Oct. 11, 2008
Boston vs. Minnesota
7:30 p.m. CDT
Local home TV Information
FS North (HD)
A fun performance after the morning skate Saturday, with the Wild head coach saying the team was perfect at the time ... until the first faceoff
* N. Backstrom, C. Gillies
"The banner is great, but, you know, in the locker room, I think that's not the banner you want to see go up."
-- WILD RADIO --
* PONDcast preview
An epic Opening Night effort out of Wild Radio's Kevin Falness, who has sound from Colton Gillies, Erik Reitz, Jacques Lemaire, plus Bruins Blake Wheeler and goaltender Manny Fernandez
-- BLOG --
* The R.S.S. Feed
The Ryan Stanzel blog, which hit the scene in Grand Forks at Training Camp, made the 2008-09 roster under a new name, but the Oct. 11 effort has all the usual behind-the-scenes updates
-- PROBABLE SKATERS --
-- State of Hockey Resident --
In addition to Alberts, Fernandez, Kessel, Wheeler and Fernandez, all with their own ties to the area, State of Hockey fans might keep an eye on Rochester native Mark Stuart, one of the classiest young men we've had the pleasure to meet in our hockey travels.
Each of Stuart's two brother and his sister played Division I hockey, and his brothers, Colin and Mike, have each played in the National Hockey League.
-- J. MacDonald | Wild.com
You have officially entered "The R.S.S. Feed,” the nifty name come up with by Wild.com’s Jamie MacDonald. It’s two-fold -- you see, click on "RSS Feed" above this, and it will be delivered straight into your preferred page every time it updates. We'll also have a standard URL for the feature throughout the season, so feel free to bookmark it: http://wild.nhl.com/features/rs_feed_home.htm
We'll "double post" the blog, meaning you can pick up the most recent addition with the above URL or by looking on our News page.
Second, R.S.S. are my initials. And no, I’m not divulging the middle name quite yet![Ed. note: Stanzel forgot the "feed" angle, referring to eating.]
Ok let's try this again. I just erased five paragraphs. It must be the scoreboard which is buzzing loudly as they raise it to the rafters.
The game ended up being a nailbiter, with Owen Nolan and Zdeno Chara nearly fighting late, before the linesmen stepped in.
Marc Savard scored his second of the third period to get the Bruins within 4-3 with 1:38 remaining, but the Wild stood tall despite a 16-second penalty kill to end the game.
Just looking at the stat sheet...The Wild blocked 11 shots - three each by Erik Reitz (plus-one) and Nick Schultz. But Minnesota won just 19-of-51 faceoffs.
Eric Belanger (two goals) and Niklas Backstrom
(34 saves) were big with the media post-game. Jacques Lemaire noted he was not happy with the entire game - he actually liked the third period best despite a 2-0 deficit.
I often get asked what I do during the games, particularly before I started the R.S.S. Feed. I sent out post-game notes to the media via e-mail and distribution in the press box. They are below.
I’ll be fortunate enough to take a second straight Sunday off from blogging, and this time I won’t be at a computer to send out a mascot and player transaction release either. So we’ll chat with you Monday, likely before we take off for Atlanta. I’m just about all packed – which is a record for me. We’ll have a player on with Sid and Dave on the Sports Huddle in the morning on WCCO Radio sometime between 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Depending on the practice schedule, we’re aiming for someone to go on This Week in Hockey with Kevin Falness immediately following, from 1-3 p.m. I'd love to do a mailbag on the plane Monday, so please e-mail questions and feedback in to email@example.com.
C Eric Belanger scored twice, and D Marc-Andre Bergeron and RW Antti Miettinen each tallied a power-play goal in their Wild debut, as Minnesota opened the 2008-09 regular season by holding on for a 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins in front of 18,568 at Xcel Energy Center. G Niklas Backstrom
made 34 saves, and RW Pierre-Marc Bouchard
and C Mikko Koivu
had two assists each for Minnesota, which begins a three-game road trip Tuesday in Atlanta at 6 p.m. (CT). The Wild also got a big NHL debut from 19-year-old Colton Gillies, who registered a helper on Bergeron’s first period power play goal.
