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Lighthouse: Week Of April 5

by Glen Andresen / Minnesota Wild

April 10, 2010 | 10:31 PM

Following Wild games, Managing Editor Glen Andresen will give the five takeaways that he'll remember from each contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 4-3 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars. 

We’ll all feel pretty silly if we see Mike Modano skating around for 82 games with an NHL team next year. But for a moment tonight, it was okay if we had the same reaction we had during the end of Old Yeller, or when Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic torch at the 1996 Summer Olympics.


Watching Modano watch highlights of himself from his North Stars days was nice. Seeing the crowd give him a prolonged standing ovation as he visibly teared up and raised his stick repeatedly are not only why sports are great, are why sports are great here in Minnesota. Then, the majority of the 19,106 stuck around after the game and watched Modano emerge from his locker room after the game wearing a North Stars jersey and skating to center ice. 

I’d be willing to bet that many of the same fans who recognized what this man did for hockey here in Minnesota and the United States, were fans at Target Field last weekend who recognized what Jacque Jones meant to Twins baseball and the fact that the team wasn’t contracted. Sure, our city hasn’t won a championship in 19 years, but I’ll take our fans over any in the country. And plus, that drought is going to end in October.  

Tonight was supposed to be about the #9 in white, but our #9 in red was pretty awesome too. While the former might never be back, the latter should be around for a long, lone time.

In the span of just over four minutes, Mikko Koivu pocketed his 21st and 22nd goals of the season to establish a career-high. Koivu finished the season with 71 points on 22 goals and 49 assists, the third-highest total in franchise history.

The only good thing about missing the playoffs is seeing some of the team’s future stars in action. When it comes to Casey Wellman and Nate Prosser, the future continues to look bright.


Wellman actually earned the loudest cheers not for Modano after scoring his first career NHL goal in the third period. When the graphic on the Jumbotron reminded fans that it was indeed his first goal, the fans erupted again.

As for Prosser, who was playing in front of his family for the first time in a Wild sweater, it was another strong night. He finished the game a +1 in 18:19 of ice time.

Before the game even started, the Wild made news when it was announced that the team would host the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. I know! I never saw it coming either. My jaw was agape as NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly made the announcement at a pregame press conference today.

While this means more work for my Wild colleagues and I (cue the sad violinist), it will be a great weekend for fans. I’ve been lucky enough to attend one draft in Vancouver and will be at this year’s in Los Angeles. It is really a great event, filled with activities for hockey fans that can’t get enough in the summer.

Finally, I have to say that Kari Lehtonen made the best non-save I have ever seen tonight. He appeared to steal Koivu’s first goal with one of the most magnificent sliding glove saves you will ever see as Dallas tried to kill off a two-man Wild advantage. Originally, Lehtonen was credited with the save, but Koivu demonstratively pointed at the goal, which helped force a review. The replay clearly showed Lehtonen’s glove going over the line with the puck in it. Still, it was an amazing effort to behold.

April 9, 2010 | 1:59 PM

In a season filled with call-ups, it looks like the Wild will make one more. Petr Kalus will get the call for tomorrow's game, while Maxim Noreau will return to the Houston Aeros. Kalus will get the call due to a lower body injury to James Sheppard. He will wear #29 tomorrow night.

Nick Schultz will return to the lineup, but Nate Prosser will continue to play. He has obviously earned the trust of Todd Richards as he played a full 21 minutes last night. He is a +1 with one assist in his two games thus far.

Again, Nik Backstrom is fine, and he will play tomorrow night with Wade Dubielewicz as the backup.

April 9, 2010 | 9:50 AM

The early word regarding Nik Backstrom is that he is fine, and is likely to return to action tomorrow night.

The Wild cancelled its on-ice practice today, and will instead have players work out at Xcel Energy Center today.

It was announced today that Guillaume Latendresse is the Wild's nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. Latendresse was selected by the Twin Cities chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association (PHWA). The award is presented to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perserverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. In essence, it's a "Comeback Player of the Year" award.

Last year, Nashville's Steve Sullivan won the award after missing 142 straight games and 11 playoff contests with a serious back injury.

Latendresse isn't coming back from a major injury, but he did come back after struggling to find his way with his hometown team in Montreal. After recording three points (2-1=3) in 23 games with Montreal early this season, Latendresse came to Minnesota in a trade for Benoit Pouliot. Since that trade on November 23, Latendresse has 25 goals and 12 assists for 37 points in 55 games.

A Wild player has never won the award. The other nominees have been: Kurtis Foster (2008-2009), Aaron Voros (2007-2008), Marian Gaborik (2006-2007), Wes Walz (2005-2006), Alexandre Daigle (2003-2004), Dwayne Roloson (2002-2003) and Richard Park (2001-2002).

April 8, 2010 | 11:59 PM

Following Wild games, Managing Editor Glen Andresen will give the five takeaways that he'll remember from each contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 2-1 shootout win over the Calgary Flames. 

