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Oct. 27, 2008
I'm back from a pretty quick post-game downstairs. About 20 minutes from the time we opened the locker room, we were all done.
Jacques Lemaire much happier after tonight's win. Singled out especially defensemen Martin Skoula, Nick Schultz and Kim Johnsson. And basically all the penalty killers. Twenty-two straight to begin the season is really amazing.
Post-game notes are listed below. I thought the Brunette note was a neat one.
The team is off to Dallas at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow with Aaron Sickman in tow. I'll probably file something in the afternoon after talking to Aaron. I've got to get ready for the upcoming 10-day trip out west. And by getting ready I mean finding my short-sleeve shirts to wear for the last time until March (my trip to Southern California).
LW Andrew Brunette and RW Antti Miettinen had a goal and an assist apiece, linemate C Mikko Koivu
assisted on all three Minnesota goals and G Niklas Backstrom
made 34 saves as the Wild shook off an early deficit and then held on for a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks before 18,568 at Xcel Energy Center. D Brent Burns also scored for Minnesota (6-0-1), which is now the only NHL team without a loss in regulation after Buffalo lost 5-2 to Ottawa tonight. The Wild plays at Dallas on Wednesday at 7 p.m., before returning home to face Montreal on Thursday at 7 p.m.
C Mikko Koivu
had three assists, giving him a league-high 12 on the season. He has assisted on 12 of the Wild’s 22 non- shootout goals this season, and also has a goal scored. Tonight marked his seventh career game with at least three points, and the Wild has won each game. Minnesota improved to 19-4-3 all-time when Koivu has two or more points.
LW Andrew Brunette scored his third goal of the season – his first goal at Xcel Energy Center as a member of the Wild since Feb. 19, 2004, against Vancouver. He scored three goals in 12 regular season games, plus one goal in three playoff games, in Saint Paul with Colorado from 2005-08. Brunette is in sixth place all-time with 30 regular-season goals at Xcel Energy Center. Brunette also added an assist and is the Wild’s third leading scorer with seven points (3-4=7).
RW Antti Miettinen scored his team-leading sixth goal of the season. Miettinen had a career-high 15 goals in 69 games for Dallas last season. Miettinen ranks second on the team with nine points (6-3=9).
G Niklas Backstrom
made 34 saves and is 13-0-5 with a 1.75 GAA and a .941 Sv Pct. in his last 18 decisions, and he is 11-0-1 with a 1.75 and a .942 Sv Pct. in his last 12 decisions. This season, Backstrom is 6-0-1 with a 1.98 GAA and a .936 Sv. Pct. His GAA ranks third in the NHL. Backstrom is one of only three goalies (Martin Brodeur and Miikka Kiprusoff) to play every minute for his team this season.
D Brent Burns scored his second goal of the season, on the power play in the second period. The Wild is now 12-1-4 over the past season-plus when Burns scores a goal, 18-2-4 since the beginning of the 2006-07 season and 21-3-4 since 2005-06.
The Wild killed off Chicago’s three power plays, including 1:07 of 5-on-3 time midway through the second period. Minnesota is a perfect 22-for-22 on the penalty kill this season, its best PK streak ever to begin a season. The Wild is the lone remaining NHL team to not allow a power-play goal this season. Minnesota’s team record for not allowing a power-play goal is 34 chances in a nine-game run from Jan. 21-Feb. 14, 2001. The Wild also went nine games without yielding a power-play goal from Feb. 20-March 9, 2007 (24 chances). Since the beginning of the 2006-07 season, the Wild is 62-17-11 when not allowing a power-play goal.
Minnesota improved to 4-0-1 in one-goal games, having played five of its seven games in such a way. Only the New York Rangers (5-1-1) have more one-goal wins, although the Rangers have played 12 games.Live In-Game Commentary
A tip of the hat to you, State of Hockey legion! Welcome to another night of live in-game commentary. Does it get any better on a Monday night? No, it does not. It is I, your former live in-game commentary writer, coming to you for a second straight game before Jamie MacDonald returns to his post, with a fresh sunburn and a debilitating poi hangover.
Tonight, as I peer over my perch in the Al Shaver Press Box, high above ice level at the Xcel Energy Center, I can watch pregame warmups and rhythmically nod my head to the hard rock blaring over the PA system. Tonight's game features a pair of potent teams including the Chicago Blackhawks -- booooooo! --
and YOUR Minn-ahhhh-soootha WILD -- huzzah!
I have to say right off the bat that it does not look good for the Blackhawks tonight, solely because Niklas Backstrom
is getting the start in goal for the Wild tonight. Still on pace to start 82 games, and win 81 of them, Backstrom is looking exceptional during warmups. So, sorry Blackhawks fans, but that's what you get when your home baseball team employs both A.J. Pierzynski and Nick Swisher.
As for those who are not playing tonight, you can print off a roster from your home Internet and scratch the following: Erik Reitz, Tomas Mojzis and former UMD Bulldog Craig Weller are your healthy scratches. Marian Gaborik and Kurtis Foster
are out with your standard lower body injuries.
