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The R.S.S. Feed: Feb. 19, 2009

by Ryan Stanzel / Minnesota Wild
Post-game Wrap-up


Oftentimes, coaches will give you the old "we're just happy to get a point" after an overtime or shootout loss. Tonight was not one of those games, despite the Wild pushing first-place Calgary to the limit and having the game-winning goal deflect in the net off defenseman Brent Burns' back.

Coach Jacques Lemaire said his team again had too many "passengers," players not ready to play. Once his team got going, he thought it was fine, but he said the Wild was fortunate to only be down by one goal after one period.

Lemaire said his team can't afford bad nights, especially not collectively. "Last game was the bad game" he said.

The Wild will skate tomorrow before a tough back-to-back, home Saturday against Detroit, and on the road Sunday in Chicago.

Post-game notes are below.

D Adrian Aucoin scored with 1:10 left in overtime and G Miikka Kiprusoff made 25 saves for his record 22nd win against Minnesota, as the Calgary Flames edged the Wild 3-2 in front of 18,568 at Xcel Energy Center. LW Dan Fritsche scored his first goal with Minnesota, rookie LW Colton Gillies scored his second goal of the season and G Niklas Backstrom made 19 saves for the Wild, which is 5-2-1 in its last eight and plays host to Detroit on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Eight of the teams’ last nine meetings have been decided by one goal. The Wild is 1-5-3 in that stretch.

LW Dan Fritsche scored his first goal in nine games with the Wild, a short-handed tally. It marked Fritsche’s first goal since Nov. 28 at Florida, with the New York Rangers. Fritsche tallied the third short-handed goal of his career. The Wild has three short-handed goals in the last five games.

LW Colton Gillies scored his first goal in 16 games played dating back to Dec. 19 against the Islanders.

LW Peter Olvecky notched his first NHL point – an assist – in his ninth game with the Wild.

Flames RW Jarome Iginla was held without a point for the third straight game against the Wild. It’s the first time in his career Iginla has gone three games in a row without netting a goal or assist against Minnesota.

Flames G Miikka Kiprusoff  improved to 22-6-3 against the Wild – nine more wins than any other NHL goalie has versus Minnesota. Kiprusoff is 9-5-2 all-time at Xcel Energy Center, also the most wins by a visiting goalie. Kiprusoff has allowed two goals or less in 25 of his 31 all-time starts against the Wild, including 13 of 16 at Xcel Energy Center.

The teams combined for just six penalty minutes. The Wild’s previous season-low for combined penalty minutes in a game had been eight, Nov. 15 against Columbus.

The Wild has lost each of the last five overtime/shootout games against the Flames (two overtime, three shootout) dating back to a 2-1 shootout win Jan. 26, 2007, at Xcel Energy Center.

Minnesota had one third period shot, tying the team record for fewest shots in a period of a home game. It happened four times previously, the last coming in the third period of a 5-3 win over the Rangers, Oct. 10, 2003.

The Wild is 2-3 in overtime, while Calgary is 3-4.


3rd period
19:55

Koivu centers Fritsche and Miettinen to begin the third, opposite Conroy/Cammalleri/Iginla. The latter two have, knock on wood, been silent tonight.

16:20

Just two minor penalties in the first 44 minutes, and now a ticky tack call well behind the play, a tripping call to Pierre-Marc Bouchard. A big PK for the Wild here.

14:40

The Wild was fortunate there, as Matthew Lombardi hit the crossbar with a rebound attempt from deep in the left circle.

9:56

The Wild got trapped in its own zone for awhile, but nearly went ahead as Stephane Veilleux tipped a Nick Schultz centering pass up and over the net. A quick moving third period, as we're still waiting for the 14-minute timeout.

9:03

Probably a game-saving stop by Niklas Backstrom on Mike Cammalleri, who was bidding for his team-leading 30th goal of the season.

4:54

Another great save by Backstrom, this one on a laser from Dion Phaneuf after a drop pass from Jarome Iginla.

