Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Love we Lost…Was a Frozen Four

So, UMD’s run in the NCAA postseason is finally over. The Dogs were unable to pull off another heroic night on Saturday, getting down 2-0 in the 2nd period to Miami Ohio and finally kicking the offense into gear in the 3rd period. They finally scored with just about 2 minutes left and that was all she wrote. Justin Mercier scored both goals for the RedHawks, the first shorthanded that really took alot of energy out of the UMD fans at Mariucci. They crowd still represented, but couldn’t help muster any magic for the Dogs. Although they outshot the RedHawks 26-19, I never had a feeling they were close to putting the puck past Miami G Cody Reichard.

I had a ton of fun watching this surprising run…it got me jazzed about hockey again and gave me something to write about on this blog. Perhaps it will inspire that certain NHL team I pledged not to mention until the Dogs were done…so look for more on them soon.

Channel Flippin’
Trying to watch all the hockey games this weekend was a lesson in channel switching. First, when we tuned to watch the UND v. UNH game on ESPN2, the longest NCAA lacrosse game in history was going on first. So, we missed the entire first period and part of the second period, which frustrated my wife and Sioux fans everywhere. Seriously, you score 18 goals in regulation and it takes you 6 overtimes to score one more?

Then, when it came time for UMD v. Miami on ESPNU, the Air Force v. Vermont game went into 2 OTs. So this got my undies in a bunch. When the time slot opened up ESPN moved the UMD game over to ESPN Classic, and I only missed one period. Seriously…there’s gotta be a better way.

Upset City
The Dogs losing a game they really should have won to make a 2nd Frozen Four appearance since I began following them in 1996 was disappointing, but I didn’t feel too bad after all the crazy upsets over the weekend. We had North Dakota losing to New Hampshire in a back and forth game UNH tied with 0.1 seconds left in the 3rd and eventually won in OT. #15th overall Bemidji State dominated #2 Notre Dame, and then beat Cornell to make the Frozen Four, the lowest seed ever to advance that far. Boston University is the only #1 seed to make the Frozen Four. It has been a crazy tournament…BU is the only team I had correct in my bracket.

Frozen Four
Now there are no games for 2 weeks as the NCAA doesn’t want to put the hockey games on the same weekend as the basketball Final Fours. I guess it make sense, but the weekend off kinda bites. Here are the matchups:

Bemidji State v. Miami (OH)
A #4 v. a #4. Miami was good against UMD, but BSU has taken the torch as the momentum team from UMD, so I like the Beavers. Plus, if my homerism can’t stay in UMD might as well keep it in God’s Country!

Vermont v. Boston University
I saw parts of Vermont’s games over the weekend but nothing really stood out for me. BU is the tournament’s #1 overall team. Are we looking at another upset? I don’t think so…I’ll take the Terriers.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sioux Nation invades section 216

For those of you who are checking your URL address to make sure you haven't stumbled upon a UND hockey blog; don't worry, section 216 is still here. I've been asked to share my insights as UND begins the quest for their 8th NCAA championship this afternoon.

Before I get into my preview, how about them Dogs??? Wow!! UMD is one WCHA team that I pull for and don't mind so it was nice to see them continue their postseason run last night. 1 week ago at that time in the Final Five semis may have been a different story though.

Speaking of the Final Five, some strange part of me thinks those first 5-7 minutes of the UND/UMD game last Friday night may have set the tone for the weekend. The Sioux came out flat and went down 0-2 right away. In the second and third periods, they came out flying but it seemed like someone forgot to freeze the pucks since they were bouncing right off and over the Sioux sticks. Then in the 3rd place game against Wisconsin, I think they forgot you play for 60 minutes and not 20. After taking a 1-0 lead heading into the 2nd period, UND was outshot 25-9 in the second period and were trailing 3-1. UGGGHH!!! It was hard to remember that this is the Sioux team that were on their traditional 2nd half surge (14-2-3 heading into the Final Five since January 1st). The only silver lining to going 0-2 at the Final Five was that those 2 losses hurt the Gopher's chances at getting into the tourney.

Fast forward a week and now we are to a point where you will go home after 1 bad period or a bad 5-7 minute stretch of play. UND was shipped out to New Hampshire and the Northeast regional. They had been in a position to play at Mariucci this weekend but last weekends debacle sent them to New Hampshire. UND opens up with essentially a road game against New Hampshire (USCHO #12). Should UND get past UNH, the will most likely have a date with the #1 overall seed Boston University. But let's not get ahead of ourselves, let's take a look at the UND/UNH matchup.

New Hampshire is coming of a similar conference tournament disappointment as they were swept in the first round by Boston College. These losses came two weeks ago in Hockey East's first round so there may be some rust on the tires. New Hampshire is led by James van Riemsdyk (17g 22a). The #2 overall draft pick in the NHL by the Flyers, this F was also a leader on the Team USA World Junior team this past winter. This big forward will more than likely be the difference maker in the game. F Mike Sislo (18g 10a) is the goal scoring leader for UNH. One of the leaders on New Hampshire's blue line is freshman Blake Kessel. Yes, that is former Gopher and current Boston Bruin Phil Kessel's younger brother.

