Friday, April 25, 2008

More Hockey Irony

Just what did the Wild do to annoy the hockey gods this year? In their 1st game after eliminating the Wild, the Avalanche are hit by a groin injury to Peter Forsberg, so he didn't play. And to add on, Jose Theodore returned to a mortal, giving up 4 goals on 16 shots.

Would it have been that bad for these things to happen in the previous series?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

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...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Frustrated, Inc

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Wild @ Avalanche - Western Conference Quarterfinals Game 6 - View from the Couch
Did the great Minnesota band (I use the term great loosely) Soul Asylum write that song for us Wild fans?

Wild season dead in Colorado tonite, after a 2-1 loss to the Avs in game 6. Avs take the series 4-2. There's not much to write about in the way of analysis on this one. Colorado scored 1st again, Wild tied it up in the 2nd, Colorado takes the lead again in the 2nd, and the Wild didn't have much of a sniff the rest of the game. They managed 35 shots, but it wasn't the same kind of near miss onslaught as in game 5. Most of the shots were from the perimeter, and Avs G Jose Theodore made the easy saves to finish up the series.

Marian Gaborik did finally get an assist with a nice pass to Aaron Voros for the lone Wild goal, but he was bottled up again tonite. No one else was able to step up and take charge, and the Avalanche move on to round 2.

I do have to shout out to Nick Schultz, who played tonite for the 1st time in the playoffs after his appendectomy. He gave what he had for the team, and that is why he is a stalwart on this team.

I will also give credit to the Avalanche, who led over 100 minutes in this series. The Wild only led just over 4 minutes. In the end their big stars were better than the Wild's big stars.

Fight to Bring the Cup to St. Paul
The Wild Marketing Team better not bring back "Fight to the End" as the slogan next time the Wild make the playoffs. Both years they used it, the Wild fizzled to the end and were out 1st round, and both times I didn't see much sense of fight. Matter of fact, Game 4, the game in which the Wild had 111 ridiculous penalty minutes, turned the momentum to the Avalanche and they never looked back. Thugnation cost us this series.

Honeymoon is Over
After their 2nd 1st round exit in a row, the tide has now officially turned in the Wild's fan base. It's been building, but you can expect the organization to start to feel the heat of not producing a winner. My heat is laserline-focused on GM Doug Risebrough. More to come in future posts on that topic.

Next on the Docket - Free Agency
Who did we see play their last game in a Wild sweater tonite? Brian Rolston? Pavol Demitra? Pierre-Marc Bouchard? Rolston was asked after the game about next year and his pending free agency, his time here in Minnesota was great, we'll see what happens next year...didn't sound much like someone that expected to be back. It could get nasty this summer.

More to Come
I'll still follow the Cup playoffs and this offseason is critical to the Wild, so keep an eye out for more posts. While the Wild flags will come down and the jerseys will go back in the closet for 6 months, remember we have a banner to hang next October, and another chance at bringing home the Cup.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Game 5 Visuals

Here's a little video and some pics from game 5, from section 209...

Pregame Video Part 1

Pregame Video Part 2

Pregame Video Part 3

PregameGame 5 Pregame

AnthemGame 5 Anthem

Opening Faceoff
Game 5 Opening Faceoff 
After the 1st Goal
Game 5 After a Goal
Final Scoreboard
Game 5 Final Scoreboard

Friday, April 18, 2008

What More?

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Avalanche @ Wild - Western Conference Quarterfinals Game 5 - View from Section 209
No, I wasn't in mourning or anything...this post was late because I got home at midnite-thirty last nite. Also because I wanted to detach myself a little bit from the game. As most of you know, Wild lose 3-2 to Colorado in game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead in a game that the Wild absolutely dominated for 2 periods. Shots on goal were like 30-15 (give or take) after 2 periods. Jose Theodore was a freaking rock and kept the Wild off the scoreboard save for a 1st period powerplay goal by Pierre Marc Bouchard. The 2nd was such a fun period for the fans. The X was so loud, but every "aaaah" turned into "oooooh" instead of goal horn. It was very emotional and disappointing from a fan standpoint. I had troubles thinking about what I wanted to write. So, here it is.

Let's start with my keys for the Wild to win from the previous post...let's see which ones happened.

