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Oct. 25, 2008
The Wild earned a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Columbus to remain the Western Conference's lone team without a loss in regulation. And it wasn't without controversy, as Rick Nash's possible game-tying goal was negated in the waning seconds. It was a correct call though, as Nash did whack the puck with a high stick.
The game wasn't without a casualty, however, and we don't just mean Blue Jackets goalie Pascal Leclaireand forward Derick Bressard who took an inadvertant high stick in the third period. Wild head athletic trainer Don Fuller got hit in the head with a puck late in the second stanza. That marks three of four support staff who've been hit in the last two games for the Wild.
It was a busy night in the press box after a slow start. You'll read the post-game notes below. The Bouchard note is something I've been following for quite some time. And the Owen Nolan note, well, it's just amazing. Aaron Sickman mentioned to me that the Wild became the seventh team for which Nolan has scored a goal, and I got to thinking...I wonder how many arenas he's scored in? He hasn't scored in a few arenas - The Cow Palace (the San Jose Sharks home from 1991-93), Pacific Coliseum (where we will practice in Vancouver next month) and Expo Hall, where the Tampa Bay Lightning played in 1992-93. Among active arenas he has yet to score in are FleetCenter in Boston and Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. He'll have a chance to do both later this season.Niklas Backstrom
made 25 saves and was awesome despite getting run over at one point in the third period. He stopped two breakaways, a Derick Brassard attempt in the second period, and a save on Rick Nash, who regularly spins highlight-reel goals on breakaways, while Columbus was shorthanded in the third period.
Aaron Sickman is covering practice tomorrow. Make sure to listen to Nick Schultz on the Sports Huddle on WCCO Radio in the morning at 11:05 a.m. I'll be back Monday.
G Niklas Backstrom
made 25 saves and RW Pierre-Marc Bouchard
and RW Owen Nolan scored a goal apiece, as the Minnesota Wild defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 in front of 18,568 at Xcel Energy Center. Minnesota (5-0-1) remains the lone Western Conference team without a loss in regulation. The Wild finishes a three-game homestand against Chicago on Monday at 7 p.m. in a nationally televised game on VERSUS.
RW Owen Nolan scored his first goal with the Wild – the game-winner – in his return after missing three games due to injury. Xcel Energy Center became the 47th different arena in which the 36-year-old Nolan has scored a goal. He had been held without a goal in 12 prior games at Xcel Energy Center. He did, however, score a goal at Met Center in Bloomington against the Minnesota North Stars on Oct. 10, 1991 – 6,225 days ago. Nolan was playing for Quebec then. The Wild also became the seventh team for which Nolan has scored a goal.
G Niklas Backstrom
made 25 saves and is 12-0-5 with a 1.74 GAA and a .941 Sv Pct. in his last 17 decisions. Backstrom is 10-0-1 with a 1.74 GAA and a .942 Sv Pct. in his last 11 decisions.
RW Pierre-Marc Bouchard
netted his first goal of the season with 26 seconds remaining in the first period. Minnesota is 23-1-1 when Bouchard scores a goal since Dec. 23, 2006.
C Mikko Koivu
picked up his team-leading ninth assist, on RW Owen Nolan’s game-winning goal.
The Wild killed off Columbus’ two power plays, including one late in regulation. Minnesota is a perfect 19-for-19 on the penalty kill this season. The Wild is the lone remaining NHL team to not allow a power-play goal this season.
The Wild led 1-0 after one period, its first lead after 20 minutes at home in three games this season.Live In-Game Commentary
Good evening State of Hockey legion! You are a sight for sore eyes! It's just me, your former live in-game commentary writer serving you proudly from September of 2005 through December of 2007. For those of you new to live in-game commentary, I suggest you buckle in and put away the Red Bull, because you are going to get charged up tonight.
Before I go any further, I want to wish all of you a Happy Belated United Nations Day!
