Wild Downed in San Jose

I caught only the first 2 periods of last night’s Wild game in San Jose. And those 2 periods were pretty good. Good up and down hockey that was pretty physical too. When I went to bed, the Wild were down 3-2. Thankfully I missed the worst of it. The Sharks scored 2 more goals in the 3rd and went on to a 5-2 win.

Wait, I did see a terrible clearing attempt on the PP by Kim Johnsson, so maybe I did see the worst of it.

Obviously I can’t say much about how it went down, but I can’t help but wonder about our goaltending situation. Niklas Backstrom has been injured and sick and that gave Josh Harding get 2 starts in a row. I was happy to see him get this opportunity, and overall I think he played really well. But he’s clearly been hurting as well. Russo is reporting that the Wild will reassign Wade Dubielewicz back to Houston, so they must feel they’re both good to go. We’ll see. It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Oh joy, Tuesday’s game @ Dallas is on Versus. DirecTV makes me follow these games on Twitter so look to Big D on Ice for a comprehensive recap.

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Shocker in San Jose!

Wild @ Sharks – Thurs Mar 5 – View from the Couch
I sure didn’t see that coming. Tonite the Wild were dominated for almost two periods v. San Jose. Down 3-0, the Wild get goals from F Mikko Koivu (or D Marc-Andre Bergeron) and F Pierre-Marc Bouchard late in the 2nd and a backhanded dump in from center ice by D Marek Zidlicky that bounced through Sharks G Brian Boucher to get to overtime. A point is nice, but two are better, and F Mikko Koivu knocked in a stray puck off a rush by D Brent Burns with only 13 seconds left in the OT, and the Wild break their 4-game losing streak in dramatic fashion, the final 4-3.

Love the Cele
How great was Mikko’s reaction after the game winner? Jumping up and down like he just won the cup, you could tell an anvil-sized weight was just lifted off him and this team. After the game on FS North he talked about the spirit of the team, mentioning that Owen Nolan was on the bench, and I quote, “puking,” and still playing, and that was a great sign for the team.

Mikko strapping the team to his back Kirby Puckett style is great to see. “We’ll see you tomorrow night!”

Jots

  • I can not overemphasize the emotional swing of this game. Just from my own standpoint, I went from fast-forwarding through another snoozefest and getting all crabby about dropping further into the playoff black hole, to watching intently and jumping up when Mikko scored the winner. Now it’s “Ain’t no stoppin’ us now!”
  • PMB needs to keep scoring. His goal tonight was nice – a little head bob before firing a wrister. He is a guy that is disappointing big time this season, but turn it on now and who cares Butch!
  • Thank you to SJ for not playing G Evgeni Nabokov tonight. I have to believe that Nabokov does not let this game get to OT.
  • Wild D Kurtis Foster, who broke his fibula just under a year ago at HP Pavilion v. SJ on a touch-up icing play and is ready to make his season debut after surgery and rehab, had the option to play tonight. He chose to wait, no doubt the ghosts of what happened a year ago entering his mind.
  • Closed-Circuit to Wild GM Doug Reisbrough, you’re right, we didn’t need Olli Jokinen. He only scored 2 goals in his debut tonight for Calgary v. Philly. And while we truly didn’t need D Jordan Leopold, he also scored a goal. This is what happens when you make trades DR…

The Fight to…Make the Playoffs
Lady Luck smiled on the Wild tonight. Dallas led LA 3-0 as well, and LA closed the gap and got a fluky goal as well to tie it, this one with 15 seconds left. They eventually get the W in OT, so the Wild remain in 11th place but only one point out of that last playoff spot. Don’t write off this season just yet.

Next
Wild go to Los Angeles to take on the Kings Saturday afternoon (3 PM CST). They CAN NOT waste this spirited effort by losing to the Kings. CAN NOT!

New Year's Hockey Summary

Lots of fun hockey stuff to talk about from the New Year’s holiday. Let’s break it down, game summary-style.