  • Thugnation plays smarter - Yep
  • Wild score in 1st or 2nd period - Yep
  • Gabby gets at least a point - Not so much
  • Thugnation plays smarter - Yep
  • D-men get their wind back - Only Til the 3rd
  • Sean Hill doesn't fall over - Didn't fall over, but took a penalty that led to the go ahead goal
  • Jose Theodore actually allows goals - Theodore was even better
  • Thugnation plays smarter - Yep
  • Crowd is off the hook - Yep

Unfortunately listing Thugnation's mild manner 3 times wasn't enough to overshadow the things that didn't happen. Gabby is now trying too hard, attempting to create what isn't there and fanning on one-timers to open nets. Adding Eric Reitz into the defensive corps was a good move and he played well, but in my opinion it should have been for Sean Hill, not Pterri Nummelin. Because Sean Hill is old and can't keep up with most forwards, he had to hook someone after a defensive-zone turnover. And Jose Theodore has clearly made a pact with someone unsavory as he is stopping everything that the Wild throw at him.

The crowd at the X was great. From the opening video on it was bonkers. So loud. The Wild finally get a 1st period goal, but it was to tie the game, not the 1st goal of the game. In the 2nd, they played so well, they pressed so hard, but they couldn't get anything by Theodore. What Theodore didn't stop hit the posts. The puck was in the Avs zone for what seemed like the entire period. It seemed they had finally gotten one by Theodore when Pavol Demitra fired one past Theodore from the blue line on the rush, but someone, I'm not even sure who it was, skated into the zone before Demo got the puck past the blue line. Go from pandemonium to what is going on in the crowd. Grrr.

In the 2nd intermission, the place just didn't have a good vibe. Everyone was so into the 2nd but to not score...definitely came down from a high. They put Caps v. Flyers 2nd OT on the video board (and on the ice...that was cool) and I'm not sure who was paying attention, but I was, and there wasn't alot of flow to it. When the boys came out, instead of the whole place loud, cheering, waving towels like before the game and before the 2nd period, it was only a handful of people. The place just seemed drained, and so did the Wild. Mikko Koivu turned the puck over in the defensive zone, that led to the Hill penalty, and the Avs scored on the powerplay. So you're thinkin...ok...there's time left to tie it up...but Paul Stastney broke out of his scoring drought in a big way with a pretty top-shelf backhand to beat Backstrom, and that was all she wrote. The Wild were barely able to get the puck in the Avs zone the rest of the period. Brian Rolston's goal from the point off a faceoff with 2.5 seconds left added to the frustration. It was your typical hockey gods laughing at the irony of too little too late after playing a great game. The hockey gods are interfering way too much in this series - Andrew Brunette scored his 3rd of the series tonite too.

Fight to Bring the Cup to St. Paul
They're really going to have to fight now. Avs lead the series 3-2. Wild need to win the next 2 to continue the fight.

Next on the Docket - Wild @ Avalanche - Sat 4-19-08
Do or die. Win or go home. Play hockey Monday or dust off the golf clubs Monday. Which will it be? If the Wild can play remotely like they did in the 1st and 2nd last nite you would think eventually a couple would go in. Gabby has got to get lose. If he does, we might see the floodgates open and it would be on for game 7. In what could be my last prediction of the season: Wild 4 Avs 1

Thursday, April 17, 2008

This is a Big One!

Keys to Game 5
Here's what needs to happen for the Wild to win tonite (IMHO):

  • Thugnation plays smarter
  • Wild score in 1st or 2nd period
  • Gabby gets at least a point
  • Thugnation plays smarter
  • D-men get their wind back
  • Sean Hill doesn't fall over
  • Jose Theodore actually allows goals
  • Thugnation plays smarter
  • Crowd is off the hook

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

3 Hours I'll Never Get Back

Wild @ Avalanche - Western Conference Quarterfinals Game 4 - View from the Couch
Well, this was better for the heart. That's about the only positive thing Wild fans can take from game 4. Unfortunately it may cause ulcers. Colorado wins big time. It was 2-0 before the 5 minute mark, 4-0 before the game was half over, and 5-0 after 2 periods. Mikko Koivu did score in the 3rd to continue his torrid playoff as well as the Wild's don't-score-until-the-3rd-period philosophy, for a 5-1 final.

