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Good afternoon State of Hockey legion, and welcome to the final week of the 2010-2011 regular season. Sadly, the Wild's campaign is going to end one week from today with a home game against the Dallas Stars. But today, I am coming to you live from the Como Park Palace, where I just watched the Minnesota Twins destroy the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-3, and I'm about to watch the Minnesota Wild dismantle the Detroit Red Wings by an even bigger margin.
You might be thinking that due to the Wild's elimination from postseason contention, there is no reason to sit through a live in-game commentary for the 78th time. You might think you've earned a day off from sitting in front of your computer on a Sunday afternoon with the sun shining and almost half of this past winter's snow having melted away. Well, sorry, but you're not going anywhere. Sit your rear end on that swivel chair and enjoy as Carson McMillan
makes his NHL debut and Maxim Noreau scores his first NHL goal. In a few hours, you'll be so happy you did, and you'll probably print off this commentary as proof to your friends that you were there when the Wild thumped the Red Wings at the Joe for the second time this season.
Granted, the Wild is mildly shorthanded with half the lineup dealing with injuries. But Jose Theodore is 100% healthy and 100% ready to do this. He's getting the start this evening, and looking for his second straight victory.
Did I mention the Wild is a touch shorthanded today? There will be no appearances from John Madden (lower body), Martin Havlat (undisclosed), Guillaume Latendresse
(lower body), Cam Barker (upper body), Nick Schultz (concussion) or Marek Zidlicky (lower body). That's a pretty good starting lineup right there. But the young kids are going to have their day today as we welcome McMillan and Colton Gillies into the fold.
If you're wondering about uniform choices, I can tell you that the Wild will be sporting the road whites for this one. The Red Wings are going with the classic reds trimmed in white with the flying Goodyear on the chest. Fun fact: the Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs are the only two NHL teams that use just two colors in their unis.
That's about all I got for you. Now we can let the Wild players to the rest of the talking. Away we go.Period 1
18:33 - Kyle Brodziak
makes a nifty play at the Detroit blueline, stealing a breakout pass and then finding Gillies free in the slot. The recent call up lets a hard wrist shot go and former Maine Black Bear Jimmy Howard gets his arm up to knock the puck out of play.
17:51 - Theodore passes his first test wonderfully as Valterri Filppula gets the puck behind the Wild net and feeds Jiri Hudler in the left circle. Hudler's quick one timer is swallowed up in the chest protector of Theo.17:14 - MIN 0 - DET 1 - The next test is a higher degree of difficulty. A centering pass to the front of the net hits the skate of Maxim Noreau and bounces right to Darren Helm in the slot. He rockets a wrist shot up under the cross bar and the Wings enjoy an early 1-0 lead.
8:19 - Play-by-play man Dan Terhaar is on the money with this call as Tomas Holmstrom and Brodziak chase a puck in the corner. Brodziak's stick brushes Holmstrom's shin pad, and the monster Swede acts as if someone just knocked him off a skateboard. Brodziak is going to get two for tripping, which might be one of the worst calls I've seen in awhile.
7:04 - We're 4-on-4 now, and that allows for some open ice. Noreau has his pocket picked in the neutral zone by Henrik Zetterberg, who leads the charge the other way up the left side. Zetterberg has Pavel Datsyuk coming down the middle, but he tries to put a shot short side and Theodore snuffs it out.
1:31 - The Wild isn't playing like the playoffs are impossible. The boys are forcing the issue right now and putting pucks at Howard. Granted, there hasn't been a ton of golden scoring chances, but the hard work forces Jakub Kindl to take a tripping penalty as Howard stops a long shot from the point.0:19.1 - MIN 0 - DET 2 - I don't know about you, but I think Nicklas Lidstrom has lost a step and should retire any day now. Forget the fact that he makes a great play here by hesitating with a slapper before zipping a shot through traffic and a screen by Datsyuk to beat Theodore. Come on, Nicklas! How nice does year-round golf and fishing sound?
0:00 - Ouch. The Wild battles hard in the first and has a two-goal deficit to show for it. A little regrouping time is necessary to the boys in white can start pumping some shots past Howard. Period 2
18:10 - The Wild has a man advantage but its the Wings charging the other way on a two-on-one. Former Michigan State Spartan Drew Miller fakes the pass and then has a wide open, point blank shot, but Theodore makes a huge stop.
