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Oct. 16, 2008
On the bus headed to the airport. We got out in really quick time (35 minutes) considering the players got food.
It was quite the media scrum, and of course there's only so much of koivu/miettinen/brunette to go around.
This is going slowly as head trainer Don Fuller attempts to mess up my typing. But I march on.
Beginning of 3rd period
Well we missed quite a bit going downstairs, didn't we? Florida again cut the deficit to a goal - not even sure who scored it - it's never good when you hear the home team's horn while on the elevator.
But just as I walked in the locker room, the Wild answered back with Benoit Pouliot's first goal of the season. The assist to? Guess who, Mikko Koivu
, who has more assists in a three-game span (seven) than any other player in Wild history, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Pouliot went coast-to-coast, juked two Panthers players at the blueline, skated in alone on fired a shot over Vokoun's glove. It was a highlight-reel goal for sure.
Antti Miettinen, he of the new career-high three-game goal scoring streak, talked with Alison from FS Florida. FS North went with Keith Ballard, the former Gopher. Technically, Miettinen has a goal in four straight regular season games dating back to the final game of the 2007-08 regular season, with Dallas.
I just spoke with Alvin, our Jet Blue contact. They landed a few minutes ago. It is raining a bit at the airport, apparently. And I thought it only rained in Florida at 5 p.m. We'll likely screen inside the hangar tonight. Alvin is also in charge of screening and promised to help us get in the air ASAP. I'll call Alvin again once I have a bus time, and then again when we leave the arena. We've got about 25-30 minutes to the airport tonight.19:55
The Wild begin on the big 5-on-3 penalty kill here for another 11 sceonds. Also, Craig Anderson is now in net for Tomas Vokoun.19:14Mikko Koivu
is really doing it all tonight, steering a nifty centering pass from David Booth out of harm's way with the Panthers still up a man. And the Florida crowd is getting restless. And so are their cowbells.16:45
With the Wild penalty killing again, Koivu won the faceoff and fired it 150 feet down the length of the ice, I swear all before the other center even got his stick on the ice. Minnesota still penalty killing for another 30 seconds.14:35
The crowd goes crazy and rightly so as Anderson slides post to post to rob Antti Miettinen, who didn't quite get all of the shot from the left circle and pushed it near the center of the net. This happened with the Wild swarming on the power play.13:57
It's now 17 seconds of a 5-on-3 for the Wild, who just control the puck and control the puck with this power play unit. The Wild call a timeout to rest this Miettinen-Koivu-Brunette line. Head Coach Jacques Lemaire smells blood.13:39It's another goal for Miettinen, and another assist for Koivu. But I'm not yawning, are you? Another great through the crease, through traffic pass to Miettinen, who at the left doorstep taps the puck into an empty net. Koivu has an assist on all four goals tonight, and has eight assists on the Wild's 12 goals this season. Some Koivu notes
Koivu has a new career-high with four points and assists.
He has the fifth four-assist game in team history. Eric Belanger had the last, Nov. 15, 2007, at Edmonton.
The Wild is 17-4-3 entering tonight when he has two or more points, and 5-0-0 when he has three.Some Miettinen notes, as the Wild head on a second straight power play due to Florida having too many men on the ice
Miettinen's fifth career two-goal game
His third career three-point game - and his second in the first three games of the season.11:18
Brent Burns rings a shot off the near post from the point! So close. It's still 5-2 Wild.9:42
I'm going to start packing up, Wild fans. I'll have a final blog update from the bus. Thanks to Wild.com's Travis Brilowski for putting that up later. I'm going to get in the elevator before they play any more "Sweet Caroline". Here it comes.........
Beginning of 2nd period
Two interviews - Mikko Koivu
(FS North) and Andrew Brunette (FS Florida) and back upstairs by the 10:00 mark of the intermission. Talk about efficient. It took me awhile to get downstairs - no media only elevator - but I made it in time to get out bottles of water and a towel for each guy. It's a tiny hallway - and fortunately there are two entrances/exits to the locker room, so Bruno could come out the back entrance for the FS Florida interview.
The Wild has played a solid road game so far. It will need more of the same over the final 40 minutes. 19:55
Copier issues here in Florida, but the TV feed tells me Florida outshot the Wild 8-5 in the first. I'd dare say that four of those five shots came in a three-minute span. Stephen Weiss bests Mikko Koivu
in the opening faceoff, but Minnesota controls soon after.
It's 2-0 Minnesota, as The Boogeyman continues to wreak havoc. Kim Johnsson gets credit with his first of the season, a bomb from the point, with both Boogaard and Craig Weller creating trouble in the low slot. Boogaard gets an assist, his first point in 50 games - and 20 months, since Feb. 8, 2007, against Florida.
