Postgame Just awaiting my turn at screening here at the airport. We were 10 minutes early leaving the arena. Jacques Lemaire wasn't at all displeased with his team's effort; the power play just needed to be better. Obviously. Jacques said the earlier power plays were good passing -- but no shooting.
Just under an hour flight time tonight to Columbus, where we'll skate tomorrow afternoon. I'll be back then. I can take some off-day e-mails, too -- firstname.lastname@example.org.
3rd period 17:05 The Wild is 0-for-6 on the power play after two. The Flyers still awaiting their first chance with the man advantage. I hope the referees didn't look at the stat sheet between periods, because it will be a parade to the box for Minnesota in the third.
14:48 Sure enough, the Flyers get a power play after a Craig Weller penalty, and score off the ensuing faceoff, as Mike Knuble gets the goal after Backstrom appeared to have the puck, but it trickled through the crease and into the net. It's 2-1 Flyers.
10:13 The Wild with a chance to make up for earlier power play woes, after a hooking call to Andrew Alberts, who mugged Owen Nolan. Big power play here for Minnesota, 0-for-6 thus far on the man advantage. 2nd period 8:11 Scott Hartnell ended Niklas Backstrom's shutout streak at a team record 149:14 earlier in the period, and he's now in the box for cross checking. The Wild just failed to score on more than one minute of 5-on-3 time, including a too many men on the ice call. The Philly faithful just serenaded the referees. I'm headed downstairs soon, after this power play is over. Hopefully for Wild fans, it's over soon.
1st period Colton Gillies, Derek Boogaard and Martin Skoula are out for the Wild. Lasse Kukkonen, Claude Giroux and Luca Sbisa are scratched for the Flyers. Luckily I don't have to type Kukkonen or Sbisa again. We just heard from the "No. 1 ranked anthem singer in the NHL" Lauren Hart. I have yet to see those rankings made public. I'll be blogging a couple times a period tonight. My counterparts from Houston are here and I need to catch up on how the Aeros and their staff are doing.
17:02 You don't often see players do this in the NHL. Josh Gratton got in John Scott's face enough where Scott dropped the gloves, Gratton faked him out, and skated away. Both will go for penalties, both for unsportsmanlike conduct.
16:39 A pretty move by Brent Burns after a great pass by Mikko Koivu, with the teams 4-on-4, but Burns fired wide left.
16:13 Another great scoring chance by the Wild, as former Flyer Kim Johnsson cuts back door and and pushes a shot just inches wide.
11:16 The Wild is all over the Flyers. Minnesota is getting outshot 4-3, but several shots have just missed, and they've kept Philly pinned in its zone most of the period. Scott Hartnell just went to the box, and it's a power play for the Wild.
End 1st period The Wild with a 1-0 lead after one, thanks to Stephane Veilleux, who knocked home a feed from Cal Clutterbuck after the midway point of the first. Shots are 7-7 after 20 minutes, but the Wild has been in command more often than not. Veilleux did an interview with FS North's Kevin Gorg.
6 p.m. EST Greetings from the Wachovia Center press box. We're about an hour away from gametime.
You know a city is not really known for its "brotherly love" when the head of off-ice officials meets up with you to say "I'm here no matter what you need, I'm your friend." I think more often than not, the reputation Philly fans get is a bit unfair. Although, I lived in suburban Philly for a year after college, and I'm not sure my upstairs neighbor ever said "Hi" to me. Josh Harding joked this morning he'd wear ear plugs on the bench. In every arena, the fans right behind the visitor's bench are brutal. I was wondering aloud the other day with the trainers and equipment guys, whether the Minnesota fans are such.
I meant to blog this earlier...The President's in town. The media bus got caught behind his motorcade this morning and almost didn't make it back in enough time to drive our second group of guys back to the hotel, including starting goalie Niklas Backstrom.
A little change in post-game food tonight. We'll get 25 cheesteaks and four pizzas. It'll cost a little bit more, but a couple of our veterans requested it.
Cookie and the rest of our flight crew, and plane, is in the process of flying from Boston to Cleveland, and from there they'll come to Philadelphia to take us to Columbus tonight. The end of the road trip is in sight. Update: The plane is on the ground in Philadelphia already. That's good news.
I'm headed downstairs to make sure Kevin Gorg gets Kim Johnsson on the bench in the FS North pre-game show. Johnsson played here four seasons. I told him at least he'd be a stationary target if anyone wanted to throw anything at him!
1:30 p.m. EST
Wild at Flyers: Game preview We have a flashback to the Nik Backstrom announement, plus Wild-Flyers stats and more
The Wild, in the midst of a four-game stretch, meets a Flyers team tonight that just finished off a 12-day, 2-2-2 road trip and is playing its first home game since Dec. 23. Philly has injuries left and right, though, and continues to be without Danny Briere.
The Wild held a 25-minute skate this morning. Martin Skoula did not attend due to illness, as he was sick. Erik Reitz was out for bit of extra work, but will play if Skoula can’t go. I’m trying to find out the last time Skoula missed a game due to injury or illness. It looks like Stephane Veilleux is back in the lineup despite not practicing the last two games with the flu. Benoit Pouliot was out latest among the forwards. Niklas Backstrom will start in net for the Wild.
I found the Skoula stats. It would mark his first "non healthy" scratch as a member of the Wild. Since the 1999-2000 season (his rookie year), Skoula has played more games than any other defenseman in the NHL.
1 - Skoula 682 2 - Lidstrom 677 3 - O'Donnell 670
Our ticket list is sent in, and I’ll call everyone in Columbus this afternoon to confirm our arrival tonight. Just as a precaution, all Wild players will get their own rooms for the next two nights in Columbus. We’ve had three players sick in the last week, plus an assistant coach, so we want to take all precautions.
The coaches’ room here is tiny. It’s half the size of a walk-in closet, especially once you get Matt Shaw’s video equipment in there. So he moved the computer cabinet into the players’ changing room. I’ve arranged with FS North to have the proper wires run into that room. Speaking of FS North, Kim Johnsson is scheduled to be the pre-game warm-up interview.
We’ll have many guests tonight in the press box, including the Houston Aeros coaching staff, led by Kevin Constantine. The Aeros are in Hershey to play the Bears tomorrow, and it’s a short drive. Also attending tonight’s game is Hershey Bear Francois Bouchard, who is Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s brother.
The Eastern Conference All-Star reserves were named today. The Flyers’ representative is Jeff Carter, who has 27 goals already this season. I believe that total leads the league. It did when we left for the road trip. He’ll be presented his jersey tonight by the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation’s Academic All-Star Team prior to the game. Snider, the Flyers’ owner, created the Foundation in 2005 as a personal commitment to provide opportunities to those who would otherwise not have such options.
That’s it for now. Talk to everyone prior to the game tonight.