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Nov. 25, 20081 p.m.
Hi, Wild fans. This will be a quick blog, as I’m just back from practice and need to head out shortly to go see Jackson, the coolest 10-year-old in the world, for mentoring today.
Today’s practice was optional. Mikko Koivu
and Stephane Veilleux
worked out instead. After 15 minutes or so, Jacques Lemaire sent most of his skilled players who see a lot of ice time off the ice as well. Everyone was off after around 35 minutes. It’s a slippery slope when a team plays every other day for essentially three weeks. You don’t want guys to get tired, but you also don’t want them to lose their sharpness, either.
Jacques raved some more about Cal Clutterbuck
, saying he was the second guy on the ice this morning. And when I left the locker room, there were three guys still on the ice, and he was one of them. He’s been spending 30 to 40 minutes with Mario Tremblay working on his shot lately, and that obviously showed last night. Jacques said a lot of guys, especially young players, would have a game like that and then cruise a bit the next day. But not Clutterbuck.
Wild owner Craig Leipold will be on for a full hour tonight with KSTP 1500 AM’s Matt Thomas, from 6-7 p.m. They will be taking phone calls, so tune in.
Also, Erik Reitz and Benoit Pouliot will join Kevin Falness for Hockey Unplugged from 7-8 p.m. tonight at Champps in Burnsville.
After I get back from mentoring, I'll have a couple of community relations press releases to get out. I’m pretty sure we tied a franchise record yesterday with four press releases. Fortunately, nothing scheduled tomorrow, other than reminding people to ParkSmart! on Friday.
Game notes for Wednesday against Dallas are below. These are sent out to the media as soon as we have them done the day before. In addition, Robert just ran all of the clips, stats and credentials over to the arena, because the Stars practice at 2 p.m.
I’ll talk to everyone right after the pre-game skate Wednesday. The inbox is slowing down a bit, but I know (well, I hope) it’s not because you’re not reading. Feel free to send some holiday wishes, or hockey questions, to email@example.com
The Minnesota Wild (12-6-1) plays game four of a five-game homestand tonight, welcoming the Dallas Stars (6-10-4) to Xcel Energy Center for the first of two meetings this season. The Wild is trying to avenge a 4-2 loss at Dallas 10/29 - its first regulation loss of the season. The Wild is 1-2-0 on the homestand, which wraps up Friday against Tampa Bay at 1:00 p.m. However, after a one-game trip to Nashville on Saturday, the Wild is back home for three more games next week, beginning Monday against Colorado on VERSUS.
The Wild ranks first in the league in GAA (2.02) - no other team is lower than 2.09 - while G Niklas Backstrom
is tied for fourth in the league with a 2.05 GAA and third with a .930 SV %. Backstrom (12-5-1) also second in the league in wins. The Wild ranks 25th in the NHL in scoring, however, at 2.42 goals per game. Since defeating Florida 6-2 on Oct. 16, the Wild has scored 32 goals in 16 games (2.00 goals per game). Minnesota has scored 27 even strength goals - fewest in the NHL - and has 14 even strength goals at home. Only Edmonton (eight) has fewer. Tonight, however, the Wild faces the Stars, whose 3.55 GAA is 30th and last in the NHL.
G Niklas Backstrom
has started 112 NHL games – allowing two goals or less 68 times, and three goals or less 98 times. Backstrom is 54-5-5 with four no decisions when yielding two goals or less. Backstrom is 44-0-3 when heading into the third period with the lead. He is 64-20-11 in his last 95 decisions and 55-17-9 in his last 81. Since the beginning of the 2006-07 season, Backstrom is first in win % at .693, first in SV Pct. at .924 and first in GAA at 2.15. Backstrom improved to 3-0 in shootouts 11/18 in Pittsburgh, after going 4-10 in his first two NHL campaigns. Backstrom hasn't allowed a goal on eight shootout attempts this season. Backstrom has been stellar at home throughout his career, going 41-10-10. He has allowed two goals or less 40 times in 59 home starts.
scored his first
RW Cal Clutterbuck
scored his first two career NHL goals in his 19th career game Monday versus Washington. Clutterbuck, who turned 21 earlier this month, joins D Erik Reitz as Wild players to score their first NHL goal this season. Clutterbuck is the first Wild player to score his first two NHL goals in one game since D Kurtis Foster
did it Nov. 19, 2005. Clutterbuck also recorded four hits Monday and ranks ninth in the league in hits with 64 despite not making his season debut until 10/16. No other player in the Northwest Division has more hits than Clutterbuck. Clutterbuck recorded a season-high eight hits in 13 shifts and 9:34 TOI 11/20 vs. Vancouver.
LW Stephane Veilleux
has played 299 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. Veilleux scored his second goal of the season Saturday versus St. Louis.
After recording two assists Monday, D/RW Brent Burns has 97 career points (30-67=97) and is closing in on becoming just the 12th player in team history to reach 100 points. Burns has skated 282 games with the Wild, and tonight will tie Jim Dowd for 10th place on the team's all-time list.
D Marek Zidlicky scored a PPG Monday versus Washington, his third PPG of the season. The team record for PPG by a defenseman is eight, set by Brent Burns last season. Ten of Zidlicky's last 11 goals, dating back to 11/25/06, have been PPG. The lone even strength goal in that span came 12/26/07 at Chicago. Twenty eight of Zidlicky's 38 career NHL goals have come on the power play. Zidlicky's three goals this season are just two off his total from last season with Nashville.