The Panthers answer right back to cut the deficit in half. With a crush of bodies in front, former Golden Golpher Keith Ballard launched a shot through traffic that skidded off of Nick Boynton and under Backstrom as he fell to the ground. It's 2-1 Wild.12:35
Andrew Brunette isn't perfect, after all. Who expected him to score on every shot, anyways. He nearly made it 3-for-3, though, taking a feed from James Sheppard and directing it right on Vokoun, who seconds later swallows up Antti Miettinen's blast from the right circle. That line is unstoppable right now.9:23
I just headed down to the off-ice officials room. I noticed while looking at the first period stat sheet (copier fixed) that the Panthers weren't properly credited with a power play opportunity during the Boogaard fracas (the first one). Minnesota had three minors assessed and Florida two, so therefore the Panthers had a man advantage. To Jon from Burnsville who e-mailed me earlier asking me about my duties - add that one in. I'll also be double checking between periods that no one deflected the Kim Johnsson goal.8:08
Minnesota goes on the power play, as Cal Clutterbuck
, recalled yesterday from Houston, keeps his feet moving and is held by Keith Ballard.7:05
I'm not sure how Tomas Vokoun saw the shot, but he robbed Brent Burns' backhand attempt as he wheeled through the left circle.
Antti Miettinen! You can't stop nor contain this kid. Tomas Mojzis, playing the point on this power play, has his shot knocked down into the right circle to Mikko Koivu. Koivu sends a once in a lifetime pass (only we see it numerous times a game, it seems) to Miettinen at the left doorstep, and Miettinen roofs a shot before Vokoun can recover. That's four goals in three games for Miettinen, who was the first Wild player ever to score in each of his first two games with the team, according to Elias Sports Bureau. That's up to three now, obviously. It's 3-1 Minnesota.
We're underway, the Wild controls the faceoff win by Mikko Koivu
Tomas Mojzis' first shift as a Wild player just like he envisioned it, I'm sure - as a forward. Mojzis nearly creates a turnover in the Panthers zone.16:38
You don't often get a gametime temperature announced in a hockey game. I think they're just trying to rub it in. 82 degrees. Florida with two shots so far, the Wild still in search of its first.12:48
The Wild gets its first shot, and it sends us into the first TV timeout.
While Gregory Campbell (son of NHL discipline guru Colin) goes after Erik Reitz after what looked to be a clean hipcheck, DereK Boogaard is double teamed in the near corner and goes to the ice much to the delight of the crowd. Benoit Pouliot was in on that fracas as well. Interesting enough, all four officials were over by Reitz and Campbell while the Boogeyman was accosted.
A couple of side notes - I saw one of the officials warming up downstairs an hour ago. I knew the Wild was in trouble because he was wearing a Red Sox cap.
Also, The Boogeyman was in a great mood earlier - even complimenting me on my attire (black suit, purple shirt and tie). Boogs told me that E! Online said purple is in. And he asked me later if I put it in the R.S.S. Feed, so I know he wasn't making fun of me. Boogie and I go all the way back to ECHL Louisiana in the winter of 2002.
The Panthers end up with a two-minute power play. Reitz gets a kneeing penalty, and Boogaard a double minor for roughing. Koivu, Miettinen, Schultz and JOhnsson are the first penalty killers for the Wild.8:10
The Wild strikes first, with the red hot Brunette-Koivu-Miettinen line getting yet another goal. Tomas Vokoun misplayed the puck behind the net, and Miettinen fed Koivu, who slid a nifty pass out front to Andrew Brunette, who fired it home for his second of the season - on two shots, I may add. It's 1-0 Wild.
I'll be headed downstairs shortly for those intermission interviews. But not before Derek Boogaard and Wade Belak square off at center ice. Boogaard was stunned by a punch early but recovered. The heavyweights had a pretty good bout.
We're ready to go. Brent Burns remembered to do his bench interview with Fox Sports North's Kevin Gorg. I had to flee at the last minute to meet head to the media entrance to meet someone.
Great note tonight from our friends at Fox Sports Florida. Tonight's game features the NHL's oldest head coach (Jacques Lemaire) against the youngest coach (Pete DeBoer).
Gaborik, Nolan and Bouchard sit for the Wild tonight, but you knew that earlier today from reading the R.S.S. Feed. Allen, Stewart and Frolik are out for the Panthers.
I just chatted with Alison from Fox Sports Florida (sorry for the mouth full of popcorn). They will likely do a Wild interview both intermissions tonight, so we'll be super busy downstairs. It's also a really skinny hallway.