End of Regulation

We're headed to OT. More to come post-game.



2nd period
19:55

And we're back underway in the second period. Owen Nolan now skates to the right of Koivu and Miettinen. Brunette had been on that line in the opening period but isn't currently on the bench. We'll try to get an update. UPDATE: Brunette will not return tonight, thanks to a lower body injury.

18:27
Dion Phaneuf just leveled Stephane Veilleux with a clean hit. But I'd expect Veilleux to hit him back, at some point.

17:46

The Flames get the game's first power play, after James Sheppard goes for boarding. Calgary controlled the puck for quite some time with Kipper out of the net, and Jarome Iginla hit the pipe.

16:58

The Wild ties it up on Dan Fritsche's first goal with the team, a shorthanded marker. He flew around Phaneuf and shot low and beat Kiprusoff. The Wild was helped out by the fact Rene Bourque was hobbled over in the Wild zone. He was helped off the ice. Kim Johnsson with the assist, and we're locked up at 1-1. It's Fritsche's first goal since Nov. 28 at Florida, when he played with the Rangers. And I've got to give credit to John Shipley of the Pioneer Press, who walked up to us during warm-ups and said Fritsche would score a goal tonight. That, friends, is a pick to click.

13:04
And it's 2-1 Wild, as Colton Gillies finishes off a great play. He caused a turnover in the Flames zone, Peter Olvecky shot and had it blocked, but GIillies rifled the rebound by Kiprusoff. It's Gillies' second goal of the season, first since Dec. 19 against the Islanders. And it's the first career point for Olvecky.

12:27
James Sheppard gets mugged in front of the net with an open net, but there's no call.

12:19

Todd Bertuzzi does eventually go to the box for roughing, and the Wild gets its first power play with a chance to take a two-goal lead.

9:49

The Flames haven't had a shot in more than 13 minutes, since there was 3:26 left in the first period.

8:30

A shot by the Flames, finally, and a feeble one at that, but the shot drought ends at around 15 minutes.

3:50
Niklas Backstrom made a nice pad save on a shot from the point, but the puck rolled through three Wild players. Dustin Boyd hopped on the rebound and fired it into the net for his 10th goal of the season, and a 2-2 game.

End 2nd period

For the second straight game, the Wild heads into the third period deadlocked, this time 2-2.



1st period
19:55

We're underway. To start, Brunette/Koivu/Miettinen matched up against the Bourque/Conroy/Iginla line.

16:43

The Flames score on their first shot of the game, with a fortuitous bounce off the stick of Andrew Brunette. Rene Bourque fed Jarome Igina errantly, but Brunette deflected the puck right back to Bourque, who fired the puck by Brunette for his 21st goal of the season. It's 1-0 Flames.

15:35

Some more good chances in close for Calgary. The Wild is back on its heels, looking for its first shot.

11:14

A pair of icings by the Wild, and we're still looking for our first TV timeout.

10:32

The Wild is credited with its first shot, a backhander by Andrew Brunette from low in the right circle.

9:20

Just after a pinching Marek Zidlicky runs over referee Brad Meier outside the blueline, drawing a nice ovation from the crowd, we have our first official stoppage in play.

7:36

And we have a beverage down while I looked up a stat for a local media member. My second spilled beverage of the day, if you're counting. But the computer is fine. Seat 50, however, is not.

7:02

Curtis Glencross nearly makes it 2-0, but hits the outside of the net.

3:58

The Wild gets probably its best scoring chance thus far, as Stephane Veilleux steps inside the blueline on the left wing side and fires a slapper on Kiprusoff, who makes the save.

2:24
Miikka Kiprusoff has more wins in this building than any visiting goalie, andthere you saw why. Kim Johnsson's shot was blocked, Antti Miettinen picked it up in front of the net, but Kiprusoff made a great save with an outstretched glove hand.

