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Ahoy there State of Hockey legion, and a Happy Vårfrudagen Day to all of the Wild fans in Sweden, who I know still love the Minnesota Wild even though we parted ways with Kim Johnsson. As you all know, Vårfrudagen Day means "Waffle Day," and in my opinion, should result in a day off for all of us Swedes. In celebration, I am going to polish off two chocolate chip Eggo waffles slathered with peanut butter. Normally, it'd be three waffles, but I'm watching my figure.
Tonight, I'll be coming to you live from my living room at my Como Park Palace in St. Paul, Minnesota. I've got plenty of assistance tonight with my wife, my dog and my three-week-old daughter, all of whom are sleeping on the davenport. I can only assume they are all resting up because this Minnesota Wild tilt with the Philadelphia Flyers is going to be as intense as a rubber tire fire.
Speaking of intense, we're about 20 minutes from puck drop, and that's when Niklas Backstrom
locks into another level of intensity. I've seen him before doing his little pregame zombie trot, and that usually translates to good things in the Wild net. He'll be getting the start tonight.
But if there is a player that is the most intense on this Wild team, it is undoubtedly Mikko Koivu
. Unfortunately, the captain is going to miss his first game of the season tonight due to an arm injury. Shane Hnidy (leg), Clayton Stoner
(hernia) and Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion) are also out because of health issues. Nate Prosser
, Justin Falk
and Cody Almond
are going to be the healthy scratches.
If fashion is your thing, this is the section for you. The Wild will wear the road whites for tonight's contest. The Flyers are going with the home blacks trimmed in orange and white with the winged "P" on the chest.
I'm a little nervous because I have yet to see a music montage featuring "This Town" by O.A.R. and I'm not sure...Oh thank God! There it is! I was starting to freak out a bit.
According to Ryan Stanzel, who is at Wachovia Center, the first hit shown on the Flyers' pregame video is the Mike Richards hit on David Booth, which would now be considered illegal. What better way to commemorate Brain Injury Awareness Night. I wonder if they also showed a clip of any baseball players getting batteries hurled at them.Period 1
17:43 - The Wild misses a golden opportunity for a shorthanded goal as Andrew Ebbett pokes the puck off the stick of Claude Giroux in the neutral zone. Ebbett has a clear breakaway, but as he tries to make a move, the puck rolls off his tape and goes wide.16:21 - MIN 0 - PHI 1 - The Flyers get on the board quickly as Ian Laperriere leads a rush up the right side. He fires a wrister that Backstrom kicks out, and the puck then caroms off the skate of Blair Betts in the slot and into the net. Backstrom immediately skates over the refs looking for a kicked puck call. The play is reviewed, but the call will stand and the Wild is staring at an early deficit.
15:42 - MIN 0 - PHI 2 - I can only assume this start was not in the game plan. The Flyers strike again as Simon Gagne rifles a shot from the right circle that beats Backstrom an instant before he gets bowled over by Daniel Briere.
15:33 - Casey Wellman, playing his first Wild game at center, causes a turnover in the neutral zone and then shows off his speed as he takes off the other way. After taking a few strides inside the blue line, he fires a snap shot on goal that is stopped by Brian Boucher, who famously set the NHL record for five consecutive shutouts in 2003-2004 with the fifth coming at Xcel Energy Center.
15:05 - Greg Zanon, who just continues to absorb punishment, takes a hit in front of the bench from Arron Asham. The hit knocks Zanon backward and he crushes his elbow against the glass partition, knocking the protection onto the ice. I'll go out on a limb and say Zanon won't miss any time due to that hit, despite being in obvious pain.
11:44 - Jumpin' Jiminy, this is becoming less fun every minute. Asham is hit with a pass cutting down the slot, and he has Backstrom sprawling, but puts a wrister off the crossbar.
4:11 - They got it. We got it. They got it. We got it...
3:21 - Scott "Dude Looks Like A Laday" Hartnell, takes a whack at Backstrom as the Wild netminder covers up in his crease. Brent Burns promptly plants Hartnell on his kiester.
0:00 - Kind of a good news, bad news thing. The Wild trails by two, but there are two periods to play, and plenty of time for the Flying W's to make some hay.Period 2
19:26 - MIN 1 - PHI 2 - That's what I'm talkin' 'bout! The Wild turns things around thanks to a power play goal from Marek Zidlicky. He plays catch at the blue line with Antti Miettinen before Mittens slides one over and Zid blasts a low one-timer that beats Boucher on the stick side.