Basically, the Wild did not show up for this one, and that's sad for the 4th game of the playoffs in a series they should win.

Not happy with the performance tonite at all. The Wild were clearly not mentally into this game. Two of the goals came off turnovers, they took a too-many-men penalty in the 1st, and the intensity wasn't there like it was last nite. It seemed they were content with the split in Colorado. This has been a problem all season for the Wild. With a chance to put their peverbial foot down on the perverbial throat of a team, they laid an egg.

The Wizzy were extreemly undisciplined and showed no composure, talking penalty after penalty. Derek Boogard lost it, shooting the puck down the ice in frustration and bumping into an Avs player after another penalty call...taking a misconduct that turned into a 5-on-3 Avalanche powerplay. Eric Bellanger went crazy trying to punch people. Stephane Velleiux chattered back and forth in the penalty box with Cody McLoud, mimicing his toothless jawing. Velleiux better keep his head up the rest of the series. Then Velleiux squared off with Ian Laperriere. The Wild seemed to forget about the fact that there was a hockey game going on and just wanted to hit people. Almost like they wanted to validate Mark Kiszla's story. Very disheartening. They finished with 111 minutes in penalties. Ish.

This game just wouldn't end and sucked the life out of me. As a fellow Wild fan sent me in a textie, "Pain. Ful."

Fight to Bring the Cup to St. Paul
The Cup feels alot further away after tonite's game. The good thing is that it's just 1 game and the series is now tied 2-2. While the momentum may be with Colorado, someone still needs to win 2 out of the next 3, and 2 of them will be at Xcel Energy Center. That said, the next game is huge. Wild need to regain the momentum.

Next on the Docket - Avalanche @ Wild - Thurs 4-17-08
Hopefully they've put this silliness behind them. Hopefully Coach Lemaire lays into this team...knocks over a Gatorade table copyright Herb Brooks. If not, this series will be over in 6 and Pepsi Center will be happy Saturday nite. I'll be in attendance at the X on Thursday, and while I expect the crowd to be loud, I also envision a little tentativeness after tonight's game. I have an idea, how bout if we score 1st and not take 18 million penalties? Wild 4 Avs 3

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Huzzah for Touch-Up Icing!!

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Wild @ Avalanche - Western Conference Quarterfinals Game 3 - View from the Couch
The hockey gods sure have a sense of humor. If you recall, about a month ago Kurtis Foster was run into the boards on an icing play that resulted in a broken femur for Foster, ending his season and putting the Wild shorthanded on D for the playoffs. After that play, the outcry from Minny, me included, was that we needed no-tough icing. The other leagues have no-touch icing, and how many icings are actually negated by an offensive player beating the defensive player to the puck? Well, tonite the sentiment around the State of Hockey is undoubtedly, "I love touch-up icing!!!"

It started out as a tight checking game tonite. The Wild had plenty of opportunities through 2 periods tonite but could not get anything past Avalanche G Jose Theodore. I liked the chances they got, but I gotta say Theodore was the difference early...and that would turn into a theme as the night rolled on. Granted the Wild took too many penalties that tired out their depleted defensive corps, but when they had offensive time they put some good shots on net. The only goal in the first 2 periods was by our old buddy Andrew Brunette, and the Avs took a 1-0 lead into the 3rd.

Once again apparently the Wild felt they didn't need to score until the 3rd. With around 12 minutes to go, Todd Fedoruk tossed the puck deep, got his own dump in off the boards and tossed it out front, where Mikko Koivu was crashing the net to knock it past Theodore. Great goal. I love Todd Fedoruk.

Then, enigma #1 Brian Rolston appeared on a pretty short-handed goal, assisted by Pavol Demitra on a 2-on-1. Honestly, before this kill started, I said, out loud, we're gonna get a shortie. I'm a great prognosticating mind. Demo put on a great deke from inside the Wild's blueline to start the break. He got around the Avalanche defenseman who was trying to keep the puck in the zone, then went in with Rolston, faked the shot and waited just long enough for the lone D for Colorado to slide out of the way, then dished it to Rolston who had an open net to shoot at, and Rolston made sure he didn't miss.

But it wouldn't be that easy. The Wild couldn't clear the zone shortly after the goal and Joe Sakic scores with about 5 minutes left to tie the game and ignite the Pepsi Center crowd. Things were complicated on that goal. Aaron Voros launched Brunette into Niklas Backstrom, so he pretty much had no chance to make a save on Sakic's shot.

