Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wild v. Maple Leafs Pseudo Live Blog

Working on tonite’s post during the game, sort of live blogging but not really cause I’ll be mixing in dinner, baby time, and trying to figure out who to use for web hosting for a site for my dad. And because I’m not going to post it until after the game is over.

I’m excited for this game v. Toronto mostly because we don’t see the Leafs that often. Also because it is a team the Wild should beat. Also because I’m enjoying a tasty Goose Island IPA. Sit back, relax, and read my takes as they happened.

1st Period

  • Why did Mike Greenlay just yell “BOOM!”?
  • Caaaaaal Cluttttterbuck scores! Just a weak wrist shot from the right boards that Leaf’s G Justin Pogge simply missed. Bonus because we got to play “Caaaaaal Cluttterbuck” with Baby Girl. She loves it! Anytime we say his name she laughs so hard…it’s the cutest ever! I love when he scores.
  • Beauty save by Wild G Niklas Backstrom on a Leafs shorthanded 2 on 1.
  • Eric Belanger just split between 2 Maple Leafs and went in alone on Pogge. He didn’t get off much of a shot, but I can’t remember ever seeing Belanger split 2 defenders.
  • Owen Nolan ends the period with a nice opportunity in alone on Pogge, but he’s old so the Leafs d-man caught him and he didn’t get a shot off.
  • 1st intermission interview with Caaaaaal Cluttttterbuck!!!

Good period overall for the Wizzy. Multiple opportunities and the shots Toronto got were not too threatening. Quick break for dinner, Baby Girl’s bedtime, and for wifey to watch a little 90210.

2nd Period

  • Starting the 2nd about a half hour behind on the DVR. Sweet…no commercials.
  • Moorhead’s own Jason Blake ties it up for the Leafs about 5 minutes in. The puck sort of found Blake’s stick off a Wild skate and Backstrom did all he could to stop it but he couldn’t get his stick down far enough.
  • The 2 Wild players with the most hyphens in their names team up to give the Wild the lead back just a minute after the Leafs goal. Marc-Andre Bergeron pinches in and takes a nice pass from Pierre-Marc Bouchard from behind the net.
  • Hey! PMB can score goals too! He one-times a quick pass from Belanger past Pogge to put the Wild up 2. Belanger is on fiya!
  • It’s on! Owen Nolan after a loose puck where I thought he should have shot, drops a pass pack to Mikko Koivu who finds Andrew Brunette on the other side of the net and he has a wide open net to bury the puck into. 4-1 Wizzy!
  • Ugh. Wild play-by-play guy Dan Terhaar just asked color guy Mike Greenlay what it means when the puck makes a loud noise when it hits the goalie. Really?
  • Little fisticuffs between Caaaaaaaal Cluttttterbuck and Ian White after a little bit of a push into the boards on Cluttttterbuck and the 2 teams came together to exchange pleasantries.
  • PMB scores his 2nd of the nite on a breakaway! 5-1!

3rd Period

  • I’d love to see the Wild keep up the pressure in the 3rd and not go into the defensive shell. We’ve given up way too many leads this season.
  • Owen Nolan scores into a gaping net from way deep on the goal line. Marek Zidlicky to Brunette to Nolan to a vacated net. 6-1! Save some goals boys!

That’s about it. Great win and a great start to the 2nd half of the season.


  • Tonite was Andrew Brunette’s 500th straight game played. Only the 4th NHL player in the last 16 years to get to 500 consecutive games played.
  • What if PMB starts scoring consistently???
  • What was with the Wild’s passing tonite? Seriously, if they passed like that in every game…

Return of the Fight for…the Playoffs
How things change in a year. Last year this segment was called the Fight to Hang the 1st Banner. They won the division, and then were bounced in the 1st round of the playoffs. This season it is just a fight to finish in the top 8 of the Western Conference. Gotta live in the now, so here goes.

At time of this post the Wild are in 10th place in the conference, 2 points out of the playoffs. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the next 3 weeks are critical if the Wild will make a run in the standings. Spots 5 thru 12 are separated by only 6 points. The Wild could conceivably finish as high as 5th with a nice run, or they could wind up playing golf in April.

