than all but nine of the active franchises in the NHL and the fastest team since the Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers entered the League in 1979.
With all this positive energy flowing around, it came down to the wire in picking…
…Who Had The Best Wild Week Ever?
| That is the unmistakable smile of a person who just had the Best Wild Week Ever, and a hug from someone who has been there many times. |
Brent Burns. Burns edged out Northern Minnesota at the 11th hour when the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs were finally defeated by St. Cloud State in triple overtime in Game Three of their playoff series late on Sunday night. Still, the northern region of our state can remain proud after the accomplishments of Hermantown, Roseau, Grand Rapids and Duluth Marshall.
But the week belonged to Burns, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Friday by actually giving, rather than receiving. He contributed two assists in the 5-1 win over Buffalo, and then scored the game-winner in overtime on Sunday. He was a plus-five in those two games combined, but more than that, this is what his coach had to say about him at week’s end:
“I was talking to Doug Risebrough, and I was telling him how good Burns has been playing.”
“The last seven games, he’s been just great.”
“He just went to another level.”
“He’s been great.”
“We hang out and go the movies together quite often. We both really liked Norbit.”
One of those quotes was made up, but the others were totally real. As real as the realization that Brent Burns had the Best Wild Week Ever.