1st Period – New Year’s Eve – Sharks @ Wild
I wasn’t able to watch this game. Not that I made an effort. We went to a friend’s house for the NYE so I was busy with various pre-party preparations. I did tune in Bob Kurtz a couple times in the car tho. While on our way to the party the Wild were up 2-1 and holding on for dear life. I have to give mad props to the crowd at the X Wednesday nite. With the Wizzy in free fall, sitting in last place in the Northwest division, the crowd came across super loud over the WCCO airwaves. I know a couple people that were there, so I give a shout out to them.

Unfortunately the Sharks tied the game with around 29 seconds left, but Brent Burns won the game for the Wild in OT. Great win over the Sharks who are virtually unbeatable this season. Could this game can be the harbinger for turning the season around? Goodness let’s hope so.

2nd Period – New Year’s Day – USA v. Canada
This 3rd game for each country in the World Junior Championships was actually played New Year’s Eve, but due to the party I watched it early New Year’s Day, with Baby Girl. If you had a chance to catch any of this game, what an atmosphere. This year’s WJC is being played in Ottawa, so naturally it is a very Canadian crowd. The fans were passing a huge Canadian flag all around the concourse, they were loud, and it was a fun game to watch. USA jumped out to a surprising 3-0 lead, but by the end of the 1st period it was tied. Ultimately Canada won the game 7-4, but they scored 2 empty net goals. The final score makes sense because earlier in the tournament Canada beat Kazakhstan 15-0, while the US was 3 goals off, beating the Kazakhstanis 12-0. Canada is the more-talented team, but if they meet again, USA could have a chance for an upset.

The US takes on Slovakia in the quarterfinals Friday at 2:30 CST. You can catch the game on the NHL Network.

3rd Period – New Year’s Day – NHL Winter Classic
This one was the main event of the holiday. The most hype as well as my most-anticipated. Add on fry bread and uff-da tacos and it was a great event in our house. Most of you know this, but this year’s Winter Classic was played in Chicago at Wrigley Field. The Detroit Red Wings beat the Blackhawks 6-4. For me the result wasn’t too big a deal; it was about the spectacle of a hockey game in a baseball stadium…in historic Wrigley Field. The aerial views were excellent. The fans were into it and loud, starting with the National Anthem. And it was a good game to boot.

However, I do have to say that the uniqueness of this event was lost on me a little bit. This was the 3rd outdoor game the NHL has put on, and this one was too soon. I know it is all about marketing the NHL and capitalizing on momentum, but I hope they take a year or two off before the next one. It will undoubtedly be in the Twin Cites eventually, but I hope it doesn’t happen for a while, so the event still seems like an event.

Overtime – Marian Gaborik
After the hockey New Year’s had wound down, a story appeared in my RSS reader from Michael Russo. No biggie I thought, because he is quite the blogger to go along with his Strib writing for the paper. But as I read on, it was not good news at all. It appears the Wild and Marian Gaborik are contemplating the possibility of surgery to repair a “deficiency” in his hip, which has been causing his groin problems this year. This surgery would likely be season ending. Now, this is not bad news because Gabby is a important cog on this team. Unfortunately that’s not his status anymore. But it is bad news because this team that can not score is losing the one guy that is dynamic enough to score, and now he is not tradable. We are looking at seeing the most talented player in Wild history leave the team at the end of the year and getting nothing in return. Quite the disastrous turn of events.

The Wild are back in action Saturday v. Detroit. Could be ugly for the Wizzy, but maybe this is the point in the season where it turns around.

Hey…New Years is a time for optimism afterall.

The Trend Continues

Wild @ Sharks – Tues 11-4 – View from the Couch and Ba Ba Cleaning Land
Quite the nite tonite. I’m tired. Barack Obama is the President Elect. That’s a big deal. The Wild lost again to one of those “good teams.” That’s getting to be standard.

The Wild again were unable to beat one of the upper-echelon teams tonite in a 3-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks. Even tho they kept the score tied at 1 going into the 3rd period, it was the classic Wild feeling of “we ain’t got no offense.” The Wild were blown away in shots tonite, 49-24. I think I noticed about 3 of those Wild shots as offensive pressure was short-lived for the Wizzy. The lone Wild goal came in the 1st period when just-called-up Wild F Krystofer Kolanos knocked home a rebound that came off Sharks G Evgeni Nabokov.

