Postgame, 10:15 p.m. PST
We're on the bus back to our hotel after the Wild's 4-2 loss. Unlike our normal 30-minute bus time, we took about 45 minutes leaving GM Place tonight. Many of the players are now headed to dinner, and we'll leave the hotel at 8:45 tomorrow morning for YVR main terminal. Talk to you from San Jose.
The teams the Wild are chasing have all picked up points tonight, meaning a crucial third period here for Minnesota. Looking for a strong shift to start, Jacques Lemaire sends out Veilleux, Sheppard and Clutterbuck.
Some good sustained pressure by the Wild in the last four or five shifts. If you remember, that's the way the Canucks turned things in their favor in the second period. I've got to pack up and head downstairs, but I'll be back with a wrap-up from the bus or the hotel.
We're underway in the second period, with the Wild moving left to right. I spent the rest of the second period filling out our flight information on the customs declaration cards for tomorrow morning.
isn't on the Wild bench, so I'm off to try to get an update for the media. I'll update the blog when I know something.
Never mind, Bouchard is back on the bench!
The Canucks get a chance to tie this thing up on the power play. Colton Gillies got his pocket picked, and then went for tripping.
Vancouver has gotten three really good chances on this power play. Backstrom just sniffed out Daniel Sedin.
Antti Miettinen comes out for a shift on this PK. Miettinen is playing in his 300th NHL game tonight.
A dynamite save by Henrik Sedin, as the Wild gets pinned deep for a good two minutes. Peter Olvecky and Dan Fritschecan't get off the ice.
The Wild finally gets a chance, which leads to Pavol Demitra's breakaway, and he snaps a shot high into the protective netting. The Vancouver faithful is getting noisy, sensing a momentum change. I'm headed back downstairs.
End of 2nd period
The tide did indeed shift, as the Canucks rode that momentum to a pair of late goals 28 seconds apart, including a tying tally by former Wild forward Pavol Demitra, and a go-ahead goal by Jonathan Bernier. The Wild is down by one, heading to the final 20 minutes. Vancouver has double (22) the Wild'sshot total, including a 16-4 margin in that second period.
Schultz and Johnsson on the blueline for the Wild, with Belanger between Nolan and Miettinen up front. That's a combo I'm not sure we've seen thus far, as Jacques Lemaire looks for some more offense. They are matchedup across from Sedin/Burrows/Sedin.
That's just the start the boys in white needed! Roberto Luongo comesout to play the puck, but puts it on the stick of Colton Gillies. Gillies sends the puck on net, and Dan Fritsche redirects it past Luongo before he can recover for his fourth goal of the season - third in the last seven games. It's 1-0 Wild.
Despite the two days off between games, Minnesota really seems to be carrying that momentum that began in the third period Saturday in Edmonton. The Wild didn't win that game, but you could just tell, the offense was starting to come.
Tremendous stick handling by James Sheppard draws a hooking penalty on Ryan Kesler, setting up a Wild power play. GM Place is pretty quiet early on.
And it's 2-0! Pierre-Marc Bouchard finds Marek Zidlicky at the centerpoint, and Z-Man's point blast looked like it deflected off a Canucks defenseman and into the net. It's Zidlicky's 10th goal of the season - all on the power play. Mikko Koivu with the other assist.
Shane O'Brien (Canuck-leading 162 PIM) rams Cal Clutterbuck
hard into the boards, as the whistle blows. That whistle was calling Kim Johnsson for interference. A big PK here for the Wild.
The penalty gets killed, but the Canucks cut the deficit in half three seconds later. It looks like Alex Burrows tipped the Willie Mitchell point shot under Backstrom for his 17th goal of the season. Burrows, who makes a bit more than $500,000, is going to make a killing with someone this summer in the free agent market. Wild leads 2-1. UPDATE: Burrows signed a four-year, $8 million extension today, according to the Star Tribune's Mike Russo.
A nice backdoor play nearly leads to another Zidlicky goal, but Luongo had the near post covered. I'm headed downstairs for the intermission.
End 1st period
A solid first period on the road for the Wild, which is playing game three of the longest consecutive road trip (six games) in team history. Shots were 7-6 in favor of Minnesota, which leads 2-1. KSTC-TV interviewed Dan Fritsche between periods. The second intermission is usually a busy one here, with home and visiting TV, and Canucks radio usually requesting a player.