Finally, we can concentrate on wardrobe and we've got two beauties tonight. The Hawks are going with the classic whites with the stoic Chief on the chest. The Wild will sport the equally snappy home reds.
That's about all I've got. Let's get down to it.Period 1
17:13 -- I don't know which I'd rather hit less, a stationary dasher board and plexiglass, or a large man known in these parts as "Boogey." Hawks D Aaron Johnson holds the puck in the Wild zone, but then gets blasted by Derek Boogaard to the delight of the crowd. That's a heavy price to pay for just holding the zone.
11:44 -- Mikko Koivu
, Antti Miettinen and Andrew Brunette display some of the most amazing passing you'll ever see inside the Chicago zone. The Blackhawks look like the Washington Generals on skates right now, but one could argue that one too many passes was made as Miettinen has to take shot at an open net from an impossible angle and misses high.
7:52 -- I'll venture a guess that Jacques Lemaire is not overly pleased with the Wild allowing two three-on-ones in a matter of one shift. On the first, Backstrom makes a splendid pad save, and on the second, he gets some help from Martin Skoula who plays the pass perfectly and the Hawks can't muster a shot on goal. 6:25 -- Lemaire will be even less thrilled at this point. Brian Campbell dances with the puck behind the Wild net, and then spots Patrick Sharp cutting down the back door for an easy tap-in goal. I shouldn't say "easy." Nothing comes easy against Niklas Backstrom, but I'll bet he let them have that one to make things interesting tonight. Wild fans haven't seen enough interesting finishes lately.
2:02 -- The fearsome threesome does it again. Just as a Chicago penalty expires, Koivu finds Miettinen cutting down the slot. He lofts a pass over to the right post where Brunette is standing, and if he meant to this, he's a genius. He lets the puck hit him, and then it falls right at his feet where he sweeps the puck into a gaping goal mouth. We've got ourselves a tie game.
0:00 -- The first period draws to a close with each team feeling pretty good. They'll feel even better after relaxing for a bit and downing some energy drinks. I'll feel even better after a pretzel with cheese and a cold Coca-Cola. Period 215:29 - What is the NHL record for assists in a season? Give up? So do I, but I feel like Koivu is almost there, and Wayne Gretzky better look out for this Miettinen fella. He's climbing up the goal charts like a black bear up a Minnesota pine tree. Owen Nolan starts an odd man rush in the Wild zone and lets Koivu lug the puck up ice. He finds Miettinen cruising down the slot, and number 20 slips one past Cristobal Huet for his sixth of the season. According to Wild media relations guru Aaron Sickman, Koivu is on pace for 128 assists this season, which would rank third all time.
12:39 -- With the Hawks on the power play and moving the puck quite efficiently, Sharp tees one up from the point, but Backstrom flashes the lobster mitt for a fantastic glove save. Unfortunately, the Hawks are about to have a two-man advantage for a minute and a half.
11:30 -- Koivu is just a man, there's no other way to put it. Killing a 5-on-3, he nearly scores one for the Wild, hauling the puck all the way into the Hawks zone while being dragged by two Hawk players. The fans want a penalty, but there won't be one called here.
10:33 -- Kim Johnsson steps out of the box, and both teams are at full strength. The crowd appreciates the superb penalty killing unit, which is now 21-for-21 on the season.6:43 -- Good gracious! This is a passing clinic tonight! This Wild power play goal is started by none other than Koivu, who is now on pace for 140 assists this season, which would put him second all time behind Gretzky's 163. He finds Brunette with a cross-ice pass in the right faceoff dot, and Bruno threads the needle to the other side where Brent Burns is crashing the goal to tap in his second of the season. Poor Cristobal's eyeballs have got to be sore after trying to follow these passes all night.
16:38 -- Nick Schultz isn't known for having the hardest shot, but sometimes if you put a shot in the right (or wrong) spot, it's going to hurt. His shot toward the goal is blocked by Brent Seabrook, who takes it on the inside of the knee, and he stays down in visible pain. He will head to the dressing room to get that looked at.
11:22 -- The Hawks are outshooting the Wild by a 2-to-1 clip (30-15), but they're going to have to up that to about six or seven to one because Backstrom is in the proverbial zone. He gets in front of a Cambell rocket and then quickly smothers the rebound before Roseau-product Dustin Byfuglien can jam in the rebound.
6:04 - Emotions are running a bit high as Backstrom stops a long shot from the point, and several Hawk players jostle to try and wreak havoc. That doesn't sit well with Schultz and Marek Zilicky who begin facewashing Ben Eager and Adam Burish. Burish is a former Wisconsin Badger, and I've never met a Badger that didn't deserve a facewash every now and again.
4:34 -- You don't see Koivu make this mistake often, if at all. But as he tries to lead a breakout, he makes an ill-advised pass across his own zone. It's picked off by Duncan Keith (sounds like a country singer), and blasted into Backstrom, who gets a piece of the shot, but not enough as it trickles over the goal line. What is it with these two-goal leads in the third period?