C James Sheppard scored a third period goal Monday, his first tally in 48 games dating back to 1/30/08, against Anaheim. It was his second career game-winning goal, with the other coming 1/13/08, in a 4-1 win over Phoenix.
November has typically been the Wild's least productgive month. The team's 41-47-12 November record marks the lone month under .500 in team history. However, with three games left, the Wild is 6-4-0 in November. The team record for wins in November is seven, set in 2001-02 and matched in 2007-08.
The Wild has scored 13 first-period goals, and has led after one period just twice in 10 home games. But the Wild has allowed just 11 first period goals - second-fewest in the league. Minnesota also ranks tied for fourth, allowing just 15 third-period goals. Dallas, meanwhile, has been outscored 21-11 in the third period, and 2-0 in overtime.
Minnesota has just two wins in the last 12 overall meetings (2-7-3) with the Stars. The lone regulation win in that span was a 6-3 decision 1/3/08.
C Mikko Koivu
has three goals in the last four games, including his fourth career two-goal game11/20 versus Vancouver. It marked the first time this season the Wild has lost a game in which Koivu has at least one point. In the 10 games Koivu has at least one point, he has tallied 19 points (5-14=19), a plus-7 rating, and the Wild is 9-1-0. Minnesota is 3-5-1 this year when Koivu doesn't record a point. Minnesota is 19-5-3 all-time when Koivu has two or more points. Koivu has 94 career assists - only five other Wild players have recorded 100 with the team. Koivu's 136 career points are seventh-most in team history. Pascal Dupuis is sixth with 141.
Special Teams: The is first in the league on the penalty kill at 90.4%. Washington's PPG 11/24 marked the first PPG the Wild has allowed in the third period this season. Minnesota has been shorthanded just 73 times - the fewest times in the league. 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 ranks tied for fifth in the league with a 21.7 percent power play rate, after snapping an 0-for-10 slide with a 2-for-6 performance Monday..
Minnesota has played five straight one-goal games (3-2-0) and is 8-3-1 in one-goal contests this season. Only Detroit (nine) has more one-goal victories. Dallas, meanwhile, has just two wins in 10 one-goal games (2-4-4). Only Phoenix (1-3-2) has fewer one-goal victories.
The Wild improved to 3-0 in shootouts 11/18 in Pittsburgh - matching the team's shootout win total from the 2007-08 season (3-8). D Marek Zidlicky posted his second straight deciding goal - already tying him for third on the franchise's all-time list. Zidlicky is 2-for-2, and RW Antti Miettinen is 3-for-3 this season with the team's other deciding goal. G Niklas Backstrom
has stopped all eight shootout attempts.
C Benoit Pouliot has five goals – one off the team lead. Pouliot ranks tied for 14th in rookie scoring (5-2=7), and tied for sixth in goals among rookies. He is tied for third with two PPG and ranks tied for eighth among rookies in plus-minus (+6), a total that leads the Wild.
LW Andrew Brunette played in his 800th NHL game at Colorado (11/6). He has now played in 807 games and joins RW Owen Nolan (1,079 games) as the only two active members of the Wild to play in 800 games. Brunette has also played in 472 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NHL. 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 497 career games.
All-Time Wild Record: 10-15-4 (7-6-1 at Xcel Energy Center, 3-9-3 at Dallas)
Dallas won the first game this season 4-2 at American Airlines Center (10/29)…Marc-Andre Bergeron and Andrew Brunette scored for Minnesota and Kim Johnsson recorded two assists…Niklas Backstrom
suffered the loss allowing three goals on 13 shots…Brad Richards (1-1=2) and Sean Avery (0-2=2) tallied two points each for Dallas…Brenden Morrow, Matt Niskanen and Steve Ott also scored and Tobias Stephen made 19 saves.
WILD CAREER LEADERS: Owen Nolan has tallied 29 points (14-15=29) and 91 PIM in 53 games against Dallas…Andrew Brunette owns 27 points (11-16=27) 33 contests…Marian Gaborik has recorded 25 points (12-13=25) in 26 games.
WILD GOALIES: Niklas Backstrom
is 2-4-2 with a 2.56 GAA and a .906 SV% in eight games (7 starts) against Dallas…Josh Harding
is 0-1-0 with a 5.45 GAA and a .830 SV% in two contests (one start).
STARS CAREER LEADERS: Mike Modano has recorded 24 points (7-17=24) in 28 games against the Wild…Sergei Zubov has collected 17 points (3-14=17) in 24 contests…Brenden Morrow has recorded 15 points (7-8=15) in 25 matches…Jere Lehtinen has tallied 13 points (7-6=13) in 22 games…Mike Ribeiro has notched 12 points (2-10=12) in 13 contests.
STARS GOALIES: Marty Turco is 11-4-1 with a 1.96 GAA, a .909 SV% and one shutout in 19 matches (18 starts) against Minnesota…Tobias Stephen is 1-0-0 with a 2.00 GAA and a .905 SV% in one start.
CONNECTIONS: Mark Parrish is a native of Bloomington, Minn. and spent two seasons with the Wild (2006-08)… Matt Niskanen (Virginia) and Toby Peterson (Minneapolis) are Minnesota natives...Antti Miettinen played in 238 games during four seasons with Dallas (2003-08)...Martin Skoula appeared in 61 contests with the Stars in 2005-06.