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The R.S.S. Feed: Feb. 11, 2009

by Ryan Stanzel / Minnesota Wild
Colorado at Wild: Game preview


GAMEDAY MAILBAG TIME ...

Q: Hi, Ryan. I've been following all your (and Aaron's) R.S.S. Feeds and I've been thinking of some good behind-the-scenes questions for you to hopefully answer. Keep up with the good work you’re doing with it all.

First question is: When a player is a healthy scratch for a game, what does that player do during a game?

Second question is: When the team goes on a long road trip, is it up to the team itself to set up all the travel and hotel rooms, or does the NHL help? And when the team travels, does the team always use the same charter company or does it have couple other charter companies to depend on.
-- Thanks, Kevin from St Cloud

A: Thanks for following us throughout the season, Kevin. Some great questions there. Players who are “healthy scratches” generally work out (ride the bike) for the first period, shower, and then watch the rest of the game from the press box. However, some arenas (Denver for example) don’t allow scratched players in the press box. In this instance, the players will usually watch the game on the TV in the locker room. They depart the room before the intermission, as only active players and coaches are in the locker room between periods.

Each team sets up its own travel. We at the Wild are lucky to work with our own Mary Kenna, a.k.a. “Travel Vixen.” The NHL does have travel coordinator meetings at the Draft, where hotels essentially compete for your business. Mary gets lots of goodies. We have a charter company we use out of Phoenix, which has four planes. They have many teams, so sometimes (especially when we’re in Canada), they give us a “subjet,” which is often a plane from a major commercial airline. The seat configuration is different than we’re used to, obviously, but it’s still only us on the plane.
 
Q: Hi, Ryan. Any thoughts on when you think Kurtis Foster might be back in the lineup? And why did Mikko Koivu switch from being #21 to #9 after his rookie year?  Thanks!
-- Cheers, Corey from UMD

A: Hi Corey, great questions. Thanks for reading! I hope I am on the Duluth leg of the Wild Road Tour this summer. Last year I was on the Duluth leg, and it was rainy and cold. I need to enjoy your beautiful city. Foster can stay assigned to the Houston Aeros a maximum of 14 days from his first game, which was this past Sunday. It wouldn’t surprise me if he wasn’t immediately inserted back in the lineup. It all depends on how he feels and plays. Secondly, Koivu switched to #9 because Mark Parrish wore #21, and Koivu was kind enough to switch. A similar thing happened this year, when James Sheppard switched from #15 to #51 because Andrew Brunette returned, and the veteran wanted his old number back.
 
Q: Hey, Ryan I absolutely love your blog. It's really good. I was just wondering ... Can the NHL punish Sheldon Souray for using his wrist guard in the fight against Craig Weller? And when is Craig looking at returning? Thanks.
-- Ashley from Kasson, MN

A: Thanks for the e-mail, Ashley! I was curious and looked on the map to see where Kasson was. The NHL could have punished Souray, but chose not to, as there wasn’t really good video evidence that Souray’s wrist guard hit Weller. Even Weller said he didn’t think that was what caused the injury. Weller has been skating on his own and practiced with the team this morning.
 
Q: Hey Ryan! I have noticed from watching other games around the league, that most of the teams in the NHL have a third Jersey. I was just wondering if you knew whether or not the Wild will have a third jersey to wear sometime?
-- Kale

A: Hi, Kale. The Wild continues to work with the NHL and Reebok on a third Jersey, possibly as soon as next season.
 
Q: Ryan: Here is a question for the blog … There are days like Sunday with an early game, and other random days throughout the season where there is no morning skate. I have to think there are players who still feel they have to get an early skate in. Do the players who want to still have the ability to get on the ice? As a related question, can the players get on the ice at the Xcel Energy Center whenever they want (whenever there is ice)?
-- Jerry