The Wild put on some great pressure in the final 30 seconds, Mikko Koivu was an absolute stud and drew a tripping penalty with 8 seconds left in the 3rd. Time expired, and no surprise that we go to overtime. More free hockey to burn out our tired defense.

And Theodore kept it up in OT. He stopped Gabby point blank, then Demo on a 2-on-1 with PMB. The Wild absolutely dominated the overtime, but as time went on it seemed like this game could go forever. Finally, just seconds after the Wild telecast showed Andrew Brunette end Patrick Roy's career in '03, the puck took a funny carom on a would-be icing on the Wild. Colorado D Jeff Finger apparently had his eyes closed and went behind the net while the puck bounced to the side of the net. Brian Rolston got to the puck 1st to negate the icing, then passed to enigma #2 Pierre-Marc Bouchard in the slot, and PMB fired a wrister top-shelf to finally beat Theodore. Wild win, 3-2, and the dog wakes up because I'm jumping around the family room.

I'd be remiss not to mention the game Backstrom had. He played very solidly tonite, stopping 44 shots. I was really surprised he had that many saves. Throughout the game I thought the Wild were outshooting the Avs. Props to Backstrom for keeping the Wild in the game. Also, although he didn't score, enigma #3 Marian Gaborik had a TON of chances. That bodes well for the next couple games.

Oh, and Mikko Koivu is a stud.

Fun with Numbers
That's an oxymoron, but chew on this:

  • The last 5 Wild/Avs games this season have gone to OT.
  • The last 5 Wild/Avs playoff games have gone to OT.
  • The last 6 Wild/Avs playoff games finished with a 3-2 final.

Fight to Bring the Cup to St. Paul
Wild now up 2-1 in this 1st round series. They have 2 wins out of the 16 necessary to win the cup. I know, I know, one series at a time...ok, they need 2 more wins to win this series.

Next on the Docket - Wild @ Avalanche - Tues 4-15-08
Gotta do it all over again tomorrow nite for game 4. FSN has my back with Twins v. Tigers then Wild v. Avalanche, both in HD. So you can guess what I'll be doing tomorrow evening. The way this series rolls you gotta think the Avs will win, but I'm going with the Wild. I think they gain alot of momentum, The Three Enigmas are starting to roll, and there is karma coming to set up game 5 at Xcel with the potential to wrap up the series. Wild 3 Avs 2

Saturday, April 12, 2008


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Avalanche @ Wild - Western Conference Quarterfinals Game 2 - View from All Over My Living Room
Don't know where to start. So many emotional swings. In a game that had more drama than game 1, the Wild beat Colorado 3-2 in another overtime thriller. Keith Carney scored the winner off an Avs skate just over a minute into OT. It was a great goal for the old guy; you gotta feel good for him.

It was a frustrating game through 2 periods. It was either an excellent forecheck or just Wild jitters that gave them trouble getting out of their own zone. They seemed to get caught up in the emotion in the 1st, after some bodies went flying, a stick went flying into the stands, they were caught watching Peter Forsberg skate through the slot and wrist one by Niklas Backstrom (Martin Skoula had an opportunity to get it off his stick but he didn't go for it). In the 2nd, Mikko Koivu/Aaron Voros and Marian Gaborik hit 2 posts 15 seconds within each other, and the puck hopped Pavol Demitra's stick just as the period expired.

But the Wild were able to carry a powerplay and the momentum into the 3rd, and Demo tied it on a nice slapper from the left circle. Play went back and forth until the 18:30 mark, where Koivu fired one from just inside the blue line to give the Wild the lead. The crowd was bonkers. I was bonkers. Looked like we were going to Denver tied at 1. The Avalanche brought the pressure tho, and Kin Johnsson had to hook Ryan Smyth with a minute to go. On a 6 on 4 powerplay with the goalie pulled, the Avs were able to tie it on one that seemed to have eyes deflecting off Milan Hedjuk. So we go to OT.

