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Hola State of Hockey legion, and a Happy Benito Juarez day to all of the Wild fans south of the border in Mexico. As most, if not all of you know, Benito Juarez was most well-known for holding the office of President of Mexico, and he was viewed as an exemplary politician. But in these parts, Juarez is overshadowed because he shares a birthday with Minnesota Wild Vice President of Communications and Broadcasting, Bill "BillyRob" Robertson, otherwise known as Big Sexy due to his nomination as the Twin Cities sexiest man. You know Mr. Robertson is big time when he's got a big, huge chocolate cake with his name on it up there in the Al Shaver Press Box.
Speaking of the Al Shaver Press Box, that's where I am right now. More specifically, I'm in my perch in the Al Shaver Press Box, and I'm watching the goings on during pregame warmups. There's Cal Clutterbuck
ramming his shoulder into the glass to get ready. There's Owen Nolan skating around sans helmet.
Then, there's Josh Harding
deflecting pucks away like they wronged him. Hards, as some call him, will be getting the start betwixt the pipes for the Wild today. If I'm not mistaken, he has brought his proverbial "A" game with him today.
Today's lineup will see some changes since the Wild last took the ice on Friday. Brent Burns is back in the lineup tonight, as is Greg Zanon, who is probably going to have to have both feet amputated to keep him out for an extended period. Derek Boogaard is out with an upper body injury. Justin Falk
and Pierre-Marc Bouchard
are both out with concussions. Robbie Earl has been sent to Houston, so he will not play. Nate Prosser
and Jaime Sifers will be healthy scratches.
Dennis Denning, the recently retired head baseball coach at St. Thomas and supposedly the coach that saw BillyRob hit a home run off of the front wall of The Nook outside of Cretin Derham Hall's baseball field, gets us going with the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration. You got it coach! Let's do this.Period 1
18:21 - The Wild generates the first scoring chance of the game as Martin Havlat enters the Calgary zone and goes wide with the puck. He waits and waits and then sends a pass to the front of the net for Andrew Ebbett, who is being held by Ales Kotalik. The puck hits a skate and forces Vesa Toskala to make a fantastic kick save. The Wild will get a power play out of this.
16:11 - Minnesota keeps the pressure on as Cal Clutterbuck
wins a battle for the puck behind the net and quickly puts it out front for former Flame Chuck Kobasew, who is denied on a point blank chance.
12:51 - The Wild is doing everything but scoring right now as Toskala continues to have our number. Guillaume Latendresse
wheels and throws a pass to the front where Kyle Brodziak
nearly puts it in. Brodziak and Havlat continue to hack at the rebound, and the puck gets behind Toskala, but is finally swept away as it gets within inches of the goal line.
11:34 - Casey Wellman, making his Xcel Energy Center debut, wheels and fires a hard shot from a tough angle. Toskala makes the save, but James Sheppard kicks the rebound over to an open Nick Schultz. Schultzy has to reach a bit to gain control, and by the time he can get a shot off, Toskala slides over to make another huge save. That Wellman can motor!
7:46 - Take that Jarome Iginla! You can't be bringing that weak stuff up in here. The guy who supposedly owns us can't solve Harding here. He whistles a long wrister that Harding tips up with his glove and then secures once it floats back down.7:17 - MIN 0 - CGY 1 - A classic case of one team dominating, but then taking a penalty and the other team capitalizes. With Koivu in the box, Steve Staios gets the puck at the point and crushes a slap shot that hits something on its way to the net and deflects past Harding.
6:43 - MIN 1 - CGY 1 - A quick response is the best kind. Koivu gets out of the box and on the very next shift, flips the puck over to Andrew Brunette behind the Calgary net. Brunette takes a couple steps over the goal line and just puts a shallow angle shot that somehow finds a hole in Toskala and creeps over the goal line.
0:41.1 - MIN 2 - CGY 1 - Oh Gui, Oh My! That Latendresse fellow certainly knows how to find the back of the net. With a Wild power play seemingly going nowhere, Nolan gets the puck to the goal line for Latendresse. He makes one quick sidestep and then zips a backhand from close range that gets underneath Toskala.
0:00 - A period dominated by the Wild comes to an end with the good guys holding a 2-1 edge. The boys will get a well-deserved Powerade break before coming back for the final 20.Period 2
17:23 - In a reversal from the first period, it's Calgary coming out hot in the opening minutes of the second. Former Michigan Wolverine David Moss fires a hard shot from the slot. Harding stops that, and then has to come up with another big save on former Clarkson Knight Craig Conroy, crashing the net for the rebound.16:55 - MIN 3 - CGY 1 - Adios Vesa! The Wild sends Toskala to the bench as Chuck Kobasew stays blazing hot, notching his third goal in five games. After Calgary turns the puck over on a breakout, Kyle Brodziak rips a shot right on. Toskala makes the save, but gives up a huge rebound. With the Flame netminder on his kiester, Kobasew fires the puck underneath him and in.