Wild are off until Friday, before taking on the Oil in Edmonton. The Oilers are losing at time of this post 7-1 to Buffalo at the 2nd intermission. The Oilers are 2 points ahead of the Wild so Friday will be a big game.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

So Much for the Mighty Mo

The Wild once again put a damper on any kind of fan enthusiasm they may have generated with Monday’s win over Chicago by losing to the 2nd-to-last-place LA Kings, 5-2 Tuesday nite. The Wild never held a lead in this one, and save for a 1-1 tie didn’t much show up at all. The lone bright spot was Marek Zidlicky’s 9th goal of the season – again on the powerplay – that was almost a carbon copy of the goal he scored v. Chicago off a beauty pass from Andrew Brunette behind the goal. This was one of those games that had a loser vibe early and it stuck.

Fake Midway Point
The Wild is now off until Tuesday in observance of the All-Star break. With 36 games remaining, they are in the 9th spot in the Western Conference, 1 point out of a playoff spot. This is a team that needs to string together some wins, and it will be tough coming out of the break if they can’t even beat LA. They do play 9 out of their next 13 games at home, so by the end of February we will probably know if they’re contenders or pretenders – at least to make the playoffs if nothing more.

Return of Old Man Antagonist
Claude Lemieux, the 43-year old ultimate antagonizer (or dirty hockey player depending on your point of view) returned to NHL action tonite for the San Jose Sharks. Think about it…he was drafted in 1983. At the time of this post the Sharks game with Vancouver was in the 3rd period with about 14 minutes to go, and Lemieux had 6:15 of ice time. 2 things I don’t get…

  • What can Claude Lemieux possibly have left in the tank?
  • What do the Sharks think he is going to add to their team?

Thanks for that, Paul
A friend of mine who lives in MN but is a Red Wings fan was kind enough to send me another Pavel Datsyuk highlight from a recent shootout. I’m not sure what' he’s trying to prove…the Wild once made a nice move in a shootout before too. Also, Datsyuk always uses the same move…try something different!

But thanks for thinking of me Paul…and for everyone else, here’s the goal…

I’ll have some thoughts on the Skills Competition and the All-Star Game over the weekend.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sweet Revenge on the ‘Hawks

What a great win by the Wizzy win tonite. They rolled in to United Center and beat the resurgent Chicago Blackhawks – who are the new darlings of the NHL – and avenged a 4-1 drubbing at the X a couple weeks ago. Final was 4-1, with 2 powerplay goals from Marek Zidlicky, one from Mikko Koivu, and an empty netter from Cal Clutterbuck. Niklas Backstrom was solid with 40 saves, a few of them were very timely. The Wild penalty kill was also very good, especially with 3 minutes left when Chicago pulled their goalie to get a 6 on 4 advantage. The Hawks didn’t get much opportunity as the Wild broke up multiple cross-ice passes with nice stickwork.


  • James Sheppard played a pretty good game. He had a few good chances on ‘Hawks G Nikolai Khabibulin.
  • Andrew Brunette had one of his better games of late, registering 2 assists – one of them a pretty no-look pass to Zidlicky on his 2nd PP goal. He should go knees-first into the boards more often.
  • Brent Burns looked a little bit shaky at times. I remember a couple instances of “Burnsie whaddya doin” thru my mind. He’s still a stud tho.
  • Marek Zidlicky has 8 goals on the season and they’re all on the powerplay.

The Wild return to the X tomorrow nite to take on the LA Kings. They need to start following up nice games like tonite with wins, so it is a big game. LA continues to be a bad team; the Wizzy had better take care of bidness.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Happy Hockey Day, MN

A long day of hockey in the state of hockey proved to be a long day for the Wild tonite. The could not capitalize on multiple scoring chances, and lose 3-0 to the Anaheim Ducks.

I didn’t think the Wizzy played all that bad really. They just missed alot of opportunities to bury the puck…PMB and Miettenen come to mind as the most glaring. Anaheim played their typical brand of power hockey and were able to get 3 by Niklas Backstrom.

We also saw a potentially severe injury to Andrew Brunette. Bruno went awkwardly face-first into the boards while losing his balance and kind of starting to do the splits. Sounds like it was a knee injury, and it did not look good at all. Gotta hope it looked worse than it was, but he had to be helped off the ice.

