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Nov. 30, 2008
2:30 p.m. CST
I’m back at the office wrapping a couple things up after today’s 50-minute optional practice. Six skaters (Reitz, Weller, Gillies, Clutterbuck, Boogaard and Pouliot) participated, along with both goalies. Mario Tremblay and Bob Mason ran the practice. As you’d expect, not much came out of practice. One media member attended.
I arrived at the office at 10 today and set up James Sheppard with Sid & Dave on the Sports Huddle this morning on WCCO Radio at 11. Other than that, I updated game notes for tomorrow (most of which are below) – the Wild’s 300th regular season game at Xcel Energy Center. I also made extra copies of stats and clips so Robert, our intern, doesn’t have to make them when he arrives at the office within the hour to make packets of info to deliver to the hotel tonight for the Avalanche. And for VERSUS. The Wild is 3-0-0 on national TV broadcasts in the United States this season.
Sorry there’s not more news. I’ll be back Monday after the pre-game skate. The Wild will name the December captain tomorrow. No Wild player has ever been named captain three straight months. We’ll see tomorrow if Mikko Koivu
gets the nod again.
Here goes with the notes ...
The Minnesota Wild (14-7-1) looks for its third straight win tonight as the Colorado Avalanche (11-12-0) make their first trip of the season to Xcel Energy Center. Tonight marks the Wild's 300th regular season game at Xcel Energy Center (156-91-52). Tonight's game is nationally televised on VERSUS. The Wild is 3-0-0 on VERSUS this season, including a 2-0 home mark and a 4-3 win over Washington one week ago (11/24).
LW Andrew Brunette has two goals in his last three games, giving him 199 career NHL goals. Brunettem who recorded three points (1-2=3) Saturday in Nashville, is tied with C Mikko Koivu
for the team lead with eight tallies this season. Brunette has played in 475 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NHL. Brunette played in his 800th NHL game at Colorado (11/6). Brunette has 179 points (62-117=179) with the Wild, which places him fifth all-time, and just three points behind Wes Walz (82-100=182).
C Eric Belanger could hit a pair of big milestones tonight. Belanger has scored 99 career goals in 499 career games. Belanger has two goals and two assists in a three-game point streak. Belanger missed Saturday's game in Nashville with a lower body injury.
The Wild defeated Nashville 5-2 on Saturday, tying franchise records with five PPG and 11 PP opportunities. Minnesota also established a new team record with five PPG in a road game. Minnesota had twice before gotten five PPG in a game, the last coming also against Nashville, 10/7/06. That marked the only game prior to Saturday in which five different Wild players scored a PPG in a game. Twice before, Minnesota has 11 power play opportunities, the last coming 12/29/06 versus Columbus. Saturday marked just the sixth time in team history the Wild scored at least six goals in a road game.
C Mikko Koivu
notched his fifth career two-goal game and his eighth game with three or more points in Saturday's 6-2 win at Nashville. Koivu played 24:46 - his second highest TOI in his career in the regular season (25:06, 4/3/08 vs. CGY). Koivu has a team season-high four-game point streak (3-4=7). That is one game off his career-high, set 3/9-3/19/08. Koivu leads the team with 24 points (8-16=24). In the 12 games Koivu has at least one point, he has tallied 24 points, a plus-8 rating, and the Wild is 11-2-0. Minnesota is 3-5-1 this year when Koivu doesn't record a point. Minnesota is 20-5-3 all-time when Koivu has two or more points. Koivu has 96 career assists - only five other Wild players have recorded 100 with the team. Koivu's 141 career points are tied with Pascal Dupuis for sixth most in team history. Teammate Andrew Brunette is fifth with 182.
RW Owen Nolan has three goals in his last three games, his first three-game goal scoring streak since 3/15-3/20/03. His career high is six games - and he's done that twice. scored his 141st career power play goal Saturday - ninth-most among active NHL’ers. Colorado C Joe Sakic leads the way with 205 PPG.
The Wild ranks second in the league in GAA (2.11) while G Niklas Backstrom
is ninth in the league with a 2.15 GAA and tied for sixth with a .928 SV %. Backstrom (13-6-1) is tied for third in the league in wins. Backstrom is 8-1-1 with a 1.96 GAA and a .932 SV% in 10 starts against Colorado. Only Miikka Kiprusoff (10-6-3) and Backstrom have more than six wins versus the Avs since the beginning of the 2006-07 season.
From 10/18-11/22, the Wild scored just 30 goals. Only the Avalanche (28) scored fewer. However, since 11/24, the Wild has a league-high 17 goals.
RW Antti Miettinen recorded a career-high three assists Saturday, while notching his fourth career three-point game. Amazingly, three of those four, three-point games have happened this season. Miettinen has no goals in his last 15 games, but has 10 assists in that span, including six in his last three games. His three-game assist streak is one off his career-high, set 3/24-3/31/06. Miettinen has a pair of five-game point streaks in his career, the last coming 11/23-12/15/07.
RW Pierre-Marc Bouchard
tallied a goal and an assist Saturday, his first two-point effort since Opening Night (10/11) versus Boston. Dating back to 12/23/06, the Wild is 25-1-1 in the last 27 games in which Bouchard scores a goal. The Wild is 41-5-1 all-time when Bouchard has two or more points. Bouchard tied for the team lead Saturday with five shots, the 11th time in his career he has put up five or more.
The Wild is coming off the most productive November in team history, going 8-6-0. Minnesota is 23-20-2 in December over the last three seasons.
G Niklas Backstrom
has started 114 NHL games - allowing two goals or less 69 times, and three goals or less 99 times. Backstrom is 55-5-5 with four no decisions when yielding two goals or less. Wednesday, Backstrom lost for the first time in his career (44-1-3) when heading into the third period with the lead. He is 65-21-11 in his last 97 decisions and 56-18-9 in his last 83. Since the beginning of the 2006-07 season, Backstrom is first in the NHL in win % at .689, first in SV Pct. at .924 and first in GAA at 2.17. 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.
LW Stephane Veilleux
played in his 300th NHL game Wednesday - all with the Wild. He became 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 11/22 versus St. Louis.
D/RW Brent Burns has 98 career points (30-68=98) and is closing in on becoming just the 13th player in team history to reach 100 points. Burns has skated 284 games with the Wild, and Friday moved ahead of Jim Dowd for 10th place on the team's all-time list for games played. Willie Mitchell is ninth with 288.
D Marek Zidlicky scored a PPG 11/24 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. .
Special Teams: The Wild is first in the league on the penalty kill at 89.5% - the first time this season the team has slipped below 90 percent. Only two of the Wild's nine PPG allowed have come in the third period. Minnesota has been shorthanded just 86 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 65-19-11 when not allowing a power-play goal. Minnesota ranks second in the league on the power play at 24.0 percent, including a franchise-record-tying 5-for-11 performance Saturday in Nashville.
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. Tonight's opponent, Colorado, is the lone NHL team without an overtime or shootout loss this season.