What is up State of Hockey legion? A Happy Kwanzaa to those who celebrate, and a lovely Boxing Day to all of the Wild fans in Canada, the United Kingdom, Trinidad and it's good friend Tobago, Greenland, the Netherlands and several other countries and territories that celebrate.
Though Boxing Day is not traditionally celebrated in the United States, it doesn't mean we can't party tonight. After all, it is
Saturday, and this is
live in-game commentary, where all the cool kids hang out on Saturday nights, especially during the holiday season. And we've got a doozy for you tonight. The St. Louis Blues and their band of merry Minnesotans are in town to take on Minnesota's adopted sons in a battle for sole possession of 11th place in the Western Conference.
It's okay to cheer for the Blues any night other than when they face the Wild, but not tonight. Tonight, in the words of Cobra Kai dojo proprietor John Kreese, "mercy is for the weak, we show no mercy." That is why we have Niklas Backstrom
in goal tonight. Off the ice, he is as cool as Mr. Miyagi. But on the ice, he is John Lawrence and he will sweep the leg if he has to in order to get another win for the good guys.
Tonight the Wild will be without the services of Pierre-Marc Bouchard
, Brent Burns and Petr Sykora, who are out with concussions. Big John Scott and Big Derek Boogaard are going to be the healthy scratches tonight.
Finally, for all you Project Runway fans, we can talk fashion. The Wild is decked out in the home reds once again. The Blues are going with the road whites trimmed in blue and yellow with the musical note on the chest.
All six of the high school coaches that will be coaching at this year's Hockey Day, get us started with the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration. You got it, coach. Let's have a day!Period 1
19:19 - Word has come in that Boogaard is not a healthy scratch, but has an undisclosed injury. He was out there for the warmups, so we will try to get you an update. We love breaking news on in-game commentary here at Wild.com.
17:38 - Right of the draw on the Wild's first power play, the face off is won back to Martin Havlat at the point. He steps in to a blistering shot that just misses wide on Chris Mason's glove hand side.
15:10 - Cal Clutterbuck
gets a rise out of the crowd early by pasting Carlo Colaiacovo against the boards just an instant after the Blues defenseman clears his own zone. Cal Clutterbuck
and Carlo Colaiacovo. That is a lot of "C's" in two names.
5:58 - Eric Belanger makes a nice steal in the neutral zone and turns the play into a two-on-one with James Sheppard. When Bella gets that puck going down the wing, he likes to let that slapper go, but this one is snared out of the air by Mason.
5:43 - The Notes get their best chance as Andy McDonald races the other way on a two-on-one with sniper Brad Boyes on his right. McDonald makes a perfect feed over to Boyes, who either mishits it, or tries to go to the spot from whence Backstrom came. He doesn't work either way, as Backs slides over and makes a sparkling stop with the lobster glove.5:05 - MIN 1 - STL 0 - Cue the lighthouse! The Wild jumps out to the first lead as Marek Zidlicky makes a perfect feed through the neutral zone and hits Guillaume Latendresse at the blue line. G-Lat has some room, and after skating in a few strides, he lets a heavy shot go that gets between the left arm and body of Mason and goes in. The Justin Morneau look-alike gives a demonstrative fist pump as is becoming his signature celebration. It's a little Tiger Woods-like minus the awkward accompanying high five with his caddy.
0:00 - That's going to do it for the opening 20. The Wild will get a well deserved intermission break and some energy drinks to cleanse the palette.Period 2
18:04 - Sherriff Shane Hnidy shows some offensive prowess by skating the puck along the right boards and unleashing a howitzer that seems to surprise Mason with its speed. The Blues goaltender gets a piece of it, and it's enough to cause the shot to hit the post behind him and bounce away on the other side.
11:10 - The Blues have yet to register a shot on goal in this period.
9:38 - There's the first St. Louis shot, and its denied on a solid pad save by Backs.
8:27 - St. Louis is on its third power play of the period, but thus far, they can't solve Backstrom, who once again is bringing the noise on the Blues. He just flat out denies former Minnesota State, Mankato Maverick David Backes right on the door step.