C Eric Belanger tallied his first two-goal game as a member of the Wild. It was his sixth career multi-goal game, with the last coming March 2, 2007.
D Marc-Andre Bergeron became the first defenseman to score in his Wild debut since D Kurtis Foster
scored twice on Nov. 19, 2005, against Nashville. Bergeron was held to just two points (1-1=2) in his last 26 games lat season with the New York Islanders and Anaheim.
LW Antti Miettinen scored his second goal in as many regular season games, having finished off the 2007-08 season with Dallas with a goal against San Jose on April 6.
RW Pierre-Marc Bouchard
notched his 46th career multi-point game with two assists. The Wild improved to 40-5-1 all-time when Bouchard has at least two points.
The Wild improved to 7-0-1 all-time in home openers, with seven straight wins. Minnesota is 5-0-0 in home openers that also begin a season.
Wild D Kim Johnsson had an assist in his 599th career NHL game.
G Niklas Backstrom
improved to 53-15-10 in his last 78 decisions, and 44-12-8 in his last 64. Tonight was his 100th NHL appearance overall. He is has won seven straight regular season home games dating back to last season, and is 8-0-4 in his last 12 decisions since his last home regulation loss on March 4, 2008.
Dating back to last season, the Wild has won seven straight regular season home games.
Minnesota went 8-24-5 when allowing the first goal last season.
C Marc Savard scored twice for the Bruins, while former Minnesota Golden Gopher Phil Kessel scored Boston’s first goal. G Manny Fernandez, the Wild’s all-time leader with 113 wins in net, made 22 saves in his first game back at Xcel Energy Center since a July 1, 2007 trade.
3rd period underway
The Wild holding that three-goal lead. Interesting analysis by Wild TV's Mike Greenlay, who pointed out few chances in Jacques Lemaire's line changes tonight. I suggested earlier today to Mike Russo of the Star Tribune how much Jacques seemed to like his current lines. And tonight's results are hard to argue with so far.13:56
The Wild is back on its heels a bit, but so far Backstrom has been up to task. And Wild radio's Kevin Falness is now a star in arena (or he thinks he is), thanks to a new vision board spot promoting the post-game show. Kevin should do a blog - they'd just be full of one-syllable words.10:25
It takes almost half of the third period for the Wild to register its first shot of the stanza. Boston has eight - the ice is definitely slanted to the right.8:35Niklas Backstrom
outright robs P.J. Axelsson with the right pad. Assist wizard Marc Savard fed Axelsson in front from behind the net...8:09
...But seconds later, Savard keeps the puck himself this time after taking a pass from Michael Ryder along the right wing boards. All alone between the circles, Savard beats Backstrom clean to cut the lead to 4-2.
Time is winding down, and a good shift by the Gaborik/Sheppard/Veilleux line has countered a bit of the Boston attack. I'm going to wrap up post-game notes and head downstairs. I'll be back with post-game notes and maybe some more words of wisdom post-game.
19:55 - 2nd period
We're about to drop the puck on the second with the game tied 1-1. Wild director of hockey operations Chris Snow, who covered the Red Sox for the Boston Globe a few years ago, just did a live interview at intermission with NESN.
Marian Gaborik just split two defenders with a toedrag move, but was denied by Fernandez. What a move by Gaby though.
With the Wild on a power play, Pierre-Marc Bouchard
blasts a shot from the left circle off the near post.
Marc-Andre Bergeron continues a memorable Wild debut. The diminutive blueliner, who led the Wild in icetime in the first period unloads a rocket from the centerpoint. The puck skids under Fernandez – who thought he had the puck, which crossed over the line a second later for a 2-1 lead on the power play. Captain Koivu and Bouchard with the assists.
Post-game notes have to wait, as Antti Miettinen also scores a goal in his Wild debut. Miettinen crashes the net and redirects an unreal pass from Andrew Brunette on the left wing by Fernandez. It's 3-1 Wild.