A: Hi Jerry, thanks for the reading as always. For the 2 p.m. game, no one that was playing was on the ice. If the Wild had any healthy scratches, they likely would have skated in the morning, but there were no healthy bodies who wouldn’t play. Usually, the Wild hold no skates for afternoon games, but at the very least have optionals for 5 p.m. starts. Usually, guys enjoy the break. Niklas Backstrom, though, likes to see some shots on days he is going to play, even if he played the night before. As for your other question, the Wild players usually get on the ice here only when there is scheduled ice. We always have “injured ice” for an hour before practice, which is when injured guys, working their way back, can skate, as well as any of the young players who the coaches want to have extra work.
Feb. 11, 2009

Post-game Wrap-up
Antti Miettinen, who accidentally bowled over Jacques Lemaire in practice yesterday, sending Lemaire for X-rays, certainly made up for that with his game-winner with 1:11 left.

Owen Nolan, the ageless one, with a fantastic tip goal and a hustling play that led to the Wild's first goal. "He's something else," Lemaire explained. "Especially with how much he practices." Nolan, because of his age and health issues, often gets practices off.

Post-game notes are below. I'll be in the press box another couple of hours working on notes for tomorrow. Aaron Sickman will hopefully have the team up in the air within an hour.

RW Antti Miettinen scored the game-winner with 1:11 remaining in regulation, RW Owen Nolan tallied a goal and an assist and G Niklas Backstrom made 20 saves, as the Minnesota Wild edged the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 in front of 18,568 at Xcel Energy Center. RW Pierre-Marc Bouchard also scored for Minnesota, which finished its four-game homestand 3-1-0 and has won four of five overall. After a game in Detroit tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. (ct), the Wild begins a three-game homestand Saturday against Ottawa at 7 p.m. (ct). Minnesota improved to 11-6-1- in its last 18 games overall.

RW Antti Miettinen’s game-winner with 1:11 left in regulation gave him a new single-season career-high in points (12-23=35). Miettinen had 34 points (15-19=34) with Dallas last season.

RW Owen Nolan had a goal and an assist and was plus-two. The Wild is 9-0-0 this season when Nolan is a plus-one or better, 7-3-1 when he scores a goal, and 7-0-0 when he has at least two points. The goal marked the 394th of his NHL career. Nolan, who was drafted first overall by Quebec in 1990, has four goals and an assist in three games versus the Avs this season.

G Niklas Backstrom made 20 saves while starting his 12th straight game for his 10th all-time win (10-2-1) against the Avs – tied for the most of any goaltender (Miikka Kiprusoff, 10-7-3) since the beginning of the 2006-07 season. Backstrom is 20-4-6 all-time at home against Northwest Division opponents, with a 1.70 GAA and a .934 SV%. Backstrom has allowed two goals or fewer in 24 of 30 home starts versus the Northwest. He is 5-1-1 at home against Colorado.

RW Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored his 11th goal of the season. The Wild improved to 30-3-1 when Bouchard scores a goal, dating back to Dec. 23, 2006.

Minnesota improved to 7-1-1 in the last nine overall games against the Avalanche. The Wild is 8-1-2 in the last 11 home meetings.

C Eric Belanger recorded an assist and has six points (2-4=6) in the last seven games.

D Martin Skoula recorded an assist, his first helper or point in 17 games since Dec. 29 at Calgary.

The Wild improved to 3-7-1 in the last 11 games against a team which played the night before, including two straight wins.

RW Cal Clutterbuck had seven hits, giving him an NHL-best 208 this season.

Colorado went 1-for-7 on the power play. The seven man advantages against the Wild were a season-high.


3rd period
19:55

The Wild is 20 minutes away from a 3-1-0 homestand. Twenty minutes is a long time, however. The Avs have four wins this season when trailing after two.

15:24

A mundane start to the third. Two shots aside this stanza for the Wild.

14;10

Antti Miettinen needs a point for a new career-high in points. He found himself alone in front, hesitated, waited for Raycroft to go down, but the goalie got a piece of the shot with his glove, sending it wide.

13:25

Mundane no more. Derek Boogaard and Darcy Tucker chatted during the faceoff, with a little push from Boogaard. Then, Boogie picks up a double minor, first hooking Tucker, then apparently cross checking Cody McCormick, who came in to accost Boogaard. A four minute power play for the Avs, who trail by one.

