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E-mail Ryan on gamenights and make his R.S.S. Feed mailbag! E-mail email@example.comOct. 18, 2008
Well, we're making the best here. Everyones in a great mood taking 6 points on this road trip. And how about Eric Belanger tonight. Niklas Backstrom had many nice saves, but Belanger dove to prevent a sure goal in the final minute of regulation.
We're en route to the airport. We'll have to wait a few minutes for the plane, due in at 11:10. But hopefully once they screen us, the plane can get refueled and we'll be good to go.
I've still got to get two guys lined up for radio on WCCO tomorrow, and remind Colton Gillies about a tv show with Rod Simons.
After that I'm going to take Sunday off from blogging, and maybe Monday too. I'll be back with any important news, but I need a couple days to recharge. And anwer e-mails. Talk to everyone likely on Tuesday. Thanks for making this road trip fun!
We're almost set to drop the puck on the third period here in Tampa. Still no score, with Tampa outshooting the Wild 21-14. I've spent most of the intermission dealing with tonight's travel dilemma. The plane has picked up just a bit of steam but is still not due in until 11:16 p.m. Generally, we would be getting to the airport around 10:45. Depending on how much time there is, we could put food out at the FBO, but we'd like to not do that and just get the guys on board ASAP. We'll just have to wait for refueling and the baggage to be loaded.
I meant to use this note from Wild TV producer/director Pat O'Connor earlier today. The Wild won its first ever game eight years ago on today's date, against Tampa Bay, 6-5 at Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild gets a power play due to an interference penalty by Lukas Krajicek. And I'm glad he played in San Antonio a lot when I was in Houston so I didn't have to look down for spelling.
Niklas Backstrom has been just brilliant tonight - at least from the parts of the game I have seen. The Wild without much offensive pressure this period. I'm going to head downstairs. The plane is now due in at 11:04. We're getting there. Overtime would be ok in that situation, as long as it ends up a Wild win. I'll be back later with a final update.
We're about to get underway in the second period. A total of seven minor penalties in that first period, which ended with the Lightning outshooting the Wild 13-6. KSTC-TV was going to have a Wild player on - James Sheppard - but the camera wound up with no power. Things aren't going great so far off the ice. I did just talk to our charter rep - the plane is about to take off from Minneapolis, but unfortunately that doesn't put it in Tampa much before 11 p.m., our anticipated departure time. I just talked to team services guru Aaron Sickman and we're working on solutions for what to do with a possible 30 minutes of downtime. Like perhaps eat.
The Wild controls the faceoff, but Martin St. Louis ends up with a great chance to Niklas Backstrom's stick side, but Backstrom got down to block the shot with Kim Johnsson all over St. Louis.
Erik Reitz makes a potential game-saving stop with Niklas Backstrom out of the net. Backstrom then makes a nice save. Updates are going to be intermittent, I'm dealing with tonight's travel woes.
And I head downstairs again. I'd just stay down there, but there is no cell phone reception at the event level except for in the corners - by Josh Harding. It's about time to go say hello.
19:55 - 1st period
One of the Lightning ice girls just got us started with "Let's Play Hockey" (Where have I heard that before?) And we're underway, with the Wild controlling a Koivu faceoff win.
As I mentioned, ginormous scoreboard here at center ice. So big that it's all video - no time left, no penalties, no shots. The scoreboards at the ends of the ice take care of that. The Wild going on an early power play as David Koci goes to the box for holding.
Mike Smith swallows up Eric Belanger's wraparound attempt on the power play. And we now have full functionality on the scoreboard. Wes Walz is in charge of the Lightning penalty kill - and he can ceertainly be proud of the first one.
Another penalty to David Koci. If he's in the penalty box, he can't fight Derek Boogaard. Minnesota back on the power play.
And that was a quick man advantage, as captain Mikko Koivu goes off for slashing, evening things up at 4-on-4. Replays showed that Koivu actually got slashed, but the other guy's stick broke, and the referee apparently saw the broken stick.
Mike Smith lost track of a rebound of a Kim Johnsson shot and it nearly got behind him.
Tampa Bay is whistled for its third penalty in the opening six and a half minutes, as Vinny Prospal heads to the box. It will be 14 seconds of a 4-on-3, and after another 15 seconds of 4-on-4, the Wild will head on a power play for the next 1:31. It's been a long week, but I think that math is right. In the meantime, the Bolts entertainment team is shooting subs and hoagies out of a cannon.
We're near riot status in Tampa. Wait a minute. The whistle goes off when Tampa Bay has the puck, yet it's a double minor for high sticking to Colton Gillies. That's a four-minute power play for Tampa Bay. The crowd is thrilled after what they (and I) thought it was.
And an aside, our plane has touched down - in Minneapolis. Here's hoping for a quick turnaround and flight to Tampa.
The Lightning still on the man advangae, and thus far no great chances. And I have to start heading downstairs. There's a chance with this power play we could miss one of the two media timeouts, and I don't want to be late. Even if there are no interviews, I will pay the pizza man.
Press box update and scratches
The big wigs have come out tonight - Hall-of-Fame Coach Scotty Bowman is behind me, as is former Devils coach Pat Burns.
