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The R.S.S. Feed: Nov. 4, 2008

by Ryan Stanzel / Minnesota Wild
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Nov. 4, 2008

Postgame (10:25 Pacific)

The guys are almost all on the bus. We gave them 45 minutes at the captain's request (he makes the bus time; I only write it on the board). Most guys will get a bite to eat either across the street from the rink, or from room service.

A bit of a close call with the pizza, too, as it came with 90 seconds left in tonight's game which just flew by.

The Wild with a pretty solid effort tonight, especially the first two periods, all things considered. We leave for Denver at 10 a.m. tomorrow and are scheduled to practice at 2. But it's supposed to snow a bit in Denver, so we'll have to see how that goes. Talk to you then.

3rd period
19:55
It's Brunette/Koivu/Miettinen up front for the Wild, against Marleau/Thornton/Setoguchi. The Sharks top line thus far without a point, but with six shots, against the Wild's top line, which also is its top checking line. Koivu wins another faceoff, and he's 9-for-12 tonight for 75 percent.

16:49
Niklas Backstrom makes his best save of the night, but, seconds later, the rebound ends up behind him as the Sharks take a 2-1 lead. Jeremy Roenick blasted a shot destined for just inside the near left post, and Backstrom made the save. The puck came to rookie Jamie McGinn, who ripped the puck through a crush of bodies in front and into the net for his second goal in four games this season. Down a goal in the third against a team it hasn't won against in seven tries, it will be interesting to see how the Wild responds here. It could really use a power play.

14:35
That wasn't what the Wild needed. Ryan Clowe's shot from the left circle gets knocked down by the defense, it comes right back to him and he drives it under Backstrom's left pad. It's 3-1 Sharks.

0:00
MacDonald here from St. Paul ...

Well, Wild fans, this one comes to an end with the Sharks taking 22 shots in the two-goal third period and holding on for the 3-1 win.

"We all worked really hard," James Sheppard tells FS North's Kevin Gorg afterward. "There are a lot of positives to take away from this game."



2nd period

The Wild move left to right for me in this period, which means I can see the net we are shooting at -- always a good thing. Koivu/Miettinen/Brunette up front, opposite Marleau/Thornton/Setoguchi. By the way, Koivu 5-1 on faceoffs in the opening 20 minutes, and Thornton just 1-4.

16:41

Hooking minor to Benoit Pouliot, giving the Sharks their second power play.

14:52

San Jose's power play controls the puck like few others, and Milan Michalek was alone in the left circle, but Backstrom swallowed up the shot. Just 12 more seconds on this kill.

12:36

Everyone knows about Joe Thornton's passing skills, but what a set of legs that guy has, too. He just went coast to coast, skated around a defenseman and tried to stuff the puck past Backstrom, who is now 18-for-19 tonight.

9:19

The Wild with some good pressure on Nabokov, with three straight shots. Koivu blistered a shot just wide as well. I'm headed downstairs soon, let's hope it's 2-1 Wild when I get back.

7:46

Before I forget what happened ... Cal Clutterbuck rides Dan Boyle cleanly into the boards, and Boyle is slow to get up. Ryan Clowe comes across the ice and blindsides Clutterbuck. It's just a two-minute roughing call to Clowe, and he's a bit lucky, based on how prone Clutterbuck was.

End 2nd period
A tight checking, hard hitting, 1-1 hockey game between the Wild and Sharks. Just the usual, right? When you realize the Wild is playing without Burns, Gaborik and Nolan, this has been quite the performance through two periods. How have they done it? First off, they've won 18-of-28 faceoffs. Kim Johnsson has played over 19 minutes. Partner Nick Schultz 17:15. Both are plus-1. Top to bottom, this team is giving all it has. Clutterbuck with four hits, Erik Reitz with three. They'll need another 20 minutes, and maybe more.

Also, a shoutout to college roommate Ryan, who is calling this week's NC State/Duke game for ESPN 360. I'm just as excited about the fact Duke has a chance in this game as I am about Ryan doing play-by-play for it. I'll try to tune in after lunch Saturday in Vancouver.



1st period

Tomas Mojzis, Brent Burns and Craig Weller are out of tonight's game, meaning Krys Kolanos is in. His equipment finally arrived from Houston yesterday. Jacques Lemaire mentioned this morning that Kolanos at center gives him a bit more options, perhaps even using Benoit Pouliot at wing. We'll see in a few minutes. It's Nabokov/Backstrom in net.

The starters for Houston are Clutterbuck/Koivu/Veilleux up front across from Marleau/Thornton/Setoguchi. It appears as though Jacques Lemaire wants Koivu matched up tonight against Thornton. What a game it should be.