12:37
And just like that, the game is even. Ryan Smyth is having himself one heck of a night. He's drawn two penalties, and just picked up his second goal, standing in front of the net and deflecting a John-Michael Liles point shot up and over Backstrom for his 18th goal of the season. And still another two minutes on the power play. Game tied 2-2.

7:50
Right, wrong or indifferent, you knew the Wild was going to get a power play sooner or later. Colorado has seven man advantages, while the Wild has two - one for 10 seconds. Until now. Ruslan Salei goes for hooking, and the Wild power play, 0-for-9 now in its last three games, will go to work. Three games without a power play goal would set a season-high.

7:30

The first good chance on the man advantage comes from Eric Belanger, who streaks in on the left wing side and puts a low shot on Raycroft, who struggled for a second but made the save.

6:23

Both Belanger and Nolan are slow to get up at one point, and Nolan barked at the official on his way down the ice. Nolan went down the runway toward the Wild locker room.

5:43

A couple great chances as the power play ended, a Brunette tip and a Miettinen rebound that Raycroft got back around for.

3:24
The Wild takes the lead, but will likely have to survive a video review. Cal Clutterbuck kept whacking at the puck, which was under Raycroft. No whistle, which will help the Wild cause, and the puck got behind the goalie. Clutterbuck may have kicked the upck in. Raycroft just skated as fast as he could out to try to have a chat with the officials. We're going to have a pretty lengthy review here, I'm sure. Owen Nolan is back, by the way, to represent the Wild out on the ice. We just got a good luck, and pretty sure this won't count. Clutterbuck with a clear kicking motion. They got this one right.

1:11
That one will count! Koivu pushes the puck deep, Brunette digs it out of the corner, skates behind the net and feeds Miettinen at the right doorstep. Great "Finnish" by Miettinen, and the Wild is up 3-2.



2nd period
19:55

We're back underway in the second period. The Wild has eight hits - six by Cal Clutterbuck. And an assist has been added to Eric Belanger on Pierre-Marc Bouchard's goal. Belanger won the faceoff.

11:56

A quick moving second period. Owen Nolan just fired from the right circle, but Andrew Raycroft made the save.

11:45
Cody McLeod gets too close to Niklas Backstrom, as many players have lately.  Backstrom throws a little chop at him, and Backstrom is called for a double minor for high sticking! It drew blood,so they had to call it. Bouchard will serve the penalty. A big PK for the Wild. Backstrom, remember, was run over several times by the Oilers Sunday. You can see the trail of blood back to the penalty box.

11:04
A bit of a make-up call here, as Marek Svatos goes for interference. He set a screen on Stephane Veilleux. We'll skate 4-on-4 for two minutes, and then Colorado will have a power play for 80 seconds.

7:55
Clutterbuck breaks in shorthanded and tries to go shortside, but Raycroft has it covered.

7:35

The Wild kills off the double minor, and Stephane Veilleux just fires wide of the left post.

6:16
Owen Nolan is creative, and this goal proves that point. Marek Zidlicky flicks the puck on net from the right circle. Nolan wasn't in a spot you'll normally see a deflection. From the top of the right circle, Nolan tipped the puck, which skidded under Raycroft before the goalie saw it. Nolan scores his 13th goal of the season, to go along with an assist tonight. Martin Skoula with the secondary assist, and the Wild leads 2-1.

1:06

Jamie MacDonald from Wild.com points out there have been no shots since Nolan's goal.

End 2nd period

Shots 14-13 after two, and the Wild is up 2-1 on the scoreboard.




1st period
19:55
Winter X Games gold medalist Levi Lavallee just led us in Let's Play Hockey. Miettinen/Sheppard/Clutterbuck start for the Wild, with Johnsson and Schultz on the blueline. Wolski/Hejduk/McLeod are up front for the Avs.

19:17

That didn't take long, as Mikko Koivu goes for holding, giving the Avs the first power play of the game.

17:14

And the Wild get one right back after the kill. An elbowing call to Brian Willsie.

