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The R.S.S. Feed: Jan. 27, 2009

by Ryan Stanzel / Minnesota Wild
Maple Leafs at Wild: Game preview


Tuesday Mailbag time. E-mail questions to rstanzel@wild.com.

Q: Hey, Ryan ... Must feel good to be back after the All-Star break! Two questions: What are "bangers and gravy"?  When will this episode of Boogie taking on cowboys air?
Thanks!
Daniel from White Bear Lake


A: Thanks, as always, for the insightful questions, Daniel. It’s hard to believe how quickly a week without a game flies by. “Bangers and mash” (served with gravy) are essentially sausage links and mashed potatoes. It’s an English tradition -– similar to eel pie, which, fortunately, Chef Patrick won’t be serving us tonight. The St. Paul episodes of “World’s Toughest Cowboy” are scheduled for March 5 and March 12 on Spike TV at 10 p.m. CST. Boogaard would likely be on the first air date. Check the R.S.S. Feed closer to the airdate for the confirmation.

Q: Hi there. Earlier this season, there was a great feel-good story about the Capitals’ Webmaster suiting up after a chain of injuries and travel snafus prevented their back-up and farm team goalies from playing. Who would suit up from the Wild’s front office if a similar situation should happen (which of course I hope doesn’t)?
Thanks, 
Jody from St. Paul

A: Super question Jody. Thankfully, the Wild’s farm team in Houston is just a 2 ½ hour direct flight away, so the chances of this happening are very slim. Even if the Aeros are on the road, they spend a majority of their time within driving distance of Chicago, which is a quick flight. If something were to happen, my guess would be Paul Deutsch, a friend of Mike Ramsey’s who occasionally serves as netminder at Wild practices. Unfortunately, Wild.com’s Jamie MacDonald can’t don the pads, but he did tell me this morning that if the Wild ever need a penalty killer, he’d be ready. I suppose Bob Mason, the Wild’s goalie coach, could be an option also. Mike Dunham, the Islanders’ goalie coach, nearly had to appear in an NHL game earlier this month. He went from the press box to the locker room to change during the game “just in case.” Of course, Dunham is a bit closer to “game shape” than Mase, as Dunham retired in 2007.
Jan. 27, 2009

Post-game wrap-up
Somewhere in the middle of the Wild's four-goal second period, I had a thought. I said to myself, the Wild really isn't playing all that well, and the Leafs were getting chances. Jacques Lemaire agreed, saying the second period was the worst. He said his staff had the chances at 8-6, in favor of Toronto. But the Wild capitalized on four of those six chances, taking advantage of a rookie goalie making his second NHL start.

What a night for the Wild, which has scored six goals in a game for the fourth time this season. That's twice this month - with both games featuring six even strength goals. More post-game notes are below.

The Wild will skate tomorrow at Xcel Energy Center. With another skate Thursday in Edmonton, I wouldn't think it will be an intense skate.

vRW Pierre-Marc Bouchard tallied two goals and an assist in a four-goal second period, C Eric Belanger and RW Antti Miettinen had two helpers apiece in that stanza, and Andrew Brunette scored a goal and added an assist in his 500th consecutive game, as the Minnesota Wild bested the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-1 in front of 18,568 at Xcel Energy Center. All-Star G Niklas Backstrom made 27 saves, RW Owen Nolan had a goal and a helper and RW Cal Clutterbuck and D Marc Andre Bergeron also scored for Minnesota, which begins a brief two-game road trip Friday in Edmonton.

RW Pierre-Marc Bouchard posted two goals and an assist for his fifth multi-point game this season. The Wild improved to 28-3-1 when Bouchard scores a goal, dating back to Dec. 23, 2006. Minnesota is 13-1-0 all-time when Bouchard has two or more points. Bouchard’s three points in a period tied the team record. It’s been done 12 times, the last coming when Bouchard posted two goals and an assist Feb. 10, 2006, in the first period at Edmonton. Bouchard also tied his career-high with a plus-three rating.

