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What up State of Hockey legion? Don't be alarmed, it's just me, your partner in live in-game commentary crime. For the first time in a long while, I am coming to you live from the living room of my living quarters deep in the heart of Como Park, St. Paul. I'll be clacking on the keys while lounging on the love seat with Ivy the yellow lab protecting me all along the way. She's like my own personal Brad Staubitz if Staubitz loved to sleep and lick the face of anyone that tried to say hello.
Tonight, your Minnesota Wild will be taking on the Chicago Blackhawks, and it's been a trying day for the defending Cup champs. Their fearless leader, head coach Joel Quenneville, was admitted to the hospital last night after experiencing "severe discomfort." His health issue is undisclosed, but it was "not of cardiac nature." Assistant Coach Mike Haviland is going to be the man behind the bench tonight, but let us first wish a quick return to health for Quenneville, and we hope to see him when the Blackhawks visit St. Paul at the end of the month.
In consideration for Quenneville's health, I certainly hope that Versus isn't available in his hospital. I can only imagine what it must be like for the coach of the team to watch Jose Theodore stifle his team for a full 60 minutes. Talk about severe discomfort. But Jose is just doing his job, and I'm sure he'll be pulling for Quenneville, who was his head coach in Colorado.
On to much less serious health issues that are affecting Wild players. Marek Zidlicky (shoulder), who is nearing a return, will not be in the lineup. The same can be said for Marco Scandella
(concussion) and Guillaume Latendresse
(abdomen). There won't be a healthy scratch for the Wild tonight, which is always nice.
If you're wondering about attire choices, you've probably skipped down to this section already. The Wild will go with the road whites for tonight's contest. The Blackhawks will sport the classic home reds trimmed in black and white with the stoic Native American on the chest.
Unfortunately, we don't get to see the best rendition of the Star Spangled banner in all of sports, performed by Jim Cornelison. But the show must go on. Let's do it. It's go time.Period 1
18:37 - Mikko Koivu
does a great job of holding the Chicago blueline and then firing the puck back into the zone. He puts it right where Antti Miettinen can get his stick on it and put a nasty deflection on goal. Corey Crawford has to react quickly to make a tough upper body save.
14:55 - Picking up where they left off last night, the Koivu line continues to buzz around in the opponent zone. Miettinen makes a great play to beat Brent Seabrook to the puck and knocks the Hawks defender to the ice in pursuit. Mitts then quickly throws a pass to the front where Koivu has a point blank opportunity, but is stuffed by Crawford.
13:00 - You can pencil in a goal for Miettinen tonight. The guy has been firing away since last night, and Andrew Brunette sets him up for another one-timer from the slot. Crawford, who has probably shed about five pounds of water weight already tonight, has to come up with another big save.
12:31 - Now it's the second line coming alive for the Wild. Martin Havlat gets to a loose puck behind the net and finds Cal Clutterbuck
all alone in front. Clutter's quick shot from the low slot is turned away on another huge save by Crawford.
12:03 - Now it's the Blackhawks making something out of nothing as Patrick Kane gains the zone and goes one-on-one with former teammate Cam Barker. Barker plays it perfectly, but Kane pulls off a spin move before letting loose with a wicked backhand that hits the post behind Theodore, bounces off the Wild netminder and then settles in the crease before being cleared out. Goodness! These teams are fun to watch when they play each other.7:01 - MIN 0 - CHI 1 - The Blackhawks take advantage of an early power play, which is a shame because the Wild has been dominating to this point. Down low in the zone, Dave Bolland finds Campbell at the top of the slot with nobody near him. Campbell uses the time to take a huge wind up and blister a slapper through traffic and past Theodore.
3:05 - They don't put the coin in the slot, but the second power play unit applies all types of pressure in the Chicago zone, looking quite physical as they win several puck battles. The puck is finally worked back to Pierre-Marc Bouchard
at the point and his quick slapper is expertly knocked away by the waffle glove of Crawford.
0:00 - The Wild looks very good in the first, but a Chicago power play goal is the difference thus far. Tis' nothing but a flesh wound at this point. Look for an angry Wild team to tuck a few quick ones early in the second.Period 2
20:00 - There was no mention of this on the TV broadcast, but the Star Tribune's Mike Russo has tweeted that there was a "flurry of activity" on the Wild bench where Andrew Brunette collapsed while bleeding from his face. He was apparently able to walk to the back room with some help, but stay tuned for further development from PR man Aaron Sickman.
19:45 - Right off the bat, the Hawks have a chance as former North Dakota Fighting Sioux Jonathan Toews streaks up the left side on a two-on-one. He snaps a rocket shot to the short side, but Theodore gets the glove up quickly and gets enough of it to deflect it out of play.
