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Happy Groundhog Day State of Hockey legion! As you probably know by now, the worlds' most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning, and that's going to mean six more weeks of winter. And to that, we here in Minnesota say, "Bring it, Phil. Bring it." The more hockey season, the better. And what better way to celebrate an elongated winter than by watching the Minnesota Wild beat the tar out of the artists formerly known as the North Stars.
Tonight is a special Groundhog Day because I am coming to you live from my office! That's right, I've got new digs here at 317 Washington St. on the banks of the Mighty Mississip, and I've got a television set in said office. That means I'll be clacking away on the keys all by my lonesome, but at least I'm able to watch the VERSUS broadcast because I'm a DirecTV subscriber. I feel you DirecTV customers (fist tap on my heart in your honor), and this live in-game commentary is for you.
The big news tonight is that Wade "Doobey" Dubielewicz will get the start tonight. Apparently, Josh Harding
is visibly laboring from his hip injury, so the guy who won a game for the Houston Aeros last night is going to win a game for your
Minnesota Wild. That means Mr. Doobey will be the first goalie not named Harding or Backstrom to start a game since March 6, 2007, when Manny Fernandez made his last start in a Wild sweater.
Doobey will be backed up by Harding because Nik Backstrom has returned to the Twin Cities because of illness. I'm sure he'll be following live in-game commentary, as will Derek Boogaard (hamstring), Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion), Chuck Kobasew (knee) and Clayton Stoner
(groin). John Scott will be the healthy scratch tonight.
As for attire, the Wild will go with the road whites for this one. The Stars will sport the home blacks, trimmed in green, gold and white with "DALLAS" written across the chest, as well as each player's number, so if they forget, they can look down at their tummies to figure it out.
All right all you DirecTV subscribers, I'm here for you. And when you become rich and famous, don't forget that. Let's do this Punxsutawney Phil.Period 1
20:00 - Darryl "Razor" Reaugh, who is the Dallas Stars analyst, is the color analyst for this game, so I'm not exactly sure if we'll get a totally objective view of tonight's game, but let's give the guy a shot. Who am I to pre-judge?
18:55 - Shot from the point...save! It's Doobey's first-ever save for the Wild. It's not going to make the highlight reel, but it's the first of the night, and the first is the most important.
15:17 - After a glove save by former Michigan Wolverine Marty Turco, the camera cuts to Cal Clutterbuck
on the bench, getting a neck massage from Doc Fuller. It looks like he might have tweaked something in there when he drilled Jamie Benn against the boards.
11:35 - Marek Zidlicky picks off an errant Dallas clear and quickly feeds to a wide-open Clutterbuck in the slot, but his shot is fired just wide.9:00 - MIN 0 - DAL 1 - Doobey doesn't have a save in his arsenal to stop a perfect tip of a Karlis Skrastins shot by James Neal. A loose puck hits off a skate in front and bounces to the point where Skrastins fires it right at Dubielewicz, but Neal's deflection puts it right over the shoulder for the former Denver Pioneer.
8:00 - Steve Ott, who enjoys running around as much as Clutterbuck, hits him against the boards. Clutter gives him a little shot with the stick, and the two have some words before dropping the gloves. How can I put this mildly? Clutter loses this fight. Ott pounds him pretty well as Clutter has difficulty getting loose and landing a blow.
5:05 - Zidlicky pounds a shot toward the slot and Mikko Koivu
makes a perfect deflection on goal. Turco stays square and somehow gets a shoulder on the rising puck. Ever since the Dallas goal, I'm not sure that Dallas has been able to muster a shot on goal.
0:00 - That's going to do it for the opening period. The Wild is looking at a 1-0 deficit, but certainly got the better of the play in the first. They'll pound some Powerade and then start pumping in goals after intermission.Period 2
18:30 - Bad news from Wild PR guru, Ryan Stanzel. Guillaume Latendresse
is not on the bench.
14:48 - The Wild misses a golden chance on a power play. An Eric Belanger blast is stopped by Turco, but Andrew Ebbett is right there to dish the rebound over to Owen Nolan. Cowboy has Turco on his belly, but he can't put the puck around the outstretched leg pillow, and Turco hangs onto the rebound.