Since I watched the Minnesota Wild’s 2-1 shootout victory over the Calgary Flames from the coziness of my living room, it’s easy for me to say this game seemed to lack a little intensity. But at least that’s how it felt with two teams playing for pride rather than playoffs in a building that sounded eerily quiet.

While there was not a ton of action, there was still the usual sign of gutsy play from the Wild that has been there all season. Playing without a large chunk of offense from Martin Havlat, Guillaume Latendresse and Owen Nolan, the Wild mustered all it could and never stopped skating. More guys got hurt; yet nobody gave up and eventually, the Wild secured a third win of the season in Calgary – something that has never been typed before.  

The most serious injury was dealt to goaltender Niklas Backstrom, who again was brilliant tonight. No matter the situation, we’ve seen Backstrom bring his best his entire career. The guy is a competitor and never takes a night off (except when he’s given one). But early in the third period, Backstrom took a wicked shot from David Moss off the throat area. He immediately went down and had to leave the game.

As of now, I don’t have an update on Backstrom’s status.

Of course Backstrom’s exit meant someone had to man the Wild crease, and that someone was Wade Dubielewicz. Of course, we all remember Dubie’s only start this season, which was a loss in Dallas after stopping 14 of 18 shots. Tonight was his shot for redemption, and he came through.

It wasn’t easy. Dubie came into the game with the Flames on the power play, and not long after, the Flames had a 5-on-3. He held is ground, and finished the night with five saves, and was perfect in making two stops in the shootout. It was a feel-good moment at the end of the year, and it had to be a nice feeling for the guy who was only here because of passport issues to be congratulated on the ice by his teammates.

Maxim Noreau became the eighth Wild player to make his NHL debut this season, and the 40th overall player to pull on the sweater this year. Noreau played 7:01 as the Wild used a total of seven defenseman. But one young defenseman has clearly earned the early confidence of Head Coach Todd Richards. After earning an assist and playing 19:31 in his debut on Monday, Nate Prosser played 21 minutes tonight, and was solid once again.

There’s no doubt that the reason Minnesota will not be in the playoffs this year was the inability to win on the road – except the Pengrowth Saddledome. The Wild won 13 games on the road all season, and three of them came in Calgary. Coming into the year, the Wild had three total wins at the Saddledome in eight previous seasons.

April 8, 2010 | 1:14 PM

Maxim Noreau has been officially recalled today, although it's unclear if he'll make his NHL debut. Nick Schultz is expected to return, and Nate Prosser is expected to play his second NHL game tonight. Guillaume Latendresse, Martin Havlat and Owen Nolan are all out tonight, so one would assume the Wild will play Big John Scott at forward, but someone would have to come out if Noreau is going to play.

April 7, 2010 | 4:08 PM

First off, the injury news out of Calgary. It sounds as though Nick Schultz will be okay to return to tomorrow's lineup. That's where the good news appears to end. Guillaume Latendresse did not skate today and is doubtful tomorrow. Marek Zidlicky also did not skate and it appears he may be done for the year. Chuck Kobasew and Owen Nolan both look like "maybes" at this point.

The Wild is likely going to call up Houston Aeros leading scorer (tied with two others), defenseman Maxim Noreau, who would make his NHL debut if he gets into the lineup.

For those looking ahead to this summer's NHL Draft in Los Angeles on June 25-26, the NHL Draft Lottery will be held on Tuesday, April 13 at 7:00 PM. You can see the lottery live on VERSUS, and it will also be streamed live on the Network.

As you may know by now, the Wild will be in the 14-team lottery. Under the weighted system, the team with the fewest regular season points (Edmonton) will have a 25% chance at the top overall pick, and will fall no lower than second overall.

As of right now, the Wild is the 22nd place team, and cannot move up more than four positions in the draft order. The only teams that can get the first overall pick are the teams with the five lowest point totals. Theoretically, the Wild could get the first pick, but that's only if it loses the next two games and Columbus, Carolina and New York Islanders win their remaining games. It's not likely, but if it did happen, remember this: in 2007, Chicago jumped up from fifth to the first overall pick and picked up Patrick Kane.

If everything falls into the most likely order, that would put the Wild at ninth overall. The ninth-ranked North American skater in the final Central Scouting Rankings is defenseman Derek Forbort of Duluth. He is currently in the U.S. Development Program and will attend the University of North Dakota next year. 

I remember watching him at the state tournament last year, and he was a beast. He's 6-foot-5 and as smooth a skater as you'll see. That's not to say the Wild will pick him. Defense doesn't seem to be the team's biggest need right this second.