There are a few things that are really hurting the Wild right now…

  • No Marian Gaborik
  • Injuries – Gabby, Nolan, Burns, etc.
  • Young players called up to replace the injured players

Still no official word on the MN Senate seat between Al Franken and Norm Coleman. I’m sick of Passolt and Robinson babbling on the Number 9 and I’ve got an early meeting tomorrow AM that I need to be coherent for, so that’s I’ve got for tonite. Wild are back in action Thurs v. Colorado, our 1st action v. the Northwest Division this season.

Hoping and praying our country has inspired and stalwart leadership in the next 4 years…

Round 2 Update…

It’s been a while since I last posted…so here’s a recap of where the playoffs are at. Philadelphia has ousted Montreal. Detroit obliterated Colorado (typical). Pittsburgh is about to finish off New York Rangers, and San Jose has won the last 2 to make a series v. Dallas.

I can’t say I’ve watched too much of the playoffs since the Wild lost, but I have picked up enough of Stars v. San Jose to know that that series could easily be San Jose up 3-2 or even already over in SJ’s favor, or already over with Dallas winning. The games have been tight. Dallas has won 2 OT games, SJ has won 1. It has been the most competitive, which is why it was odd that Dallas was up 3-0. Dallas has another chance tonite to close this series out, but SJ has a bunch of momentum. Stars fans have to hope they haven’t used up all their great play over the first month of the playoffs…

Pittsburgh also has a chance to close out the Rangers this afternoon, in Pittsburgh, on NBC. (What? the Pens and the Rangers are on NBC? That’s so different!) I think this one is over today.

Philly is back in the Eastern Conference Finals, a year after accumulating only 22 wins in the entire season. Very impressive. Hey Wild!

Lastly, Detroit absolutely manhandled Colorado, sweeping a series that culminated in a 8-2 drubbing in Colorado. All-world against the Wild, Jose Theodore came back to earth, yanked 3 times in this series. In fairness, the Avs were hit with a bunch of injuries. Wild fans can sympathize there, but I’m not sure if I’m happy because Colorado was handled so easily, or more disappointed because it shows the Wild played down to their competition and simply lost to a team that they were better than.

The Conference Finals are setting up to be pretty exciting. We’re getting down it!

Conference Semifinals Predictions

Well, it’s been almost a week since everyone’s favorite non-goal-scoring, defenseman-challenged hockey team was elimiated from the chase for the Cup. It’s still difficult for me to detatch enough to post, but I’ll start back slowly.

1st Round Surprises

  • Wild lose – I truly expected them to get past the 1st round.
  • Dallas beat Anaheim – I didn’t think the Stars had it in them.
  • Jeremy Roenick was a factor – He had 2 goals and 2 assists in game 7 v. Calgary
  • Boston took Montreal to 7 games.

1st Round As Planned

  • New Jersey had nothin v. the Rangers.
  • Washington was vulnerable as the 3rd seed in the east. Similar to the Wizzy.

Western Conference 2nd Round
#1 Detroit v. #6 Colorado
This is the big rivalry series from the late ’90s and early ’00s. Will it be as physical? Doubt it. Colorado proved they don’t have to be physical to compete. I think this is where it ends for the Avs tho. Detroit should pull this one out.

#2 San Jose v. #5 Dallas
2nd matchup of the playoffs for Dallas against their division. This will be a great series. Mike Modano v. Jeremy Roenick. Evgeni Nabokov v. Marty Turco. I told people from the area I’d be pulling for Dallas, so that’s my call.

Eastern Conference 2nd Round
#1 Montreal v. #6 Philadelphia
Montreal surprisingly took 7 games to get by Boston, but I think they’re a better team than Philly.

#2 Pittsburgh v. #3 NY Rangers
This should be another great series. I don’t trust the Rangers, but alot of people pick them to get to the Cup final. I’m going with the Pens.

