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What's the haps State of Hockey legion? Welcome to yet another edition of live in-game commentary where the magic happens...Wild.com. If it's a Minnesota Wild home game and there's free food in the press dining room, you know where to find me at pregame warmup time, and that's right in my perch here in the Al Shaver Press Box, high atop the frozen water at Xcel Energy Center. It's the best location I can imagine to watch pregame warmups featuring the Wild and the Vancouver Canucks with Eminem's "Not Afraid" blasting over the speakers.
It's Mikko Koivu
Bobblehead night y'all, and the main lobby inside Gate One was packed solid an hour ago with fans looking to get their mitts on the five-inch, 15-ounce statue of our team captain.
The Bobbleheads were snapped up in a matter of minutes, but I hope the Marketing folks saved one of the statues. We might need Bobblehead Mikko to play a few shifts tonight if everyone is too sick to play. Bobblehead Mikko is much like his human namesake. Good hands, great on faceoffs and really sees the ice well. Speed is a concern considering his skates are attached to a little platform, and obviously size could be an issue. But Bobblehead Koivu has been dogged by questions about his size since he was created in China a few months ago. He more than makes up for his size with grittiness and intensity. Again, very similar to Human Mikko.
Fortunately, we've got Human Nik Backstrom tending goal for the Wild tonight. He is looking dialed in because like you and I, he's got no love for the Canucks. He enjoys making them feel bad about themselves.
And speaking of feeling bad, there are quite a few Wild players who aren't exactly feeling great. There's a bug sweeping through the team, but it's not tough enough to keep anybody out of the lineup. All of the guys in question this morning are out there tonight, and the Wild will have a full complement of players. That means Colton Gillies' season debut will have to wait. Clayton Stoner
will also be scratched.
As for the threads, the Wild is going back to the home reds for this one. The Canucks will go with the road whites trimmed in blue and green with C-shaped Shamu on the chest.
The State of Hockey flag has been planted at center ice. Both anthems are done. Let's Play Hockey courtesy of racquetball champion Kane Waselenchuk is finished up. Let's do this, yo.Period 1
19:02 - MIN 0 - VAN 1 - Can we get a re-do? The Canucks jump right on the Wild by scoring on the first shot of the game. A blast from the point hits traffic and bounces to the right circle to Henrik Sedin. Henrik has some freakish E.S.P. thing going with his brother, Daniel. Without looking, he spins and throws a pass to the other side and Daniel has a layup into an empty net.
18:09 - The first of possibly many meetings between Cal Clutterbuck
and former Ohio State Buckeye Ryan Kesler takes place in the Vancouver corner. Kesler turns around to see Clutter steaming towards him and he smokes him perfectly. Kesler gets airborne and flies backward into the glass.
14:31 - It is my pleasure to have former NHL zebra Kerry Fraser sitting just to my left during tonight's game. I better watch what I type about the officials tonight because I don't want to have an unhappy neighbor for tonight's game. But I must say, Fraser has the most immaculate head of hair I think I've ever seen. Look at that thing! Jimmy Johnson would be blushing if he saw this work of art.13:56 - MIN 1 - VAN 1 - And there's the answer we're looking for. The Wild knots this thing back up on the power play. Marek Zidlicky gets the puck along the boards by the left circle. Some people may say that isn't an ideal place to shoot form. Some people are idiots. With Andrew Brunette setting up for a screen, Zids rifles one through Roberto Luongo. That ignites the crowd.
12:40 - MIN 2 - VAN 1 - Ka-boom! This place has erupted again. It doesn't take long for Guillaume Latendresse to get comfortable with his old linemates. A Justin Falk shot from the right point misses wide and hits off the backboard to the other side of the net. G-Lat pounces on it and Luongo is slow to lunge over there and can't make the stop. He hates this building!
10:26 - The only problem with Canucks games is my fingies never get a break from typing. The Wild nearly pads the early lead here. John Madden pokes the puck past a Canuck defender in the neutral zone, and he's off to the races. On a semi two-on-one, he winds up and crushes a slap shot past Luongo and off the left post. This thing hits so hard off the iron that it bounces about 50 feet into the air and about 20 rows up in the stands by the blue line!
9:08 - Wow, this is fun! After Luongo makes a save and holds the puck in his bread basket, a skirmish breaks out in the crease. It doesn't take long before Brad Staubitz and Mark Rypien have their gloves on the ice and are trading haymakers. Staubitz works Rypien over with some lefts and knocks his helmet loose. He then finishes the job and floors Rypien while falling on top. The Wild bench is loving it.
4:16 - The Sedins work their magic again, but this time Backstrom is having none of it. I believe it was "Pinky" behind the net, who found "the Brain" in front. But Backstrom is all over it, stuffing him on the doorstep.1:50 - MIN 3 - VAN 1 - OMG! That's exquisite. This is the definition of tape to tape passing as Latendresse and Martin Havlat get the puck at their own blue line and just play catch with each other all the way down the ice. Finally, they get in tight, and G-Lat slides a perfect pass over to Clutterbuck, and he jams it home. Havlat and G-Lat must have traded five passes before setting up Clutter on this one. Pretty stuff.