April 5, 2010 | 11:41 PM

Following Wild games, Managing Editor Glen Andresen will give the five takeaways that he'll remember from each contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

You never want to use excuses for a loss, and you especially don’t want to use injuries as that excuse. But I will. The Wild lost to the Edmonton Oilers, 4-1, because of injuries. Let’s face it, the Wild aren’t going to win many games with Marek Zidlicky, Nick Schultz, Owen Nolan, Martin Havlat and Guillaume Latendresse out of the lineup. The first three didn’t start the game, the latter two left after one period. On the second of back-to-back games and less than 24 hours after an emotionally draining overtime loss in Vancouver, a win just wasn’t going to happen considering the situation. And Dustin Penner and Ethan Moreau made sure of it.  

The absences of Zidlicky and Schultz opened the door for Nate Prosser to make his NHL debut. There was no doubt the kid was nervous…for his intermission TV interview.

As far as hockey, he looked as cool as a puck freezer. In my opinion, Prosser may have been one of the best Wild players all night. Certainly, he was the freshest, but you could see his hockey smarts and his solid passing skills.. Todd Richards used him on the power play (most likely due to injuries), and he was solid in all areas. He started the play that led to the Wild’s only goal by Andrew Brunette, giving him his first NHL point. He wasn’t on the ice for an opponent goal and was a +1 in 19:31 of ice time.

The only blemish on Prosser’s night was a four-minute highsticking penalty that led to Edmonton’s fourth goal. At least, that’s how the box score will show it. But replays show that the blemish should belong to the officials, again.

For the second straight night, an opponent drew a bogus highsticking call, and this one was even more ridiculous. Ryan Potulny collided with Prosser as he entered the slot, and his own stick came up and hit him in the face. Prosser’s stick did come up, but never appeared to make contact with Potulny. It was frustrating that it happened last night. It’s bizarre that it happened two nights in a row.

Brunette’s goal was his 25th of the season, which is two off his career high set in 2006-2007 while with the Colorado Avalanche. He joined Marian Gaborik, Brian Rolston, Pavol Demitra, Nolan and Latendresse as the only players to reach that mark in a season.

There’s a franchise record that the Wild is closing in on that everybody would just assume doesn’t happen. For the second straight night, Minnesota gave up a shorthanded goal, bringing the season total to a whopping 13 shorties against. That leads the NHL and is one off the team record set in the inaugural season of 2000-2001.

April 5, 2010 | 6:05 PM

According to Wild PR guru Ryan Stanzel, Owen Nolan, Nick Schultz and Marek Zidlicky are all out for tonight's game. That means Nate Prosser will be making his NHL debut tonight. It also means Robbie Earl and John Scott will be in.

April 5, 2010 | 3:47 PM

Word is that the two questionable defensemen tonight are Marek Zidlicky and Nick Schultz. Nate Prosser has been told to be ready tonight, but it is not official that he'll make his NHL debut.

If Schultz can't play, the number of players to skate in every game would be down to two - Kyle Brodziak and Andrew Brunette.

April 5, 2010 | 2:40 PM

There haven't been a whole lot of Lighthouse updates the past few days, due to an Easter Weekend-ruining illness that I imagine was about as much fun as a drive from St. Paul to Edmonton with Randy Carlyle. But I'm feeling better, it's Opening Night for the Twins and of course, I still feel pretty good about that Wild game last night, despite the loss. 

Although the playoffs are allegedly not possible this season, this Wild team has reminded me of our local baseball team that I project to win 160 games this season (the loss of Joe Nathan will hurt them in those two defeats). They are never out of a game, no matter the opposing team, the opposing goaltender or the time left on the clock.

They're just fun to watch, which is why I'll be tuning in tonight despite some other sporting events taking place simultaneously (and not just because I work for the team, but that might be part of it).

Anyway, a few quick thoughts regarding Vancouver since the Canucks always anger me. We need Pierre-Marc Bouchard to get healthy and come back next year after a summer of boxing with Derek Boogaard and John Scott. Since Burrows will only take on guys of Butch's stature or smaller, he needs to be taught a lesson. His constant diving and embellishing may be fine for FIFA, but this is hockey.

And how about Roberto Luongo? The guy looked incredible all night and then completely melted down in the final minute. That's the second time in just over a month that I started pumping my fist like The Situation after a goal in the final minute against Luongo. What kills me is that he ended up winning both games (the other obviously being Canada's overtime win over the United States).

But if you're a Canucks fan, are you supremely confident in his ability to win 16 games for you starting next week?

And four of those could be against the Detroit Red Wings. That would be the first round matchup if the playoffs started today, and it would force me to root for the lesser of two evils (Detroit).

Okay, for patiently sifting through my diatribe, I can tell you that Niklas Backstrom will get the start again tonight. It appears likely that he'll finish out the season in goal.

Robbie Earl was recalled today, but I don't know if he'll be in the lineup tonight. All I know so far is that a couple guys are "banged up" so it might be a gametime decision for Mr. Earl and others.

There are a couple defensemen banged up as well, which could mean John Scott and/or Nate Prosser could get into the lineup. I would view that as unlikely.
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