What's the haps State of Hockey legion? Don't look at me that way. "What's the haps" is the new "wassup" and I'll expect you to respond accordingly. Sorry, I don't mean to be harsh. It's just that I am in Tampa, where not only do they take all of our former players - Steph Veilleux, Bananaz Foster, Warrior Walz and Fridge Fedoruk - but they also "borrow" our traditions, such as the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration. That's ours, Florida! Unless you are willing to give us some year round heat or a good college football team, you keep your sweaty mitts off!
I am coming to you live from the Tom McEwen Press Box in the St. Petersburg Times Forum, where I'm watching the smokin' hot Minnesota Wild get the blood flowing in preparation for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Quick fact #1: there is no city in Florida called "Tampa Bay." Quick fact #2: Tampa, Florida has a "twin" city known as St. Petersburg. I really wish they would stop stealing our ideas.
Just for their insolence, I am going to sic Nik on them. Nik Backstrom that is. Oh yes, Tampa and St. Petersburg, your day of reckoning has come in the form of our All-Star goaltender who is currently turning pucks away in warmups with disdain. Sorry Florida, but you brought this on yourself.
Luckily for these slow-driving Floridians, I will spare them the prospect of having to face both Derek Boogaard and John Scott on a line that I would dub the "Hey You, Let's Boogey" line. Scott will be sitting up here with me in the press box, but The Boogeyman will indeed be out there. Of course, Petr Sykora and Pierre-Marc Bouchard
aren't here because of concussions. I suppose now all the Lightning folks will go out and get concussions now.
Finally, as far as attire goes, the Wild will don the white road sweaters. The Lightning are going with the Wild third jerseys (sorry, that's a joke that was already used in today's game preview). The are actually going to wear the home blacks trimmed in blue and white with the electric charge on the chest.
Of course, the Lightning have an "honorary team member" who is out there with the dance team and waving a Lightning flag. I'm sure they'd like to have someone skate it out there, but they'd run out of people to do it after about five games. Ouch! What has gotten into me tonight? Let's get this game going before somebody hurts me. Take it away Tampa, "LET'S PLAY HOCKAAAAAY!"Period 1
18:06 - Backstrom comes up big on a flurry in front of his net. Jeff Halpern is alone with the puck and he throws it into the crease and deflects it off a skate. Backstrom is leaning the other way, but he gets his right leg pillow down to make a save.
16:55 - After Backstrom makes an easy save, Kim Johnsson and Zenon Konopka meet at the Wild crease. Konopka gives Johnny a cross check in the chest and Kim just smiles back at him. As he's skating toward his bench, Konopka gets an ear full from Owen "Cowboy" Nolan who is coming onto the ice. Love the intensity!
15:34 - The Lightning gets another chance off a rebound as former Vermont Catamount Martin St. Louis gets to the loose puck in the left circle and blasts a shot right off the post. The hundreds of people in St. Pete Times Forum are exasperated.
11:23 - A little Miley Cyrus aka Hannah Montana to get this place hoppin'. Yeah, Yeah, Yeeaa-yah! I'ts a party in the U-S-A!
9:31 - Chuck Kobasew has a full head of steam going after a loose puck in front of the Bolts bench, but former Fighting Sioux David Hale catches him in mid stride and belts him against the turnbuckle.3:07 - MIN 1 - TB 0 - Oh My! James Sheppard's first point of the season is a highlight reel gem. Shep carries the puck down the Tampa slot and makes a ridiculous move to split the Tampa D tandem of stud rookie Victor Hedman and Mikko Koivu nemesis Mattias Ohlund. He then slides a pass over to a wide open Benoit Pouliot, who buries his second of the year into an empty net. That's a connection I wouldn't mind seeing duplicated many more times.
0:00 - The horn sounds to end the first period. We'll take it. Energy drinks at intermission always taste better with a lead.Period 2
16:56 - I'm pretty sure Ohlund just saw his life flash before his eyes as he collides with Derek Boogaard. I wonder if the image of him viciously slashing Koivu in the back of the leg was included in his thought process? Boogey hits him hard, but not as hard as he could.16:13 - MIN 2 - TB 0 - The Wild brought their playmaking hats to this one. On a power play, Andrew Brunette gets the puck in his office behind the Tampa net. He sees Johnsson pinching in low and hits him with a pass. From a shallow angle, Johnny looks like a 50-goal scorer has he deposits it directly over Antero Nittymaki's shoulder into the top shelf. That's a water bottle shot folks, and chicks dig water bottle shots.
13:01 - Marek Zidlicky looks to poke check the puck away and it pops right up his stick and into his face. He immediately brings his glove to his face, but it looks like he'll be fine.
13:01 - Wardrobe malfunction! During a fan dance contest, one guy who looks like he enjoys a good meal is wearing a shirt that is a little too short, and jeans with a waist that is a little too low. When he tries to "get low" like the Ying Yang twins, he exposes something we often see plumbers show off. Needless to say, the crowd is screaming in delight, and he'll win the dance contest going away.11:16 - MIN 2 - TB 1 - Tampa cuts the lead in half on a scary play. Sherriff Shane Hnidy looks to get his feet caught in the ice behind the Wild net, and he goes down. Ryan Malone has the puck behind the net, and without Hnidy there to defend, he fires a pass out front and Steven Stamkos buries it for yet another shortie against the Wild. Doc Fuller comes out to check on Hnidy, but #34 gets up and skates to the bench without assistance.