0:55.3

The tide maybe starting to change a bit. The Wild suddenly outshooting the Flames 9-7. Kiprusoff has been good, and was fortunate to not draw a delay of game penalty a moment ago for holding onto the puck an extremely long time.

End 1st period
Through the first half of that period, it looked as though the Wild might hear some boos headed off the ice. Instead, it turned it around, but Calgary still leads 1-0, outshooting the Wild 11-7.



Pre-game warm-ups

As expected, it's Niklas Backstrom vs. Miikka Kiprusoff tonight as the Wild takes on the first-place Flames. Former Wild goalie, and current Flames front office member Jamie McLennan, is in the house tonight. As is KARE 11's Belinda Jensen, who is set to give tonight's Let's Play Hockey Call.

The Wild's lone scratch is Derek Boogaard, who missed three days of practice this week with the flu. Daymond Langkow and Andre Roy are out for the Flames.




Thursday, 11:45 a.m. CST


Calgary at Wild: Game Preview

Mailbag time…Send your questions to rstanzel@wild.com for next week's mailbag

Q: Hi Ryan,
I'd like to know if and how the organization helps players improve their English language skills.  Do you refer them to ESL classes or tutors? 
-- Jody from Saint Paul

A: Thanks for the question, Jody, and as always, thanks for reading. There are many things that can help players, especially young players. First, however, most players that come to the NHL are of high enough skill, they have played in tournaments and on teams where they learned a good understanding of English. Aside from that, just being around the rest of the players helps. In extreme circumstances, the team can find tutors to help out. This is especially the case in the minor leagues. When I worked in Houston, we did have someone who helped a couple of our European players out with the English language.
 
Q: I was just wondering, do the players decide who they live with or is it assigned, or how does it work? Thanks and keep up the good work. I read your blog everyday and I love it.
-- Ashley From Kasson

A: Hi Ashley, good question! The Wild’s hockey operations department assigns players roommates on the road. Sometimes they will switch some things up, even in the middle of the season, just to integrate the team more. In addition, any player with 600 NHL games played AND 10 years of experience, gets his own room. The only players currently with this perk are Owen Nolan and Andrew Brunette. In addition, Wild goaltenders get their own room.
 
Q: Hi Ryan,
Can you tell us what is the theme of Niklas Backstrom's goalie mask art? We can't quite figure out what is all on there, and we're wondering if it means anything special.
-- Thanks!  Micah

A: Hi Micah. Thanks for reading! Backstrom’s new mask features an eagle and a bear, just to signify “Wild.”
Many pre-game skates are optional, meaning some older players can skip it if they’d like, but, today, everyone was on the ice prior to tonight’s game against the first-place Calgary Flames. Since the players weren’t on the ice every day during the four-day break, Jacques Lemaire wanted to make sure everyone was sharp.

Lemaire said that the Flames are such a good 5-on-5 team, the Wild will need to take advantage of any power plays it can get.

The Calgary media is plentiful. Most spent 10 minutes with Cal Clutterbuck. It makes me remember what it will be like when we’re in Canada for seven days later this month and early next month. Clutterbuck is popular with Minnesota fans, but is obviously well known North of the border as well.

Derek Boogaard (ill) skated today, but he will not play tonight. Neither will Craig Weller, still out with a head injury. Niklas Backstrom will start in net across from Miikka Kiprusoff, who, believe it or not, has played every Flames game versus the Wild since he was traded from San Jose. His 21 wins against Minnesota are nine more than any other NHL goalie owns.

As you may have heard, the AHL’s Albany River Rats were in a bus accident overnight. A few people seriously hurt, but are expected to be OK. Best wishes from the R.S.S. Feed to all involved. As someone who spent six seasons in the minors, and was often on one of those buses late at night, it’s always your worst fear.

This afternoon's big employee hockey game was cancelled due to net repairs, so our boys have Tuesday's game vs. LA to look forward to. We also just tracked down a laptop for one of the Calgary beat writers to use, since his bit the dust yesterday.
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