16:33

A 2-on-1 shorthanded for Colorado, but Ben Guite can't get a handle on the left-to-right pass.

14:14

Not a good opening few shifts by Guite, who gets leveled hard into the boards by Cal Clutterbuck.

12:19

What a chance for the Wild. Antti Miettinen takes a loose puck in the left circle and feeds a cutting Marek Zidlicky at the right post. The puck nearly hit the post, and Zidlicky couldn't get a stick on it.

11:41
There's be no missing on this 2-on-1. Owen Nolan pokes the puck out of the Wild zone to himself along the right wing boards, waits for the defenseman to commit between the circles, and feeds Pierre-Marc Bouchard, whose one-timer beats Raycroft for his 12th goal of the season. Our time to remind you that the Wild is 29-3-1 when Bouchard scores a goal, dating back to Dec. 23, 2006. It's 1-0 Wild.


6:51
Just after Cal Clutterbuck levels Cody McLeod, Cody McCormick goes for cross-checking, and the Wild is on power play No. 2.

6:34
That didn't last long. A turnover at the blueline, Ryan Smyth breaks in alone, and Brent Burns is called for holding, probably stopping a goal. We'll skate 4-on-4 for most of the next two minutes. Now, we get a look at the replay, and I'm not so sure Burns ever touched Smyth.

6:28
And that'll hurt. The Avs score off the draw to make it 1-1. Give Smyth credit for this one for driving the net. Former Gopher Jordan Leopold blistered a shot from between the circles off the faceoff, and it went high and wide. The puck clanked off the glass, and right back in the crease, where Smyth tapped the puck in with Backstrom a bit out of the net for his 17th goal of the season.

5:38

The teams are still 4-on-4. Raycroft just stoned Eric Belanger as he skated out of the corner and on net.

3:05

Belanger another good chance, this one on a rebound of a Marc-Andre Bergeron point blast. Bergeron chopped the rebound from the left doorstep over Raycroft but wide of the far post.

2:18

Yes, it was a cross check, but Darcy Tucker should have first been called for boarding Dan Fritsche. And Derek Boogaard gets quite the ovation for the crosscheck. This is the same Darcy Tucker, you'll remember, that reportedly threatened Nick Schultz' knees - then hit him low - in a game earlier this season. This play wasn't dirty, Boogaard was in front of Tucker and gave him a little cross check. His message was sent. Now the Wild has to kill off this Avs power play.

End 1st period

Colorado doesn't score on its third power play, and the teams head to the locker room tied 1-1. Shots are 9-5 in favor of Colorado.




Pre-game warm-ups

Colton Gillies is tonight's lone scratch for the Wild, which will start Niklas Backstrom in net. The Avs' scratch is T.J.Hensick. We can tell you, however, that Colorado has the following stud players on its injured list: Joe Sakic, Paul Stastny, Adam Foote, and to a lesser extent, David Jones and Kyle Cumiskey. Hard to overcome those injuries. Andrew Raycroft will start in net for Colorado.

6 p.m.
Just a quick update after one of the best New York Strips I've had. And I'm from New York, I should know.

I watched about two-thirds of the Employee Hockey game today. I decided to hand out some "stars of the game". So, without further ado, today's Employee Hockey 3 Stars of the Game, Presented by the R.S.S. Feed.

3 (tie) - Joe O'Donnell, Houston Aeros broadcaster. Joe had some good moves out there. Mostly, this selection was because I wasn't sure he would put a helmet on and mess up his hair.

3 (tie) - The goalie with the black jersey on. No idea who it was. Bob Mason perhaps? (Kidding). With the mask, I couldn't tell, and I asked four or five employees, who also didn't know. But he was athletic, which automatically gives him an advantage over most.

2 - Shep Harder, Wild hockey operations project manager. Shep was in the running for the No. 1 star, setting up the actual No. 1 star for a couple of goals. But since he told me he'd be "very disappointed" if he wasn't named the No. 1 star, he gets No. 2. Shep's going on the road with the team tonight.

