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How's tricks State of Hockey legion? I'm no mind reader, but I'm sure the answer to that question is, "freaking awesome now that live in-game commentary is back after three Wild off days." Well, the feeling is mutual, and I'm back in my perch in the Al Shaver Press Box at Xcel Energy Center to tickle the keys for tonight's commentary featuring the Ottawa Senators, and your Minn-ah-Soh-taaaaah Wild! Tonight will have a North Star flavor to it because the Wild will be honoring Hall of Famer Dino Ciccarelli, who tore up the Met Center ice back in the 80's. So whenever possible, I will try to work in some 80's lingo like, "No doy," "take a chill pill" and "Staubitz gave him the ol' snuff and eye jammy." It will be "so choice."
On Sunday, I gave the keys to the commentary car to Carly Peters, and once again, she failed to deliver a Wild victory. Of course that means she is on double probation, especially since the Wild has been outscored 12-5 in her two games of commentary work. On behalf of the entire Wild organization, I apologize for Ms. Peters' malfeasance.
There's nothing to worry about tonight, however. I'll be steering the Wild to victory tonight with a little help from my friend, Jose Theodore. He's going to be starting in goal for the Wild. Earlier today, Todd Richards shed some light on his decision by saying, "Right now, he gives us the best chance to win?" With all due respect to our leader behind the bench, I say that Jose doesn't give us the chance
to win. He gives us a guaranteed
win. I mean, I'm looking at the guy right now and he refuses to give his team any confidence by letting them score in warmups. That frustration will be multiplied when the Senators try to beat him with some shots tonight.
The Wild will be without the services of Matt Cullen
tonight, contrary to some reports on the Twittersphere that claim the opposite. He is nursing a groin injury. Of course, Guillaume Latendresse
(hip/hernia) also remains out of the lineup. John Madden will return to the lineup tonight (Damn Skippy!), and that means Clayton Stoner
will be the only healthy scratch.
When it comes to clothes, the Wild will be wearing their gnarly green third jerseys for this special occasion. The Senators are sporting their road whites with the steely-eyed Trojan on the chest.
It's now time for the Dino tribute. A video tribute is followed by Ciccarelli coming to center ice to drop the puck for Mikko Koivu
and Daniel Alfredsson. Fittingly, that is followed by the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration from Lou Nanne, who as North Stars GM, signed Dino as an undrafted free agent. He nails it, and we are good to go.Period 1
18:46 - Apparently distracted by the pomp and circustance of the Dino celebration, Pascal Leclaire is handcuffed by a harmless looking wrister from Koivu from the left circle. Leclaire gets his glove up but bobbles it like a Vikings receiver playing a home game in sub zero temperatures. He is able to regain his composure and cover up before a Wild player can find the rebound. 16:24 - MIN 1 - OTT 0 - Queue Joe Satriani, because the Wild is on the board homey. Just seconds after walking around Daniel Alfredsson and nearly beating Leclaire with a quick wrister, Martin Havlat gets the puck again at the top of the right circle. He gets the pass down low to Pierre-Marc Bouchard and he wastes no time in throwing a pass to the front for Kyle Brodziak who chips in the deflection for a Dino-style goal. We all know that when Brodzy scores one, he scores two, so pencil him in for another later tonight. And if you're a betting man or woman, figure that Bouchard and Havlat will pick up dimes on the goal like they did here. Those two are on fire these days.
13:21 - The long awaited first meeting between Cal Clutterbuck
and Sergei Gonchar since the latter tried to decapitate the former with a blindside hit last year. Unfortunately, Clutter is in the locker room for an unknown reason, and Gonchar is currently in the penalty box.
13:02 - Havlat has just found another gear these days. Every time he hits the ice, he's making something good happen. He gets the puck in the neutral zone and just flies past Chris Phillips before zipping a backhand on goal.
12:01 - A big opportunity here as one of my least favorite players of all time, Jarkko Ruutu, gets called for cross checking. He'll go to the box and the Wild will have 40 seconds of a five-on-three. Sensing blood in the water, Richards calls timeout to give his top unit a chance to rest up and fire away on this two man advantage.