18:13 - The Hawks are generating some chances, once again with the man advantage. Kane has another chance off a rink wide pass from former Vermont Catamount, Patrick Sharp. Kane connects on the one-timer, but Theo quickly slides to his left and shuts the door.
17:03 - Even the Blackhawk announcers are puzzled about a horrendous call on Clutterbuck. Off the faceoff in the Wild zone, Bryan Bickell tries to lift Clutter's stick with his own, and he ends up putting it right into his own face. Not only do they call Clutterbuck for a bogus high stick call, but they give him a four minute double minor. That's about as awful a call as you'll see.
14:56 - Great news from Mr. Sickman. Brunette is back on the bench. That guy is unbelievable. And of course I'm referring to Bruno. As for Sickman, he's trade deadline bait.
13:03 - Clutterbuck is now out of the box, ending a fantastic penalty kill by the Wild.
10:47 - What a great play by Havlat and Kyle Brodziak
as they nearly connect for a Wild goal. Leading the rush into the Blackhawk zone, Marty feathers a pass ahead of everybody while Brodziak drives to the net. As he goes down to the ice, Brodzy is able to sweep a shot to the goal that nearly fools Crawford who just does get a pad on in it and scrambles to cover up.
9:38 - Clutter time. He absolutely unloads on former Alaska Fairbank Nanook Jordan Hendry along the sideboards in the Wild zone. Henry gets airborne as he is driven into the boards as if he's being pushed by a bulldozer.
4:17 - The Wild finally has some even strength time and it's Koivu leading the charge once again. He fires a heavy shot right on and Crawford coughs up a big rebound, but the puck skips past Brunette as he charges toward the net.
2:46 - Bickell makes a nifty move to get around Brent Burns and get in alone on Theodore. Theo has been exceptional tonight, and once again, he's all over the bid from in tight, stuffing Bickell on the doorstep. Period 3
18:00 - A long shot by Cam Barker results in a big rebound with a bunch of white jerseys lurking. Bouchard has the best chance to put it home, but Crawford again is able to recover from a juicy rebound and hold his ground with sticks whacking away.
17:58 - On the ensuing faceoff, Matt Cullen
wins the puck back to Chuck Kobasew who drills a shot that beats Crawford and catches nothing but iron.
16:19 - Former Michigan State Spartan Duncan Keith loses control of the puck at the Wild blue line and Miettinen goes after it and absolutely blows by the All-Star and Olympian. Miettinen gets in close and then fires a shot, but Crawford has the angle cut down perfectly. Toews then knocks the net off its pegs, but for some reason there is no call for delay of game.
14:38 - We've finally got a call against the Blackhawks here, and it's well earned. Bickell just steamrolls over Theodore as the Wild netminder tried to freeze a loose puck. Theodore is shaken, but he's able to regain his composure and get back in his crease.13:01 - MIN 1 - CHI 1 - The Blackhawk announcers don't sound very excited, but I sure am. What a sick play by both Jared Spurgeon and Cullen. The rookie defensemen looks like a veteran as he calmly carries the puck to the Chicago blue line and then puts a perfect feed to Cullen cutting behind the defense. In a flash, Cullen darts to the front of the net, makes a quick move and tucks it in just before getting flattened to the ice. A huge goal at a critical juncture for the good guys. And that's the third assist in four games for the Spurge.
12:27 - MIN 1 - CHI 2 - Ouch. Very ouch. On a Hawks power play, the Wild is unable to clear the zone and the puck gets pushed down deep to Troy Brouwer. He tries to send a pass across the crease to Marian Hossa, but it deflects off the stick of Greg Zanon and behind Theodore. Just a horrible break for the boys, who worked so hard to get that equalizer, only to see it erased less than a minute later.
12:06 - Dave Bolland gets behind the Wild defense and is in all alone on Theodore, but the Wild keeper makes a scintillating pad save while movin gthe other way.
6:23 - Theodore again comes up big on a partial break by former Vermont Catamount Viktor Stalberg. This has been a goaltending duel as both keepers have come up with some huge saves throughout the contest.
3:13 - Yes, it's getting late, but I'm not worried, and the Wild players don't look concerned either. They've been here before, and they nearly tie it up here when Burns spins around and wrists a high shot toward the goal. The puck clips Havlat on the way and flutters dangerously on goal, but Crawford again is able to hang with it and snare it with the lobster mitt.0:58.3 - MIN 1 - CHI 3 - This hurts. After some Wild pressure with an extra attacker, the Hawks are able to clear the zone and the puck eventually comes to former Wisconsin Badger, Jake Dowell, who easily fires one into the empty net to seal a Hawks victory.
0:00 - This time, the extra attacker doesn't work. The Wild drops consecutive games for the first time since early January. They'll get a day off tomorrow before getting back in the win column on Friday against the Anaheim Ducks.