What up State of Hockey legion? I would like to bid you a Happy World Tourism Day, and I trust you have celebrated in the proper way thus far. Of course, you first booked a trip via Sun Country Airlines while wearing your comfortable walking shoes (preferably velcro), your fanny pack and/or satchel as well as a loud Hawaiian shirt so you'll be easy to spot should we get...Oh my gosh
! Look at the size of that
building. It's yuuuuge! I wonder how old it is?
Bulmer Goal: 3-1
| Koivu Goal: 2-1
| Zidlicky Goal: 1-0
Of course, any real
tourist knows the number one tourist attraction in these parts is Xcel Energy Center, and that's where I'm lucky enough to be on this spectacular Minnesota evening. I'm kickin it in my Al Shaver Press Box perch getting ready to do a little Wild.com commenting as the St. Louis Blues prepare to get run the heck over by our boys in Iron Range Red, the Minnesota Wild. You're not going to want to miss this one. In fact, it's a damn good thing you've got that camera strapped around your neck because you'll want to take photos of this commentary, it's going to be so action packed.
But if you insist on moving pictures, I welcome you to watch the live video streaming right here on Wild.com, and you can find that here
. If you look quickly, you might see Niklas Backstrom
stopping just about every warmup shot coming away. But the man is fast, so if you can't see him, don't worry. Just know he's looking strong to very strong.
As you may know, the Wild had a major roster cutdown day on Sunday so it's time to get down to brass tacks. The Wild will have the majority of its regulars out there with the exceptions of Mike Lundin
(back), Matt Cullen
(upper body) and Jared Spurgeon
(rib) who are dealing with some apparently minor injuries.
As for the attire, the Wild are going with the aforementioned reds for tonight's melee. The Blues will sport the road whites trimmed in yellow and blue with the musical note on the chest.
A little cherub from the Wild Kid's Club gets us started with the Let's Play Hockey declaration, and we're good to go. Let's do the dang thang.Period 1
18:56 - First scoring chance goes to the good guys as Pierre-Marc Bouchard
gets a step on the St. Louis defense and fires off a high wrister that's steered away be the waffle glove of goaltender Jaroslav Halak.17:44 - MIN 1 - STL 0 - One power play, one tally for the home team. Working the puck around the perimeter, Dany Heatley skates out from behind the net and sends a disc to Marek Zidlicky at the point. He kicks the puck from his skate to his stick, and as he's falling down, is able to fire a shot through Halak's legs. A bit of a softie, but as long as the red light is on, we're in no position to complain.
13:31 - The Wild's "fourth" line makes a beautiful play from the neutral zone on in. At center ice, Brett Bulmer
makes a perfect tip pass to spring Eric Nystrom on a partial break. Nystrom fires a shot on goal that Halak turns away, and Colton Gillies nearly whacks in the bouncing puck.
9:31 - St. Louis' Andy McDonald is buzzing all over the place like a hyperactive wasp. He gets free down the slot and zips a high shot that Backstrom is just able to get a piece of with the handle of his lumber.
8:08 - St. Louis has completely taken the game over the in the last two minutes. It looks like they're on a power play right now as the Wild can't get the puck out of the zone. Fortunately, any disaster is averted and the Wild finally clears.
7:27 - You knew this could be a possibility after the way Clayton Stoner
bloodied David Backes in a fight at the end of a game last year. At center ice, Stoney and B.J. Crombeen drop the gloves and start trading blows. Stoner definitely has the upper hand early, although Crombeen lands one punch that draws some "oooohhhhs" from the crowd as it sends Stoners cap flying. After some more grappling, the refs break it up in what has to be dubbed a draw.2:09 - MIN 1 - STL 1 - We're even up. Backstrom makes a nice glove save, but he's unable to hang onto the puck, allowing it to drop off to his side. Scott Nichol is the first to get there, and he throws it into the crease where it hits a skate and just trickles over the goal line.
1:53 - MIN 2 - STL 1 - We'll take that lead back if you don't mind. It's the top line doin' work like Kobe Bryant. Devin Setoguchi dishes down low to Heatley, and he just makes a quick pass to the front where Koivu one-times it under the bar on the blocker side of Halak. Tough to stop that, Jaroslav. Tough to stop that.
0:00 - That'll do it for the first 20. The Wild heads to the locker room with a lead, and a fairly solid effort for Mike Yeo to chew on.
16:23 - MIN 3 - STL 1 - I'm still here says Brett Bulmer, also known as the Honey Badger because he just takes what he wants. He pads the Wild lead by corralling an entry pass from Guillaume Latendresse and then wristing a low shot that beats Halak. That goal doesn't count for anything in the record books, but you know Bulmer is going to remember it for a long time, and it could go a long way toward keeping him here with the big boys longer.
11:15 - MIN 3 - STL 2 - Like annoying house guests, the Blues aren't getting the hint that they're no longer welcome here. They draw to within a goal as Chris Stewart carries up the left wing and lays a perfect pass into the slot where Patrik Berglund races in and steps into a one-timer, beating Backstrom with a low shot.
8:55 - First prediction of the season: the Wild will be in the top 5 among teams on the power play this season. Heatley, Setoguchi, Koivu, Bouchard and Zidlicky? Are you kidding me? That's a murderer's row right there.
5:37 - Don't sleep on ol' Kyle Brodziak
, who had a breakout season last year. He steals a ring around the boards by Halak and then flinging it toward the empty net. Halak just does get back in time to steer it away.
0:04.2 - Oh my! Backstrom comes up with a huge save in the waning seconds as Alex Steen tees up a one-timer from about 10 feet out, but the Wild keeper slides across and makes a spectacular save with the left leg pillow.Period 3
16:22 - Brodziak's line buzzes around the St. Louis zone and nearly connects as Cal Clutterbuck
tries to slide one in front to Darroll Powe
, who misses mostly because he takes a stick in the eye and can't see it. He appears to be fine, however, as he skates hard the other way for a backcheck.
10:56 - Backstrom continues to come up big as the Blues have started ramping up their offense in search of the equalizer. The puck gets stuck in between some legs about five feet out in front of Backy, and Matt D'Agostini pounces, poking the puck right on, but the Wild keeper snuffs it out and sponges up the rebound.
9:31 - The Wild dodges another bullet with Barret Jackman cranking a shot to the slot where it's tipped by Berglund. The puck clanks off the far post.7:30 - MIN 3 - STL 3 - Son of a Gunderson. The Blues get back to even on the man advantage. Seeing the puck moving around the perimeter, Matt D'Agostini dives into the slot where he perfectly redirects a centering pass from David Backes, sliding it through the pads of Backstrom.
5:58 - The man they call "Seto" says that when he gets the puck, he shoots it. He does that pretty well too. From the left circle, he sees he's got some space, so he winds and fires one to the far corner, but Halak is able to snare it with the lobster mitt.
4:50 - On a single rush, Marco Scandella
shows why he is so highly regarded in this organization. As the rest of his teammates go off for a change, he rushes the puck up on his own, gains the zone and rockets a slap shot that Halak basically has to defend himself on. Scandella is the first to retrieve the rebound as well, and by now, he's got new mates with him for a sustained forecheck. Great shift!1:09 - MIN 3 - STL 4 - What happened to that two goal lead we grew so fond of? It's now gone, and the Blues take a late lead. Evgeny Grachev (Bless you!) steals the puck behind the Wild net and gets it to the front for Carlo Colaiacovo, who one times it past Backstrom.
0:00 - That's going to do it as the Wild drops one to the Lou, 4-3. Guess what? We don't care. It's preseason. Call me when you beat us in the regular season, St. Louis.