Colton Gillies, who scored a goal the last time he played in front of his parents, gets the chance again tonight in Vancouver. He plays while Craig Weller is a healthy scratch, joining Kurtis Foster
and Derek Boogaard out of the lineup. Niklas Backstrom
will start opposite Roberto Luongo.Mikko Koivu
is the Wild's captain for the rest of the season, his fourth captaincy this season. That ties Koivu with Brad Bombardir (2002-03) for the most times as Wild captain in a single season.
6:00 p.m. PST
Greetings from the press box at GM Place, where for the first time in my four trips here I have successfully navigated my way into an Internet connection. There's no wireless up here, and with my new laptop, the hardline finally works.
I'm still awaiting word on the March/April captain. I'll find out with everyone else, when the team skates out for warm-ups. I've got to head downstairs, as Marc-Andre Bergeron is scheduled to do a couple quick questions with Rogers Sportsnet. Bergeron had a good line earlier today, at the team lunch. We were eating in the "International Suite," which is the Westin's finest suite (it must be). Bergeron said "Stanzy, thanks for letting us eat in your room today." Ha. I wish. I like Bergy.
We're staying over tonight and flying into San Jose tomorrow. We'll leave the hotel at 8:45 and go through the main terminal, through customs. It's probably our least favorite part of going to Canada, flying back through main terminal. We are scheduled to land in San Jose at 12:30 Pacific time - 30 minutes after the trade deadline - and skate an hour later at HP Pavilion.
Tuesday, 1:30 p.m. PST
|March 3 Media Appearances ... |
· Hockey Night in Canada Radio at 4:15 p.m. CST with hosts Jeff Marek and Cassie Campbell
· XM Satellite Radio at 4:43 p.m. CST with hosts Mike Ross and Phil Esposito
· 5:20 p.m. CST with Dan Barreiro on KFAN
· 7:05 p.m. CST with Matt Thomas on KSTP Radio
· 7:40 p.m. CST with Steve Thomson on WCCO Radio
I’m finally back at the hotel, some 4 hours after I left this morning. Nik Backstrom did a brief hit with additional media after the pre-game skate, including TSN. They were quick, plus it was hard to get everyone in position to talk to him on such short notice this morning.
No big news out of the Wild’s pre-game skate. Everyone was on the ice. Derek Boogaard (suspension) and Kurtis Foster
are out for sure tonight. The third scratch is to be determined, but Andrew Brunette and Owen Nolan will both play tonight. Backstrom is in net. And I think the equipment guys are still picking up sticks, after Wild broadcaster Dan Terhaar accidentally knocked down about 25 of them on the bench this morning. He kicked his leg up to get from the stands to the runway on his way to the dressing room, and apparently kicked the glass a bit too hard.
I’m about to confirm everything for our arrival tomorrow in San Jose. We have a group of 60 corporate sponsors that are going to attend practice. I hope to grab dinner with them in the evening and then head to A Perfect Finish, my favorite wine and dessert bar. Tomorrow is also the trade deadline.
One more thing -- we’ve decided the Westin here in Vancouver has the best pre-game meal in the NHL. Mario Tremblay says the best pasta (I agree). Matt Shaw said the best ice cream (I also agree). That’s when Eric Belanger declared it the best pre-game meal anywhere.
One more afternoon to enjoy Vancouver. We’ll bus to GM Place tonight at 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday, 10:30 a.m. PST
A 10-minute press conference with Niklas Backstrom
just wrapped up. Both Twin Cities papers attended, as well as several Canadian media outlets.
Whereas I normally take the bus to the arena at 10:15, today I took a one an hour earlier to get things set up for Backstrom's media availability. By doing it before practice, Backstrom won't have his normal pre-game routine interrupted after the skate.
I used to be the witness on some ECHL contracts from 2001-2003 that averaged from $350 to $500 a week. So this was somewhat amazing considering Backstrom signed a four-year, $24 million contract. I had to fax one contract into the Wild hockey operations office, while five more must be sent to the NHL.
I'll be back after the morning skate, but I wanted to get some news up about Backstrom's contract. He had a smile on his face throughout the morning. He is very happy to be staying in Minnesota.