0:00 - An awful first minute gives way to a fantastic final 19. The Wild will take 15 and then be back for another 20.Period 2
16:27 - The Canucks get sloppy in their own zone, and Staubitz causes a turnover, which sends the puck to Chuck Kobasew in the slot. He wheels around and lets off a hard wrister, but Luongo makes the pad stop.
12:26 - Havlat continues to look like an all-time quarterback out there. He seems to have glue on his stick as he plays around with it, then sends a dangerous shot toward the goal that Cullen just misses with a tip. 12:06 - MIN 4 - VAN 1 - Boom! Do you know how long I've been waiting to write "Boom!" when John Madden scores a goal? Way too long. He gets his first goal in a Wild sweater by gaining the Canuck zone, pulling up in the slot and absolutely blistering a wrist shot past Luongo, who I think would rather be passing a gall stone at this point.
9:40 - The Canucks nearly cut the lead in half on the power play, but Brent Burns comes up with a huge play. After a long shot from the point is stopped by Backstrom, the puck pops to a wide open former UMD Bulldog Mason Raymond. He tries to backhand it into the empty net, but Burns uses his entire reach to get his stick in the way and deflect the shot high.7:39 - MIN 5 - VAN 1 - The hounds have been unleashed, and nobody is giving them the "release!" command. Zidlicky carries the puck down low and behind the Vancouver net. He then drops a pass back between his legs to the side of the net where Brunette just punches it in past Luongo, who I believe would rather be doing the breast stroke in a pool full of broken glass and rusty nails at this point.
6:22 - We have now crossed over into the absolutely bizarre, which can only happen when the Canucks are in town. I don't even knwo where to start, but I'll try. First, Staubitz and Rypien start tussling in front of the Wild bench, although the linesmen won't allow them to take it any further, so they get pulled apart. While being held back, Rypien takes a shot at Staubitz. That incenses the Wild bench, and then a few more on-ice skirmishes break out. While this is going on, Rypien keeps trying to get at Staubitz while being held back, and actually tossed around by the linesman, Don Henderson. As he gets near his bench, Rypien actually shoves Henderson back, and that immediately gets him sent to the dressing room. But he's not done. On his way back, he starts mixing it up with a fan near the players tunnel. By this point, the crowd is going absolutely crazy. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it at a Wild game. It ranks more surreal than watching Matt Johnson come out of the Wild penalty box, make a B-line at Matt Cooke, who responded with the most vicious spear to the stomach I've ever seen. 6:14 - MIN 6 - VAN 1 - Todd Richards might want to bag skate these guys more often. This is getting to the point of ridiculous. The Wild power play continues to melt the ice this season. Matt Cullen, who leads the NHL in power play points, cranks a one-timer off a pass from Koivu. Luongo has now given up six goals on 17 shots, and I'm fairly certain he'd rather be having his hair cut off at this point.
20:00 - In case you are wondering, the fans that Rypien essentially attacked, we moved to different seats. They were not kicked out of the game. I think Mr. Rypien might be looking at some discipline by the League.
20:00 - Luongo has mercifully been replaced by former Boston College Eagle, Cory Schneider.
15:06 - Greg Zanon wrists a long shot from the point toward the goal. Latendresse, who looks like a brand new player, puts a near perfect tip on it, but the puck slides just wide.
12:18 - Christian Ehrhoff has a glorious scoring chance for Vancouver as he cuts through the back door. He tries to go upstairs but Backstrom slides to his left and shuts the door, making his best save of the night.
9:32 - Now that he's got a goal of his own, Madden tries to help a brother out. He steals the puck right in front of the Vancouver net, then puts a nice drop pass back to Eric Nystrom bearing in on the net. Nys drills a shot, but Schneider plays it perfectly and robs him.
6:24 - We waited all summer to see this second line with all systems go, and they are not disappointing tonight. Latendresse tries to hit Havlat with a cross ice set-up, but Havlat's redirect at the side of the cage just misses wide. Number 24 is still searching for that first goal of the season.
3:06 - Backstrom again comes up big, sliding to his left in the butterfly position and then flashing the lobster mitt up to snare a quick shot by Manny Malhotra off a centering feed.1:29 - MIN 6 - VAN 2 - In the words of teen pop sensation, JoJo, "It's just a little too late." The Canucks make the impending Wild win a little less lopsided as Henrik finds Daniel open in the left circle, and he puts his shot off Backstrom's noggin and in.
0:00 - That was a most enjoyable experience. The Wild players offer some love taps to Backstrom as they celebrate a winning homestand. Get lost Vancouver.