It’s 4-1 Wild! This is awesome, and the fans are loving it. Pierre-Marc Bouchard streaks behind the net and hits a cutting Eric Belanger, who fires a one-timer under Fernandez from the left circle for his second goal of the night.
End of 2nd period
Some more up-and-down action but no more goals on the board. Minnesota uses a great third period to carry a three-goal lead into the third.
16:45 - 1st period
The Bruins go on a four-minute power play right off the bat with a double minor high sticking penalty to Brent Burns.14:30
Martin Skoula saves a sure goal by blocking a shot with the Bruins swarming on this power play. Boston is currently outshooting the Wild 8-1.11:57
Just seconds after Patrice Bergeron rang a shot off the post, former Golden Gopher Phil Kessel takes a nifty cross-ice pass through three defenders from Bergeron for his second goal in as many games. It's 1-0 Bruins.10:38
And the Wild get a power play, with Mark Stuart going off for high sticking. Mikko Koivu
, Antti Miettinen and Owen Nolan are the forwards over the boards, with Pierre-Marc Bouchard
and Brent Burns at the points.3:20
Manny Fernandez wouldn't admit that he was excited to face his former teammates, but he is playing outstanding right now. He just robbed Mikko Koivu
twice, including once all alone from the mid slot after a turnover deep in the Bruins zone.2:59
Wild go on a power play, with Mark Stuart again headed to the box. Minnesota throws out - how about this - five first-round picks on the power play. Burns, Bouchard, Gaborik, Pouliot and Sheppard.1:28It’s 1-1 thanks to a terrific individual play by 19-year-old rookie Colton Gillies, who picks up his first NHL assist. Gillies cut in from the wing and fed Eric Belanger near the goal line. Belanger snapped a quick shot under Fernandez. Gillies flashes the best (toothless) smile you’ll ever see. Kim Johnsson also gets an assist on the game-tying goal.
We'll head to the break with a tie game.
The Opening Night starters (Backstrom, Johnsson, Schultz, Brunette, Koivu, Miettinen) have been announced, and the Northwest Division title banner was just unveiled for the first time in front of 18,568 on-their-feet fans. The loudest ovation of all, however, was for Kurtis Foster
, who stood on the bench with the rest of the scratched players to be announced.
I’d be remiss to not mention Hockey Fights Cancer. As you watch games this month and you see player interviews, you will see players wearing special Hockey Fights Cancer hats. That goes for pre-, in- and post-game interviews. The PR staff is doing its part as well, wearing the Hockey Fights Cancer logo.
We have lots of Opening Night duties but we’ll blog as time allows!
Well, we say things are “subject to change,” and indeed they are. Craig Weller is out of tonight’s lineup, and Derek Boogaard is in. In other news, Marian Gaborik is wearing the second 'A' for alternate captain since Mikko Koivu
is wearing the 'C' for tonight.
I’m back from the Wild block party across the street. Both Kurtis Foster
and Brad Bombardir were being interviewed. Foster said he gave Colton Gillies some advice for tonight – just soak up that atmosphere as you’re coming through the tunnel and skating onto the ice for your first NHL game, especially at Xcel Energy Center.
The crowd is filling into the stands – the concourse is absolutely jam packed right now, including a crowd around Fox Sports North’s pre-game set. Tonight’s pre-game show is a full hour.
Fans tonight received a Wild calendar on the way in, and will get a replica Northwest Division championship banner on their way out of the game – hopefully after another Wild “W.”
For those of you who were wondering, dinner was great. The mac and cheese second only to the prime rib in quality. We’re ready to go upstairs, but we have another 15 minutes until warm-ups.
I’m not going to lie, Wild fans, I’m tired. Very tired. Opening Night is a long day to begin with. We’ve dealt with an intern’s fried laptop, some copiers that wouldn’t turn on, you name it.
I ran home to my Como Lake area apartment to change and came back here a few minutes ago, still tired. Then something happened when I turned from West 7th onto Kellogg, among the raindrops I may add. I saw a myriad of red, greens and whites, people in all shapes and sizes converging for the pre-game party. Three hours before the puck drops. In the rain.