Fittingly, it was a great forecheck that got the Wild the opportunity to win it. Brian Rolston, Mikko Koivu, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard were able to turn the puck over in the offensive zone. Koivu kept the puck while fending off Joe Sakic, and fed it to PMB on the sideboards. PMB tried to center to Rolston, but it deflected back to the sideboards, where Carney had pinched. He fired towards the net, and it deflected off Ruslan Salei's skate, and the Xcel Energy Center crowd goes home ecstatic - and I breathe again.


  • I don't know if it was jitters, bad ice, or what, but the Wild just seemed to be clutching their sticks a bit too much. They would overskate the puck, fan on shots, pass too hard. Trying a bit too hard to win the game with one fantastic play.
  • Man the D looks tired. Carney and Burns looked like they were going to pass out in their post game interviews.
  • Niklas Backstrom was absolutely stellar in net tonite. He stopped a handful of glorious scoring chances and was positionally sound all nite. I couldn't count how many times the D came up and gave him a tap on the pads for bailing them out.
  • Mikko Koivu is a stud.
  • Peter Forsberg is really hitting stride. Gotta find a way to shut him down, and Brent Burns' xtra work on him in the 2nd was a nice start.
  • I do not like Wild play-by-play guy Dan Terhaar as a play-by-play guy, but his voice cracking on the game winning call was classic. If the Wild win the Cup, I will hang a poster-size print of him on my wall...right next to all my other Wild prints. I think it would look great right between the 8x10s of me with the Cup and my wife with Matt Johnson.
  • Great job to FSN-HD tonite. The game was visually pretty and it added a ton to the game experience at home tonite.
  • I almost forgot to mention the karma I experienced tonite. After the 2nd period, in frustration, I switched jerseys - from the green to the white - and it paid off. Needless to say I'll be wearing the white Monday.

Fight to Bring the Cup to St. Paul
The win ties the series 1-1, with the series now shifting to Denver. We're now 15 wins from Lord Stanley's arrival. And there will officially be a game 5 in this series. Sweet for me and whoever winds up going with me.

Next on the Docket - Wild @ Avalanche - Mon 4-14-08
Hoping the Wild can carry a little momentum into the next game. The extra day off should be good for resting our tired D-men, as well as a banged up Branko Radivojevic. Ever the optimist (at least before the game starts) I say Wild 2 Avs 1.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Huge Relief

Too jittery to blog.............must regain composure......

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

This is Only Game 1?

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Avalanche @ Wild - Western Conference Quarterfinals Game 1 - View from My Living Room
I can't take 7 games of this. This game had classic Minnesota Wild ebb and flow. Wild dominate the 1st but don't score. They don't show up for the 2nd and get down 2 goals. Mikko Koivu gets a goal off a skate and then tie it up on a pretty pretty powerplay goal by Todd Fedoruk. Then you get the drama of an Avs penalty shot with less than 5 minutes left against the worst shootout goalie in the history of the NHL, and Niklas Backstrom makes a great save to stay alive. They hold off a surging Avalanche team to get to overtime. The OT was back and forth, the Wild get 2 glorious chances to end it but Avalanche G Jose Theodore stops Brent Burns and the Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra. Then Wild killer Joe Sakic scores the game winner, Avs win 3-2. Pretty much how you would script this game.

Now I gotta go to work all early and bummed tomorrow.


  • Wild were 1 for 5 on the powerplay with the one goal in the 3rd that tied it up. Connecting early on one of those PP opportunities would have jacked up the crowd and could have meant something different in the outcome. Conversely, Colorado was 1 for 1.
  • The Wild were terrible in the 2nd. The defensemen were trying to swipe the puck away from the Avs instead of taking the body, like they did in the 1st.
  • Sticking with the D, they're going to have to tighten up. Replacing Nick Schultz with Pterri Nummelin is obviously not a good situation, and it showed a bit tonite. On the 1st Avalanche goal, Kurt Sauer beat Keith Carney to get in front of the net and took a pass from Joe Sakic for the lead. It was bang bang, and if Carney can stay in front of him it doesn't happen.
  • Mark Parrish left the game with a head injury in the 2nd period. He went hard into the boards at the Wild bench and play was stopped for several minutes while he was helped off the ice. He just gets back into the lineup and goes out with an injury. Tough break for the hometown boy.
  • I liked the resiliency of both teams tonite. The Wild for tying it in the 3rd, and the Avs for coming out strong after that tying goal. They carried the momentum for most of the way after that, and unfortunately the Wild could not counter.
  • Niklas Backstrom played a real good game tonite. He kept the Wild in it, especially on the penalty shot against Ryan Smyth, who really needs a haircut.
  • The Wild seemed to go into home-run pass mode in the OT. Their two big chances came that way, but they weren't able to sustain any pressure down low. That translated into finally breaking in and allowing the game-winner.
  • Brian Rolston still on the playoff hot seat.
  • It was painful watching the highlight of Sakic's goal on Versus. It was in HD so it looked real good, while the actual game at my house was in ug-o-vision on KSTC 45. Friday's game is scheduled for FSN-HD.