1:19 -- The Hawks are beginning to turn up the pressure, but Backstrom is holding firm at this point. Chicago calls timeout.
0:00 -- That's going to do it Wild fans! The defense holds firm and doesn't let Chicago get a sniff in the final minute. Glen Andresen finishes his 2008-2009 in-game commentary season a perfect 2-0-0!Oct. 27, 20086 p.m.
Back upstairs and ready for game action to begin. Unfortunately, we still have 30 minutes to wait just for warm-ups.
A little bit about how I spent my afternoon, besides the dry cleaning. I set up game notes for Wednesday in Dallas - we have a staff meeting at 9:30 tomorrow and the team flight is at 11:30. Aaron Sickman is on this 1 1/2 day trip and I'd like to be able to help Robert our intern get through game notes in a timely fashion tomorrow. With a home game Thursday and us leaving for a 10-day trip on Friday, I need some time to pack and get ready.
Notable out of the Dallas series is that the Wild has not won there in its last eight games. That's just one off the team's franchise record for winless streak in another city. Minnesota has gone winless in nine games at Calgary, Columbus and Colorado. I have a feeling Dallas won't join that group if for no other reason than it doesn't start with the letter "C." The Stars came into the season with some high expectations but currently sit 3-4-2 for eight points.
Ok I'm going to get some more things done. Glen will be back within an hour to take you home tonight.
I’m coming to you live from Al Shaver Press Box seat 51, my home for all 41 regular season games plus hopefully a long run into June. Some mailbag items are below, and then I’m headed downstairs for some tomato basil, sirloin and assorted desserts. Glen will take you through the game tonight and I’ll be back post-game.Q:
Saturday was my first NHL game. I drove from Omaha, Neb., to watch the Wild bring out another victory. It was a great win for the Wild. I can't wait for my next Wild game. I am a big fan of the Gophers assistant coach, Mike Hastings, who was the head coach of the Omaha Lancers last year. The only disappointment that I had is that I did not see Gaborik play but still a great game. Keep up the feeds.
A loyal fan from Nebraska.
Thanks for the e-mail Bryan. I erased my first response so here we go again. Glad you could make it up from Omaha for the game and of course always nice to see a win. Thanks for reading. I spent one of the coldest nights of my life in Omaha in the winter of 2006-07 while doing radio for the Houston Aeros.Q:
I’m wondering if any of the Wild players will be at the STH Halloween skate party tomorrow at the X? Will you be there? If so what’s your costume, so I make it a point to say Hi!
Hi Kimm, thanks for the note. The players will be in Dallas tomorrow evening preparing for Wednesday’s game against Dallas. And I’m not nearly a good enough skater to do it in front of everybody! I’ll be in Phoenix for actual Halloween, if anyone has any costume ideas for me, feel free to submit to email@example.com p.m.
Did you miss me, State of Hockey? I missed you but enjoyed one day of non blogging.
I’m back from the morning skate. No big news (there isn’t often huge news at a morning skate). Everyone was off the ice at the same time, so tough to know who the scratches are.
It’s an exciting day for me because one of the Blackhawks PR guys, Adam, is one of my best friends in the business from our days in the AHL. It’s his first NHL road trip so it’s kind of appropriate it is here. I got to show him around St. Paul last night.
Tonight is the first of eight nationally televised games on VERSUS for the Wild this season. That’s tied for the most in the NHL. At least VERSUS doesn’t read all the incorrect reports out there saying the Wild doesn’t play an “exciting” game! So we got to talk to Joe Beninati, Ed Olczyk and Lindsay Soto, who is the sideline reporter tonight and doing her first NHL game.
Locally in the Twin Cities, VERSUS can be viewed on Channel 68 (Comcast), Channel 603 (DIRECTV) and Channel 151 (DISH Network). Tonight's game will also be broadcast in High Definition where available.
Since tonight’s game is exclusively on VERSUS, there is only one broadcast crew. Although Wild TV play-by-play man Dan Terhaar came to see what was going on. For the VERSUS broadcast, there are some additional needs. Such as they’ll have a camera in the locker room for 60 seconds (the most allowed by the NHL) prior to the team going out for warm-ups. They’ll also do an interview with a Wild player at the 10-minute mark of the first period (well, at the media timeout). They have requested Andrew Brunette, but this interview is the hardest of all to pull off. Bruno could be in the penalty box, for instance. And since it’s the first period, Bruno will be at the opposite end of the bench. So we have a back-up of Brent Burns, who will at least be close to the opening in the bench where Lindsay will do the interview.
Breaking news (press meal) from the desk of our own Deb Hanson:
Tomato Basil Soup
½ Roasted Chicken
Roasted Sirloin of Beef
Oven Browned Potatoes
I’ve got a couple of e-mails I’ll get to later this afternoon and before the game, but for now I’ve got some dry cleaning to pick up so I can look my best tonight in case those High Def cameras catch a glimpse of me! And you’ll be getting another special treat during tonight’s game, as Glen Andresen will be again guest live-blogging during the game. I got to watch so much of Saturday’s game, it was really nice!