Marian Gaborik, Owen Nolan and Krys Kolanos are the scratches for the Wild. Ward, Vrbata and Heward are out for Tampa Bay. It is the Brunette-Koivu-Miettinen line to start out for the Wild, across from St. Louis-Lecavalier-Prospal. You don't get more star studded on these two teams than that right now. It's Niklas Backstrom vs. Mike Smith in net.
I also need to congratulate Houston Aero Bryan Lundbohm, his wife Misty and son Preston on the newest edition to their family, Greyson Joseph, born Thursday. Lundbohm, a UND grad and Roseau native, impressed the Wild in camp and is in his second go-round with the Aeros. He's also one of the true good guys in the game. Congrats Whitey.
There's an indoor blimp in my way as I look at the Wild on the ice, but we see Krys Kolanos, Cal Clutterbuck and Tomas Mojzis. Minnesota is warming up 19 skaters, which means one will be scratched prior to the game. Owen Nolan is not on the ice.
I received a phone call a few minutes ago from the airline we are chartering for this trip. As I've mentioned before, our normal company is flying John McCain around on one of their three jets, so they often "subjet" us out.
Today's plane went today from Cancun to Dallas to Minneapolis and is going to end up in Tampa. But it got caught up in customs in Cancun. It is supposed to arrive in Minneapolis at 6:45 p.m. (ct), and they've assured me the plane should still be on the ground no later than 10:30 p.m. (et) in Tampa. We are supposed to depart at 11 p.m. So as long as there are no further delays, we should be good. Based on the flow of the game, the bus shouldn't leave from the arena any earlier than 10:30 p.m.
Back upstairs from dinner. Tonight may be one of those nights where my updates are either few and far between, or sent by blackberry to Wild.com's Travis Brillowski.
I waited five minutes or so for the freight elevator to go downstairs. It never got above "3" - the press box is seven. One of the Florida TV guys said there's a shortcut. So we walked the length of the press box, took the stairs down to the upper level concourse. The walked halfway around the arena in search of the elevator to take us downstairs. It worked, nicely enough, and even brings me near our locker room. However, it is a wheelchair only elevator during games.
Since I go down with six minutes left in each period, hopefully it won't be too crowded. I'll play it by ear.
Still no word on the lineup.
I'm coming to you from the press box here at the St. Pete Times Forum, looking at the magnificent scoreboard. It's much like the new ones in San Jose and Montreal.
The elevator to the press box (at least the one that I took) was, I'm pretty sure, the world's only freight elevator with a television. In the heart of college football country, there was a game on, although I'm sure starting in the second period tonight we can catch up on ALCS Game 6 on the ride downstairs. Which, incidentally, generally stops on every floor, so I just have to leave myself plenty of time.
Tonight's game is on KSTC-TV, which doesn't have a pre-game show. So, producer/director Pat O'Connor doesn't need any interviews from the bench during warmups. He plans on interviewing Wes Walz during the first intermission, and a Wild player in the second. Lightning TV also told me they would likely need a Wild player in the second intermission.
That's about it. Oh, there was a pretty fancy wedding at our hotel late this afternoon. I know this because I was taking a quick walk down to the water before the bus left (avoiding more of those PR autograph hounds). I turned a corner, and literally the wedding photographer was there with his camera, waiting to take the first shot of the bride, who seconds later walked out of the wedding staging area. Fortunately there hadn't been any music playing so no one else turned around and saw me, but there's a chance I am in that wedding photo gallery.
Still no word on a lineup for tonight, other than the fact Marian Gaborik is out.
There isn’t too much news to report out of this morning’s pre-game skate. Owen Nolan did participate. Jacques Lemaire said he has some conferring with his assistant coaches before figuring out a lineup for tonight, particularly with Tomas Mojzis play again, and perhaps at forward like he did against the Panthers.
The hotel sent a shuttle for most of the players after practice, since it is really hot and it’s about a 10 minute walk. I’m about to call and confirm the bus will be outside to start putting bags on it at 4 p.m. or shortly thereafter.
Oh, and I signed two autographs outside the hotel. I said I wasn’t a player, and they didn’t care. So if you ever buy some Wild stuff on e-bay from Florida, make sure my signature isn’t on it, or it will devalue it greatly.
No players need tickets tonight, but a couple of guys need passes, including Jacques Lemaire, whose wife will be in attendance.
I’m going to try to take a little pre-game nap before packing up the room. I’ll touch base from the arena before the game.
Another warm, sunny day in Florida, but a day we can finally say we're going home "tonight.". I think everyone is ready, but only after taking care of business tonight.
Speaking of business, I did get asked for an autograph outside the hotel this morning. Not because of the blog unfortunately, they just thought I was a player. I said "PR guy" and they ran screaming.
I'm watching the Lightning finish up the pre-game skate. Head coach Barry Melrose was not on the ice this morning. Wes Walz was though, and still is, with his hat on backwards looking like he could play tonight if needed.
We've got about another 25 minutes until the Wild steps on the ice. I'll check back around lunchtime with a possible lineup.
A special shoutout today to Wild.com's Jamie MacDonald and his bride-to-be Patty Rutz, who will tie the knot this afternoon. We're even going to let him off the hook for awhile and take a honeymoon.