The Fight to Bring the Cup to St. Paul
Wild are now down 1 games to 0 in this best of 7. Best-case scenario - Wild win the next 3 to make game 5 to win the series. That's best-case because I have tix to game 5.

Next on the Docket - Avalanche @ Wild - Fri 4-11-08
Gotta do this all over again Friday. I thought losing game 1 was worst-case scenario for the Wild. They fought so hard to win the division, and now it doesn't matter because now Colorado has home-ice advantage. They HAVE to come out strong for all 3 periods and win Friday. They need to get more chances in front of the net. The team seemed pretty upbeat and encouraged that they played a solid game, and there's some truth to that as they very well could have won the game had the puck bounced a different way. I think they win Friday. Wild 3 Avs 1

Game On!



Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Playoff Prattle #2

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Alright, yesterday's post was negative...but the positivity is back! So here is why I think the Wild beat the Avs in the 1st round:

  • We're younger. The big stars for Colorado are downright old. Sakic, Forsberg, Foote...they all have one foot on the retirement golf course. Marian Gaborik, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Brent Burns, Mikko Koivu - all of the Wild's main guys will have more legs if the series goes long.
  • Marian Gaborik. Since getting the "C" at the beginning of March, Gabby has begun to step it up. He's taken on another dynamic as more than just a scorer. He has other responsibilities in being the captian, and it seems to be keeping his intensity in the game. Look for a big series from Gabby.
  • Mikko Koivu. Since coming back from the broken leg on the slash by Vancouver's Mattias Ohlund, Mikko has played with a firey edge. That edge has made him a better player, and it is a an edge that will make him successful in the playoffs.
  • Brian Rolston is due. He was nonexistant last year v. Anaheim so Rolston has something to prove. And if he wants a nice contract from whoever signs him next year, he needs to show he can produce in the playoffs.
  • Wild penalty kill. The Wild were 4th in the NHL in the regular season on the kill, at 85%. The Avs powerplay was 29th, at 14%. If the Wild can stay out of the box and don't get worn out by taking too many dumb penalties, they should be able to keep continue this trend.
  • Xtra grit. The toughness the Wild picked up this year in Aaron Voros, Todd Fedoruk, and Chris Simon joining Derek Boogard will help the Wild muscle up against a smaller Avalanche team, in much the same way Anaheim bullied the Wild last year.
  • Xcel Energy Center. We will have crowds of 19,000 plus at each home game, and we have a better goal horn than in Colorado.
  • Hunger for winning. The Wild were blown out v. Anaheim last year. The team is largely the same, so they should carry the bitterness of that loss with them for an extra edge.
  • Kurtis Foster will be in attendance for an emotional lift (I assume...he showed up to practice today).

So, taking all this into consideration, I'm going with a Wild win in the series. I hope in 5, but it'll probably be in 7. At any rate, this is the most wonderful time of the year.

Wild Blogosphere Podcast #2

The 2nd episode of the Wild Blogoshere Podcast is now available for your enjoyment. We welcome in Paul from Cup Crazy's National Hockey League Blog for a preview of all the playoff matchups, and extensive analysis of Wild v. Avalanche.

To listen, click here. To subscribe to the RSS feed, go here. And to automatically add the subscription to iTunes, click here.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Playoff Prattle #1

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Let the playoff speculation begin! Colorado is upset that Jacques Lemaire says they cheat on defense and it will give us chances. Avalanche fans are upset because the Wild play "boring hockey." The Wild are down yet another defenseman, with Nick Schultz's flu bug turning into appendicitis. Man I love the playoffs. Every series has it's own bit of drama.

