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And we're back underway.
Two goals in as many games for Pierre-Marc Bouchard, and the game is tied 2-2. A steal by Antti Miettinen, who feeds Bouchard low in the left circle. Bouchard turns around and blindly throws the puck at the net, getting it by Legace for his seventh of the season.
That elation didn't last long, as the Blues go up 3-2. It looked like a busted 3-on-2, until Brad Boyes - who whiffed on the shot - pushed a pass to Roman Polak at the right post. Polak pushed the puck into an open net for his first NHL goal.
Minnesota goes on the power play trying to get even again. Colaiacovo got lucky with just one penalty, after cross checking Clutterbuck and then holding him to the ground. They fought in the second period if you remember.
The Blues hold the Wild without a shot. Scary moment for Kim Johnsson who got hit in the face with a puck, but he appears to be fine as he's getting worked on by athletic therapist Don Fuller.
We're getting down to crunch time, and I'm headed down to the Wild locker room for post-game. I'll be back with a quick note to Wild.com's Jamie MacDonald on the way to the airport.00:15
St. Louis adds an empty netter to keep the Wild at bay.Post-game
The 10:30 bus to the airport pulls out at 10:29, even with the valet guys having to move a couple of the Blues' players' cars to get us out. We'll screen at the airport tonight, then have a quick one-hour flight home -- where blowing snow and -25 degree wind chills await.
The Wild will hold an optional skate at noon Sunday. Nick Schultz will go on the Sports Huddle on WCCO between 10 and 12. I'm trying to line up Colton Gillies for This Week in Hockey between 12 and 1.
I'll talk to everyone Monday.
Andrew Brunette finds himself open at the left doorstep, turns and fires, but Legace makes a left pad save.
Derek Boogaard gets cross checked in front of the net by Carlo Colaiacovo while battling for a rebound, and the Wild gets its second power play.
The Wild credited with one shot on that power play, but it wasn't a serious chance. Minnesota now 2-for-27 with the man advantage in the last eight games.
A terrific play by Barret Jackman to ruin a potential 2-on-1 pass from Cal Clutterbuck
to Marian Gaborik.
A bad turnover in front of the St. Louis net, and Stephane Veilleux
is all alone and fires wide. But he draws a penalty on Colaiacavo, and the Wild goes back on the power play.
The Blues "Fan Bailout Giveaway" - the Blues just gave out four month's mortage - up to $4,000. The guy who won it was in section 105. As Mike Russo of the Star Tribune put it "I don't think anyone in the lower bowl should win $4,000."
A couple good early chances on that man advantage, but the Blues were able to clear the puck several times in the final minute.
Brad Boyes, the Blues' leading goal scorer with 16, knocks a Martin Skoula clearing attempt out of the air and fires just wide.
Well behind the play, Cal Clutterbuck
drops the gloves with Carlo Colaiacovo, who gets the better of Clutterbuck.
The Blues struggle 5-on-5, but their power play is excellent and they'll get a chance here as Benoit Pouliot gets called for tripping.
St. Louis with a lot of pressure, but nothing thus far. The Wild defensemen were out there for more than a minute without a break, and a good job by Brent Burns redirecting the puck into the stands for a line change.
The Blues still with just one shot this period, and it was a questionable one at that - a dump-in on an earlier Wild power play, where the puck looked headed wide when Backstrom kicked it away. I'll be heading downstairs soon to see what the second intermission has in store for us.End 2nd period
St. Louis dominated the last few minutes, and actually outshot the Wild 7-6 in the second period. Marian Gaborik had a near breakaway but lost control of the puck in the final three minutes. Both FS North and FS Midwest interviewed Blues players. I've got a funny feeling that 20 minutes won't decide this one.
The Wild and Mikko Koivu
control the faceoff. It's been awhile sinve I've live-blogged a road game! It's the coldest non-Southeast Division building, and maybe the coldest overall.
The Wild turn the puck over at the blueline and the Blues turn it immediately into a goal. Martin Skoula chopped at a bouncing puck and it didn't clear. The puck deflected off Cam Janssen right to Patrik Berglund, who fired a shot from between the circles for a 1-0 lead.