I am suddenly recharged and ready for the opener. And I can’t wait for tonight’s Billy Rob Café, Opening Night specialty: Prime Rib and Fried Shrimp. They come from all over for everything tonight – the meal, the pre-game, the game, and the post-game.
As I type, Manny Fernandez is in an unfamiliar spot at Xcel Energy Center – on the visitor’s bench, taping his stick. He’s having a conversation with Brent Burns.
And we’re now totally awake, thanks to the unannounced playing of the goal horn five times!
We’ll be back prior to the banner unveiling!
Coming to you live from my spot in Seat 51 of the Al Shaver Press Box. It’s bustling up here – Dan Terhaar and Mike Greenlay are doing some TV prep, both TV booths are getting ready, and Mike Russo and Brian Stensaas are typing feverishly to my left.
The Wild went through a 30-minute pregame skate before Jacques Lemaire met with the media. Lemaire, as he has been for much of the preseason, was jovial. Said his team is perfect – but so is every team before it plays Game 1. Some things haven’t changed, though, and Lemaire wasn’t ready to tell if he was inserting 19-year-old rookie Colton Gillies into his Opening Night lineup. However, Derek Boogaard and Tomas Mojzis were on the ice late with Josh Harding
this morning, so that would lead us to believe Gillies is in. As would Gillies’ gigantic smile in the locker room when meeting with the media.
The lines haven’t changed since the pre-season game in Montreal, and for those that follow the Wild, that’s pretty amazing.
As always, subject to change.
We filled in the NESN folks on tonight’s activities, including the banner raising and the pregame party. I hope to get outside to the pregame party to see some of you Wild fans.
I just called to get the televisions turned on upstairs for the media, who are now headed downstairs to talk to the Bruins. So many storylines, besides Manny Fernandez. You have Blake Blake Wheeler, Phil Kessel, Andrew Alberts. It appears as though Manny will face his former team.
Oh one more thing – the Wild locker room has something new since yesterday. Below the ceiling and above the players’ stalls is a long string of pictures – year-by-year – since the Wild’s inception. I’ll call it a “border banner.” Certainly nice to see the history of the team chronicled in the locker room.
I'll be back later this afternoon.
If my caffeine has worked thus far this morning, I can tell you that it’s been 175 days since the Wild left the ice following a Game 6 loss to Colorado in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. A quest for a return trip to the playoffs -- and beyond -- begins tonight, against the Boston Bruins at 7:30 p.m.
Breaking news into the Wild media relations desk:Fox Sports North will be airing Spotlight: Craig Leipold tonight at 10:30 p.m., following the Wild game. The show next airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. and Wednesday at 2 p.m. and will continue airing through November. Check your local listings. (And you can check out FS North's promo on WildTV.)
Back to our regularly scheduled programming ...
We’re at full force in media relations today -- four of us in here pounding away on game notes, weekly reports, blogs, etc. We’ll head over to the rink about 10:20 with game notes, stats and clips for all the media and coaches.
For those wondering, the Rascal Flatts/Taylor Swift concert was great. Two acts that absolutely know how to work the room -- I’ve been to many concerts at Xcel Energy Center, and I haven’t heard “St. Paul” mentioned so many times. I saw a few of our players there, and they were long gone by the time Rascal Flatts brought Jared Allen and some other members of the Vikings up for the encore.
We had a question yesterday regarding where players from last year went. Here’s a quick rundown ...
Brian Rolston – New Jersey Devils
Pavol Demitra – Vancouver Canucks
Mark Parrish – free agent
Branko Radivojevic – Russia
Aaron Voros – New York Rangers
Keith Carney – attended Chicago Blackhawks camp on a tryout. Did not make team, future is TBD
Todd Fedoruk – Phoenix Coyotes
Sean Hill – Europe
Petteri Nummelin – Europe
Matt Foy – St. Louis Blues, recently sent down to AHL Peoria
Steve Kelly – Columbus Blue Jackets, recently sent down to AHL Syracuse
I’m off to the rink, Wild fans, we’ll be back with an update after practice. We’ll hopefully find out which defenseman and which forward will sit out tonight.