17:13 - These second period power plays are providing a jolt for the guys in white. With another man advantage, Ebbett gains the zone and then drops a pass back from a Brent Burns one-timer. His missile is stopped on a solid waffle glove save by Boucher.
15:10 - Asham has certainly been a force tonight. He nearly sets up another Philly goal be getting the puck at the far boards and sending a pass to the front. That's where former Princeton Tiger Darroll Powe
tips it and Backstrom makes a great pad save.
13:30 - Richards leads a two-on-one into the Wild zone with Burns the only Wild defender back. Burns goes down on his belly to take away the pass, so Richards fires a heavy wrister up high, but Backstrom snares with the lobster glove for his best stop night.8:49 - MIN 1 - PHI 3 - This is a Daniel Carcillo-type goal. He shoves Martin Havlat to the ground from behind, which causes the puck to slide over to Hartnell. The owner of the wispiest mustach I've ever seen then goes right to the net where he tips Hartnell's shot past Backstrom.
6:12 - The Flyers attack continues on the power play. A shot from the point pinballs around in front of the crease. Hartnell gathers it and puts a low shot under Zanon, but an out-of-position Backstrom lays down and reaches his arm back to keep the puck out of the net.
0:25.4 - Former New Hampshire Wildcat James van Riemsdyk gets loose on a partial breakaway, but he tries to pull up and put a backhander on goal and misses wide.Period 3
14:49 - I would love to find a positive in the action, but right now, it's the Flyers who are playing like they are down two goals, pinning the Wild deep in their own zone.13:23 - MIN 2 - PHI 3 - Hey now! Just like that, the Wild offense strikes thanks to some familiar faces. Marty Havlat makes a nice steal in the Philly zone, then makes an even nicer drop pass over to Guillaume Latendresse. G-Lat returns the favor and Havlat one-times it past Boucher to suddenly bring the Wild to life.
12:26 - After chipping the puck out of the zone, Kyle Brodziak
gets drilled on a dirty hit by Laperriere. Dan Terhaar is questioning whether it was a hit to the head, and Brodzy is now on the bench talking to Don Fuller and pointing to his head. Replays show that it was clearly a hit to the head and well after he had gotten rid of the puck. Thank goodness the NHL made that rule change today on hits to the head. It's already paying dividends. Of course, Laperriere doesn't have any kind of history like trying to fight Marian Gaborik.
10:17 - This is what happens when you let that kind of garbage go. Carcillo gets into the act by completely drilling Latendresse from behind right along the boards for a ridiculously dirty and extremely dangerous hit. Wellman wastes no time in going right after Carcillo, and neither does John Scott who had already been jawing at Carcillo prior to that play. Chris Pronger grabs Scott from behind, preventing him from getting after Carcillo. That's quite honorable. Never let a guy pay the price for nearly sending another player to the hospital. Oh, and Carcillo won't get a penalty for boarding, or checking from behind.
8:00 - Aargh! I'm just incensed right now. How do the refs let stuff like this go? It's like repeated car accidents at an intersection, and finally stop signs are put up. Yet, people keep running the stop signs and injuring people and don't get the book thrown at them.6:37 - MIN 3 - PHI 3 - This makes me feel slightly better. Scott gets the puck at the point and just sends a wrist shot toward the goal. The puck hits a Philly stick, and then appears to glance off the shin pad of Andrew Brunette. No matter what, it's going to count. And if Scott gets credit, it's well-deserved for his willingness to go after Carcillo.
3:45 - Zanon gets some payback on Asham as the pace has picked up considerably. Asham tries to lead a rush into the Minnesota zone, but Zanon stands him up and plants him on the ice at the blue line.
0:00 - It might have seemed improbable at the start of this period, but we are headed to overtime.Overtime
2:27 - MIN 4 - PHI 3 - Yes! What a comeback! And it's Brodziak getting revenge for the head shot in the third period. Miettinen slides a back pass over to Brodziak just inside the blue line. Brodzy fires a wrist shot that Boucher gets a piece of with the glove, but the puck pops straight in the air, comes down and hits Boucher and goes in. It's the Wild's first comeback from two goals down on the road since November 28 in Colorado.