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Jan. 26, 2009Monday, 3:30 p.m. CST
Thirty-six games remain for the Wild in the 2008-09 NHL regular season, beginning with tomorrow’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Wild prepared for that game today with a 60-minute afternoon skate at Xcel Energy Center. Typically practices on the day before games are a little more than half that long, but, after five well-deserved days away from the rink, Jacques Lemaire wanted his players to be conditioned for tomorrow.Niklas Backstrom
was on a 6 a.m. flight today out of Montreal to make it to practice. Make it he did, but he was given the day off after the rigors of the weekend. He talked to reporters and TV cameras on his way out.
As far as the All-Star Game goes, Jacques said he does not watch them. “It’s not the same hockey that we teach.” Even Mike Ramsey could only watch 10 minutes of the game, Lemaire reported.
Everyone on the active roster was on the ice today except Backstrom and Craig Weller, who remains out with a head injury. Kurtis Foster
participated in the full skate with the rest of the team. Marc-Andre Bergeron hit a pair of teammates with his booming slapshot. First, he nailed Eric Belanger in the wrist, and then Krys Kolanos took the slapper off his foot.
There will be a heavy media contingent as always when Toronto comes to town. That actually hasn’t happened very much. The Maple Leafs have played fewer games (two) at Xcel Energy Center than any other team. The Leafs fly in later tonight, but several media members flew in either Sunday night or Monday, so we had a good media representation at practice today.
A sampling of other notes for tomorrow’s game:
Andrew Brunette will become the first player since 1993 to skate in 500 consecutive NHL games.
The Wild is 10-2-1 against the Eastern Conference, with five games, left including the tilt with the Leafs.
A regulation loss Tuesday would match the Wild’s franchise-record for consecutive regulation losses at home (three).
G Niklas Backstrom
is 34-7-9 with a 1.98 GAA and a .928 SV% after the All-Star break. Before it, he is 44-29-7 with a 2.32 GAA and a .922 SV%.
Tomorrow’s post game meal (this will be my second “Bangers and Mash” in a month, thanks to the Billy Joel/Elton John press conference earlier in January):
Baked potato beer cheese soup
Bangers and Gravy
Philly cheese steak sandwiches
... In the business, they call this the “let’s skip lunch” dinner.
I’ll spend much of the next couple of days working on my Wild game program feature for February, on the recovery of Kurtis Foster
. Fozzy still hopes to play in some games with the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League in February. The Aeros are also spending a few days in St. Paul practicing the week of Feb. 9, in the midst of an extended road trip.
We’re also working with Spike TV’s “World’s Toughest Cowboy” reality show, which is scheduled to have some cowboys take shots at Derek Boogaard after practice Wednesday. The World’s Toughest Rodeo comes to Xcel Energy Center this Friday and Saturday. I know I’ll be there. The show (http://www.toughestcowboy.com/index.aspx), which airs on Spike TV, follows the circuit for an entire season in search of the “World’s Toughest Cowboy.” There are some legalities being worked out, such as the use of the Wild logo, etc.
I need to give a shoutout to the newest member of the Wild organization to hit the Internet: VP of Communications/Broadcasting Bill Robertson, who is on Twitter. Check out Billy’s updates here: http://twitter.com/mnwild