1 - Katie Vannelli, MSE Graphic Designer. It wasn't just her two goals, although that was impressive. Being able to finish a couple of She's errant feeds is good stuff. But Vannelli did an unreal deke inside the blueline, which actually caused manager of web and creative services Dewayne Hankins (her boss, by the way) to slide backwards 25-plus feet into the back wall.


Wednesday, 11:45 a.m. CST


Jacques Lemaire is fine after taking that spill in practice yesterday. X-rays came back fine on his shoulder, and he proclaimed himself this morning ready to coach later this evening. Lemaire, who joked “I got half a wing,” was not on the ice for the pre-game skate, but that’s not unusual.

Lemaire also said, “I wasn’t laughing between 9:30 p.m. and 5 a.m.,” adding it was an uncomfortable night sleep.

Every Wild player took the ice -- including Craig Weller, who hadn’t skated with the team since suffering a head injury Jan. 15 against Edmonton. Many pre-game skates are “optional” and some older players can take the morning off, but since the team didn’t skate Monday, you could tell the coaches wanted everyone’s mind on the game.

“Our players, they know what to do,” Lemaire said. “Our worry is to play at our best, all the guys. We can't have five or six passengers. We have to have our top players outplay their top players, and not think that they played last night. If you get beat, 3-0, you always try to bounce back the next game, it doesn't matter if it’s the next night. We'll have our hands full.”

The Avalanche didn’t skate this morning after being blanked, 3-0, in Columbus last night. Unlike most teams, Colorado likes staying in Minneapolis, so we didn’t even see their media this morning.

As far as Weller goes, assistant GM Tom Lynn said he is “progressing,” but just not ready for games yet.

Oh, the fun days in hockey PR, when two of the three copiers usually available to us, are unavailable. There are two press box copiers, which we typically try to use for most of our gameday copies, so as not to tie up copiers at the office.

But one of the press box printers is broken, and the other is in use by our marketing and sales departments, printing off color invoices, since the copier they would normally use at our main offices is broken.

So we managed to get all the copies for the morning skate done on the main copier in our 317 Washington offices. No one got too upset they were unable to print for two hours. Hopefully, the press box copiers will be back up and running soon, and Robert can make all the copies for the rest of the day up there.

Aaron Sickman is on the road tonight and tomorrow with the team. It will be a fun trip for Aaron, first and foremost because it’s Detroit, and he LOVES Detroit. It’s also a back-to-back, and you gain an hour (or in our case, lose an hour) because of the time change. Finally, the Wild is flying into a different terminal than it will leave from late Thursday night, so Aaron has been double- and triple-checking with the bus company to make sure the driver picks the team up at the right spot.

While Aaron is heading with the team to Detroit, I will be in the press box, updating game notes for tomorrow, while watching the end of the Duke/North Carolina game, while hopefully downing some leftover food the players don’t eat after the game. Since we play back-to-back, we get large amounts of pasta and chicken delivered to the locker room after the game. The team still has the option of food on the plane, as well.

I’m headed over to the arena soon to check out today’s Employee Hockey Game, which will feature Aeros assistant coach Luke Strand and broadcaster Joe O’Donnell, among others.

One other quick thing before I get to the most important news, the press meal. As I mentioned, my 4th grade “Wild Buddy” Jackson came to a game last week as my special guest. I went to visit with Jackson yesterday at school, and he gave me the neatest package, which included a card and a picture, a drawing of the Wild game, and my favorite part -- a little wooden “Go Wild” sign he made. I told him the sternest rule in the press box -- “No cheering” -- so he thought that was a good way around it. Kids are great!

Tonight’s press meal:
Chicken Noodle soup
NY Strip steak
herb roasted halibut
loaded mashed potatoes
vegetable medley
assorted desserts

And, lastly ...

I finally got to watch Pond Hockey (http://pondhockeymovie.com/) last night. Pond Hockey is an excellent documentary on pond hockey, and especially, the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships, and is a must-see for any Minnesotan, or hockey fan. I caught it on PBS, but you can also order the DVD off their site. You’ll get to see interviews with Marian Gaborik, Brent Burns, Neal Broten and Richard Park, among others.

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