Good evening all you hosers in the State of Hockey legion, and a Happy National Boss Day to all of you back home in the United States of America. To all you bosses, here's hoping that when you awoke this morning in your PJ's and raced to your desk to see what your employees left under it, you received a bounty of goodies. We all know that if anyone needs more verification that they are beloved by all, it's bosses. To all of my bosses at the Minnesota Wild, I'd just like to say I'm proud of you, and if I were in town, I'd be showering you with gifts and affection.
Alas, I am not at home, so tonight's live in-game commentary will have to do, and we'll just have to double up the celebration next year. Let me tell you where I am at, y'all. I'm sitting in a small booth in what is supposed to be a press box at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Their river is green here! I'll admit to being a little queasy because the press box here seems to be suspended in mid air, being held by some wires and bicycle locks. My only consolation is knowing that the Minnesota Wild is going to shut out the Edmonton Oilers tonight, and the lack of crowd noise will keep this precarious seat of mine stable I would imagine.
You might ask how I'm so confident that not only will the Wild win tonight, but that they will shut the Oilers out! The simple answer is that's just what my gut tells me, and my gut is seldom wrong, unless I've eaten curry. The more complex answer is that Josh Harding
is getting the start in goal tonight, and Hards is going to turn in a beaut tonight. I can tell just by watching him deflect the rubber away in pregame warmups. Plus, it's too late for the Oilers to print this live in-game commentary and put it on their bulletin board.
I stand by my prediction even as I remember that we don't have a lot of healthy bodies right now. Martin Havlat will not be playing tonight with a groin injury. Same goes for Petr Sykora. Pierre-Marc Bouchard
has officially been diagnosed with a concussion, and Cal Clutterbuck
officially has a high-ankle sprain. Those two are both back in Minnesota and I'm positive they are following tonight's action right here on live in-game commentary. Get well soon, guys! John Scott will be watching tonight, but if he feels the same about heights as I do, he'll watch from the locker room. His absence means that Jaime (not Jamie) Sifers will make his Wild debut tonight, and he'll do it on the wing.
Couple other news items that I want to share with you because I know you thirst for knowledge. The Wild has loaned The Danish Sensation, Morten Madsen to MoDo of the Swedish Elite League. Being of Swedish descent, I wish him the best. I know my people there will take good care of him. Also, the wait for a Wild captain will be ending soon. GM Chuck Fletcher and Head Coach Todd Richards will be naming their on-ice leader after practice this Tuesday. I know who it is, but I just can't spoil the surprise.
Finally, let's talk fashion. The Wild will be sporting the road whites for the fourth straight game. The Oilers are wearing the old school home blues trimmed in orange and white with the oil drip on the chest. I don't think Tim Gunn would approve of the orange and blue, but on the Oilers, it looks pretty darn good.
One of my favorite features at Rexall Place is the oil rig that is lowered to the ice for the Oilers to skate through when they come onto the ice. I will try to get a photo of it uploaded during the first intermission.
Both anthems are done. The players are ready. Let's get this road win, eh?Period 1
17:20 - Shatuck St. Mary's product Taylor Chorney is getting some power play time in his season debut with the Oil. His presence doesn't help much. Minnesota holds Edmonton to zero shots on its first power play.
13:23 - You know you're in Canada when the Ice Girls are as good of skaters as the players on the ice.
9:15 - There's not much going on to this point (shots are 4-3 in favor of Edmonton), but that might not last long. Prior to a faceoff, Derek Boogaard and Zack Stortini are engaged in a lengthy conversation. They may be setting an appointment. Boogey is not beloved in these parts, and especially not by former Oilers coach, Craig MacTavish.
5:56 - Melee! Melee! Right after Sherriff Shane Hnidy absolutely crunches an Oiler (I couldn't see the name and there isn't a TV nearby) in front of the Wild bench, and two other Oilers jump him. That brings everybody into the pile, including Boogey and Nathan Smith. Everyone pairs off, but no punchs are thrown. Hnidy is going to get the gate for boarding.
4:42 - On an Edmonton power play, former Wild prospect Patrick O'Sullivan gets the puck along the left side and makes a pretty move to his backhand. From an impossible angle, he lifts one upstairs, but puts it off the crossbar. I wouldn't mind seeing that kid on Team USA at the Olympics in February.