13:06 - VERSUS is running a highlight package of Mike Modano through the years, but nothing tops the footage of him putting on a North Stars jersey on draft day with the most beautiful spikey-haired mullet you're ever going to see.
10:41 - If you don't believe me when I say the Wild is dominating this game, you might believe this evidence: the Wild is leading in shots, 23-5. If we keep this pace and outshoot the Stars, 46-10, I'm guaranteeing victory.
7:23 - Brad Richards makes a sick move around Zidlicky as he enters the Wild zone. That means Greg Zanon has to dive at Richards from behind. It looks to me like he gets all puck and Richards falls after missing the shot, but the refs are going to call Zanon for a trip.7:08 - MIN 0 - DAL 2 - Do suspect calls ever not come back to bite you? On the ensuing power play, Richards unleashes a howitzer that rockets past Dubielewicz on the glove hand side and catches the top shelf. American Airlines Center is haunted.
4:33 - Are you serious? Clutterbuck completely lights up Brad Richards, and I'm saying this might be the biggest hit he's ever delivered in the NHL. And it's clean. Guess who jumps right in to right Clutter again? Yes, it's Ott. I believe you made your point, Steve. We get it. You're tough. I'm willing to bet that you will see Derek Boogaard, John Scott and Tie Domi in the Wild lineup when these two teams meet in the final game of the regular season.
1:44 - This night belongs to Turco so far. He knocks down a rocket slapper from Zidlicky with his glove, but the puck rolls to the side of the net and Koivu looks to have an empty net. He tries to lift a backhand in there, but Turco dives back and smothers the shot.0:49.1 - MIN 1 - DAL 2 - Wow, did we need that? The Wild power play comes through big-time, getting a much-needed goal before the end of the second. Nolan makes a nice drop pass to Brent Burns, who fires one toward the scrum in front of Turco. Latendresse gets his stick on the shot about two feet off the ice, and it's in.
0:24.0 - MIN 1 - DAL 3 - We really, really did not need this. The Stars come right back and Modano shows the shot he's had since his mullet days. He takes a cross-the-slot pass from Brendan Morrow, and he one-times it right on. Doobey tries to spring over to his left, but he can only get a piece of the shot on its way into the cage. This just doesn't seem fair.Period 3
15:15 - Turco is making this look easy. He snares a heavy shot from Clutter, as he streaks into the slot. Supposedly, this guy has fallen out of favor among the Texas hockey faithful, but it's tough to see why tonight.
10:01 - Again it's been all Wild in the third, but with the excessive pressing comes a chance for Dallas. Fabian Brunnstrom is left all alone, but the puck pinballs around before Dubielewicz makes his biggest stop of the night.
6:53 - Turco just is not giving up any rebounds right now. Koivu fires a shot from the slot with his linemates ready to pounce on the rebound, but Turco hangs on.
5:06 - At first, I'm wondering what Marty Havlat is thinking when he passes up a shot in the slot, but then I see he's making a perfect pass to G-Lat in the slot, but he misses just high.
4:00 - The comeback is going to need to start now.3:57 - MIN 2 - DAL 3 - No kidding! I wrote that at the four-minute mark and posted it before this goal happened. This game is too big for the Wild not to mount some kind of charge, and Andrew Brunette starts it. He whacks at a centering pass from behind the net by Koivu, and he's able to stuff it in.
3:04 - MIN 2 - DAL 4 - *Sigh* The Stars won't let the Wild get close. Off a turnover in the neutral zone, Benn races into the Wild zone and zips a wrist shot over the glove of Doobey. I'd venture to say this is a back-breaker.
0:19.3 - Sure enough, Miettinen shows that the Vikings will win a Super Bowl before the Wild wins in Dallas again. He rips a Koivu pass and puts it right off the post.
0:00 - An important two points are going to Dallas, and the Wild will try to make up some Western Conference ground with a five-game homestand before the Olympic break.