19:55

Mikko Koivu and the Wild control the opening faceoff.

18:42

Backstrom is sharp early, stopping a blast from the left circle, then covering up a bunch of Milan Michalek whacks at the puck on the doorstep.

18:18

A terrific kick save by Backstrom on Joe Thornton as he walked through the low slot. The Wild can't keep giving the Sharks these opportunities from close range. Four shots early on for San Jose.

17:21

Derek Boogaard makes sure his former coach in Houston, Todd McLellan, is awake, redirecting a puck (accidentally of course) up into the Sharks bench.

12:01

It's 1-0 Wild, on a goal that happened a few minutes ago. Pardon for the lateness, but I've been looking up some notes for our media. Kolanos, in his first NHL game since Dec. 15, 2005, scores his first NHL goal since Nov. 3, 2005, with a nice little celebration after. Kim Johnsson and Benoit Pouliot with the assists.

Also note...the Wild hadn't led in its last three games in San Jose, and hadn't led overall versus San Jose in five full games plus most of another, since leading 1-0 for just 3:25 in a 2-1 loss at Xcel Energy Center Nov. 29, 2006.

9:03

It's the Wild's first penalty kill of the night, with Koivu in the box. The Sharks' power play will start after this media timeout.

8:21

That'll help, as Marc-Edouard Vlasic goes off for tripping Nick Schultz. It's now 4-on-4, with the faceoff coming deep in the Sharks zone. I'm headed downstairs shortly. Just a hunch, but I think you'll be seeing a Kolanos interview on FS North.

End 1st period

A late goal by Mike Grier (off his skate) sent us into the intermission tied at 1-1. I had already paid the pizza man pre-game ($160 with tip; pizza here on the west coast isn't cheap), so I got Kolanos for Kevin Gorg, grabbed Don Fuller's phone (his wife expecting a baby between now and Nov. 10) and came back upstairs. Asst. GM Tom Lynn is over with our radio, so it's just me right now at this big table high above the ice, even with one of the goal lines.

Pre-game warmups

The Wild skate 19 (one more than allowed) during warm-ups. It would appear the last scratch will be either Craig Weller or Krys Kolanos, who last appeared in an NHL game Dec. 15, 2005, against Montreal. A light crowd so far for warm-ups on Election Night. We'll be making some calls early tomorrow morning if McCain loses, as there's a chance that plane would be ready for us to come home from Vancouver on Saturday night. McCain's "Straight Talk Express" has taken one of our charter company's three planes since the summer.

Also tonight's Stat of the Night. The Sharks have scored five - count 'em, five - shorthanded goals in 12 games. They've allowed six goals at 4-on-5, and scored five! That is unbelievable. The Wild power play will need to be good in two different directions tonight.

6:30 p.m., Pacific
Greetings from high above HP Pavilion about an hour before gametime tonight. I just had some lasagna downstairs in the meal room, and I’m ready to go. One of the more interesting, and fun, press boxes to get to here in San Jose. First off, you take the elevator to the “Penthouse” level, which is awesome. Then you take the “Refuge Area” staircase up one more level. Media types, I’m sure they love being called refuges.

As I mentioned we’re in the corner here. A couple more catwalks and wires in the way. But the mammoth scoreboard makes it so you don’t really have to see the rink anyways. I just love this scoreboard.

Brent Burns is definitely out, as I believe is Tomas Mojzis. The other scratch was still being determined earlier.

A quick e-mail before I call the bus driver for tomorrow in Denver.

Q: Hey Ryan. My name is Joe and I am a huge fan of the Wild and your blog. I was just wondering, I was at the game on Thursday night and I saw the advertisement for the fan road trip in march to Colorado where the fans could go too. It said to check out Wild.com and I cant seem to find the information anywhere on the site. Do you know anything about this and where I could find the information?
 
Thanks! Go Wild!!
Joe

A: Great question Joe. The fan trip is always one of the best of the year. Sadly for me, I won’t be on that trip. March is a crazy month, with I believe the team on the road 24 of 32 days or something silly like that, so I can’t do everything. You can find out more information about the road trip – not just open to season ticketholders – at http://wild.nhl.com/STH200809RoadTripInvitation.htm. Special thanks to Anna of the sales and service team for the link.

11:30 a.m. Pacific


Nov. 4, 2008
Minnesota at San Jose
  9:30 p.m. CST

-- RADIO ANNOUNCEMENT --

Due to election coverage, tonight's game will not air on WCCO 830. Wild at Sharks will be available on BOB 106.1 FM and KBGY 107.5 FM


-- PREVIEW --

* To link to today's game preview, click here.

