Monday, December 31, 2007

Wild v. Sharks (12-31-07) - A View from Section 216

I was in section 216 with a festive crowd tonight looking for a sweet Wild victory. Alas, Team 3rd Period could not get it done. After playing two periods of unsuccessful dump and chase hockey and getting down 2-0, the Wild once again rallied to tie the game in the 3rd period. Unfortunately, Martin Skoula was on the ice immediately following Mark Parrish's pretty tying goal. Johnathan Cheechoo picked up a turnover that dribbled through Skoula's skates and deked Backstrom to score the game winner, ten seconds after the Wild had tied it. Buzz-kill in play.

Dumpy Chase
The dump and chase game wasn't too effective tonight. I understand the strategy. The Wild needed to keep this one low scoring to win. They couldn't get to the dump and didn't get any sustained pressure in the offensive zone. The Wild's first shot came at the 8:30 mark of the first period, and they were heavily outshot throught the first two periods.

Another Great 3rd Period
In the third, after the Xcel Energy Center production team ran out of motivational movie clips, the Wild finally turned up the pressure and got some good chances. Dominic Moore scored his 1st goal of the year on a nice crashing play, and Gabby set up Parrish to tie the score. Pandemonium set in, but then came the fateful play to send the Wild faithful home (or to the St. Paul bars) feeling a bit empty.

Next on the Docket - Wild v. Dallas Stars @ Xcel Energy Center
Another revenge game as the Wild put up a horrible 3rd period and were beaten 8-3 in Dallas on Boxing Day. I'll be in section 216 again for this game, and I think the Wild will play much better. They're going to have to start beating good teams sooner or later. Wild 4 Stars 1
Oh, and Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hockey Programming Note

Just a friendly reminder that Monday's Wild game v. San Jose is one of the 10 games scheduled for high-definition broadcast on FSN-HD. So, if you have access, make sure you watch the HD broadcast.

Also, take a break from watching the bowls on New Years Day to watch the NHL Winter Classic on NBC at 12PM CST. The Penguins are playing the Sabres outdoors at Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium, where the NFL's Buffalo Bills play. The NHL did this a few years ago in Edmonton and it was really a cool event. It also kicks off NBC's NHL coverage for the year, which I am excited for. They do a great job covering the game, and they're all in HD.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Wild v. Oilers (12-29-07) - A View from My Couch

Whoa nelly, where to start? Guess I'll start with the prediction I made that tonight's game would be a grinding defensive game. So much for my Nostradamus-ness. The Wild came back from a 4-1 deficit to win tonight, 5-4 in OT.

I really enjoy games against Edmonton. Coach McTavish is always crabby about something, and Dwayne Roloson is always crying about something. Makes for great drama. Tonight's game had plenty of drama.

Let's start with Edmonton's goals. They were pretty weak. The Wild gave up a shorthanded goal early, Burnsie and Skoula combined for a weak defensive effort letting a pass get through for a goal, Parrish was called for a phantom penalty that led to a goal, and Backstrom misplayed a puck behind the net to set up a gimmie. I was tempted to channel-surf, but I didn't. Glad I didn't.

After the Oil's 4th goal, the Wild really poured it on. Some of the most spirited play I've seen from this team, very similar to the comeback a couple weeks ago v. Nashville. They were diving to keep pucks in the zone and really swarming around the puck and crashing the net. Backstrom also got stronger in net. It was fun to watch.

Johnnson continued his recent desire to be part of the offense with his 2nd goal of the year. The rest of the goals were hard working, crash the net goals. Rolston, Gabby with a nice feed from Parrish, and Burns to tie it, then Nummelin in OT on the PP. The Nummelin goal was completely set up by PMB's stickhandling and a beauty quick feed to Nummelin. Unfortunately, Terhar ruined the moment on the broadcast by saying "Hello-o-o Nummelin" in the Seinfeld voice. At any rate, the Wild showed for the second time this year they can come back from a big deficit. And Jaques Lemaire showed elation on the bench.


  • The Oil had three players back in the lineup for the first time in extended periods due to injury. Fernando Pisani missed 26 games and took two penalties in the 1st period. Sheldon Souray missed 25 games. Ethan Moreau hadn't played since the 7th game of last season, and got an assist on Edmonton's 2nd goal.
  • 2 more PP goals tonight.
  • McTavish's post-game comments ripped the officiating, including Pavel Demitra's "dangerous dangerous" check that sent an Oiler into the boards, Sean Hill's "drill" to the head that wasn't called, and the penalty called on Steve Staios on Gabby in the OT.
  • Roloson raised his arms and spazzed out after at least two of the Wild's goals, and Flippered over after Nummelin's game winner. It's fun to watch him freak out.
  • Petteri Nummelin is short, but he's still taller than Kevin Gorg.

Next on the Docket - Monday 12-31 v. San Jose @ Xcel
I'll be viewing Monday's game from section 216. For the Wild to win, they have to keep it low-scoring. The Sharks have much more firepower than the Oilers, and they won't come back from a 3-goal hole. Wild 2 SJ 1

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Nice Bounceback

A very nice answer from the Wizzy tonite. They get back into the win column with a 3-2 win over Wayne Gretzky's Coyotes. After getting dominated by two of the better teams in the league, they get a win over a team that isn't great, but is up and coming. A very big win.