It was disappointing that the Wild couldn’t continue the win streak, but I am still encouraged that they had plenty of chances, had some good pressure, and continued to play inspired for most of the game. They’ll need to keep up that same confidence v. Chicago on Monday (on Vs.).

Hockey Day
I was able to keep tabs on hockey day MN throughout the day. My wife went shopping so Baby Girl and I watched starting at 10 AM. Well, Baby Girl played in the exersaucer mostly, and napped, and rolled around on the floor alot, and apparently cut a new tooth…but she glanced at the TV a few times. I also mixed in a little NHL 09 during naps. It was a great event with the high school games @ Phalen Park and the high school game @ the X. Didn’t watch Gophers v. SCSU, cause both those teams bite. Add a little Hockey Night in Canada from NHL Network. I’ll flip in once or twice on the girls high school game that is on delay right now on FSN right now and I’ll probably DVR the Aeros game later tonite. The 3rd Hockey Day MN was a success for the Wild and also for me enjoying the vibe.

Think about this…Hockey Day MN #4, 5, or 6 might just include a Wild game outdoors @ TCF Bank Stadium or Target Field.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Who Is This Team Inhabiting the X?

Closed-circuit to the men at Xcel Energy Center wearing iron range red, forest green, Minnesota wheat and harvest gold…

“Who are you and what have you done with our favorite offensively-challenged hockey team?”

With 6 goals v. Phoenix on Tuesday, and 5 goals tonite v. Edmonton, I hope these impostors can keep the real Wild players captive for a while longer. A Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Andrew Brunette that shoot the puck? An Antti Miettinen that makes moves and gets scoring opportunities? A physical Marek Zidlicky and a fighting (sorta) James Sheppard? Let me get the more rope to keep them tied up.

Tonite had to be one of the best games the Wizzy have played all season-long. This group was energized and flying around the ice from the opening faceoff. They had a jump I haven’t seen for a long time. They played tough and capitalized on turnovers.

Add to that 2 pretty pretty goals, one by Krystofer Kolanos set up by a great one-on-one move by pretend Miettinen, and the other by Brent Burns after Mikko Koivu ducked around 2 Oiler defensemen. I suppose it is possible the Oil may have just been bad on this nite, but you still need to execute, and these unknown men in Wild uniforms certainly did.

Next up is Hockey Day Minnesota!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Defense Wins Championships!

Or in the case of the Wild, maybe Defense Gets You the 8th Seed! Wild win in Beantown Tuesday nite 1-0. I saw the 2nd and 3rd periods. The story of this game is, play very strong defensively, get a great nite of goaltending from Niklas Backstrom, take advantage of powerplay opportunities and get a goal from Marek Zidlicky, and play Jacques hockey to get the money.

The Wizzy continue to give us all hope of at least making the playoffs by being sound defensively and playing team hockey. You might think 1-0 is boring, but for me, a W is a W. I learned that over the last month.

Wild in Philly Thursday nite. I really like seeing these Eastern Conference teams. Good work on the scheduling NHL. Now let's see if they can shut down yet another division leader.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Gettin’ Better Everyday

Wasn’t that a Tesla song? They had more songs than “Signs” ya know…

Wild put together a very nice game tonite in Colorado. Niklas Backstrom got the shutout in net and Owen Nolan scored both Wild goals and the Wizzy win 2-0. Tonite’s game is how I envisioned the Wild needing to play to make the playoffs. Gritty on offense and very strong defensively. It helped that the Avs are not very good right now and can’t score goals, but we’ll take ‘em where we can get ‘em. And just like that the Wild are starting to look like a team that could make some headway.

FSN color guy Mike Greenlay made an interesting point. Actually I think it was a question from a fan via text message, but Greenlay answered it. It just might be that with Marian Gaborik having surgery tomorrow and now the team knows he will be out for most of the season, they now know they don’t have him waiting in the wings to “rescue” them. Each player knows that they need to get their job done and step up their games. The Gabby thing isn’t hanging over their heads anymore. So hopefully now they know what they need to do to beat teams. I harp on the the fact that the Wild are not very talented up front, especially without Gaborik, but if you think about it, a few of the Wild forwards have not lived up to expectations this year. Pierre-Marc Bouchard needs to find himself. James Sheppard has developed slowly (although he’s been good of late). Benoit Pouliot is back on coach Jacques’ bleep list. Andrew Brunette hasn’t scored in quite some time. Add to that the fact we’ve got a bunch of kids from Houston trying to play NHL hockey. It’s easy to see why it’s been a tough go the last month.