RW Andrew Brunette scored a goal and added an assist while extending his consecutive games played streak to 500 games, the longest active streak in the NHL and the fourth-longest since 1993, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The score marked Brunette’s second goal in the last 17 games, and his 12th of the season. Brunette has five points (1-4=5) in a three-game point streak, and eight points (2-6=8) in the last six games.

The Wild scored four goals in the second period – one goal off the team record for goals in a stanza. The last time the Wild scored four times in a period was Jan. 30, 2008, in the second period of a 5-1 win over Anaheim.

Minnesota didn’t allow a power-play opportunity for just the fourth time in team history, the last coming Jan. 2, 2004, against Edmonton.

RW Antti Miettinen had two assists to establish a new career-high with 22 helpers, and also set a new career-high with a plus-three rating. Miettinen, who had 20 assists in 2005-06, has 34 points (10-22=32) this season, just two off his career-high of 34 (15-19=34), set last season with Dallas.

D Kim Johnsson had an assist and tied his career-high with a plus-four rating (April 6, 2003, at Florida). He also tied the Wild team record for plus-minus by a defenseman.

C Eric Belanger notched two assists and recorded his sixth career plus-three rating, the last coming Oct. 6, 2007, versus Columbus, in his second game with the Wild. Belanger had one goal and no assists in the 11 prior games. It marked his first two-assist game since Jan. 11, 2008, at Chicago.

RW Cal Clutterbuck had a franchise-record nine hits and scored his fourth goal in the last six games – his eighth goal of the season. Clutterbuck has had an even or better rating in each of his last 15 games. The Wild improved to 6-1-0 when Clutterbuck scores a goal.

RW Owen Nolan tallied a goal and an assist, giving him points in three straight games (2-3=5). Nolan played in his 1,097th NHL game.

D Marc-Andre Bergeron supplied a goal and finished with a plus-three rating to tie his career-high.

C Mikko Koivu recorded an assist, giving him six points (1-5=6) in the last three games, and 10 points (2-8=10) in the last seven games. Koivu leads the Wild in goals (13), assists (34) and points (47).

Minnesota scored six goals in a game for the fourth time this season. That’s one off the team record of five six-goal games set in 2005-06. The Wild had four six-goal games in the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons combined.

The Wild improved to 11-2-1 against the Eastern Conference this season. It has four games left against the East, including three in a six-day stretch in March. The team record for wins against the East is 14, as the Wild went 14-6-2 in 2002-03. But the Wild will play just 18 games versus the Eastern Conference this season, compared to 22 in 2002-03.

Minnesota is 150-4-7 all-time when scoring four or more goals, including 13-1-0 this season. At home, the Wild improved to 89-3-2 when scoring four or more times.


3rd period
19:55

We've rewritten about half the Wild media guide here between periods. Bouchard ties a team record with three points in a period. Kim Johnsson is plus-four which would tie the team mark for a defenseman. Lots more stuff coming later in post-game notes.

12:30

A very vanilla third period thus far. I'm caught up on some notes and can watch the game again.

10:52
It's 6-1, as Owen Nolan tallies his 12th of the season. Terrific play by Marek Zidlicky pinching in at the right point. He hit a cutting Andrew Brunette in the right circle. Brunette swung the puck wide for Nolan low in the left circle, and Nolan ripped a shot by Pogge. The Wild is one goal off its team record for goals in a home game.


7:51

The Wild about to get 40 seconds of a 4-on-3 as Matt Stajan goes for slashing. Robert the intern Desimone reports this would be the fourth time in team history the Wild don't allow a power play opportunity. That, of course means that the Wild will go shorthanded in the final eight minutes!

5:58

A splendid (running out of adjectives) power play chance for Owen Nolan, whose one-timer is turned aside by Pogge. The rookie really hasn't had much help tonight.

4:51

The play of the night in a 6-1 game may just be by Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom, who flops over on his stomach to keep a puck out of the net.



2nd period
19:55

Back underway here at Xcel Energy Center. Cal Clutterbuck went on with KSTC-TV after the first intermission. Aaron Sickman took a nifty picture with his cameraphone, but I'm not quite sure how to upload it onto the R.S.S. Feed.