Standings Watch
I know we're not quite halfway through the season, but I'm watching the standings already. A loss tonight would have left us in the 7th spot in the West, with Calgary only a point behind. But with the win, we're back to 1st in the Northwest, and 3rd in the West. It's going to be a long 2nd half if this is how it goes every night.

Most Important Thing(s)
Better goaltending. The Wild were still shaky defensively, giving up 48 shots and taking too many penalties. Goodness that's alot of shots. But Backstrom was strong. He must have had some extra yoga or something, because he came up big.

The Wild also played with the lead tonight, which is important for this team. Whenever we get behind I don't have alot of confidence we're going to come back. Playing with the lead makes for a much more enjoyable Wizzy watching experience.

The power play was huge tonight. All three goals came on the power play. The difference tonight compared to last night was the Wild scored on their power plays instead of giving up shorthanded chances and goals.

  • Mark Parrish got his 200th goal tonight. That must have been why he's been in a scoring drought recently - droughts always come before milestone goals.
  • Gabby had some nice chanes in the 3rd. That's good to see since he has been shut down since the 5-goal game.
  • The team must have had "shoot the puck on net" drilled into their heads before the game. They really looked like they were actually trying to shoot. Belanger's goal was from behind the goal line, and Pav shot when usually he passes. Good to see.
  • Suddenly the Wild's power play is 11th in the league and 4th in the West at 19%. Who knew?
  • Does anyone actually like the Kevin Gorg v. Mike Greenlay faceoff bit on FSN?

Next on the Docket - Saturday 12-29 v. Edmonton @ Xcel
Perverbial 4-point division game. Look for a grinding game in this one; I like the Wild in a low-scoring tilt.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Defensive What?

Does anyone remember when the Wild were a defensive team? Yeah, I complained about the lack of offense as much as anyone else, but it seems like we give up way too many goals now a days. (I think it started right around the time we picked up Martin Skoula, but I have no facts to back that up.)

I was looking forward to watching tonight's game v. Dallas Stars. I was ready to get back into Wild hockey after the holiday break. I was excited to watch Matt Niskanen for Dallas, who played for my college team, the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs. That said, I had a bad feeling going into the game. Dallas is playing well of late - they lead the Pacific Division. The Wild were just beaten soundly by the Red Wings. Overall I had bad vibes. Apparently I'm of the Nostradamus ilk.

The Wild gave up 8 goals tonight in an 8-3 loss. The Stars played a good game, but they don't have the offensive firepower to score 8 goals. We were lucky to be in the game after the first two periods, as the Wild answered the first Stars goals quickly, but were outplayed in my opinion throughout. Down only 4-3 going into the 3rd there was a chance, but an inabiltity to capitalize on the power play and Dallas scoring 4 unanswered goals, really just set the game to where it should have been early on. I became a tish disinterrested, and I actually felt it necessary to flip over to the Wolves game on NBA TV, In that 5-minute stretch I missed Dallas' 7th goal, but luckily I saw their 8th. That really completed me.

There were a couple positives...
  • Pavel Demitra remembered he can actually shoot instead of passing to Gabby, and sometimes when you shoot it goes in.
  • In the 2nd period I started reading Lou Nanne's North Stars memories book that my wife gave me for Christmas. Very good read so far. I'll post more on this in the future.
  • Arron Voros continued his inspired play.

Here's hopin for a more positive post tomorrow after Wild v. Coyotes!

Monday, December 24, 2007

A View from My Couch

I missed most of Saturday's game v. Detroit, as it was christmas up at my grandma's. What I could see from the few minutes of the third that I saw was that Detroit is still way ahead of the Wild. I expect the Wild to make the playoffs, and my hope is that by that time the old Red Wings will have worn out, just like they have the last few years. That's the only real chance we have to beat them in the playoffs...
My Podcast Alley feed! {pca-cd39cb1838a6c8db085d330cd04061a4}

Saturday, December 22, 2007

But First, a Wild View from Suite 56

I figured an appropriate subject for my first post would be Marian Gaborik's five-goal one assist performance vs the Rangers Thursday nite. So I normally sit in section 216 at Xcel for Wild games, well, normally I guess I watch at home because I have 10 games in 216, but I digress. For this game my dad had tickets in a suite. I'll touch on the suite experience in a minute.

As for the game, I gotta say this was the best hockey game I have seen in person in quite some time. The crowd was very good, which can't be said for every Wild home game. The Wild played a solid game, which also can't always be said. After Burnsie had his checking spree in the 2nd period we had an extended standing ovation, and things just went nuts from there. Gabby was knocking pucks out of mid-air, although I didn't know that until I watched the highlights today. All I remembered was the pucks in the back of the net. After his 3rd goal, the place went crazy again, hats all over the ice. After his 4th goal, I think people weren't sure it was his goal, because by the time they announced his name it was like...ok...let's clap. But when he got the breakaway goal for his 5th, it was back on. The rest of the night was chants of "Gabby, Gabby" trying to will one more for him. Sadly, not meant to be, but we can live with 5. Very entertaining.

Back to the was pretty nice. The group of people in the suite was not just a bunch of suits, so at least it wasn't stuffy. They had a pretty nice feed bag. The feature I was most impressed with was the tier of seats that are out in the seating bowl but connected to the suite. People interested in the hockey game can sit in those seats and they are very good seats. People that are more oblivious to hockey can hang out in the suite area and converse, not to disturb the hockey fans. Guess where I spent my time...