The Wild has played just two projected top four defensemen in each of its first two home games, and has yet to allow a goal. A tremendous job by all the Wild D tonight, including Jaime Sifers, who is trying to make the team. He had a fight, a huge blocked shot late in the game and played big all night. He had four hits and three blocked shots in 17:10 of ice time.
Up front, what else can you say about Martin Havlat and Petr Sykora. They combine for all three goals, Havlat is +1 and Sykora +2. Kim Johnsson had two helpers and was +2 in 23:21.
Minnesota plays at Columbus tomorrow night. The roster will be determined in the morning. The game group practices at 10, followed by the non-traveling group. Our flight is set to leave at 1:15. I'll be taking my first road trip of the year (albeit a 10-hour trip), which means I'd best go home and find my "Black Binder of Death." Not that I should need much of that information for our quick jaunt to Columbus.
I'll be tweeting some pics from the road tomorrow, so make sure you sign up for Twitter.
T-minus 40 minutes until the Giants help the Cowboys open up the new stadium (and crush them at the same time), so here's to a short third period. Anton Khudobin replaces Backstrom, who has played 70 or so shutout minutes in a row to open the preseason. Antti Niemi is still in net for the Hawks.
And a heavyweight matchup we've been waiting for, as Matt "Cakes" Kassian drops the mitts with Aaron Johnson right off the faceoff. A definite decision to Cakes. That's fight No. 5 tonight.
Preseason game notes are short and sweet, so I'm about done with tomorrow's notes for Columbus. Shots 14-14 here, Wild still up 1-0.
We hit the halfway point.
Former Wild farmhand Mark Cullen got the stick up in Danny Irmen accidentally and goes to the penalty box. Just a two-minute minor, we'll see if the Wild can tack on an insurance goal here.
And the crowd erupts with a 1:51 5-on-3 coming up, as Aaron Johnson interfered with Martin Havlat after he deked him.
Havlat won't pay for a meal in this town tonight! He cuts back door and taps in a nifty pass from Cal Clutterbuck, who is the Wild's leading scorer this season with three points (2-1=3). The second goal of the night for Havlat, and the Wild leads 2-0 with 1:44 of power play time still coming up. Kim Johnsson with the second assist.
Power play ends as Brent Sopel slides into the boards. Hooking call to Petr Sykora.
Sykora leaves the box and scores one of the prettier goals we've seen in these parts in recent times. Racing up the center, Sykora hits Nolan on the right wing then makes a beeline to the net. Sykora, diring up the slot, redirects a centering feed top shelf over Niemi for his first goal with the Wild. It's 3-0 Wild. Kyle Brodziak also with an assist.
Heading over to the press elevator. Talk to you briefly post-game.
Teams are back on the ice for the second period. They start 5-on-5.
Havlat nearly makes it 2-0, bowling his way from the corner into the low slot, but Niemmi makes the save.
Kyle Beach broke into the left circle alone and picked a corner, just missing and firing a shot high and wide.
Sykora, not known for setting himself up, nearly got a nice goal for himself with some nice stickwork in the left circle, but he hit the near post.
This news in from Chicago PR maven Adam Rogowin: Adam Burish will not return due to that leg injury suffered in the first period.
We didn't expect this. Tyler Cuma
, the Wild's first-round pick in '08, fights Shawn Lalonde. The fight was pretty even until the end, when Cuma fell backwards onto the ice. He looks like his nose is bleeding.
Danny Bois drives Jaime Sifers into the boards, and the Wild gets a power play.
The Wild looked to take a 2-0 lead, but the referee rules no goal on Benoit Pouliot's tip of a Sifers blast. The puck appeared to go just inside the crossbar.
Another fight, this one Sifers and Colin Fraser. That's four tilts this far in the game.
Nearly another scrap, as Kyle Beach and John Scott push in the waning seconds. Beach, if you remember, broke Marc-Andre Bergeron's nose in a preseason game last season before going back to junior.
End 2nd period
Shots 13-11 in favor of the Wild, which still leads 1-0.
Sifers and Falk on the blueline, and Brodziak between Irmen and Nolan up front. Starting for Chicago are Aaron Johnson and Daryl Boyle on the blueline, and Kyle Beach, Colin Fraser and Adam Burish up front. Niklas Backstrom
against Antti Niemi in net.
Members of the Great Clips Wild Kids Club led us in "Let's Play Hockey", and we're about ready to go.
Jaime Sifers lays the first big hit of the game, crunching Adam Burish into the boards in the Wild defensive zone.
It takes Martin Havlat exactly one shift (actually, less than one) to endear himself to the Wild faithful, as he makes it 1-0. Havlat settled the puck with his skate at his own blueline, went around two Chicago defenders, just stayed onside, hit a flying Benoit Pouliot on the left wing, then tapped the return pass from Pouliot into an open net before Niemi could recover. That's Havlat's first goal in his first shift of the preseason, against his former team, the Blackhawks. Kim Johnsson with the second assist.
In an entertaining, but lightweight battle, the Wild's Nathan Smith and Chicago's Jacob Dowell fight. Some good punches up high. The crowd is loving this.