Ode to a Dead Wild Season
Eh, maybe in a few days…

Solid Point

Wild @ Sharks – 3-19-08 – View from the Home Office
Missed the 1st period tonite. Well, most of it. Tuned in just in time to see the Wild give up a 3 on 1 goal that was eventually put in by Jeremy Roenick. I hate when old mouth runners score against us. Luckily the Wild’s new #1 player Stephane Veilliux tied the game shortly into the 2nd, and all is well.

Watching the game while I officially do our taxes for the year. Last 2 years since we bought the house we’ve gone to H&R Block but this year after thinking about paying them $200 I decided to try and do it online. So this might turn into sort of a pseudo live blog. I’ll type write as I see something eventful.

Oh bugger, SJ just scored. Backstrom should have stopped that one. Just a backhander that got by his glove top-shelf.

Kurtis Foster just slammed into the wall hard. Homer Terhar talking about it being an ugly cheap shot, and at 1st I dismissed it as normal Terhar, but as I watch the replay it looks like Torrey Mitchell gave him a push into the boards. His knee went 1st into the boards. I wouldn’t call it a cheap shot, but it looks like Foster is hurt pretty bad. He’s being carried off in a stretcher and screaming in pain when they move him. Looks like a leg or knee. Mitchell gets a tripping penalty. Interesting and classy that Jeremy Roenick is helping the group get him on the stretcher. Picture all trainers, Wild players, and Roenick watching the process of getting him off the ice. JR is a classy old mouth runner.

Wild have had a few chances. I missed a 2 on 1 and a breakaway in the 1st, and we just had a nice odd man rush with Rolston missing the net late in the 2nd.

Marian Gaborik gets a PP goal early in the 3rd to tie it at 2. He’s got a couple goals in the last few games so it looks like he’s starting to score again, and should get to 40 goals by the end of the year. That bodes well for our playoff chances.

Aaah, that bites. Just 2 minutes from gaining a big point in the standings, Joe Pavelski turns and fires a quick shot point blank and it deflects somewhere and over Backstrom. It was either off Johnsson or Backstrom’s stick.

Wild put on some good pressure in the last 2 minutes and get a 40-second power play. And with 28 seconds left, Gabby connects on a one-timer from the slot to tie it up, with Todd Fedoruk screening SJ G Nabokov quite well. Déjà vu of a week ago at the X and we go to OT.

Wild have had 2 great chances to win the game in the OT. A Rolston slapper that he broke his stick on, and a 2 on 1 for Mikko Koivu and Kim Johnsson. Didn’t turn out tho. Then Patrick Marleau had a great opportunity in alone on Backstrom but he missed the net. We go to shootout. I’m assuming a Sharks win given the Wild’s shootout prowess.

True to form, Backstrom looked pretty bad in the shootout giving up goals to Pavelski and Roenick. Brent Burns scored a nice goal that he got to trickle through the five-hole because he fired it so hard. Gabby was stopped after a nice attempt. He got full speed through center ice and put on a deke, but Nabokov got the right pad out and then stopped Koivu to seal the xtra point.

All-in-all, nice work getting the point against a good team in the Shark Tank. This game was almost identical to last Sunday’s game at the X. And SJ keeps on keepin on.

A final parting shot – did Mark Parrish play tonite?

Fight to Hang the 1st Banner
All other Northwest teams were off tonite. The Wild go to 3 points up on Vancouver, Calgary, and Colorado in the NW, and 7 points up of Nashville for that last playoff spot. 8 games left for the Wild and Colorado, 9 for Vancouver and Calgary. They’ll catch up in games played tomorrow. It’s NW division games from here on out. Buckle up!

Next on the Docket – Wild @ Vancouver – Fri 3-21-08
Crunch time begins now. I like the Wizzy. We’ve played well against the Canuck this year. Mikko Koivu gets real pumped to play against them, and Willie Mitchell likes to talk. If they stay true to the not too up not to down mentality, they can win this game. Wild 4 Canucks 2