Now then, with current Wild.com guru Jamie MacDonald on some beach in the hockey hotbed of Maui, I have been called upon to oversee my old baby, Wild.com. That means I am coming to you live once again from my former perch in the Al Shaver Press Box, high above the frozen ice surface inside Xcel Energy Center. I was actually here on Thursday night, covering for Jamie, but I was told I didn't have to do live in-game commentary. It made me want to cry. So, after talking with your new favorite blogger (I still hate that word), Ryan Stanzel, I'm back in the saddle, albeit for just two games. Enjoy it while it lasts!
Enough of my endless banter. Let's get to the reason why we're here on this gorgeous Saturday night. Tonight, your Minnesota Wild are hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets, their expansion step-brothers, as they battle for the affection of their father (Gary Bettman).
Currently, both teams are working up a good sweat during pregame warmups. Judging by the amount of equipment he's forced to wear, and the number of warmup shots he's required to face, I'd say Niklas Backstrom
is probably the sweatiest. That's okay, he needs to get the blood flowing because he'll be making the start tonight. He is still on pace to play 82 games this season.
That's the good news. The bad news of course comes for the players who are not in the lineup tonight. Marian Gaborik is out with a pesky lower body injury. He'll be joined in the Al Shaver Press Box by Erik Reitz, Tomas Mojzis and Colton Gillies, tonight's healthy scratches.
Attire-wise, Minnesota will be sporting the snappy home reds for this one. The Jackets will go with the road whites with the timely red, white and blue stripes on the chest - a stark reminder that election day is just 11 days away. Rock the vote!
That's all I've got. In the words of Tommy Callahan before he confronted Zalinsky the Auto Parts King of Chicago: "Let's do it. It's go time!"Period 1
18:11 -- Backstrom is feeling it early. The Wild fails to clear the zone, and that leads to Jakub Voracek getting in alone on the Wild keeper. He tries to slide one five-hole, but Backstrom gives him nothing and turns it away.
12:55 -- The Wild breaks out of it's own zone and has a two-on-one. Antti Miettinen carries it up the right side, and as he looks to his left he sees...Nick Schultz? Seeing as how this might by the first-ever NHL two-on-one for Schultz, Miettinen decides to fire the shot himself, and he just misses up high.
11:14 -- The Xcel Energy Center crowd is raining boos toward the ice level, and for good reason. As Marc-Andre Bergeron plays the puck behind his own net with his back to the play, he gets checked by Ohio State product, R.J. Umberger. Umberger flails backward and holds his face. Somehow, Bergeron gets called for an elbow. The answer to your question is no, Mick McGeough is not calling tonights game. I knew I'd work McGeough in here at some point.
7:15 - The Wild's top power play unit knows a thing or two about how to move the puck around. Miettinen and Koivu make quick passes, setting up Andrew Brunette all alone in front. He's about to bang Koivu's pass home, but he's hooked by Rostislav Klesla at the last instant. The Wild will now have a 5-on-3 power play, which is nothing to sneeze at.
1:24 -- Brunette heads to the locker room early, but there doesn't appear to be anything seriously wrong with him, and none of the trainers followed him back. Could just be a bathroom break, who knows?0:26.0 -- Sound the alarm! The Wild are on top early! Just seconds after Owen Nolan is denied on a point blank shot, the puck bounds out to Marek Zidlicky. He rips a shot over a scrambling Pascal Leclaire, and the puck misses high, bounces off the glass to the side where Pierre-Marc Bouchard bangs home his first of the year. I was starting to worry I wasn't going to get to write about a goal tonight.
0:00 -- The first period ends with the Wild's heads raised just a little higher after that late goal. Both teams will retreat to their locker rooms, replenish their fluids and stress the fundamentals on the white board before entertaining us for at least 40 more minutes.Period 2
17:00 -- Nolan is having himself a night tonight. He's got an assist, and he nearly bags a goal here, knocking down a high shot from the point and then firing a quick one up high that Leclaire just does get with the top of his shoulder.
15:40 -- Koivu absolutely undresses Marc Methot with a move at the blue line, but Andrew Murray does a nice job of backchecking and knocking the puck away before the Wild captain can get a shot off.
