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What is going down my friends in the State of Hockey legion? A Happy Thanksgiving Eve goes out to all y'all. I think the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of the best non-holidays out there, what with the long weekend about to start, the piles of food getting ready and the reuniting of friends and family. It's even better when you can mix in a Wild game, and then it's just plain barrel of monkeys fun when the Philadelphia Flyers are the opponent.
Once again, I'll be coming to you live from my beloved perch in the Al Shaver Press Box, a couple stories above ice level at Xcel Energy Center. Right now, I'm observing pregame warmups and I'm getting a little weepy eyed considering those beautiful moustaches on the faces of our Wild players are only going to be around for a few more days or so. They've all developed such personalities over the past few weeks, and I'm really going to miss them.
I think I might miss Nik Backstrom's the most of anybody. His 'stache has definitely been good to us this month, helping Nick to a 4-2-0 record in his last six starts. He and his Mo will be between the pipes again tonight, which is horrible news for the Flyers and the rubes in orange and black that are pressed up against the glass watching them warm up tonight. They're drive home in the snow tonight is going to be a little more treacherous just because of how crummy Backstrom is going to make them feel tonight.
Speaking of feeling crummy, that's how Marek Zidlicky is feeling in his lower body. He'll be out of the lineup tonight, which means Justin Falk
and Clayton Stoner
are both in. Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion) and Chuck Kobasew (lower body) are out, as is Guillaume Latendresse
(hip flexor/hernia). Latendresse had successful surgery today, but will be out indefinitely. Robbie Earl will be the only healthy scratch, while former Wild second round draft pick Patrick O'Sullivan will be making his Wild debut tonight. Now that
As for the costumes, the Wild will be wearing the snappy home reds tonight. The Flyers are in their road whites trimmed in orange and black with the winged "P" on the chest.
David Watkins, Dave Schwartz and Eric Perkins of KARE 11 are all sporting some serious moustache mojo, and they're getting this thing kicked off with the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration. Now, Perk's sport is lacrosse as he proved as a member of the Minnesota Swarm for three seconds, but I'm still doing what he says. Let's do this thing.Period 1
19:06 - The bodies are flying early. Eric Nystrom and former St. Cloud State Husky Andreas Nodl collide violently behind the Wild net. Nodl goes flying into the backboards, but he shakes it off fairly quickly.
18:20 - There's O'Sullivan touching the puck for the first time tonight, he makes a nifty play right away. Getting the puck just inside the Philly blueline, he zips a pass across the slot where it ends up on Cal Clutterbuck
's stick. Clutter lets go with a laser wrist shot, but Sergei "Bob" Bobrovsky gets his glove up and snares it.
18:15 - And here we go, right off the faceoff, we've got ourselves a heavyweight bout, and it's a beauty. Matt Kassian
and Jody Shelley, one of the baddest bruisers out there, drop the gloves and go at it big time. Kassian completely owns Shelley in this one, working him with a barrage of left jabs and right roundhouses. This one is a marathon, and finally the refs step in to end it, but the clear decision goes to Matty. 16:44 - MIN 0 - PHI 1 - What just happened here? A shot from the left circle hits Greg Zanon in the Wild crease, and he goes down thinking the puck is underneath him. Also on the ice is Backstrom, who is looking under Zanon for the puck, but really it's under his elbow. Those two just lay there for a bit, and then when Backstrom moves his arm, he inadvertently knocks the puck into the net. Former New Hampshire Wildcat James van Riemsdyk has the easiest goal of his career. My question is: if it was under Backstrom, why was the whistle not blown? That's what Mikko Koivu wants to know as well, but the refs are brushing him off as if such a question is ridiculous.
14:28 - MIN 0 - PHI 2 - And this is what we don't need. With four skaters aside, Brent Burns makes an errant pass from behind the Philly net, and Jeff Carter picks it up on the sideboards. He then cuts to the slot and catches Backstrom off guard by whipping a backhand that squeezes through the leg pillows and in. Well, there is a whole bunch of time left in this one, so there's no need to fret.
10:34 - Looking to get something going, the top line plays keepaway behind the Philly net with Andrew Brunette seemingly getting the puck as if there's a magnet on his blade. After working it around, he finally goes to the front of the net, dances around a defender and tries to stuff one through "Bob." Nothing doing.
10:24 - Sit down Kimmo Timonen. Along the endboards, he tries to break the puck out but is absolutely clobbered by another clean Clutter hit. Timonen is angry, and tries to get revenge as the puck comes back to the corner, but Cal is a wrecking ball, and balls don't get knocked down. They just roll.
8:34 - How does this not go in? Martin Havlat makes an absolute sick pass from the side of the net that hits a skate in front where Nystrom is battling. The puck slides right into Nystrom's wheelhouse and he looks to have an easy lay up, but Bob throws his right leg pillow back and somehow makes the stop before it can get over the line. Nystrom and John Madden jam away at it, but they can't put a hole in the wall.