I've never been sold on the common premise that the Avs are a better matchup for the Wild than the Flames. While I agree that we haven't played well v. Calgary, we played them better the last couple games. Also, the whole "I think the better matchup is this team..." often goes the other way in sports. Here's some things that scare me 'bout the Avs:

  • There's a little vibe in this town that we're just happy we're not playing Calgary, almost taking this series lightly. That never works out.
  • The Avs have a star-studded lineup. Joe Sakic is a Wild killer and Mr. Clutch.  Paul Stastney, Ryan Smyth, Adam Foote, oh, and that Peter Forsberg guy.
  • The Avs have a bunch of grizzled veterans, many of which are previously mentioned.
  • With Schultz out for an unspecified amount of time, the Wild are waaay short on defense.
  • In 2003, the Wild came back from a 3-1 deficit in the 1st round against the Avs. I'm worried about hockey karma in this one. Add to the karma factor that Colorado brought back the nucleus of that team. Oh, and Andrew Brunette, who scored the series winner in '03 (and sent Patrick Roy to a minor league coaching career, causing him to be mean-spirited and send his son into a hockey brawl) now plays for Colorado.
  • The Wild spent alot of energy in winning the Northwest. If they lose game 1, and essentially lose home ice, they would lose all the momentum they fought for. Game 1 is pretty critical.
  • Many times regular season success against a certain team turns into failure against them in the postseason.
  • Alot of the muckity-mucks in the hockey world are picking the Avs in this series, including Darren Pang. Not everyone has bought in to what the Wild are selling yet.

Well, there's the negativity. Tomorrow comes the positivity - I'll touch on what I think the Wild have going for them in this series...

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Round 1 Schedule Released

While I debate on whether I want to spend the time recapping today's game, here's an interim post. Long story short, the Wild play Colorado in the 1st round. The schedule was just released. Game 1 is Wednesday at 8PM CST from Xcel Energy Center. Here's the schedule, all times CDT:

Game 1 – Wed 4-9 @ Xcel Energy Center 8 PM
Game 2 – Fri 4-11 @ Xcel Energy Center 8 PM
Game 3 – Mon 4-14 @ Pepsi Center 9 PM
Game 4 – Tues 4-15 @ Pepsi Center 9 PM
*Game 5 – Thurs 4-7 @ Xcel Energy Center 8 PM
*Game 6 – Sat 4-19 @ Pepsi Center TBD
*Game 7 – Tues 4-22 @ Xcel Energy Center TBD
* - if necessary

I scored tix for games 5 and 7. Chances are pretty good there will be a game 5, and honestly I hope game 7 doesn't happen. My heart might not be able to take that.

Look for plenty of Wild/Avs playoff prattle here leading up to Wednesday's 1st game.

Friday, April 4, 2008

1st Banner Secure!

Flames @ Wild - 4-3-08 - Envious View from Recliner

Thanks to for the beauty logo!

In a game I would have absolutely loved to attend, tonite the Wild finally beat Calgary, 3-1, and in doing so wrapped up the Northwest Division championship. The Wild will finally hang their first championship banner in the Xcel Energy Center rafters at the home opener next season, and with a little smile from the hockey gods, maybe it will be joined by a couple more.

This game was so hyped, by everyone from Kevin Faulness and the Wild Pondcast, to Mark Parrish on PA and Dubay on KFAN, to the every one of the Wild Blogs. Regardless of the possibility of letdown, we let down our guard and bought in to the hype. Regardless of the possibility of jinxing the team, we all predicted a win and a NW division title. And, this time, the Wild absolutely lived up to the hype.

The Wizzy played a very solid game tonite. After giving up an early powerplay goal and withstanding some shaky defense early, they tied it shortly after with a Pavol Demitra to Todd Fedoruk powerplay goal of their own to tie it up. After that, the Wild pretty much dominated. They put on some good pressure, specifically after Stephane Veilleux was leveled by Dion Phaneuf. Brent Burns was all over Phaneuf, and the Wild had an edge the rest of the game.

They didn't score in the 2nd, but most of the time the puck was in the Flames zone.

