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Nov. 19, 2008
|In other "news" ... |
I’m still riding the high of meeting my new 10-year-old mentoree’ Jackson. It’s kind of like looking in a mirror 20 years ago, it’s pretty scary. Blond hair, tall, loves pizza. Yesterday we filled out a worksheet where we asked each other questions to find out what we have in common. We ended up with a lot in common. He even wants to work for the Wild when he grows up. So look for the Jackson Feed in about 20 years.
I have a couple things I’m working on. As you know, Twin Cities Live had the Schultz family on earlier this month to cook. The show is going to attend “Wild Bingo” at a local hospital in early December. Several Wild wives play bingo with kids once a month, and that will make for good TV, too. I also have a couple more things I’m working on with Twin Cities Live.
Ah yes, how could I forget? Thursday night’s press meal:
Tomato basil soup
vegetable Egg rolls
A short practice today at Xcel Energy Center, where the players were on the ice for about 40 minutes. Jacques Lemaire spoke to a pretty large gathering – including all five members of Wild TV/radio (we’re including Kevin Falness in there, since he swore to me he’s been reading the R.S.S. Feed lately). Lemaire said he is much more pleased today, in retrospect, with last night’s game than he appeared to be in his postgame scrum last night with the media.Mikko Koivu
did a quick photo shoot with Downtown Magazine, so look for that on an upcoming issue. I got Erik Reitz and Derek Boogaard to record quick clips for the Houston Aeros, who are honoring the duo by including them in their Aeros Legends Bobblehead Series. Both have bobbleheads coming up soon, and they’ll both get a few for friends and family.Josh Harding
didn’t practice today. The Wild has until tomorrow to make a roster move if Nolan Schaefer has to stay. There’s a 48-hour rule with emergency call-ups for goaltenders.
Let me reiterate how big the win over the Penguins was last night, in my opinion. It put the Wild ahead of the Canucks, who are in New York tonight to play the Rangers before flying here tonight for Thursday’s completion of the back-to-back against the Wild. Also, as Jacques Lemaire said today, with the Pens’ skill players like Crosby, Malkin, Staal and Sykora, you certainly don’t expect to beat a team like that in the shootout. Pittsburgh has played a league-high nine overtime games already. The Wild has played four – including two in the last three games.
Speaking of stats …In our part of the business, we’re generally all behind the scenes (prior to the R.S.S. Feed), so we get our excitement from seeing things we come up with on TV. So I was thrilled when I saw VERSUS used the stat I came up with in the preseason: Among the 25 goalies who have played 100 games since the beginning of the 2006-07 season (Backstrom’s first season in the league), Backstrom ranks first in winning percentage, GAA and Save Pct. That’s a pretty good trifecta.
Also an interesting note sent in from avid R.S.S. Feed reader Lindsey: All three Twin Cities areas goalies have some variation of the name Nick. The Wild’s Niklas Backstrom
, the Swarm’s Nick Patterson and the Thunder’s Nicolas Platter.
When I first arrived this morning, I updated all of our game notes for tomorrow’s tilt. With games every other day (at least) through December 6, we try to get them done early so we can get going on the next set. Some cool things I found that I thought I’d post on the R.S.S. Feed (there will be a test tomorrow ... this is the info we always send to both home and visiting media the day before a game to help in their preparation):
The Wild is 5-1-1 in the last seven overall meetings with the Canucks, and is 6-1-2 in the last nine home meetings. The teams meet with first place on the line, and that's not a surprise. Either Minnesota or Vancouver - and sometimes both teams - has had at least a share of first place since the beginning of the 2008-09 season.
The Wild ranks first in the league in GAA (1.94) - no other team is lower than 2.06 - while G Niklas Backstrom
is tied for third in the league with a 1.92 GAA and third with a .936 SV %. Backstrom (11-3-1) also ranks second in the league in wins. The Wild ranks 26th in the NHL in scoring, however, at 2.44 goals per game. Of the bottom eight teams in scoring, only Minnesota currently has a winning record. Since defeating Florida 6-2 on Oct. 16, the Wild has scored an NHL-low 25 goals. Minnesota is 29th in the NHL in shots for (26.5), while Vancouver is tied for 26th (27.2).