14:36 -- Leclaire leaves the ice and backup netminder Fredrik Norrena is now manning the Columbus crease. I have to think that Leclaire is injured, or else Ken Hitchcock has a very shor leash for his goaltender.
11:43 -- If you smell something funny emanating from your computer, it could be because there is a horrible burning smell wafting from the 200 level of the Xcel Energy Center right now. Apparenly, a large batch of popcorn was left cooking for too long at one of the concessions, and smoke is starting to billow into the arena near the ceiling. Thus far, there has not been a smoke alarm, but cross your fingers.
4:14 -- To quote Mike Greenlay, the Wild is getting "hemmed" into its zone by the Blue Jackets right now. Greenlay knows all about hemming. When I used to travel on the road with the team, I would always look over at Greener on the plane as he was usually knitting some type of winter garment. It was really cute, especially when Dan Terhaar would fall asleep and rest his head on Mike's shoulder.
2:35 -- Young star Derick Brassard gets in alone on Backstrom and makes a pretty move to his backhand, but "Backs" stays right with him and flashes the left leg pillow out in time to make his best save of the night. Brassard shows his frustration by slamming his stick on the ice. Backstrom is just doing his thing tonight, my friends. He's just doing...his...thing!Period 3
17:54 -- If there's one guy I in a Columbus jersey that I don't want streaking in alone on a shorthanded breakaway, it's got to be Rick Nash. Backstrom is different though, I'd venture to say he welcomes the challenge, and here, he absolutely robs Nash on a high shot with the waffle glove. That will get the crowd jacked up.12:01 -- Sweet sassy molassy! You just knew Owen Nolan was going to dent that cage at some point tonight. He has been everywhere thus far, and this time he parks himself in the slot where playmaking machine Mikko Koivu finds him from behind the net with a beautiful pass. Nolan doesn't call his shot, but we won't hold it against him because we needed that two-goal lead in the worst way.
8:26 -- We needed this like we needed a leak in the roof. The Blue Jackets cut the Wild lead in half thanks to Rostislav Klesla, who is most famous for being the player selected right after Marian Gaborik in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. Klesla gets the puck at the point off the draw and sends a long shot through traffic that evades Backstrom. Let's do our best not to think of words like Thursday, Buffalo and Vanek. It's for the best.
5:40 -- You have to love Wild media relations guru, Ryan Stanzel, who just came up with this gem of a note: RW Owen Nolan scored his first goal with the Wild, in his return after missing three games due to injury. Xcel Energy Center became the 47th different arena in which the 36-year-old Nolan has scored a goal. He had been held without a goal in 12 prior games at Xcel Energy Center. He did, however, score a goal in the Met Center in Bloomington against the Minnesota North Stars on Oct. 10, 1991 - 6,225 days ago. The Wild also became the seventh team for which Nolan has scored a goal.
My friends, where I come from (Duluth, Minnesota), we call that "doing your homework."
1:30 -- The crowd comes alive as Minnesota kills a crucial late penalty to Nick Schultz. He bounds out of the box and we've got 90 seconds to eek this thing out.
0:11.5 -- Did that really just happen again? The Blue Jackets appear tie it up on yet another long shot through traffic, this time from Christian Backman. Backstrom is furious and immediately signals to the refs that it was played with a high stick. The refs go upstairs for a review, while everyone in the press box is arguing back and forth about whether it was played with a high stick or not. Come on guys! Can't we all just get along and agree that it shouldn't count? NO GOAL!!!!!!!! The crowd goes crazy at the announcement, while the Columbus bench is less enthused.
0:00 -- Start breathing again Wild fans! With some help from instant replay and Backstrom, your home hockey club remains undefeated in regulation. Another note from Stanzel: The Minnesota Wild is undefeated in 2008 when Glen Andresen does live in-game commentary.E-mail Ryan and make his R.S.S. Feed mailbag! E-mail email@example.comOct. 25, 2008
Breaking news - Owen Nolan has come off the injured reserve list and will play tonight. To make room for Nolan on the roster, Marian Gaborik has been placed on IR. Gaborik is still eligible to come off for the Wild's next game Monday versus Chicago, if he is healthy enough. Gaborik skated before the rest of his Wild teammates again this morning.
