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The R.S.S. Feed: Dec. 3, 2008

by Ryan Stanzel / Minnesota Wild
Dan Terhaar and Mike Greenlay break down tonight's matchup between the Blues and Wild

*   J. Lemaire
Jacques looks ahead to facing the Blues, who, he says, can leave teams scrambling in the zone
 
The Wild goaltender sees tonight's game as an opportunity to get back on track

*   M. Bergeron
Marc-Andre stresses the importance of playing well during the homestand

* KURTIS FOSTER ON THE ICE
The
injured D-man skated with the team for a bit this morning, and we have a short video. We should stress, however, there remains no timetable for his official return to the NHL

-- W
ILD RADIO --
* PONDcast Preview
Wild Radio's Kevin Falness has Jacques' comments in audio form, plus more


* BONUS PONDcast: Unplugged
Falness serves as emcee of the wildly popular event, also starring M. Koivu and K. Foster

-- WILD vs. ST. LOUIS --
All-Time Wild Record: 14-7-8
     8-3-4 at Xcel Energy Center
     6-4-4 at St. Louis

Brad Boyes scored twice and Chris Mason made 31 saves in the Blues 2-1 in the first meeting at Xcel Energy Center (11/22) … Stephane Veilleux scored for Minnesota and Niklas Backstrom made 24 saves.

WILD LEADERS: Owen Nolan has tallied 32 points (14-18=32) in 44 matches against St. Louis … Marian Gaborik has scored 30 points (12-18=30) in 27 games…Andrew Brunette owns 25 points (5-20=25) in 36 contests … Marek Zidlicky has notched 15 points (1-14=15) in 27 games.

WILD GOALIES: Niklas Backstrom is 3-2-0 with a 2.36 GAA and a .911 SV% in five starts against St. Louis … Josh Harding is 3-1-0 with a 2.03 GAA and a .920 SV% in five games (four starts) against the Blues.

BLUES LEADERS: Paul Kariya has recorded 17 points (8-9=17) in 25 games against Minnesota … Andy McDonald has tallied 11 points (4-7=11) in 21 contests…Keith Tkachuk has notched 11 points (5-6=11) in 20 games.

BLUES GOALIES: Manny Legace is 9-4-2 with a 2.63 GAA and a .891 SV% in 15 matches (14 starts) against the Wild … Chris Mason is 2-2-2 with a 3.47 GAA and a .867 SV% in six starts against Minnesota.

CONNECTIONS: David Backes (Minneapolis), Dan Hinote (Elk River) and Erik Johnson (Bloomington) are Minnesota natives.
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Dec. 3, 2008

Post-game notes
It's amazing how the worst game of the year - and maybe years - is followed by the best game of the year. The Wild outshoots the Blues 37-22, gets great goaltending by Niklas Backstrom, the power play scored two more times. And the defensive effort was just outstanding.

One more game left in this long stretch of home games - Friday versus Vancouver, which dropped into second place tonight with the Wild back in first.

Post-game notes are below. The Wild skate at noon Thursday, I'll be on with a blog after that.

G Niklas Backstrom made 22 saves for his 12th career shutout, LW Andrew Brunette scored his 200th NHL goal and C Eric Belanger’s 100th NHL goal was the game-winner, as the Minnesota Wild topped the St. Louis Blues 4-0 in front of 18,568 at Xcel Energy Center. D Marek Zidlicky posted a goal and an assist, RW Antti Miettinen also scored and D Marc-Andre Bergeron added two helpers for the Wild, which moved into first place in the Northwest Division and will face second-place Vancouver Friday at 7 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center. The Canucks are one of two teams that have earned two victories against the Wild this season.

G Niklas Backstrom made eight saves in the first period, nine in the second and five in the third for a total of 22 and his 12th career shutout. Backstrom allowed a career-high six goals Monday against Colorado and became the first goalie to allow six goals in a game and then record a shutout in his next start since Montreal’s Carey Price (11/8 at TOR and 11/11 vs. OTT). Tonight marked his 10th career shutout at Xcel Energy Center – one off Dwayne Roloson’s team record.