15:31
Several Maple Leaf fans here tonight, and we hear them all as Jason Blake scores his team-leading 15th goal. He turns and fired a backhander from the left circle. Blake, the Moorhead native, didn't quite get all of the puck, but it eluded a diving Backstrom. Dominic Moore, former Wild centerman, gets an assist as the Maple Leafs tie the game 1-1.

14:31
And it takes the Wild just a minute to retake the lead. Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who had less ice time in the first period than Derek Boogaard, takes a feed from Eric Belanger behind the net and feeds a cutting Marc-Andre Bergeron in the left circle. Bergeron one-times a shot under Pogge for his fifth goal of the season, and the Wild is up 2-1.

12:13
Bouchard proves he can find the net, too! What a finish on a 2-on-1 with Belanger, who has two assists int he last 2:20 after going the first 26 days of 2009 without an assist. A left-to-right pass to Bouchard, who rifles a one-timer over Pogge's left shoulder. The goalie had no chance, and Bouchard's ninth goal makes it a 3-1 lead. Antti Miettinen picks up the second assist.

11:34
It's 4-1 just like that! Another odd-man rush. Owen Nolan takes a bouncing puck off the end boards (before going sliding into the boards) and drops a pass to Mikko Koivu in the right circle. Koivu feeds a cutting Andrew Brunette in the left circle. Brunette pokes the puck into an open net for his 12th goal - coming in his 500th consecutive NHL game.

8:39
A donnybrook in the Wild zone, caused in part by a crosscheck to James Sheppard's back by Jason Blake. The scrum ends with Cal Clutterbuck duking it out with Ian White. An exhausted Clutterbuck drags himself to the penalty box. We now see replays. A borderline bad hit into the boards by Lee Stempniak on Clutterbuck, who had earlier drilled Stempniak with a clean hit. Sheppard came over, and got whacked by Blake. The Wild end up with a power play. Amazingly enough, no penalty on Stempniak, whose play started the whole thing.

6:35

Good puck movement by the Wild, but no scoring chances. Niklas Backstrom took an early fall in his own zone, but appears to be ok after being slow to get up.

3:33
Derek Boogaard gets shoved along the boards by Jonas Frogren. The pair shoves for a bit. I don't think Frogren is much of a fighter. I'm not sure who seems more excited by Boogaard's every shift, the Team of 18,000 or the Maple Leafs, who seem preoccupied with the Boogeyman.

1:46
And it's a rare four-goal period for the Wild, which takes a 5-1 lead in Bouchard's second goal and third point of the period. Kim Johnsson pushes the puck ahead to Antti Miettinen (two assists), who springs Bouchard on a breakaway up the left side. Bouchard scores to complete his 14th career three-point game. The Wild is 12-1-0 in the previous 13.

0:55

Clutterbuck is also on the brain of Toronto rookie Luke Schenn, who just hits him up high as Clutterbuck exits the ice.

End 2nd period
The Wild was outshot 12-11 that period, but the Wild with four goals compared to one for Toronto. It's a season-high four goals in a period for Minnesota. The team record is five. Robert the intern Desimone is on the phone with Elias Sports Bureau figuring out the Wild's last four-goal period.



1st period

The St. Paul Winter Carnival King & Queen just led us in Let's Play Hockey, so let's do what the royalty says. It's Veilleux/Sheppard/Clutterbuck up front for the Wild, with Burns and Schultz on the blueline. Toronto counters with former Wild center Dominic Moore, between Lee Stempniak and Moorhead's Jason Blake. Mike Van Ryn, back from his second concussion of the season, is on the blueline along with top draft pick Luke Schenn.

18:45

A defensive breakdown leads to a breakaway by Nik Antropov, who has 13 goals. But Backstrom, used to breakaways in the All-Star Game, turns him away.

17:07

Some pushing and shoving after the whistle between Derek Boogaard and Brad May, still vilified in these parts for the sucker punch on Kim Johnsson two years ago in the playoffs. Boogaard asked May to pay the piper in the first meeting last year, and he did. The two talked off the faceoff, but with the crowd standing behind the Wild bench, nothing ensued.

12:08

Many times, the first game after the All-Star break is pretty sloppy. Not that way early on, as a crisp game with a few whistles as we hit the first TV timeout.