17:28 - The Wild continues to respond to Red Wings chances with some of their own. Minnesota actually leads in shots, and this one by Antti Miettinen from the slot is a bullet that Howard sponges up with a big save. The Wild's shot advantage is now 14-13.15:28 - MIN 1 - DET 2 - That's a goal, y'all! I'm pretty sure I've seen prettier plays, but they all count the same once they go over the line. The puck is played to the side of the net where Brad Staubitz puts a stick on it and puts it in the crease. Howard is splayed out on the ice and the puck is somewhere near him. The players keep jamming away, and it's actually Justin Falk who punches it in as he barrels into the crease for his first career NHL goal. The light never comes on, but the ref behind the net points at the puck in the net, and the replays confirm a goal.
14:21 - The Red Wings are so good at answering a goal with one of their own. Thankfully, Theodore is ready as he slides to his right to rob Todd Bertuzzi, whose tip from right in front looks bound for the netting. Not only does he make the save, but Theo does a great job of not giving up a rebound.
10:50 - As Clayton Stoner
skates into the Detroit zone, he takes a hit along the boards from Brad Stuart. It's more of a glancing blow, but Stuart hits the glass in just the right spot, causing the entire pane of glass to come off. Nothing is broken, so they get it back up quickly and we don't have to deal with a lengthy delay.
9:09 - The Wings showcase their sick passing ability before finding former Wisconsin Badger Brian Rafalski in the right circle. He fires a shot toward a gaping net, but Theodore recovers in time to stick his pad out and make another big save.7:22 - MIN 1 - DET 3 - This time, Rafalski is the passer on a Red Wings power play, and Tomas Holmstrom is the finisher. From the blue line, Rafalski sends a pass down to the high slot where Holmstrom is left wide open. He moves in and avoids a diving Brent Burns before tucking a quick wrist shot into the net. Man, those guys in red can strike quickly.
0:21.2 - Jared Spurgeon
does a nice job of joining the rush and uncorking a slapper with traffic giong to the net. Howard makes that stop and the Wild is going to head to intermission down a pair once again. Period 3
20:00 - For the second time this season, a Wild rookie defenseman has his first NHL goal taken away from him. Spurgeon had his first NHL goal taken away earlier in the season, and now Falk has his taken away and given to Staubitz, the scoring machine. The way Stauby is finishing out the year, he's could be primed for 20 next year.
15:15 - Theodore has had to come up with some huge saves tonight, and he does it again here, getting the waffle glove up in time to swat away a close range rifle shot from Holmstrom.13:49 - MIN 1 - DET 4 - The Red Wings are starting to open this thing up as they keep bringing in wave after wave of offensive pressure. Zetterberg carries behind the Wild net and then throws a pass back to Johan Franzen at the side of the net. Theodore makes the initial stop, but the puck lays on the goal line. He tries to kick it out, but Franzen punches it in.
11:04 - No goal! The Wings think they have another one as Brad Stuart blisters a shot past Theodore, but the refs immediately wave it off, saying that Justin Abdelkader interfered with Theodore. Replays show they are right as the former Michigan State Spartan was in the goal just seconds earlier and clipped Theo on his way out, right before Stuart's shot came in.
7:07 - In the department of things I haven't seen much of: a scramble in front of Theodore causes a puck to hit Theodore in the chest and then fall onto the stomach of Falk, who is laying on his back right in front of the creast. Theodore then covers the puck on Falk's stomach with his lobster mitt and gets the whistle. Sometimes, it's the little things in life. Especially when you're down 4-1 to Detroit.3:06 - MIN 2 - DET 4 - Hey now! There's a first NHL goal, and this one won't be taken away from Carson McMillan. He scores in his first NHL game by pouncing on a rebound of a shallow angle shot by Staubitz. He joins Marian Gaborik, Pascal Dupuis and Rickard Wallin as the only Wild players to score a goal in their first NHL game.
0:00 - You can't fault the effort today, but the Red Wings are a dangerous team, and they showed that today. The boys will have three days off before taking on Vancouver on Thursday.