LW Andrew Brunette scored his third goal in five games – his 200th NHL goal. Brunette has six points (3-3=6) in his last five games. He moved into a tie for the team lead with nine goals this season.

C Eric Belanger scored his 100th NHL goal and added an assist in his 501st NHL game. The Wild improved to 15-3-1 in the last two seasons when Belanger scores a goal, including a 11-2-0 mark in the last 13 games. It marked Belanger’s third goal in his last four games played. He has six points (3-3=6) in his last five games played, and was held without a point just once in that span.

D Marek Zidlicky scored his fourth goal of the season – all on the power play. Eleven of Zidlicky’s last 12 goals have come with the man advantage, and 29 of his 39 career goals have come on the power play. Zidlicky’s four goals this season are just one off his total from last season in Nashville. Zidlicky has five points (1-4=5) in a four-game point streak, and has six points (2-4=6) in his last six games.

RW Pierre-Marc Bouchard assisted on C Eric Belanger’s goal, giving him a three-game point streak (3-3=6) and tying a season-high.

C Mikko Koivu had one assist, extending his point streak to a career-high six games (4-6=10). His previous career-high was five. Koivu has 99 assists – only five Wild players have recorded 100 with the team. He has 145 points in a Wild sweater – sixth-most in team history.

D Marc-Andre Bergeron had two assists, his third two-assist outing in the last six games. He has eight assists over the last six games.

RW Antti Miettinen snapped a 16-game goal-less span when he was awarded a goal in the third period after getting tripped on a breakaway.

The Wild went 2-for-5 on the power play, improving to 10-for-20 (50.0 percent) over the last three games. That’s a team record for most power play goals in a three-game stretch. The old record was eight, set twice, the last coming Dec. 29, 2006-Jan. 2, 2007.

Minnesota improved to 12-3-1 in the last 16 meetings with the Blues, and 9-3-4 in 16 all-time home meetings.

The Wild had a season-high 37 shots on goal and outshot St. Louis 37-22.


3rd period
19:55

Brunette/Koivu/Bouchard start the third, with Johnsson and Schultz at the blueline. Johnsson with almost 17 minutes of ice time tonight, a plus-1. Been solid.

17:54

Roman Polak two minutes for holding the stick, and the Wild on the power play.

17:06
Andrew Brunette gets his 200th NHL goal - right where most of his have come, right in front of the net. Brunette, camped out in front, takes a centering pass from Marek Zidlicky, controls it and flips it by Mason for his ninth of the season, tying Mikko Koivu for the team lead. It's 2-0 Wild.

15:40
And the Wild right back on the power play, as Yan Stastny goes for roughing.

14:46
And the Wild with a second power play goal of the night, this one coming off the stick of Marek Zidlicky - his fourth goal, all on the power play. Bergeron with his second assist of the period. Nice screen in front too, by who else but Andrew Brunette. It's 3-0 Wild. And the Wild outshooting the Blues 8-1 this period. Mikko Koivu also extends his point streak to six games - a new career-high. And I've got to get on some game notes.

6:47

I'm back. A lot of stuff to look up. And the Wild absolutely pouring it on here. As Jess Myers of Associated Press just noted, the Wild has a season-high 37 shots. Minnesota is outshooting St. Louis 37-19, including a robust 13-2 in the third period.

27.8
One of the more anticlimactic goals in Wild history, as Antti Miettinen gets hauled down on a partial breakaway. The referee can award a goal to the player, and indeed he did. It wasn't a clear breakaway, but Miettinen was likely going to score anyways. That breaks a 16-game streak without a goal for Miettinen.

End of game

And that's a wrap. I'll be back with post-game stuff in about 30 minutes.



2nd intermission

You learn something new every day when you hang out with Brad Bombardir. He just informed me that tonight's guest zamboni rider is wearing a "Siouxque." That's a UND Fighting Sioux toque.



2nd period
19:55

Brunette/Koivu/Bouchard to begin the second, up front. St. Louis controls the faceoff.

19:16

Andrew Brunette with a nice wraparound attempt, but Mason makes a save. Brunette and Mikko Koivu collided as each was trying to get to the rebound for a shot.