Also during the first intermission, I will call out Jet Blue rep to make sure they know we are, as always, desiring to get up in the air as soon as we are on the plane. We will be shy a few bodies tonight, as our three Fox Sports Net counterparts (John Stroh, Matt Gangl and Kevin Gorg) will stay and fly commercial home tomorrow since Saturday's game is on KSTC. We'll be joined in Tampa by the always fun Pat O'Connor, producer/director for our KSTC games. Also traveling full-time with us as always is Sarah Servetnick, who does stats in the TV truck.5:45 p.m.
Coming to you from high above (more on that in a moment) the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla. Don’t call it Ft. Lauderdale. Don’t call it Miami. It’s Sunrise.
Just chatting with Wild radio’s Bob Kurtz and Tom Reid. Bob said “Is that the ice all the way down there?” In reality, we are probably no higher than any other building. However, we are far back away from the ice, which happens when the seating areas in building aren’t very steep.
I snagged a Derek Jeter T-shirt off the discount rack ($4.99) at the outlets before heading back to pack up the room and check out of the hotel. Our gracious hosts at the Crowne Plaza, Linda and Gwyn, will be at the game tonight, and I’ll try to stop by and say hi.
Upon arriving at the arena, I was met by Brian, the Panthers’ coordinator of communications, who left a credential at the media gate for me. He also introduced me to the in-house announcer, who wanted to know several pronunciations. I think I told him “moy-ZHEESH” before I told him hello.
I stopped by the Wild locker room. We have called an audible – we do many times in this business – and have decided to order 20 chicken parms for the room after the game, in addition to the regular pizza. This way, the players get a hot meal and still have the option of sandwiches on the plane.
I headed up to the press box, but had to be “swiped” up there. The problem being no one else on the elevator had a card to swipe us. No worries, because the trusty in arena host (sorry I didn’t get her name) stopped at the suite level to get someone to get us to the top.
And here we are.
I'm back at the hotel after the pre-game meal.
The big news out of practice today is that Marian Gaborik won't play tonight with a lower body injury. Tomas Mojzis will play forward and make his Wild debut. Mojzis is normally a defenseman. Owen Nolan is still out with a lower body injury and will remain with the team. So every healthy skater tonight will dress for the Wild. Doug Risebrough said Marek Zidlicky has begun skating and regular training back in Minnesota. Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(lower body) is being looked at by doctors back in Minnesota, and then the trainers will decide a course of treatment. John Scott's sprained ankle has not healed to the point where he can begin skating.
Jacques Lemaire stressed to the media that his team will have to work "even harder" tonight. Expect big minutes from Mikko Koivu
, Antti Miettinen, Brent Burns, etc. The forward lines looked something like this.
The defensive pairings remain the same, and it looks as if Niklas Backstrom
will make his third straight start.
Before I forget (again), I was in a sports memorabilia shop last night across the street, and came across a signed puck by Hockey Hall of Famer "Ray Bourke." It was underpriced, too; I should have jumped on it!
I just sent the ticket list into Florida, and now I'm about to call and confirm the bus drivers for tonight. As we mentioned before, we won't have a hot meal on board the plane tonight, so we'll order extra pizzas post-game. The players will still get prime rib sandwiches and shrimp cocktail.
I also confirmed Colton Gillies for Rod Simon's TV show on Sunday, as well as set up an interview with a Finnish magazine with Antti Miettinen for tomorrow in Tampa. The will be calling him - I certainly am not going to call Finland on my company phone!
That's it for now, Wild fans. I'll check in before gametime.
Greetings, State of Hockey from a beautiful, warm morning in Ft. Lauderdale. It’s actually Minnesota-like in the BankAtlantic Center. As I mentioned the other night, the Southern rinks keep their buildings so cold to try to keep the ice good.
The Panthers are currently on the ice. Our coaching staff is in the stands watching them skate, along with members of the media. Everyone is here this morning -- Owen Nolan’s status is still being evaluated. Cal Clutterbuck
’s sticks did arrive, so he is ready to play if need be.
I’m also awaiting word from our charter company on contact information for our crew tonight. It’s a “subjet,” which means it’ll be a different company and crew. Tonight we fly a Jet Blue plane, which means TVs in every seat, but no ovens or hot food. It’s a quick flight across the state to Tampa, but because there is no hot meal, we’ll order some extra pizza for post-game. The players will have sandwiches and shrimp cocktail on the plane, and I have a call in to the hotel in Tampa to see how late they serve room service in the event the guys want a hot meal once we get there.