But the recent play of Owen Nolan has me fired up. If he can stay healthy, he gives this team grit, leadership, and a sense that they can persevere. Keep the “C” on Koivu, keep Nolan with the “A” and I think we’ll see the Wizzy build some character they will once again make us proud.

And if not, then we go after Risebrough. At least this fan is watching again.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Back in the Game

I only saw the 3rd period of tonite's Wild v. Red Wings game, but it was a pretty good period for the Wizzy. Trailing 1-0 at the start, Owen Nolan scored a powerplay goal on a rebound to tie it, then Antti Miettinen scored a legitimate goal (as opposed to one for the other team) off a turnover shortly after to give the Wild the lead. The Red Wings eventually tied it on a borderline high stick that was initially waved off but was counted after a lengthy review, and it was close for sure. I am not up in arms with the decision to allow the goal, just a little surprised after the KSTC guys were so certain it would not count. Wrong again boys. The Wings won it in the shootout with Pavol Datsuyk's toe drag goal the only one to go in.

I really wish Nolan could stay healthy. He still has a nose for the puck and can score goals. He just is old and breaks down too much.

I think overall the last two games against the best in the league are encouraging and the Wild are poised to make a stand to get back in the playoff picture before the All-Star break. We will see how the next game goes in Colorado.

Friday’s Hockey Stuff

Team USA
I am clearly not a great hockey mind. After recapping the USA v. Canada game in the WJC yesterday, and pontificating that the US could beat Canada if they played again, the US squad laid an absolute egg in today’s 1st quarterfinal game, losing to Slovakia 5-3. The US goalie was soft, letting in a couple goals from 10-15 feet out, and after being stopped on a couple breakaways and a penalty shot early, they could not muster enough to catch Slovakia, who was in command for the majority of the game. Another disappointing showing for USA in the WJC.

Groin-Gate 2009
It has been confirmed that Marian Gaborik will have surgery on his hip on Monday, a procedure that will have him missing 10-14 weeks. He could return just in time for the end of the regular season, which could be the start of the playoffs, or most likely the end of the year for the Wild unless things turn around in a hurry. Gabby may have played his last game in a Wild sweater.

Bulldog Bites
Minnesota Duluth beat Massachusetts Lowell 2-1 tonite in the Shillelagh Tournament…something in Illinois. That extends UMD’s unbeaten streak to 8 games, a nice surprise in this season. UMD will play Notre Dame Saturday nite.

Friday, January 2, 2009

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.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

New Year's resolutions. I've always considered them to be extremely overrated. But after quite an eventful year in my life, I'm prepared to make one. But what resolution to make? Come along in my journey to

Resolution Option 1: Lose Weight
Great idea. But this really needs to be a lifestyle change. Does anyone's New Year's resolution to drop weight ever work? Like for more than 6 months? If you seriously want to get in shape it has to be more than about New Year's. Do it for you, not because it's trendy.

Resolution Option 2: Be a Better Employee
Great idea. If I still have a job in 2 months I'll make sure I do that.

Resolution Option 3: Drink Less Beer
Yeah. That's probably a pretty good idea. It would help out with option number 1. I'll take that into consideration.

Option 4: Drink More Beer
That's a very collegy-non-parenty thing to do. I've got a daughter to think about now.

Option 5: Be a Better Husband
Really I have no room for improvement here. Just ask my wife.

So Then What?
I'm left with this blog. I've been really bad about posting over the last month or 2. I've been really disconnected from our Wizzy club of late. I've felt guilty when people ask about the Wild and my best answer is "Not enough talent." Duh. Brilliant answer.

Then Russo published a Strib story this week about Doug Reisbrough being on borrowed time with the fans. That was a come-to-blog Jezus for me. That was my take before the season started on the blogosphere podcast. Clearly I need t get back into the Wild View.

Official Resolution: Own This Blog Like I Mean It