8:02 - Nothing beats the sight of seeing a zebra waving off an opponent's goal. Backes pounds one in from the top of the crease but it is immediately waved off due to an interference penalty on Patrik Berglund. 7:10 - MIN 1 - STL 1 - Wow! It's tough to recall too many spectacular goals scored against the Wild this season (Patrick Kane in Chicago comes to mind), but this one is up there. On a four-on-four situation, McDonald gains the Minnesota zone and zigs to the right, then he goes around two defenders, zags to the left and deposits a wrister off the post on Backstrom's blocker side. We won't mention the fact that Nick Schultz was obviously picked by another St. Louis player on the goal which should have been interference.
6:02 - The Wild nearly gets the lead right back as Antti Miettinen hits Andrew Brunette at the top of the crease. He tries to slide a backhand in there but Mason gets the left leg pillow down to make his biggest stop of the night.
3:18 - Owen Nolan makes a bid for a goal in three straight games by crushing a slap shot from the left circle that drills Mason in the right shoulder. No matter how much protection he's wearing, he's going to feel that one tomorrow morning.Period 3
17:31 - MIN 2 - STL 1 - The Sherriff is in town! Already having a great night, Shane Hnidy has a goal to validate it. Getting the puck at the left point, Hnidy patiently skates closer and allows some congestion to build in front of the St. Louis net. Just as Miettinen gets in the slot, he snipes a wrist shot just off the ice and buries it for a huge goal.
13:57 - Miettinen, who was scoring goals like it was going the way of Girbaud jeans just a couple weeks ago, can't get any puck luck now. He is set up perfectly on a feed from Bruno, and he connects, but rings it off the far post.11:01 - MIN 3 - STL 1 - This is fun! Kim Johnsson leads a two-on-one with Andrew Ebbett on his right side. Blues D-man Roman Polak slides down on his belly to take the pass away, so Kimmy just roofs a perfect wrist shot to the far side for his third of the season. This comes just seconds after Nolan was unable to put one in from right out in front. Big goal in a crucial game.
8:54 - A beautiful save by Backstrom on Boyes is overshadowed by the ugly sight of Chuck Kobasew rolling around on the ice in obvious pain. He tries to get up on his own, but he is unable to put any weight on one of his legs as he's helped off the ice by teammates. I'm going to jump off a cliff here and diagnose this one as a "lower body injury."6:56 - MIN 3 - STL 2 - With the way this game has been played by both teams, you had to think it was going to be close. Right now, it is. A great shift by the Blues ends as David Perron throws a pass to the front. Berglund tries to put it in, but as he's stick checked he doesn't get all of it and actually pushes it over to Perron who emerges from behind the net and knocks it in.
5:54 - We've got a mini-melee! Nolan gets checked in front of the Blues bench by Backes, and that's not a good idea by Backes. Nolan has been crabby out there on the ice lately and he responds with some shoves and punches and everbody except the goalies gets in on the fray. Nolan actually comes out of the play with one of his ear flaps torn off. That means Brunette is going to have to come over and sit in the box with him in case a new bucket isn't ready at the end of his two-minute roughing penalty.
4:16 - We're in the final five minutes of the game, and that means it's Backstrom's time to shine. He slides to his right in the butterfly position to make a huge stop on Colaiacovo's bid from the slot. I'm really getting sick of typing Colaiacovo's name because it takes me about two minutes to get it out correctly. Let's hope he's quiet for the rest of the game.3:41 - MIN 4 - STL 2 - I think the early advantage on the Latendresse for Pouliot trade is going to tip toward the Wild's side. G-Lat knocks in his second of the game on a mad scramble with Wild players all over the crease trying to bang it in. He finally trails the play and with Mason on his belly, is able to flick it in. It's never easy in these parts, is it?
2:49 - Ebbett turns on the jets on a partial breakaway, but his insurance bid is denied as Mason closes up the five hole on his wrist shot.
2:21 - Mason races to the bench for the extra attacker.1:40 - MIN 4 - STL 3 - The Blues will not go away. Berglund gets the puck behind Backstrom's cage and throws a pass to the front where all kinds of bodies are battling. The disc bounces off someone and pops into the air. Backstrom can't find it and it bounces off his back and in.
0:00 - Now that is a huge win Wild fans! Minnesota now holds sole possession of 11th place and is looking for more!