17:46

Erik Reitz gets whistled for high sticking Yan Stastny, and the Blues power play goes to work. The Wild is ranked second on the PK for the first time all season.

17:01

Antti Miettinen springs Mikko Koivu, who just had half a step on the defenseman. Koivu with an incredible, hesitation toe drag move, creating space, and then fired a shot that Mason was just able to deflect over the net.

15:58

The power play ends a bit with a hooking call to Alex Steen. Thirteen seconds of 4-on-4, to be followed by a Wild power play. And the faceoff is in the St. Louis zone.

14:10
Brent Burns with a drive late on the power play, but Mason saw it all the way and kicked it out with his left pad.

13:44
Power play over, but Burns rockets another on net from the right point.

13:26
Niklas Backstrom saves the Wild, which got caught in a 2-on-1 disadvantage back the other way. He went post-to-post to rob Brad Boyes, the Blues' leading goal-getter with 12.

10:09

Brandon Crombeen bears down a little too close on Niklas Backstrom, who gives him a little blocker shove. Kim Johnsson pushes Backstrom back a bit and shoves for a minute with Crombeen, telling his goalie that he's got his back.

9:32
Eric Belanger gets the Wild on the board with a terrific indidvidual move up the right wing side. Taking a pass from Pierre-Marc Bouchard at the blueline, Belanger deftly shielded the puck from the defense, and backhanded a shot that beat Mason near post for his seventh goal of the season and the 100th of his NHL career. It's 1-0 Wild.

5:14
The Wild with unbelievable pressure - St. Louis didn't control the puck for more than a minute. James Sheppard and Andrew Brunette worked a nice give-and-go, but Mason was up to task, and then stopping both guys' whacks at the rebound.

End 2nd period

Minnesota holds the one-goal lead into the third. Good job by the Wild in its own zone, and the neutral zone, all night so far.




Pre-game warm-ups
As expected, Craig Weller and Colton Gillies are scratched for the Wild. Mike Weaver and Cam Janssen are out for the Blues. It's Niklas Backstrom versus Chris Mason. Eric Belanger will center Stephane Veilleux and Brent Burns, with Kim Johnsson and Nick Schultz on the blueline. It looks like they will match up against the Blues' top line of Patrik Berglund/Keith Tkachuk and Brad Boyes. Some great e-mails already tonight, keep them coming.

Former Vikings coach and Hall of Famer Jerry Burns leads the Team of 18,000 through Let's Play Hockey.

19:55

And we're underway, with the Wild controlling.

15:48

Holding penalty to Jay McKee, and the Wild's red-hot power play unit looks for its eighth goal in three games.

13:17
The Wild don't get a lot of pressure on that power play, but is outshooting the Blues 7-2 in the early going.

10:30

Minnesota appears to be much better in its defensive zone early on tonight. Although it's hard to tell because it hasn't spent much time there, often spending shift after shift in the St. Louis zone.

9:38

Eric Belanger with a good rebound chance that slides just wide of the near post, after Mason juggled Stephane Veilleux's shot from the left circle.

8:53

Marek Zidlicky goes for hooking, setting up the Blues' first power play of the game.

7:00
Backstrom with a great save at the end of the man advantage. Brandon Crombeen flips the puck at the net from the left circle, and somehow a sprawled Backstrom gets a piece of the puck with his glove.

3:47
Upon further review, that Backstrom save was with his stick, and one of the finest stops you'll see this year or maybe any other. The stick was in the air, and he still got a piece of it with the blade.

0:17

Keith Tkachuk tips a shot just wide of the right post.

End 1st period

The Wild got the better part of the first half of the first period. The Blues evened it up a bit late. Shots 13-8 in favor of the Wild.



4:15 p.m. CST

It’s a big day for a couple of people in the Wild organization. Tyler Cuma, the Wild’s first-round pick in 2008, was named to Team Canada’s selection camp, which takes place in a week in advance of the World Junior Championships which begin just after Christmas in Ottawa.

Brent Proulx, the Wild’s assistant equipment manager, will be the head equipment manager for Team USA. Proulx has been head guy before for the U16 and U17 teams, but this is the biggee – congrats to him.