HUGE hit by Big John Scott on Bryan Bickell. Danny Bois takes offense to that and jumps Scott, which wasn't a good idea. After a brief battle, Scott knocked him tothe ice with a punch. Scott gets an interference minor because Bickell had apparently gotten rid of the puck already. It was a good, clean hit though.
Chicago almost evens things up when newcomer Tomas Kopecky rings a shot off the pipe.
We hit the first media timeout. The Wild with a solid PK. It'll get tested again, as Jaime Sifers just went for high sticking.
5-on-3 against the Wild for 29 seconds as Johnsson goes for interference.
With the Wild down a man, Niklas Backstrom
with a point blank stop on Andrew Ladd.
Things have slowed down considerably since the start. Blackhawks outshooting the Wild 7-3 but Minnesota is still up 1-0. And Aaron Sickman and I have conceded the fantasy baseball semifinal against Brent Proulx.
Minnesota gets its first power play. Bryan Bickell to the box for interference.
Adam Burish falls and goes hard into the boards with the help of Benoit Pouliot, who also lost his balance. Worried at first about Burish's head, but he limps favoring one leg going down the tunnel.
Havlat and Petr Sykora have amazing chemistry, and Pouliot is feeding right into it tonight. Pouliot found Havlat in traffic, and Havlat dropped a pass for Sykora, who rifled a shot that appeared destined for top shelf. But Niemi made a great save. On the play, Troy Brouwer goes off for roughing, and Pouliot counters with a roughing penalty ofhis own. Still 5-on-4.
Minnesota was to get a penalty as Andrew Ladd went to the box for hooking, but with the Wild racing up ice with the extra attacker, Clutterbuck nails a Blackhawk at open ice (looked like an ok hit) and goes for charging. Some entertaining 4-on-4 hockey upcoming, since the penalties happened at different times.
Sifers with another hit, this one a hip check, up against the boards.
End 1st period
The Wild has still not given up a goal on home ice this preseason and leads 1-0 after 20 minutes. Minnesota is being outshot 7-4.
Campbell and Keith were on the Blackhawks travel list, but it doesn't look like any of them made it. Tomas Kopecky, Adam Burish, Brent Sopel and Colin Fraser the most well known of the Chicago players currently warming up on the ice.
Martin Havlat and Petr Sykora are on the opposite end, ready to make their Wild debuts. Making their first appearance of the preseason for the Wild are the defenseman pairing of Nick Schultz and Kim Johnsson. Tyler Cuma
, the Wild's top pick in 2008, sees his first action this preseason, as does Snowflake, Manitoba native Justin Falk
. Niklas Backstrom
gets the start for the Wild in net.
Broken pane of glass right next to the zamboni entrance at the end of warmups. They'll hurry to fix it and get the zamboni out there so there's no delay.
Aaron Sickman and I are closely following a couple of late afternoon baseball games as well. Our team is matched up against Wild assistant equipment manager Brent Proulx in the semifinals of the Wild player/staff league. It's going right down to the wire. I am pretty sure that if Sicky and I win that league, we'll never be allowed back in the league, run by Owen Nolan.
11:00 a.m. CDT, Sunday
Based on the pregame skate this morning, tonight's lines should look something like this:
Sykora, by the way, was a sniper in practice today, scoring goal after goal after goal. Havlat had a nifty top shelf goal by Anton Khudobin as well.
Havlat will be on WCCO's Sports Huddle at 11:11 a.m., while Greg Zanon will be on with WCCO's Steve Thomson at 1:10 p.m.
The second group is currently on the ice. It's a small group (I count 12 bodies, approximately) as some guys aren't on the ice today. It's also a small media contingent today, with both our beat writers, as well as Travis and Kevin from Wild.com.
The Blackhawks sent us a list of 23 skaters and three goalies. No Toews or Kane. But a chance we'll see Patrick Sharp, Brian Campbell and Tomas Kopecky. Also on the list is former Wild farmhand Mark Cullen, who is one of the nicest guys you'll ever find. As is Blackhawks guru Adam Rogowin, who I worked with in the AHL. It will be good to catch up with him as well.Q&A time:Q:
Glad to see your blog back. Does Josh Harding
have a new helmet design for the start of the season?
Jody from MinneapolisA:
Thanks for the note Jody. Yes, Harding does have a new helmet design. You can see it on Friday night's recap page
I am with the Multi-National Division, South (Basra, Iraq) Headquarters which is from MN. We like to stay up late and watch MN sports games on the American Forces Network when they are available. Would you happen to know when Wild games will be broadcast on AFN?
Thanks for all of the information you provide, it helps us in keeping home close!
SGT Jason AndersonA:
SGT Anderson: First and foremost, thank you for your service! And for your support of the Wild. Our broadcast guru Maggie Kukar is looking into your question and we will have an answer soon. We always like hearing from our troops overseas!Q:
How has my homie Matty "Cakes" Kassian looked so far? I know Cam Janssen wouldn't dance in the St. Louis game.
Old Nate from E-townA:
I've been calling him "Kass" but I will make sure to use the "Cakes" line on him (I'll just make sure he's not too close to me). Kassian has been good thus far. It will be fun to see him on the home ice tonight.
Tonight's press meal is:
Beef stir fry
Bow tie pasta chardonnay
Red Chicken Chili
Smoked sirloin philly cheese steak sandwich
Assorted desserts, of course, include self-serve cookie pudding.