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Nov. 6, 2008 9:55 Mountain
And we're en route to the airport five minutes early. The Denver media obviously spent some time with Bruno. Wild TV interviewed Niklas Backstrom
We have a nearly three-hour flight ahead of us, plus clearing customs when we land -- though the customs agents come on board on Vancouver
, so it's quick and painless.
Best guesstimate is that we arrive at the hotel around 1:45 a.m. or so. We have an 11:45 a.m. bus tomorrow for practice. And I'll talk to you then. Here's hoping for smooth sailing for the rest of the night. Oh, and for a medium rare New York Strip.
Nov. 6, 2008
Minnesota at Colorado
8 p.m. CST
-- WILD RADIO --
Wild Radio's Tom Reid catches up with Wild Assistant General Manager Tom Lynn between periods of Tuesday night's game in San Jose
-- MIN vs. COL STORYLINES --
All-Time Wild Record: 16-22-7
* 11-7-4 at Xcel Energy Center
* 5-15-3 at Colorado
* 4-0-0 at Xcel Energy Center
* 1-2-1 at Colorado
Brent Burns tallied five points (2-3=5) against the Avalanche last season…Pierre-Marc Bouchard (1-3=4), Marian Gaborik (2-2=4), Mikko Koivu (1-3=4) and Owen Nolan (2-2=4) recorded four points each
Joe Sakic led Colorado in scoring against the Wild last season with eight points (2-6=8) ... Paul Stastny (3-4=7) and Wojtek Wolski (3-4=7) recorded seven points each
WILD GOALIES: Niklas Backstrom was 4-1-0 with a 1.98 GAA and a .930 SV% in five starts last season and is 7-1-1 with a 2.06 GAA and a .926 SV% in nine career starts against Colorado…Josh Harding is 1-2-1 with a 2.21 GAA and a .929 SV% in four career starts against the Avalanche.
AVALANCHE GOALIES: Peter Budaj was 2-2-0 with a 2.51 GAA and a .907 SV% in four starts last season and is 6-5-2 with a 2.78 GAA and a .898 SV% in 14 career starts against Minnesota…Andrew Raycroft is 2-0-0 with a 2.51 GAA and a .904 SV% in two career starts against the Wild.
CONNECTIONS: Andrew Brunette spent the previous three seasons with the Avalanche (2005-08)…Owen Nolan was the first overall pick in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft by the Nordiques and played with Quebec for five seasons before the team moved to Colorado and skated in nine games with the Avalanche in 1995 before being traded to San Jose…Martin Skoula spent five seasons with the Avalanche (1999-04) and was a member of the 2001 Stanley Cup squad…Daniel Tjarnqvist appeared in 60 games for the Wild in 2005-06…Jordan Leopold is a Minnesota native (Golden Valley).
Wild open the third leading 3-1. I still have some things to do in preparation for our travel tonight, so my updates may be intermittent-to-sparing in the third, unless the the Avs close the gap further.
Ryan Smyth gets a rebound and backhands a shot well over the crossbar. Good chance for Colorado.
The teams will skate 4-on-4, with super pest Darcy Tucker going off for clipping, and Nick Schultz for roughing.
Meant to do this earlier, but congratulations to Andrew Brunette for playing in his 800th NHL game tonight.
He's close to another milestone, too -- tonight he scored his 196th goal.
Smyth again, this one a wraparound attempt, but Niklas Backstrom
makes the save. I'm headed downstairs to do important stuff like make sure the pizza arrives by the end of the game. I'll be back with a brief update on the way to the airport.2:23
MacDonald here, from the relative comfort of a couch in St. Paul. Both teams' goaltenders have been tested down the stretch, and Backstrom's glove has been busy.1:40
Budaj is pulled in favor of an extra skater. And, shortly thereafter, the Avs call for a timeout.0:00
Goals from Bouchard, Pouliot and Brunette, set against the backdrop of another 35-plus save performance from Backstrom, and the Wild move to 2-1-0 on the trip and is 1-0-0 in intra-division play. Stanzel, who has some work to do downstairs, will wrap things up at Pepsi Center, board the bus for the long drive to the airport, and we expect that he'll file a wrap-up along the way.
The Wild will need to start to try to regain the momentum lost with three straight penalty kills to end the first period. We're also awaiting an injury update to Kim Johnsson, who headed to the locker room a bit early. Here's hoping Johnsson is back on the bench for the second period ... Johnsson is on the ice to start the second.