I spent the afternoon setting up game notes for Friday. Vancouver is already without Roberto Luongo, and now Curtis Sanford is having back spasms. The Canucks have a back-to-back Thursday in Detroit and Friday here. Corey Schneider, Vancouver’s first-round pick in 2004 and out of Boston College, right now is the healthiest goalie. Schneider had 10 straight wins for AHL Manitoba earlier this season.

We also just heard from Mike with our charter company. We have a subjet for Saturday's return trip from Nashville, meaning a plane other than our own. It's a commercial jet, but of course we're the only ones on it. We're excited because August, one of our company's main lead flight attendants, will work that night. The subjet flight attendants are typically that commercial company's flight attendants, and they don't always have experience with hot food for 45 people, etc. Plus, it's nice to have a familiar face when the plane is different. She won't charge us for pillows :)

A couple e-mails…Keep them coming to rstanzel@wild.com.

Q: Hey Ryan,
 
Love the blog, I read it every day.  Does the home team offer any amenities to the referees (food, transportation, etc)?

Troy from Saint John’s (editor’s note: home of former Wild video coordinator Ian Andersen)

A: Thanks for the e-mail Troy. I must admit, you stumped me. So I called upon Cindy Sweiger, the Wild’s hockey operations administrator. Cindy tells me that she orders wraps, sandwiches and coffee for the officials prior to the game. The NHL takes care of their transportation. I would say that referees, in particular, get taken care of pretty well on the road. They are sometimes at the same hotel the team stays at. I saw referee Justin St. Pierre, who I have known since our ECHL days in 2001, at our hotel in Montreal, and I ran into a linesman in Glendale, Ariz., after our game there.

Q: Hey Ryan,
 
Once again, great job on the blog updates!  My family and I will be in the press box for the Dec. 5th game against the Canucks and I was wondering if you can post the menu for that pre-game dinner so I can let my family know what they will be eating that night.  Thanks and hope to see you at the game!

Daniel from White Bear Lake

A: You picked a great night, Daniel. I’ll be scrambling getting ready to head to the airport for Nashville immediately after the game, but stop by seat 51 and say hello! I’ll try to leave some beef barley for you, but no guarantees!

Beef & Barley soup
Potato skins stuffed with smoked chicken-tomato filling, black bean salsa and pepperjack cheese
Maple-pecan glazed pork loin
Vegetable medley
Salad
Assorted desserts

11:30 a.m.


I’m starting to feel like I’m living the movie Groundhog Day. Here we are, another home game after one day off. After Friday, the Wild will have played one-fifth of its home schedule in a span of 16 days.

It appears as though Colton Gillies and Craig Weller are tonight’s scratches. They were on the ice longer than anyone else. Cal Clutterbuck will be back in the lineup after a two-game absence. Niklas Backstrom appears to be the starter in net, looking to recover from giving up a career-high six goals Monday.

Jacques Lemaire said this morning that fixing the team’s defensive woes from Monday is, obviously, the key to victory. The rest of the game will take care of itself if the Wild takes care of things in its own end.

Kurtis Foster participated in another morning skate, and was on the ice well after the majority of the Wild skaters were off the ice.

Last night’s Hockey Unplugged with Foster and Mikko Koivu was a hot topic of conversation. Apparently, Wild Radio's Kevin Falness made fun of Finland. Or at least Koivu said he did. Falness just loves ruffling feathers.

I will get to some e-mails before the game tonight. I have a good question that I'll need to look up elsewhere for an answer. Good work. Keep the e-mails coming to rstanzel@wild.com.

Anyone see the end of the Lightning/Flyers game last night? Breakaway in the waning seconds of regulation, and Scott Hartnell of Philly throws his glove at Ryan Malone. That’s a penalty shot. Martin Biron makes the save, and the Flyers end up winning in overtime on a power play goal.

Tonight’s press meal is:

Wildside chili
Sautéed minute steak
Fettuccini with shrimp and garlic cream sauce
Garlic mashed potatoes
Sautéed zucchini provincial
Salad
Assorted desserts

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