8:58 - Oy my word! The Wild misses a golden opportunity here as Clutterbuck races up the right side and puts a low shot on goal. Leclaire, who is looking very shaky, kicks the rebound way into the slot and right onto the tape of Eric Nystrom. He has a gaping net to shoot at, but puts his shot off the skate of Phillips at the top of the crease. It's been that kind of luck for "Ny" this year.
5:34 - Former Wild All Star Filip Kuba gets the puck at the left point and sends a long wrister on goal. I'm not sure if it's deflected or not, but Theodore can only get a glove on it, which is just enough to cause it to glance off the cross bar and out of harm's way.
1:19 - More Marty and Butch! Havlat drops a pass back to Bouchard as they enter the Ottawa zone. Butch has room in the slot so he takes a few steps and fires a missile on goal. Brodziak is there for the rebound, but he's hooked from behind by Mr. Hockey and former North Dakota Fighting Sioux, Brian Lee. Wild will get back on the PP.
0:00 - That'll do for the first. The Wild dominate the opening period, but leave with a slim lead. Not to worry, we've still got Brodzy's impending goal and Marty is sure to notch one or two as well. Oh, and Brent Burns has a goal streak to keep alive as well. It's all good.Period 2
17:52 - Nystrom again has a great chance as he weaves through the Senator zone and gets right in on Leclaire. He has Clutterbuck in front and tries to get it to him, but Leclaire is there to deflect it away.13:49 - MIN 1 - OTT 1 - The Senators get on the board on the power play as Mike Under...I mean, Fisher, puts a tip on a long shot from Erik Karlsson. Theo makes the stop on that, and then robs Fisher on the rebound with a spectacular pad save, but Alfredsson follows up the play and fires it past Theodore who is on his kiester at this point.
10:00 - Chris Campoli fires a shot toward the goal and Nick Foligno puts a near perfect tip on it, bouncing the puck past Theodore and right off the post. That's two saves thus far tonight for Theo's best friends.
8:48 - I was just about to brag endlessly about being the smartest man alive when Brodziak punches in a Koivu pass for his second of the game, which I called like Bert Blyleven, yo. The place goes crazy, but the excitement comes to an extreme halt when it's announced that the goal will not count because the Wild has too many men on the ice. Not only is the goal waived off, but Brodzy is heading to the box. 8:39 - MIN 1 - OTT 2 - What a disatrous swing this is. Less than 10 seconds after we think we're up one, we're down one. Again on the power play, Foligno gets the puck in the right circle and he picks his spot under the cross bar and does not miss with an absolute rocket of a wrist shot. The boos come cascading down, but I have a feeling the call on the ice was the right one, much to my chagrin. My only beef is that I never heard a whistle while Koivu was skating for a long time with the puck before dishing to Brodzy.
3:24 - I thought his was the time Brodzy makes me smart as he again has a chance on a two-on-one with Butch on his right. The D take away the pass so he tries to go upstairs from in tight. Leclaire bobbles the puck a bit, but ultimately makes the save. Period 3
17:38 - Theodore knows how to use those leg pillows. He comes up with a huge kick save on a point blank shot from Chris Neil in the low slot. Theodore is keeping this a game, but the Wild has to get something going offensively. The boys really haven't threatened much since the too many men call.
11:58 - After yet another kick save by Theo, Madden sends a long lead pass to Chuck Kobasew skating out of the zone. He has the puck knocked off his stick when he reaches the zone, but when throws the puck to the front of the net, the puck hits the skate of Lee and bounces right on the goal, but Leclaire sticks his skate back there and barely keeps it out.
5:59 - Once again, it's Theodore doing everything he can to keep his team alive. Kuba joins an Ottawa rush and fires a hard wrist shot from the slot. This time, Theo is quick to react with a stellar stop with the waffle glove.
3:32 - Clutter gets his shot on Gonchar. The Sens defenseman plays the puck in the corner and then absorbs a hit from Cal that rattles the glass. It's not exactly going to make the highlight shows, but I'm glad it's not me taking the hit.0:36.9 - MIN 1 - OTT 3 - The Wild can't get anything going with the extra attacker and the Sens take advantage. Chris Kelly gets the puck in the Wild zone and backhands one into the empty net. That is going to make a comeback extremely difficult.
0:00 - That's going to do it. The frustrated guys in green drop one at home and will hit the road tomorrow for a Saturday tilt in Calgary.