The Wild has now allowed the game's first goal in each of the last eight games.
Perhaps making up for a non call as Stephane Veilleux
was driving to the net, Brad Boyes goes off for tripping. The Wild's power play is just 2-for-25 in the last seven games but gets an early chance here. Minnesota had three first-period power plays last night and didn't score.
What an effort by the Blues, led by Manny Legace, to keep the Wild off the board. Brent Burns found Andrew Brunette all alone in front - with an open net - but he was tied up by a defenseman. Antti Miettinen is there too with the rebound by Legace makes the save.
And the Wild gets even in a hurry. Andrew Brunette, behind the net, hits a cutting Nick Schultz in the left circle. Schultz fires a shot that was headed wide but banked off defenseman Roman Polak and into the net for his first goal in 36 games dating back to March 28 in Edmonton. Game tied 1-1.
We've got a little bit of everything early on. Craig Weller just landed nine straight rights to the side of B.J. Crombeen at center ice.
Kim Johnsson gets called for tripping. The Blues' seventh-ranked power play unit goes against the Wild's No. 3 PK unit.
The Wild kills off that chance, but just three seconds later St. Louis goes back on top 2-1. And technically the puck was in the net at 9:32, it took two more seconds for the clock to stop. Roman Polak walked to the right point, drew a couple of Wild players with him, and he hit a cutting David Backes, who deposited the puck into the net for his 10th goal of the season.
cOINCIDENTAL MINORS TO sTEPHANE vEILLEUX
AND cAM jANSSEN. Oh isn't that funny? Let me hit caps lock, again. Coincidental minors to Stephane Veilleux
(holding) and Cam Janssen (diving). I've got to head downstairs for the intermission. I'll talk to you before the second begins.End of 1st period
The Wild down 2-1 and being outshot 11-9 after one period. A big penalty kill late, although it appeared the Wild bench thought the Blues got away with an interference penalty that negated a Wild odd-man rush. I heard lots of "interference" calls from the bench when I was in the hallway leading back to the dressing room. FS North interviewed Nick Schultz. Blues radio got Cal Clutterbuck
. I was delayed briefly getting back upstairs by FS Midwest's interview with Minneapolis' own David Backes. And the pizza is paid for ($90 including tip).
Pre-game warm-ups (Part 2)
You know what I get for making fun of Mike Russo for losing his phone? I delete three (really good) paragraphs of the blog. We'll try it again:
Colton Gillies is the Wild's healthy scratch tonight, joining Eric Belanger (illness) and Marc-Andre Bergeron (lower body), both of whom are back in the Twin Cities. It's Niklas Backstrom
versus Manny Legace, who has missed the last four games due to injury. And a different injury, I may add, than when he tripped over the ceremonial carpet set out for Sarah Palin earlier this season.
Because Gillies was scratched, I got Pierre-Marc Bouchard
for the warm-up interview with Telly Hughes of FS North. I had gotten a back-up earlier in the day, "just in case" Gillies didn't play, and I'm glad I did.
That wasn't any Pulitzer winning stuff (do they have Pulitzer for blogs?) but I promise the text I erased was much better.
One of my favorite things about Scottrade Center is the old hockey games they show on the visionboard before warm-ups. Right now I'm watching St. Louis take on the Minnesota North Stars.
I've had my pre-game meal (sausage, hamburgers and pasta downstairs) and am ready to go downstairs in a few minutes to meet Telly Hughes of FS North for his pre-game warm-up interview. The topic of the weather back home was popular at dinner. It has apparently stopped snowing back in the Twin Cities, which is good news, and hopefully we can all dig our cars out later. Doug Risebrough told Tom Reid that he has "full confidence in Ryan's ability to control the weather." You didn't know I was tight with mother nature too, did you?Niklas Backstrom
will start in net. This will be his fifth career start in the second half of a back-to-back. He is 2-1-0 with a no decision, a 4.00 GAA and a .893 save pct. But last year, he was 2-0-0 with a 2.50 GAA and a .934 save pct., so that is good news. I looked that up earlier today at the rink.