10:48
The Ontario kid, Cal Clutterbuck, was a star with the Toronto media this morning, and he's sure to be one tonight, too. His patented quick wrister from the right circle, through traffic, eludes Pogge for his eighth goal of the season. Great screen by a cutting James Sheppard. As I was downstairs watching warm-ups behind the Wild bench, I realized just how tricky his slapshot is. Sheppard and Stephane Veilleux with the assists, and the Wild's muckers make it 1-0. For the record, the Wild is 5-1-0 this season when Clutterbuck scores a goal. It was Clutterbuck's fourth goal in six games.

9:28

A high-sticking call to Dominic Moore, and the Wild goes on its first power play of the night. Moore is one of the Leafs' top penalty killers.

8:58

What work by Niklas Backstrom. After a turnover at the Wild blueline, Matt Stajan hits Nik Antropov with a 2-on-1 pass. Antropov dekes, and Backstrom makes three different saves with Antropov whacking at the puck.

7:17

Nothing doing on the power play for the Wild.

4:08

Derek Boogaard and Brad May with some more shouting and shoving, this time after Kim Johnsson got a glove in May's face. The pair remains on the ice. They've got to go here, one would assume...

4:05
...But May has shown little or no interest in actually fighting Boogaard. And that continues here.

0:05
Owen Nolan is sprung for a late breakaway, but the defense catches up.

End 1st period
A solid first 20 minutes after the five-day break in practices. Shots 6-5 in favor of Toronto, and the Wild is up 1-0.




Pre-game warm-ups
I'm back from the arena level, where Wild GM/President Doug Risebrough just did a brief interview with Rogers Sportsnet's Arash Madani for their pre-game show. Risebrough had a busy day, also going on with the Leafs' flagship station this afternoon.

As expected, Erik Reitz and Craig Weller are out tonight for the Wild. Maple Leafs scratches are Curtis Joseph, Ryan Hollweg and Andre Deveaux. I'm waiting for the boos to start for Brad May. Edina native and Leafs GM Brian Burke is not in the building tonight.

Justin Pogge, all 6-foot-3 of him, makes his second NHL start for Toronto. Niklas Backstrom, who ranks first or second in virtually every goaltender category in the "Post All-Star break" section since breaking into the league, is in net for the Wild.

And because I'm sure you wanted to know, the bangers and mash pre-game meal was outstanding. I'm nearing my 80th home game with the Wild, and for the first time I can say, I couldn't finish dessert. I got two bangers - I obviously had the look of someone who spent some time at the gym reading myself for the occasion.

Tuesday, 12 p.m. CST


Back from the morning skate at Xcel Energy Center. Wild players were on the ice a good 25 minutes, which is unusually long for a pre-game skate. As Jacques Lemaire said, it appears his team is happy to be back on the ice after the five days off.

Justin Pogge, tabbed the Leafs’ goalie of the future, was recalled from the AHL late yesterday and will make his second career NHL start tonight. Pogge has already been told he’ll return to AHL Toronto after the game. Leafs management wants to get a look at Pogge from time to time, but Vesa Toskala remains the No. 1 goalie, with Curtis Joseph the back-up. Joseph looks to get even fewer starts than usual in the second half with the Pogge shuffle having begun.

Lemaire said it’s extremely important to get a lot of shots at Pogge tonight. The rookie had to make just 19 saves (on 21 shots) in his lone start, at Atlanta in December.

Speaking of goalies, Niklas Backstrom is back and in net for the Wild tonight. Regarding Backstrom’s All-Star Game stint, Lemaire quipped: “He’s happy to have defensemen who try to stop the other guy.”

It’s always fun when Canadian media are around, particularly Toronto, since we play them so rarely. They love to ask Jacques about his time as a player, and Jacques doesn’t much like to talk about that. He wants to talk about today’s game.

Cal Clutterbuck, who is from Ontario, was a hit today with the Toronto media. Clutter keeps wearing the All-Star hat that Backstrom brought back for all the players (but not the PR staff) during his interviews. I told him he ought to have Backstrom sign that hat.
Craig Weller (head) is out tonight, as is Erik Reitz, who will be the Wild’s lone healthy scratch.

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