In the 3rd, it was on. Marian Gaborik chipped a puck by the Flames defenseman to go in from the left circle and fired a nasty wrister by Flames G Mikka Kipprusof for the 2-1 lead. Gabby scored again, but the refs horribly waved off the goal, saying that Kiprusoff had the puck covered and that he was "about to blow the whistle." Seriously, the puck was never covered by Kiprusoff and slid over the goal line. But, even after review, it was waved off. That could have been bad news, but Gabby rescored the goal with somewhere around 5 minutes left in the game, on the powerplay, and the Wild kept the Flames from anything remotely resembling a scoring chance the rest of the way.

Oh, and Jacques Lemaire won his 500th game tonite. What a sweet way to get that milestone victory.

Shoutout to the Crowd at the X
I mentioned earlier that the crowd was a key to this game, and I've been on the Xcel crowd most of the season for waiting for something to happen before they got into the game. Tonite, the crowd was excellent and it came across loud on the 45. Probably the loudest "Let's Play Hockey" for the opening faceoff I've ever heard, an early "Let's Go Wild" chant, lustily booing the waved off goal, and all the way through to the standing ovation with 2:30 left in the game, the crowd really stepped up tonite. Props to anyone that was there in person.

Fight to Hang the 1st Banner
Banner will be hung in October.

Fight to Bring the Cup to St Paul
Aaah, new theme. With only 1 game left in the regular season that doesn't have much meaning, the Wild can now focus on the playoffs. Winning the NW division locks them into the 3rd seed in the Western Conference. Depending on what happens in their last game of the year, our 1st round matchup could be Colorado, Calgary, or even Nashville, and I think an outside possibility of Dallas. I'm not really concerned with who it winds up being, because I believe that when this team is confident it can beat any team. So bring on game 1 at the X.

Next on the Docket - Wild @ Avalanche - Sun 4-5-08
As mentioned, this game doesn't mean too much. I do think it is important for a couple reasons tho. 1st, to avoid injuries. 2nd, to avoid a letdown and keep up the intensity to head into the playoffs. 3rd, because it could be a playoff preview. I think they'll probably rest a few guys, and I think there's no way they totally avoid a letdown. Avs 4 Wild 1

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hypin' the Flames Game

I'm so psyched for tonite's game v. Calgary. If you listened to the Bloggosphere podcast, you'll note that all of us (some very begrudgingly) predicted the Wild would come away with the NW division title. We all agreed we wanted it to come down to this game, that it would be awesome for the Wild's confidence to handle Calgary in a game that would win the NW division. So, here it is boys and girls. Wild win and they win the NW for the 1st time in franchise history, and next October we'll be hanging at least 1 banner at Xcel.

On to game predictions...I expect the crowd to be into this one from the start - loud from the beginning. I think that's a key to this game. A fast start is also key. The Wild need to control momentum early to keep the crowd in it. Even if they don't score early, good pressure on Kipprusoff is key. I expect the three tough-guys to be in the lineup, and I expect them to throw it around. And we need to control Iginla, without forgetting about their other talented players. At the end of the nite I hope to be posting about a NW division winner.

I'm bummed that tonite's game is on the 45. 45 comes accross the worst on my TV. Would love this one to be in HD, but whaddya do. A win looks good no matter how bad the signal is.

If you're lookin for more pregame hype, Kevin Faulness did a two-part preview to tonite's game on the Wild Pondcast. Check it out here.

Also, one of my coworkers is attending his 1st Wild game tonite. I'm lobbying him to write a guest article for this blog on his experience. He's not a big hockey fan, but he's getting trial by fire tonite.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Inaugural Wild Blogosphere Podcast

A few of us Wild-blogging rubes put together a cute little podcast for your listening enjoyment. In the first installment of the Wild Bloggosphere Podcast, NiNY from Hitting the Post, Kirsten from Land of Lakes and Hockey, elise from 18,568 Reasons Why, maggiecakes from No More Minnesota Nice, and yours truly talked all things Wild, including:

  • Gabby with the "C"
  • Scoring from the non-scorers
  • Benoit Pouliot
  • Subbing Harding in for the shootout
  • Mark Parrish in the Jacques Lemaire doghouse
  • The big Calgary game Thursday
  • NW division predictions
  • How awesome it is to be a Wild rube

Check it out! To listen, click here. To subscribe to the RSS feed, go here. And to automatically add the subscription to iTunes, click here. And turn it up when I talk, my connection was fuzzy or somethin. Look for that to be fixed by the next episode.

Please post any comments you have, agree, disagree, and feedback on the podcast!