It will be an entertaining night, as the Star Tribune's Mike Russo has left his cell phone back at the hotel (he thinks). Russo, who is on his blackberry more than anyone I know, is having some serious separation anxiety. He's already used my phone to call his editor. I think he got sick of putting in the numbers for his pre-paid calling card.
One other thing - as we're on the way here, we passed a parking garage for the arena. The sign still said "Kiel Center." So I don't feel quite so bad about calling it Savvis Center earlier this week!
I'll be back before the game with an update.
11 a.m. CST
* Target Hot Seats unveiled (Dec. 19)
A few diehard Wild fans at a body shop rebuilt an ice resurfacing machine from the ground up to create this unique people-mover
* C. Gillies (Dec. 19)
Flash back to see the joy of what it's like to score one's first NHL goal
-- WILD vs. VANCOUVER --
All-Time Wild Record: 15-7-8
9-3-4 at Xcel Energy Center
6-4-4 at St. Louis
The clubs split the first two meetings at Xcel Energy Center this season … Brad Boyes scored twice in the Blues 2-1 win (11/22) … Niklas Backstrom made 22 saves in Minnesota’s 4-0 victory (12/3) … Eric Belanger (1-1=2), Marc-Andre Bergeron (0-2=2) and Marek Zidlicky (1-1=2) have recorded two points each against St. Louis … Backstrom has stopped 46 of 48 shots faced for the Wild … Chris Mason has stopped 65 of 69 shots faced for the Blues.
WILD LEADERS: Owen Nolan has collected 32 points (14-18=32) in 45 games against St. Louis … Marian Gaborik has tallied 30 points (12-18=30) in 27 contests … Andrew Brunette has notched 26 points (6-20=26) in 37 matches.
WILD GOALIES: Backstrom is 4-2-0 with a 1.94 GAA, a .925 SV% and one shutout in six starts against the Blues … Josh Harding is 3-1-0 with a 2.03 GAA and a .920 SV% in five games (four starts) against St. Louis.
BLUES LEADERS: Paul Kariya has tallied 17 points (8-9=17) in 25 games versus Minnesota … Andy McDonald (4-7=11) and Keith Tkachuk (5-6=11) have each scored 11 points in 21 contests.
BLUES GOALIES: Chris Mason is 2-3-2 with a 3.66 GAA and a .883 SV% in seven starts against the Wild … Manny Legace is 9-4-2 with a 2.63 GAA and a .891 SV% in 15 matches (14 starts) against Minnesota.
CONNECTIONS: Craig Weller was originally selected by St. Louis in the fifth round (167th overall) of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft … David Backes (Minneapolis), Dan Hinote (Elk River) and Erik Johnson (Bloomington) are Minnesota natives … T.J. Oshie played high school hockey in Warroad.
-- MORE --
* Game preview
Greetings from Scottrade Center, which I have recently called Savvis Center and I apologize. The Wild faces the struggling Blues tonight at 7:30 p.m.
Five Wild players are about to hit the ice -- Erik Reitz, Craig Weller, Colton Gillies, Derek Boogaard and Josh Harding
. Reitz will play tonight since Marc-Andre Bergeron is out with a lower body injury and didn’t make the trip. Eric Belanger is also at home in the Twin Cities due to illness. That means the Wild will have one scratch tonight. No word yet as to a starting goalie. The guys who aren’t on the ice are stretching and working out off the ice.Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Stephane Veilleux also decided to go on the ice this morning
Neither newspaper beat writer -- Mike Russo from the Star Tribune, nor Bruce Brothers from the Pioneer Press -- is here yet. They were both flying in this morning from snowy Minnesota and weren’t expected to make the skate, so, as a result, I will get a couple of players for them to interview around 5:30 p.m. when we get to the rink. NHL rules mandate locker rooms remain “open” until 90 minutes before gametime. Where basketball and baseball rooms are truly open, we don’t allow the media to roam freely in that time period.
Telly Hughes of FS North is making his first Wild road trip, and he’ll interview Colton Gillies tonight during pregame warmups. Since the players aren’t as familiar with Telly as they are with Kevin Gorg, I’ll be on the bench to make sure the interview goes off without a hitch.