Time for an R.S.S. Feed mailbag. Remember you can join in at email@example.com
. Other than practice, there’s not much else going on Friday in Tampa, so I should be able to include a lot of e-mails.
Q: Hi Ryan,
My name is Jon. I just wanted to tell you how much I love your blogging. I enjoy the quick updates and in-depth writing. It really gives a reader and Wild fans a chance to see what goes on during a hockey season, especially the grind on the road. When I get off work, I just want to relax and go to bed, not get on an airplane to another city.
My question to you was what does your job entail besides writing your blog? It seems you are always stressing bus and flight times. Is that your responsibility, as well, and what else are you running around like crazy doing?
Again, thanks for the great blog that seems to be updating by the minute every day. I enjoy reading it. And props to you for all the extra hard work you do.
-Jon from Burnsville
A: Thanks for the note and kind words, Jon. My official title is Media Relations and Team Services Coordinator. So yes, the bus and flight times are my responsibility, as is getting players for media interviews when I’m on the road. I also make sure the team meals are set up right. The PR stuff is generally the easiest and takes care of itself. But the travel can obviously be a mixed bag, particularly when dealing with weather in the northern United States and Canada all winter. I also handle our ticket requests on the road. Unlike some other sports, our players have to buy tickets on the road.
And there are crazy things that pop up too, like arranging a ride for Clutterbuck’s sticks yesterday. Last season, Brent Burns left his fake tooth on the plane on my first road trip so I had to send a cab to pick up his tooth at the airport.
No two days are ever the same.
Q: Hey Ryan,
I just wanted to say that I'm glad you've kept up with the blog/R.S.S. Feed since the season started. I know it was originally intended for training camp and I hope you're able to keep it going all season long. I really enjoy getting the inside information about the team, even if it's just about what kind of food you all get to eat!
A: Hi Nathan. I have had a lot of fun doing the blog so far, and plan on continuing it. Depending on how busy we are, obviously, updates could be less frequent at some points, or when I’m not on the road. And I’ve tried to cut down on some of the food mentions, but sometimes I just can’t help it!
Was reading your R.S.S. Feed from last night (great reading as always). The Tampa Bay Rays actually play in St. Petersburg, Fla., about a 30-40 minute ride from the St. Pete Forum in Tampa where the Lighting play. When I was at CoSIDA this year in Tampa, we had the picnic at the Forum, which was across the street from the Marriott Waterside Hotel (very nice hotel if that's where you'll be staying) where the Workshop was held. We even saw Barry Melrose staying at the hotel (it was right after they announced him as the head coach). I also made it down to St. Pete for the Rays-Red Sox game.
Michael from Savannah, Ga.
A: Thanks for the note Michael. Fortunately, the two venues are far apart. The region is going to be baseball crazed regardless of if there’s a Game 6 on Saturday. I can’t wait, as it’s going to be very fun to be around.
And, finally, an e-mail from my college roommate, for another unique perspective on what we do. Ryan is an assistant SID for Charlotte.
Q: Thoughts from Atlanta…
Hockey players are smaller than you think in person. I guess with all of that gear, I assumed they were big hulking men underneath. Seeing them in street clothes (if you can call a suit street clothes), they are kind of smallish. Understandable, since they have to be so agile and lithe on the ice. They do possess a tremendous amount of skill, though, which was apparent in my two periods of seeing it in person. I reiterate what I told you years ago, after listening to the Atlanta radio dude call the third period … I could never do hockey on the radio.
That was my first NHL game … been to some minor league games, but that was my first game with NHL talent in front of me. The difference is noticeable. One thing I liked was how well the fans understand the game and get loud at the right times. NBA crowds are programmed to cheer and get rowdy at certain, predictable times. NFL fans have to sustain it for defense and keep it down for offense or great catches, but the NHL crowd was like riding a wave. They sense a big play, and the noise crescendos, and then there’s either a payoff (great save by home netminder or score by the offense) or a collective groan and the air lets out of the arena. Even with the vast numbers of empty seats in Philips Arena, the crowd sound was hypnotic and intense. Non-hockey fans would enjoy this aspect of the event, as this novice did.
I also appreciated the gathering and spirit shown by the fans in the CNN Center. It was like a large, open tailgate. I highly encourage all sports venues to utilize this. Not sure if the Thrashers/Hawks make any money off of this adjoining facility, but it beats the high prices of purchases in the arena itself, and is super fan-friendly and a great idea for a pre-game gathering. I imagine with the arena right next door, it may sell a ticket or two to a straggler or person who was curious about all of that color and pageantry on the other side of the glass.
-- Ryan from Charlotte
I’ll be back after our skate with some more info.