Feb. 9, 2009
Monday, 12:30 p.m. CST
|MEDIA NOTES ... |
Cal Clutterbuck will appear on KFAN at 7:30 p.m. CST tonight with Sludge and Lake.
Nik Backstrom and Antti Miettinen, making his debut, will serve as Hockey Unplugged guests tonight at Joe Senser's in Plymouth
A pretty quiet day at Xcel Energy Center. There were no players on the ice. Instead, the coaching staff decided the players would work out off the ice. With a game every other day last week, and a back-to-back coming up that is part of three games in four nights, the coaches decided a day off the ice would be good to rest the players.
This situation always makes things a little more difficult, as a pair of TV stations showed up at 11:30 a.m. -- around the time the players would normally be getting off the ice -- and several guys were gone already. But many more were still around, so we got them taken care of.
Jacques Lemaire met briefly with the media, talking a lot about newcomers Peter Olvecky and Dan Fritsche. He says Olvecky’s play has slipped off a bit and needs to rebound.
Lemaire also continued to stress how important the rest of February is, with five more home games before the team leaves on its six-game, 11-game trip that starts a grueling March. Paraphrasing Jacques here (I can type quickly on the Blackberry, but not that quickly): “If we put it together and play as a team [in March], we’ll be fine. If not, we’ll be awful.”
has a brief look at Jacques thoughts from this morning.
Lemaire also appreciated how mentally sharp his team was in the win over Edmonton yesterday -- a.k.a., listening to the coaching staff. He said the message, to get more pucks on net, was the same as in Friday’s game against Nashville, but the players seemed to listen much better yesterday.
As I’ve mentioned, the Houston Aeros are in town for practices Monday-Thursday of this week. Today’s practice is optional -- the guys came into town at 2:30 this morning after taking a bus from Chicago. I was able to catch up with their trainer Jerry Meins, who has been around for each of the Aeros’ 15 seasons, including four with yours truly. Every time I think I have a tough job with the travel, I think of Jerry. The Aeros fly commercial, and he is often at the airport at 4:30 a.m., getting tickets together for when the players arrive. And, many nights, he’s doing that on three or four hours’ sleep.
The Avs won’t be here till late Tuesday. They play in Columbus Tuesday night, meaning it will be the Wild’s third straight opponent that has played the night before. But that hasn’t always been good news for Minnesota this season.
Here’s a little Backstrom nugget for you. I’ll post more notes tomorrow, when the Wild will again practice at 11 a.m.:
In 29 career home decisions against Northwest Division opponents, Backstrom has just four regulation losses (19-4-6), with a 1.69 GAA and a .936 SV%. He has allowed two goals or fewer 26 times in 29 decisions against the Northwest at home, and he is 4-1-1 with a 2.38 GAA and a .916 SV% against Colorado at Xcel Energy Center. Those are his worst GAA and SV% against any Northwest Division opponent. is 9-2-1 with a 2.19 GAA, a .926 SV% and one shutout in 12 starts overall against Colorado. He has more wins against just one other team (Edmonton, 11-1-0). Backstrom's nine wins against the Avs since the beginning of the 2006-07 season trail only Miikka Kiprusoff (10-7-3) amongst all NHL goalies. Kiprusoff, though, has played eight more games versus the Avs than has Backstrom, whose .792 win % against Colorado is the best of any goalie in the last three seasons.