We're on I-105 East headed back from El Segundo to our hotel downtown. The Wild skated for about 45 minutes today, with the usual suspects getting some extra work on the ice.
There was no big news, but the team was still buzzing over last night's comeback victory.
Tomorrow's game is at 1 p.m. local, so the players will have breakfast tomorrow before heading to the rink. The guys are eating at a local steakhouse this evening.
Friday, 8 a.m. PST
I've witnessed a lot in my eight seasons in hockey, more than 600 games, but I'm not sure anything has topped last night.
The Wild, down 3-0 in the second, battles back with two goals late in the period. Marek Zidlicky bounces a puck in with seven minutes left from outside the blue line. And I mean bounced. I was en route to the locker room and heard Derek Boogaard, equipment guru Brent Proulx and trainer Travis Green going crazy. It's a save Boucher makes 999 times out of 1,000, but it bounced right through his legs.
A late penalty kill to force overtime, and then Koivu pops home the goal in OT to cap off probably the unlikeliest one-game comeback Wild fans have ever seen. I hope you were still awake to celebrate. The Wild had comeback from three goals down on the road two seasons ago, in Nashville - in November. But a huge difference between Tennessee in November, and San Jose in March. The Sharks have just seven home losses all year - four coming in overtime. They are the class of the NHL. And the Wild will hopefully propel themselves up the standings. Staring an 0-4-0 start to the road trip, Minnesota could attempt for a SoCal sweep and come home 3-3-0.
It was an entertaining time getting out of there to beat the 11:30 p.m. "wheels up" curfew. I now know why more teams don't try it. We screened at the arena, which is faster because the bags that go under the plane don't get screened.
Our bus is pulling out of the loading dock, and the security guy stops the bus and says they need to see Ryan. It's about 10:40 at this point. I hop off the bus to see FS North's John Stroh and Matt Gangle (producer and director) and our stats person, Sarah Servetnick, on the side of their road. The take a sedan to/from the airport. That sedan was at the arena, and had been for 30 minutes, but couldn't find them, and they couldn't communicate well with the driver.
Before I can even ask, Doug Risebrough says, "Get them on the bus." Hey, win as a team and lose as a team, right? The bus is already more crowded than usual, as owner Craig Leipold has joined us. Radio, TV, all on the bus. So Stroh sits next to Jacques Lemaire, and everyone else piles in.
We make it to the airport just before 11:00. I, apparently, am sweating profusely and rather red, as Mike Ramsey asked me how much sun I got during my afternoon walk in San Jose, with a wink (it was cloudy). Wheels up just shy of 11:15 p.m., and it's a jovial a plane as I remember. There are many more games left, but we savored this one for a night.
The Wild will skate at 1:30 p.m. PST in El Segundo at the Kings practice rink. I don't expect much news, but I'll hop back on to give an update.
Oh one final thing, I had to try and change the scoring on the Wild's first goal tonight. Every replay we have all seen, shows the puck missing Koivu by about two feet. It's Bergeron's goal, and the NHL should change it in the morning. But the Sharks scorers were emphatic it went off Koivu, so we went with it. We'll look at it again to make sure. That, making sure our management table in the press box had a TV, and getting an audio guy from the TV truck to run wire in the coaches office about 10 minutes before gametime. All in the job description that doesn't really have a job description. But nights like these, make it all worthwhile.