Note: I just talked to Russo, whose plane is delayed at least 30 minutes. I also talked to a Mike with our charter company this morning. He assured me that despite the snow, there should be no issues getting home tonight.
I also just had to send a fax for our training crew -- this meant going down the hall to the Blues PR office, which is a nice departure. When we forget something at our offices, it’s a bit of a walk back. I’m sure they like being very close to their locker room.
Let’s revisit last night for just a bit ...
The game ended at 9:23, and, with the proofreading help of Dewayne Hankins, I had postgame notes out to our distribution list before the Three Stars had been announced. I made my way downstairs and was in my car at 9:38, about the time Jacques Lemaire started his post-game press conference.
I arrived at the airport around 9:50, and stayed in the car for just a minute to hear Wild Radio’s Kevin Falness call me a “PR nerd” and tell me to “get my head out of the books.” Apparently, Kevin liked the note we had Elias Sports Bureau look up: Colton Gillies was the first Wild player to have his first NHL goal go down as a third-period game-winner since Derek Boogaard on Oct. 19, 2005. Robert, our intern, called Elias about halfway through the third period “just in case,” and it ended up being the game-winner. We do that a lot and wind up being wrong, too, but we wanted to be prepared.
I proceeded to where our screeners were at the airport, and was informed that TSA would soon arrive to supervise. This means an even more thorough than usual screening process -- though our screeners are very thorough and good to begin with. All toiletry bags were opened, etc., and because it was just a one-day trip, everyone was traveling only with carry-ons, meaning even more bags to go through.
At 10:21, I got a call from Bill Johnson at NHL security (he meets us at the airport to make sure there are no issues), and he told me the last player had arrived, so we were able to get everyone remaining screened and on board by 10:30.
At that point, Laurie, our lead flight attendant, and her cohorts put away the pre-flight food and we were taxiing by 10:45 and in the air 10 minutes later. I handed out per diem (more on that below) and caught up on some e-mails via the BlackBerry. It was just an hour flight, so we were on the ground right at midnight.
We arrived at our downtown St. Louis hotel 25 minutes later, met by a half-dozen autograph seekers and our hotel contact, Chantelle. She informed me that our pre-game meal and snack will be on Floor 2 in the Commerce room, and that all of our players were also on the second floor.
This morning, I was downstairs to meet the bus around 9:45 -- I usually like being down there 30 minutes before the bus leaves.
On a side note, the San Francisco 49ers are also at the hotel, and their players are on the third floor.
It’s always fun when there’s another sports team at the hotel, as there was one bus for them, too. One of our players accidentally got on that bus, but I redirected him. The NFL doesn’t really have a dress code -- most of the Niners were in team sweats and/or jeans -- so it was easy for the bus driver to know who was on our bus and who wasn’t.
I’m downstairs now next to Wild equipment manager Tony DaCosta, who just got an earful from his old friend Keith Tkachuk. The two go way back.
A few mailbag items ...
Love keeping up to date on the Wild by following your blog. My question is: Are the Wild considering a Third Jersey style as many of the other NHL teams have? Thanks for your time.
Joe Heydon from Rochester, Minn.
A: Thanks for the note and for reading Joe!
We are currently working on design ideas with Reebok and the NHL (some designs were shown to fans this summer as a part of the process) but there is no firm timetable for introducing a third jersey.
Q: Thanks for the blog updates!
I have a quick question for you: You stated a couple weeks ago that players were handed out per diem on the plane. Why do the players get a per diem? Is it solely because they're away from home? And how much do they get?
A: Thanks for the e-mail, Joe. Great question! The NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement states that players get $96 per diem each full day they are on the road. On gamedays, that is cut in half because of the pre-game meal. They also only get a half day’s per diem when we leave at 1 p.m. or later. So, for this trip, it was $96 –- half day for Friday and half day for Saturday. There’s also other money I give out -– the equipment managers and trainers get money for supplies, there are tips for locker room attendants, etc., and I get $300 per game for pizza and bus driver’s tips.