It's Sheppard against Guite to begin the stanza. Colorado controls another faceoff. Avs are 16-for-22 thus far.19:11
Make that four straight Colorado power plays, as Andrew Brunette is off for hooking. Wild 3-for-3 so far, but need to stay out of the box.
Antti Miettinen and Mikko Koivu
each had a good chance late on that shorthanded shift, after Miettinen stole the puck at the blueline. But the puck got a bit too deep into the Avs zone.15:44
Shots on goal don't always tell the whole story ... But since the Wild was outshooting Colorado 8-1, the Avs have an 11-4 advantage.
Krys Kolanos with a good chance from the right doorstep, but Budaj had a good angle on him.
And the Wild gets its first power play chance since early on, as Ryan Smyth goes to the box for hooking.
What a post-to-post save by Budaj on Andrew Brunette, although it didn't look like Bruno got a full stick on it. Terrific cross ice pass from Marek Zidlicky, bidding for his third assist.10:04
Andrew Brunette doesn't miss there, scoring his fifth goal of the season and his first against the Avs since leaving the team for the Wild in July. Antti Miettinen with a nice pass from behind the net, and it's 3-0 Minnesota. Bruno gets a nice round of applause from the home crowd. Mikko Koivu also with an assist, his team-leading 13th.
Colorado is right back in it, getting Darcy Tucker's second goal of the season. Tucker has been quiet tonight, but he got loose at the right edge of the net and poked a rebound home. It's 3-1 Wild, and this one is far from over.
I'm back from the locker room, where Cal Clutterbuck
did an interview with Wild TV. I counted four or five golden opportunities for the Avalanche, but Niklas Backstrom
is still on top of his game. He's 7-1-1 in the regular season against Colorado, and the Avs have only solved him once tonight. But he, and the Wild, will have to be strong over the last 20 minutes.
I've got a bit of a yawning problem tonight, and that's not good news since best case scenario, my bedtime is around eight hours from now. Maybe a nice nap on the plane!
PS New York Strip on the plane tonight.
Avs control the faceoff.
A bunch of icings early on, not a lot going on. On that last icing, we could hear assistant coach Mike Ramsey all the way up here in the press box screaming "no".
16:25And it's 1-0 Minnesota, as Pierre-Marc Bouchard nets his second of the season. Budaj stopped Marek Zidlicky from the right circle, and got a piece of Bouchard's first rebound attempt, but the puck got behind him and Bouchard tapped it into the open net. The second assist goes to Stephane Veilleux, his first of the season.
The Wild goes on the power play, with Cody McLeod going for hooking. I just headed down to the other end of the press box to correct the pronunciation on Zidlicky. It used to be zid-LIT-skee but a couple years ago he went with zid-LIHK-ee.
A terrific diving stop by Jordan Leopold as Mikko Koivu
threaded the needle to find Antti Miettinen. Miettinen got the puck, but Leopold slid across the slot to block the shot.
12:16It's 2-0 Wild, on the power play. Marek Zidlicky blasts a shot from the point, and Budaj makes the save. Benoit Pouliot is camped out on the right doorstep and finds the empty net for his fourth goal of the season - tied for second most on the team. Eric Belanger also with an assist.
A nice save by Backstrom off the stick of Milan Hejduk. More accurately, off Marek Zidlicky. Hejduk fired from the right circle, and the puck deflected off Zidlicky and right at Backstrom's chest. First media timeout. Shots 8-1 Minnesota in the early going.
Fisticuffs at center ice, as Craig Weller squares off with Ian Laperriere. A quick bout, neither guy really had a big advantage. Second media timeout.
Interesting note I looked up during that timeout. The Wild has scored a power play in each of its last 11 regular season games in Denver.
Kim Johnsson goes for holding, and the Wild's top ranked penalty kill unit will be tested. For one, I'm glad there's no Joe Sakic on the ice. But of course Ryan Smyth is camped out in front of the net!
A nice defensive play by Schultz to pick a pocket, and there's down to 45 seconds left on this Colorado power play. I'm headed downstairs where I figure to have both TV broadcasts to get guys for.
The good: Wild up 2-0. Marek Zidlicky a pair of goals. Benoit Pouliot and Pierre-Marc Bouchard
a goal apiece. The bad: Three straight penalties after taking the two-goal lead, and just 6-for-21 on faceoffs, including 1-for-11 even strength.