Onto the mailbag. Join in the fun at firstname.lastname@example.org.Q:
Would you ask Burnsy how many hours it took him to read Brisingr? I appreciate you keeping us all in the loop!
-Johnny from West of the RiverA:
Thanks for the note and question Johnny. Once I figure out how to pronounce that, I'll ask Burns how long it took him to read it. And, as my English teacher used to tell me, how long to comprehend it. I'm sure Burns made out much better with that book than I would have. Also props to Johnny for using a nickname for me (and the proper one), and also for his subject line: "Modern Lit for $200".Q:
My dad and I really enjoy reading your blog. It's fun to get an inside perspective.
We were wondering how often players talk to each other in their native languages. For example, does Jacques talk to some of the guys in French from time to time?
Jacqui (and Ron) from AndoverA:
Thanks for the e-mail Jacqui (and Ron). The players often talk to each other in their native languages, particularly when off the ice like on the plane or at dinner. Jacques doesn't talk to the French Canadians in French so much I don't think, unless he's addressing them directly, but he and Mario Tremblay often speak French. Especially when the PR guy is hanging around :)
12 p.m., Saturday
Greetings from the Al Shaver Press Box.
First things first, it appears as though Owen Nolan is in tonight. The Wild will need to make a roster move before 4 p.m. for him to play, if he does. Niklas Backstrom
will be in net tonight. Scratches are to be determined, although Erik Reitz, Tomas Mojzis and Colton Gillies were skating late.
I got to the office this morning about 8:30, and it was a morning to forget. We got a couple of late credential requests, so I had the cabinet above my desk open, while it's usually closed. I stood up quickly and BAM, I was on my back a cubicle away within a split second. It hurt. There was some blood. But I'm a hockey PR guy, I'll pull through. We were also missing the sports section of the Star Tribune today. So we used a story printed off the internet for clips. We also had one of our two copiers break in the press box, which is where we typically copy the majority of our stuff.
I arrived at the rink at about 10:10 a.m., and ran into Wild radio's Bob Kurtz, who is being filmed all day by NHL Network for a story they are doing. All day. I wonder if they'll have the camera on Kurtzy when he takes his pre-game nap? The coaches had good fun, with Jacques Lemaire and Mario Tremblay both giving him a hard time. "Where ya' been?" Jacques exlcaimed, with cameras rolling. Kurtz is not usually a fixture at pre-game skates. He arrives early, does his interview, gets notes, stats and clips and takes off. I know Tom Reid was hosting the gang at this pub for lunch today.
The guys were on the ice for a little more than 20 minutes, with Jacques quickly off after that and talking with media. Everyone wanted to talk to him about what happened in Columbus last night, where Rangers head coach Tom Renney got knocked in the head with a stick on the bench and fell hard to the ground. Jacques didn't want to talk much about this, didn't want to jinx himself.
Speaking of guys getting hit on the bench, a follow-up to Thursday, where we saw assistant trainer Travis Green leave the game briefly. Green was talking to Brent Proulx, also facing the other way and away from the ice. A stick came up and over the bench and gashed Green's head open, while also hitting Proulx's head and hand. Green took a few stitches.
The last couple of Columbus players are on the ice. It was good to see former Wild No. 2 trainer Mike Vogt this morning, now head trainer for his hometown team, the Blue Jackets.
I also lined up Pierre-Marc Bouchard
and Antti Miettinen to do interviews during warm-ups today for Fox Sports North. They'll be doing the interviews with Telly Hughes, as Kevin Gorg, seated next to me right now in the press box, is hosting the show tonight.
I'm going to post this and then get to a couple of good mailbag questions. You can get in on the fun today by e-mailing me at email@example.com.