-- MIKE GREENLAY'S --
-- KEYS TO THE GAME --


1. Pull the Trigger - The Wild is 28th in the league in shots per game and needs to test opposition goalies more

2. Five on Five? - These are the two least penalized teams in the league, so it could be a lot of even strength, five-on-five hockey

3. Gut One Out - San Jose has not lost at home this year, so the Wild will have to play a gritty, smart hockey game


-- STORYLINES vs. SAN JOSE --

All-Time Wild Record: 11-13-4 (5-7-2 at Xcel Energy Center, 6-6-2 at San Jose)

- San Jose swept the 2007-08 season series … Marian  Gaborik (2-2=4) and Owen Nolan (3-1=4) recorded four points each against the Sharks last season … Milan Michalek scored four points (1-3=4) to lead San Jose in scoring against the Wild last season.

WILD CAREER LEADERS: Andrew  Brunette has scored 17 points (7-10=17) in 31 contests against San Jose … Marian  Gaborik has collected 15 points (6-9=15) in 19 games … Marek  Zidlicky owns 13 points (2-11=13) in 16 matches.

WILD GOALIES: Niklas  Backstrom was 0-2-2 with a 2.90 GAA and a .895 SV% against San Jose last season and is 0-3-2 with a 3.12 GAA and a .891 SV% in five career starts … Josh  Harding has not faced the Sharks.

CONNECTIONS: Owen Nolan spent eight seasons with San Jose (1995-03) … San Jose Head Coach Todd McLellan coached the Houston Aeros for four seasons and led the team to the 2003 Calder Cup championship.


The Wild has hit the ice at HP Pavilion for the morning skate in advance of tonight's game against the Western Conference-leading Sharks. Brent Burns is not on the ice, and I'll have an update on his upper body injury after practice.

We got most of the players here a bit early this morning, as we had a 10:15 bus for both players and media. But our whole media party walked to the rink, so I sent most players over on the media bus at 10 o'clock sharp and then it was just two guys and me on the regular bus.

I have pregame bench interviews set up with Eric Belanger and Kim Johnsson with Kevin Gorg of FS North, so you can tune in for those. I won't be joining them on the bench because, logistically, it's difficult. You have to walk across the ice prior to warm-ups, and then you're stuck on the bench the entire time because the visiting team entrance is across the ice from the benches. The other option would be to walk through the home dressing room, and I can't do that. But the players know Gorg so it will be fine.

I had Robert, our intern, look up our longest winless streaks in team history against other teams, since we're 0-5-2 in our last seven against San Jose. Only one streak was longer -- 12 games, against Edmonton from 2000-02.

I chatted with San Jose's PR staff -- one of the best in the business. Tom Holy, the guy who does most of their travel -- also has a blog. He's also one of the only other PR guys in hockey besides me who isn't a very good skater. Tom and I got our starts at around the same time in the AHL, him with Cleveland. The players actually got together last year and made a bobblehead of him, clipboard and everything. It's something to strive for, you know?

So this is our first trip into San Jose since Kurtis Foster broke his leg last March. I still remember the sound he made hitting the boards, and it'll be eerie tonight when we get up to the visiting team's area on the catwalk.

Basically, as soon as Foster hit the boards, I took off downstairs. I didn't even grab my credential, which became an issue a short while later. I didn't even know what the injury was -- I at first thought his head hit the boards really hard.

By the time I got to the Zamboni tunnel, they were loading him onto the stretcher. I was joined by director of hockey ops Chris Snow, who fortunately had his credential, because they wouldn't give us any info without it.

Trainer Mike Vogt headed to the hospital with Foster, while equipment manager Brent Proulx called Foster's fiancee (and now wife), Steph.

Neither GM Doug Risebrough nor assistant GM Tom Lynn were on the trip, so Chris and I had to confer with them, obviously, before releasing anything to the media. Complicating things is that cell reception is sketchy at best downstairs here. So I watched the rest of the game from the visiting team entrance, awaiting a call from Vogt.

The game ended, and Chris got enough of an update to give the media, including a live report on FSN. It was decided Chris would stay behind with Foster, who was undergoing surgery soon.

Because of the airport curfew, we stayed overnight in San Jose, which helped with some logistics. As we were getting ready to leave the arena -- obviously rattled -- we all realized Foster's suit was still hanging in the change room. So Nick Schultz, his roommate, brought his stuff back to the hotel. We arranged with our hotel to extend both Foster's room and Snow's room an extra week, at least, and in the morning we left for Vancouver.
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