G Niklas Backstrom
has started 109 NHL games – allowing two goals or less 67 times, and three goals or less 95 times. Backstrom is 54-4-5 with four no decisions when yielding two goals or less. Backstrom is 43-0-3 when heading into the third period with the lead. He is 63-18-11 in his last 92 decisions and 54-15-9 in his last 78. Since the beginning of the 2006-07 season, 25 goaltenders have played at least 100 games. Of those 25, Backstrom is first in win % at .703 (Jean-Sebastien Giguere second at .679), first in SV Pct. at .925 (Martin Brodeur/Roberto Luongo .920), first in GAA at 2.14 (Brodeur 2.18), and is fifth shutouts with 10. Backstrom improved to 3-0 in shootouts on Tuesday in Pittsburgh, after going 4-10 in his first two NHL campaigns. Backstrom hasn't allowed a goal on eight shootout attempts this season.
The Wild are first in the league on the penalty kill at 93.8%, including a sparkling 95.6 percent kill rate at home, allowing just one goal (10/30 vs. MTL) in 23 attempts. Minnesota's PK unit has been even better in the last six games, at 96.4 percent (27-of-28). The Wild has not allowed a power play goal in the third period all season. Minnesota was the first NHL team to go the first seven games of the season without allowing a power play goal since the 1962-63 Toronto Maple Leafs. Since the beginning of the 2006-07 season, the Wild is 65-18-11 when not allowing a power-play goal. Minnesota is 5-for-10 (50.0 percent) on the power play in its last two home games, after going just 5-for-43 (11.6 percent) in the previous 10 games overall. Minnesota ranks third in the league with a 23.2 percent rate.
Minnesota has won each of its last two games by one goal, and has won three straight one-goal games overall. The Wild is 7-1-1 in one-goal contests this season. Minnesota's .778 winning percentage in one-goal games is tied with San Jose for the top spot in the NHL.
The Wild is 21-14-11 all-time against Vancouver, tied for its most wins against any other team. Minnesota is 21-16-8 versus Edmonton.
Canucks G Roberto Luongo has a career .919 Sv. Pct., but he has a sub .900 mark versus three NHL teams - Colorado (.897), Minnesota (.898) and San Jose (.899). Luongo did, however, blank the Wild for the second time 11/8 in a 2-0 win. Luongo is 7-11-4 all-time versus the Wild - his 11 regulation losses are more than any other goalie has against Minnesota. Only Miikka Kiprusoff (28) has played more games versus the Wild than Luongo (22). Luongo is 2-6-2 with a 3.02 GAA and a .889 Sv. Pct. in 10 career games at Xcel Energy Center. Only one other NHL goalie (Dan Cloutier) has more losses (seven) in regulation than Luongo has in St. Paul.
The Wild has outscored its opponents 15-7 in the second period this season, including 9-1 at home. The only team to score a second period goal at Xcel Energy Center this season was Montreal on 10/30. No other team has allowed fewer than 12 second period goals overall this season. The Wild has been stellar in the third period, as well, allowing just 11 goals. Only Vancouver (eight) has yielded fewer.
C Mikko Koivu
snapped a three-game pointless streak with a goal Tuesday in Pittsburgh. In the eight games Koivu has at least one point, he has tallied 16 points (3-13=16), a plus-7 rating, and the Wild is 8-0-0. Minnesota is 3-4-1 this year when Koivu doesn't record a point. Minnesota is 19-4-3 all-time when Koivu has two or more points. The Wild's record for assists is 50, set last season by RW Pierre-Marc Bouchard
. Koivu has 93 career assists - only five other Wild players have recorded 100 with the team. Koivu's 133 career points are seventh-most in team history. Pascal Dupuis is sixth with 141.
LW Andrew Brunette played in his 800th NHL game at Colorado (11/6). He is tied for 83rd on the active games played list (804) and joins RW Owen Nolan (1,075 games) as the only two members of the Wild to play in 800 games. Brunette has also played in 469 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NHL. Brunette has 31 career goals at Xcel Energy Center, tying Antti Laaksonen for fifth on the team's all-time list. Brunette is closing in one yet another milestone, having scored 197 career goals.
C Eric Belanger is approaching a pair of career milestones. Belanger has scored 97 career goals in 493 career games.
LW Stephane Veilleux
has played 296 NHL games - all with the Wild. He'll become just the eighth player to skate in 300 games with Minnesota. Among the prior seven, three - Marian Gaborik, Nick Schultz and Pierre-Marc Bouchard
, have spent their entire NHL careers with the Wild.
D/RW Brent Burns has 95 career points (30-65=95) and is closing in on becoming just the 12th player in team history to reach 100 points. Burns has skated 279 games with the Wild - four behind Jim Dowd for 10th place on the team's all-time list.
Vancouver is the only Northwest Division team without a regulation loss against a member of its own division (4-0-1). Minnesota has played just two games against the Northwest, going 1-1-0.