8:00 - Gadzooks! The KSTC-TV broadcast is showing a close up of Shelley right now, and if I can characterize his face in one word, I'd have to go with "mangled." Kassian is shown in the other frame, and his face is pristine, as long as you consider a face with a handle bar moustache "pristine."
4:41 - Nikolay Zherdev (who I thought used to spell his name, "Nikolai") dances around in the Wild zone and gets in alone on Backy. He makes a move to the backhand, but Nik stays right with it and stuffs him with a right pad stop.
1:57 - Kaboooooom! Queue the shattering glass sound effect. Claude Giroux fires the puck into the Wild zone and off the sideboards. The puck catches the top of one of the panes and shatters it. In fact, it might be the same pane that James Sheppard shattered when he checked an opponent into it last year. They're going to start intermission early and put 1:57 on the clock in the second period. Todd Richards does not appear happy with that decision. Fun fact, however. This is the second consecutive day that a pane of glass has been shattered at Xcel Energy Center. Yesterday, John Madden blew one up with a shot.
1:57 - We're actually still in period one. We'll play these final two minutes, and then immediately start the second.
0:00 - There's the buzzer. The goaltenders switch ends, and we're going right back at it for another 20.Period 2
20:00 - That was quick. Less than a minute after the buzzer, we're set to go again.
19:18 - O'Sullivan nearly turns this place on its ear by picking Sean O'Donnell in the neutral zone and walking in all alone on Bob. He makes a quick move to the forehand but puts his shot high and wide.
16:25 - We've got another piece of plastic on the ice. Shelley tries to line up Cam Barker, but ends up pulling a "Boogey" when the Bark Dog steps aside and Shelley smokes the glass himself. One of the plastic place holders at the top of the glass comes down, but they're going to let play continue.
10:10 - Backstrom has to be cat quick just to get his glove up in time to stop an absolute rocket slap shot from Scott Hartnell, he of the ridiculously ugly mane on the top of his head.
7:27 - Matt Cullen
gets a step and walks around Braydon Coburn to get in on Bob. Coburn resorts to a hook, which forces Cullen into misfiring wide. The Wild will get a power play out of this.
5:54 - Giroux has a shorthanded break the other way, but with Clutterbuck closing in on him, he tries some dipsy-do move to pull the puck between his skates, and he loses control. To make matters worse for Claude, Clutter gives him a shove and sends him flying into the backboards.5:11 - MIN 1 - PHI - 2 - Welcome to Minnesota Pat O! We're glad you've finally arrived. The Wild's newest acquisition scores in his first game with his new/old club. He tries to make a centering pass from the side of the net, but puts it right off the leg of Andrej Meszaros and into the net. This is a much-needed boost, considering the Wild was struggling to find the net leading up to this.
0:59.3 - MIN 1 - PHI 3 - Sometimes a play is so pretty, there's not much you can do. Danny Briere dishes the puck into the slot for Hartnell and then cuts to the net on the left side. Hartnell gives it right back to him, putting the puck right on the tape, and Briere roofs it over the waffle mitt of Backy. It's a tough one to swallow at the end of the second as the Wild had begun to gain some momentum. Period 3
14:58 - Madden leads a two-on-one the other way, and when the Philly defender goes down to take away the pass, John tries to go upstairs. What About Bob? Well, he makes another give save with the chest protector.
13:53 - Minnesota's best chance of the period comes on a flurry in front as the puck hits traffic and bounces all over the map, and in the air. Bobrovsky is flailing about in the crease, but he lucks out as Koivu puts a shot right off his pad hanging in the air.
13:11 - The Wild power play works the puck all around and Brunette gets it right at the side of the net. He lays a pass right in front for Havlat, who is robbed stone cold on the doorstep by the pad of Bob. Guy can't catch a break.12:13 - MIN 1 - PHI 4 - And just like that, the Flyers suck the life out of the building with a shortie. Nodl steals the puck at the Wild blueline and is off to the races with nobody even close to him. He gets to within about eight feet and then beats Backstrom on the glove side, ringing it off the post and in.
11:08 - MIN 1 - PHI 5 - It's been this kind of night. The Wild can't get a bounce, and the Flyers get every one imaginable. On a two-on-one, Ville Leino tries to pull of a spin-o-rama backhand pass. The pass is behind Briere, but hits him in the skate, bounces back through the legs of Justin Falk and right onto the stick of Leino, who easily taps it in. All you can do is shake your head.
8:48 - MIN 1 - PHI 6 - Need further evidence that it is not our night? Shelley is now scoring goals. Former Princeton Tiger Darrell Powe finds him alone in the slot, and the guy that currently looks like Two-Face in Batman is able to make a move and then tuck a shot past a sprawled out Backy. Uncle.
7:07 - Did you really think they'd catch a break here? Kyle Brodziak
rips a shot off the far post. The puck bounces right to Kassian with a wide open net, but he can't get a shot off because Meszaros slashes his stick and breaks it in the process without getting called.
0:00 - And the buzzer sounds, which I will be sure to give thanks for tomorrow. Time to force this one out of the memory bank and look forward to a moustache record-breaking Friday.