14:40 - A scary moment here, as a slap shot from the point off the stick of Ian White is headed right to the front of the goal where Daymond Langkow is falling to the ice. As he goes down, Langkow gets hit with the puck somewhere near the back of the head or neck. Calgary players immediately call for the training staff, and they are going to bring the stretcher out. This arena has fallen extremely silent as the fans hope everything is okay with Langkow. White, Iginla, Niclas Hagman, Ales Kotalik and others huddle around their fallen teammate.
14:40 - Now the entire Flames bench is empty as the whole team is around Langkow. There are also about 15 Wild players on the ice. All of the players tap their sticks and the fans applaud as Langkow is wheeled off on the stretcher, which is just a horrible sight to see. Let's hope that all will be okay with him, and that players from both teams can put that image out of their heads.14:08 - MIN 3 - CGY 2 - It doesn't take long for Calgary to rebound. Iginla finds White crusing down the slot, and he puts a perfect shot past Harding, catching the inside of the pipe and going in.
11:08 - Not only is Greg Zanon skating on a severely injured ankle, he's trying to score goals with it. He crashes the net as Koivu gets the puck in the high slot and sends a shot toward the goal. Zanon actually makes contact with the puck with his skate, but Miikka Kiprusoff makes the save. I'm not sure if it would count anyway, but what more can you say about the toughness of the red bearded one.
6:50 - A bizarre sequence here as Brent Burns breaks his stick in his own zone. Clutterbuck gives up his stick to Burns, and then Burns loses that one. So the Wild spends what seems like two minutes trying to clear, but nobody can get a stick on the puck because they aren't holding one. Clutterbuck even tries to do a flying somersault to whack the puck out of the zone with his hand. That doesn't work either, but at least the fans enjoy it. Finally, Kobasew ices the puck and gets a whistle. The unit can't go off for a line change, but Burns and Clutter can at least get new lumber.2:37 - MIN 4 - CGY 2 - You can't stop Chuck Kobasew, you can only hope he doesn't pick up his second hat trick of the season. Burns makes a perfect dish off to Kobasew in the slot, and he fires this shot like he's trying to put it through the net, rather than just in it. He is tormenting his former team today, in much the same way as my summer intern, Ryan Wittman, is tormenting the Wisconsin basketball team today.
1:39 - Big John Scott is about the nicest guy you'd ever want to meet, but he is not very nice to former Western Michigan Bronco Jamal Mayers. Those two have some heated words in front of Harding, and Scott looks like he coult melt Mayers' helmet with that glare.Period 3
19:00 - For about the 434th time this season, Zanon labors on his way to the bench. Guess what? He does not head to the locker room. He won't miss a shift.
16:22 - The Wild takes a timeout to regroup here. There hasn't been a lot of life in this period.
16:02 - Iginla finds a wide open Niclas Hagman cutting to the net. Hagman tries to make a triple deke a la Charlie Babbitt, but Harding stays right with him and stuffs him with the leg pillow.
15:08 - Oh mama! A rough minute for Hagman, who gets absolutely smashed by G-Lat along the penalty boxes.14:11 - MIN 4 - CGY 3 - The Flames won't go away, as Cory Sarich rips a shot from the point. With former Michigan Wolverine Eric Nystrom on the doorstep and setting a perfect screen, the shot gets under Harding. Sarich has become the second Flame to score his first goal of the season. Staios also had zero goals coming into the game today.
13:25 - A lengthy delay to repair a pane of glass seems to help the Wild. Antti Miettinen comes down the rink and unloads a slapper that catches his Olympic teammate up high on the mask. Kiprusoff keeps his composure and hangs onto the rebound.
11:23 - Kipper seems to have shaken off his struggles against the Wild. He robs Havlat's point blank one-timer with a splendid pad save, and then he does a beautiful job of sticking with the puck and gloving it out of the air.
8:21 - This game has seen its share of delays and scary moments. Cam Barker goes down awkwardly behind his own goal and hits his head hard into the boards. He stays down for a spell and Doc Fuller comes out to have a look. The Bark Dog appears to be okay as he gets up and skates off.
5:52 - A quick shoutout to the UMD Bulldogs women's team, who have knocked off Cornell in triple overtime to win the National Championship over at Ridder Arena. All those Bulldogs do is win titles.
1:05 - If the Wild players want my advice for the final minute, it would be...watch number 12!
0:00 - That'll do pig, that'll do. The Wild gets a big win over the Flames and stays alive in the playoff chase.