1:45 - Gotta love the nets here in Canada. Harding gets help from his iron for the second time tonight. Gilbert Brule streaks into the zone and deflects a centering pass right past Backstrom and off the pipe. Brule, and the crowd, started celebrating.
0:00 - The horn sounds to end the first. The boys in white will retreat to the locker room to discuss the first, and look forward to the second. One thing they won't spend much time on is the penalty kill. Minnesota kills off two power plays and doesn't give up a shot on goal.Period 218:11 - The Oilers strike first as the Wild's top line is on the ice way too long and can't get off for a change. The Oilers work the puck around long enough to let Mike Comrie get loose in the slot. He takes a nice feed from Robert Nilsson and then roofs a shot from in tight, over the glove of Harding. My shutout prediction is kaput, but my faith is not.
15:03 - As has often been the case this season, the Wild is coming on strong after giving up a goal. The white jerseys are buzzing around Nikolai Khabibulin and wreaking havoc. It's not enough here as Marek Zidlicky takes a nice drop feed from Andy Hilbert and sends a low shot just asking to be tipped in. It misses everybody and Khabibulin is able to make the stop.
11:17 - Harding shows off his lobster mitt by snaring a high wrist shot by Dustin Penner, the former Maine Black Bear.
9:26 - Benny Pouliot is having his best game thus far this season. He has a great chance here as he cuts to the net from a shallow angle and tries to stuff a backhand past Khabby, but the Oilers keeper is up to the task.8:15 - Crud. Just seconds after O'Sullivan is nearly decapitated by Boogaard at the Wild bench as he gets checked into the open door, he sets up an Oiler goal. O'Sullivan skates right down the ice, and gets the puck behind the Wild net. While fighting off a check, he skips a no-look pass in front to Penner, who buries it for a 2-0 Edmonton lead. Please don't tell me we're headed to another three-goal deficit.
3:19 - There it is, Benny! The effort has been there all night, and now the result is there for Mr. Pouliot. Camped in front of Khabibulin, Pouliot deflects a shot from the sideboards from Belanger. Khabibulin makes the initial stop, but Pouliot stays with it and punches the rebound in for his first of the season. This is as refreshing as a Coca-Cola on a hot summer day. The lead is cut to 2-1, and the crowd is silent right now.
0:43.0 - This is a killer. Harding can't hang onto a shot from the left circle that hits him in the breadbasket. The puck drops down, and as he tries to cover up, his own defensemen get in the way while trying to clear. That just gets everybody discombobulated and Ryan Stone pops it in for his first career NHL goal. Hards would like to have that one back, I would assume.Period 3
17:13 - Fear not Wild fans. Things aren't going as planned right now, but you can take solace in knowing that the UMD Bulldogs scored a 5-2 win over the Minnesota State, Mankato Mavericks. 16:25 - I'll give you one guess as to which Wild player just used his posterior in front of the Edmonton net, to fight off a check and chip in a no-look backhander, and I'll give you a hint: "Hi, I'm Bruno!" Give up? It's Andrew Brunette, who lights the lamp on the power play in the manner that I just described. I don't know if Brunette even likes to score unless he has someone jamming him in his back with a crosscheck. It's now 3-2 bad guys.
13:24 - Greg Zanon makes a bid to get this thing squared up. He fires in a slap shot that is deflected by Pouliot, but Khabibulin sticks with it and holds on for the faceoff.
9:20 - The boys are trying to get that deflection for the equalizer, but Khabibulin won't cooperate. He again is able to stay with a Zidlicky shot that is redirected by Owen "Cowboy" Nolan. Give it up, Nik. You know you want to.8:02 - Story of the night: the Wild dominates and then the Oilers come down the rink and score. Edmonton now has 15 shots on goal and four tallies. Comrie skates into the right circle and puts a perfect backdoor pass to Penner at the goal crease and he easily puts it in to give Edmonton its third two-goal cushion.
6:11 - I think I'm out of the business of predicting shutouts. The Oilers tack on another as Brule pounces on another juicy rebound and puts the lead at 5-2. Tough night for Harding, but he's going to bounce back. That's my latest prediction.
0:00 - The road woes continue. We've got one more chance tomorrow night to salvage some points out of this road swing. It sure would be nice to get them from the hated Canucks tomorrow night.