8:25 - MIN 3 - TB 1 - Seriously! Wild players are looking like the Harlem Globetrotters of hockey right now. Owen Nolan, gets a full head of steam out of his own zone, and skates in one-on-one with Hale defending. Nolan flips the puck in the air to the slot, then dances around Hale. Just as Hale checks him to the ground, Nolan gets a shot off and sneaks it inside the post. Is it possible that the three prettiest goals of the Wild season have come in this game? The answer is yes, it is very possible.
5:00 - The Bolts are getting a little frustrated. On a delayed penalty to Veilleux, Konopka tries to goad Boogey into a fight. While the big man knows he could rearrange Konopka's mug, he shows restraint and offers him nothing but a little sweaty palm to the face.
4:51 - Koivu very nearly makes this a three goal game with a one-timer from the left circle, but Nittymaki gets a toe on the shot about an inch from the goal line.
2:12 - Come on Toronto! A shot from the left circle by Kyle Brodziak
is deflected by Nittymaki off the back of the glass. The puck bounces off the glass and back over the net where Kobasew is crashing the goal. It bounces off him and into the goal. The ref immediately waves it off, saying Kobasew knocked it in with his hand. The replays seem to show otherwise, but they go to the video replay booth in Toronto, and come back with a negative.
1:15 - Boogey's goal is going to happen. It just has to. As Pouliot leads a two-on-one, he hits a cruising Boogaard with a pass. Boogey lets a wrister go, but he puts it just wide. I'm going to lose my mind when he finally lights the lamp.Period 3
15:17 - Halpern takes a puck off the face and draws a whistle. He looks to be okay, but it's unfortunate for the Wild, because they are in the process of setting up the power play and have puck possession when the tweet sounds.
13:42 - Seen Stamkos? He's on the ice. The number one pick in last year's draft gets absolutely flattened in the Wild corner by none other than The Boogeyman. A Lightning fan sitting up near the press box responds with a litany of swear words. You stay classy, Tampa.10:43 - MIN 3 - TB 2 - Brodziak is going to wish he could have a do-over here. Brodzy leads a three-on-one into the Lightning zone, but as he looks to make a pass, he forgets the puck. The Lightning race back on a three-on-one of their own. Steve Downie fires a shot that Backstrom knocks down with his glove, but the puck bounces around and comes right back to Downie, and he chips in the rebound. Brodziak is visibly upset with himself. Hey, it happens.
8:51 - The cameras might not have caught this, and the refs sure didn't, but Koivu looks like he remembers Ohlund's slash from a couple years back. Away from the play, and while killing a power play, Koivu skates backwards right in front of Ohlund, and gives him a quick shot to the face. Mess with the bull Mattias, and you get the horns.
7:34 - After a big save by Backstrom, several players come together. Downie and Nolan are going at it the most, and they end up rolling around on the ice. They're both going to get the gate for roughing.
2:52 - The Wild is doing a great job of controlling the puck in the late stages of this one, pinning the Lightning in their own zone. Havlat sends a pretty cross rink saucer to Eric Belanger, who lets a wicked wrist shot go and Nittymaki snatches it out of the air with a gorgeous glove save.
1:18 - It will be another interesting finish as Zidlicky gets called for hooking, and this his a horrendous call by the officials. I don't think Zidlicky even makes contact with a Bolt player here.0:14.7 - MIN 3 - TB 3 - Ish. The Wild looked to have this thing won, executing a great penalty kill, but the puck comes to Stamkos behind the net, and he feeds Malone in front. The former St. Cloud State Husky puts the puck on his backhand and flips it into the top shelf. Dozens of people are screaming their heads off in here.
0:00 - So we're going to play a little extra hockey. I have no problem with an overtime victory. The three before tonight certainly were fun.Overtime
3;08 - Thank you, Burnsie. With Stamkos leading a two-on-one with Vinny Lecavalier on his left, he lifts a pass over Nick Schultz' stick, but a hustling Burns is backchecking and he dives headfirst to get his stick in the way of the pass, and he then barrels into the net, knocking it off its pegs.
1:24 - Antti Miettinen uncorks a slapper that has promise, but Nittymaki throws his blocker up there and knocks it into the protective netting.
0:00 - Bring on the shootout! The boys haven't lost one of these yet this season.Shootout
Tonight's shootout is brought to us by Shoot Straight, a local gun shop and shooting range near here. I'm not making that up.
The Wild will go first, and Koivu will lead us off. He tries to fire one upstairs, but Nittymaki stops it with the glove hand.It's Lecavalier's turn, and he fires one between the legs of Backstrom.
Havlat will try to tie it up, but his shot misfires wide.Stamkos can end it here...and he does, by pulling a deke move and tucking it past Backstrom. The Wild gets a point, but it would have liked one more.