Backstrom, Johnsson, Schultz, Clutterbuck, Sheppard and Veilleux start for the Wild. Sakic/Hannan/Tjarnqvist out for Colorado, which will start Budaj, Laperierre, Tucker, Salei, Guite and Leopold. And I'd like to remind you that if you'd like to e-mail me - go ahead! firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll try to put you in the R.S.S. Feed.6 p.m. Mountain Time
First things first - Tomas Mojzis and Colton Gillies are tonight's scratches. Niklas Backstrom
versus I'm presuming Peter Budaj, but not totally sure about the last part. Joe Sakic is for sure out for Colorado.
I'm upstairs in the press box working on a couple last minute items for tonight's flight, most notably making sure with our lead flight attendant, Amber, that our flight manifest is 100 percent correct, especially after finding out today that Brent Burns will not be on the rest of the trip. Especially when dealing with customs and flying into Canada, the lists need to match, and the sooner the better.
Earlier today I called the bus company in Vancouver and as expected, our trusty driver is Jim, one of our favorites. I also touched base with Gio at our Vancouver hotel and she'll be there upon arrival. Which won't be until after 1 a.m. local time. We'll revert back to Pacific time tonight.
Avalanche TV is doing a warm-up interview with Mikko Koivu
so I'll be downstairs around 6:30 for that.
This building - and city - bring back lots of memories, and few actually have to do with the game itself. Whether it be the time change, or the altitude, or whatever, it seems sleep deprivation takes over here. For instance, last night I got back from dinner and went to room 801. The problem? I'm in room 721 here, I was in room 801 in San Jose. That's why veteran media relations guru Aaron Sickman always inputs his room number into his blackberry. The same hotel last year, I tried for 10 minutes to use a key from another hotel.
And last year in the playoffs, I forget what game it was before, probably Game 4, which was the second of a back-to-back after overtime. I ladled soup onto my plate instead of a bowl. That same trip, Wild.com's Jamie MacDonald fell asleep with his hands on the keyboard, waking up to 41 pages of the letter "Y."
I'm heading downstairs now. This is one of the smaller press boxes in the league, so no scratched players up here during the game. In addition, there was no room for our Fox Sports North producer, director and Kevin Gorg so I believe they are catching the game at a nearby restaurant. 1:05 p.m. Mountain
No big news last night, other than the bus starting to pull away as the two trainers and I ran after it, following the NHL drug meeting after practice yesterday. The players were a bit antsy to check into the hotel and grab a real dinner. I love our hotel here in Denver. Katrina treats us very well, with some nice goodies awaiting the PR guy.The big news
out of practice today is that Brent Burns will fly back to the Twin Cities this afternoon to rest his upper body injury. He was not going to play tonight nor Saturday, so, rather than subjecting him to the rigors of travel over the next three-plus days, he'll rest the injury at home.
It looks like Tomas Mojzis is the defenseman out, but it was difficult to tell the forward scratch. Niklas Backstrom
gets the call for the Wild in net.
Looking ahead ... For the only time on this trip, we'll leave after a game tonight. I'll put a reminder on the board after practice. Tomorrow, we have a "dress and drive" practice at Pacific Coliseum, since one of my favorites -- the Trans Siberian Orchestra -- will be at GM Place. We'll bus to GM Place at 11:45 a.m., change there and then bus 15 to 20 minutes to Pacific Coliseum, former home of the Canucks. After practice, we'll bus back to GM Place, change and then go to the hotel.
Saturday's game is also big because it's on Hockey Night in Canada. There are usually lots of extra requests for that -- camera in the locker room pre-game, bench interviews, etc. The atmosphere should be pretty good in Vancouver on Saturday.
Back to the present ...
We are two-for-two in broken panes of glass at Pepsi Center, although this one was broken late in the Avalanche morning skate. And, like when Colton Gillies broke the glass yesterday, it was a wrist shot from center ice. It's an epidemic of broken glass in Denver. You know it happens often, because the crew is out there replacing it in about three minutes.
You wonder how Ryan Smyth is still a good player at his age? He was the last skater on the ice this morning, practicing tips in front of the net.
In other "news" ... We got the unfortunate news today that the McCain plane will not be transformed back into its previous existence until next week, meaning we will indeed spend Saturday night in Vancouver and fly home Sunday. Not that we mind a Saturday night in Vancouver, but, after nine days, we'll all be ready to get home. Plus, with the two-hour time change, most of Sunday is a wash.
I'll be back before the game with an update.