Flames @ Wild - 4-3-08 - Envious View from Recliner
Thanks to Wild.com 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