UND will need to find a way to win at a neutral site venue (granted this is basically a home game from New Hampshire) as they are now 0-5 this year at neutral sites. The Sioux will also need to remember that they were the WCHA scoring leaders and find that scoring touch. Hakstol was saying that this week's practices were very physical and very good practices. Hopefully some of that time was spent working on the powerplay as UND was 0-14 last weekend. The one thing that concerns me is that they seemed to be calling alot more of the NHL style penalties (obstruction) in yesterday's NCAA games. The WCHA is a very physical league in comparison to the eastern leagues, and UND is one of the more physical WCHA teams. If UND finds themselves in the box, it could be a short trip out east. I've also noticed that freshie Brett Hextall has been going to the box more and more. He is an agitator and for the most part has been able to stay out of the box all year. I noticed it in Grand Forks with their series against Michigan Tech two weeks ago and also last weekend in Saint Paul that the refs are on to his antics and are giving him two minutes much more often now. I still think that kid is money though. I mean his dad is Ron Hextall so you know he has a little temper in him.

I am going with a Sioux win 4-1.

Well Maverick, You had a Helluva First Day…

I’m spent. I hope the Dogs have a little more energy left than I do. Tonight in the NCAA hockey tourney the UMD Bulldogs battled…scratched…clawed…absolutely escaped…and surprised the heck outta me to beat Princeton, 5-4 in OT. This was a game UMD should have been in the driver’s seat. They seemed to be for the majority of the first period, taking an early lead on a goal from F Andrew Carroll. But Princeton tied it late in the 1st, then took the lead in the 2nd, then added another to go up 3-1. UMD D Brady Lamb got a shot off that eluded Princeton G Zane Kalemba to give UMD some life. Princeton controlled the 2nd period, but a penalty with 3 seconds left gave even more hope to UMD faithful starting the 3rd.

But as was the story for most of the night, UMD’s powerplay mounted little chances, and later in the period, on another PP, UMD gave up what appeared to be the dagger, a shorthanded goal for Princeton thanks to lackluster lunges at the puck trying to get it off the Tiger’s stick. Down 4-2, UMD pulled G Alex Stalock with about 2 minutes to play. A penalty call on Princeton with roughly a minute and it was “So you’re telling me there’s a chance…”

Then it got nuts. UMD scored on the PP with 39 seconds to go. Still, I’m thinkin’ it woulda been nice to get that goal about 5 minutes ago. UMD won the faceoff and pushed to the net, but a questionable (IMHO) goaltender interference call moved the faceoff out of the zone with 12 seconds to go. Once again UMD won the faceoff, something they did consistently all night long, and got the puck on goal. Zane Kalemba played the puck off for a defender, but the Dogs were coming hard, and they got the puck out front on of the net, where Bulldog D Evan Oberg threw a desperation wrister at the goal.

<<Visualize My Reaction>>Holy crap…it went in! Check the clock! 0.8 left on the clock! It’s a good goal!!! Jump up and down and attempt to be quiet so you don’t wake the family!!! Too late, dog barking, baby crying, wife asking what’s going on!!<<End Visualization>>

Whew! So now we go to an improbable OT, where you worry that the momentum will not carry over because you’ve spent too much emotion. Both teams had some chances, and I let out some gasps on both sides of the ice. With about 6 minutes to play the Tigers were called for tripping, and UMD had another PP opportunity. They were not good on the PP all night, but only a few seconds after the ensuing faceoff UMD F Mike Connolley showed some nifty skate work to catch a beauty centering pass from F Justin Fontaine and had a yawning net to stuff the puck into, and he did just that. UMD moves on to the West region championship game. Win and go to the Frozen Four! The pro UMD crowd was awesome all night, continually getting behind the Dogs. Those that came down to Minneapolis from Duluth now get to go out and party and look forward to seeing UMD play another day.

Friday Recap
UMD had to scratch and claw to get a win tonight and defend their higher seed. In the other games Friday, the high seeds were upset. In the East regional, #4 Air Force beat #1 Michigan 2-1 and #3 Vermont beat #2 Yale. In the other West regional game, #4 Miami Ohio took care of Denver 4-2. So I got one game out of the four right in my bracket…and I barely got that one.

That sets up Air Force v. Vermont and Minnesota Duluth v. Miami Ohio to go to the Frozen Four. Honestly, I got nothin’ on AF v. Vermont. As for UMD v. Miami, the Dogs have got to be super tired - it is good that the game is an 8:00 CST start. Good opportunity to rest. They have to be careful not to take Miami lightly because they are the #4 seed. Miami also probably learned alot from Princeton’s gameplan to take the athletic Alex Stalock out of UMD’s gameplan. The Dogs will have to stay intense and bury their opportunities better than they did tonight. And, sticking to my bracket, and my loyalties, I think they will do just that.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

2009 NCAA Tournament Prediction Post

Dogs Logo

Minnesota Duluth’s unexpected run to the WCHA Final Five title and appearance in the NCAA Tournament continues my distraction from the ever-frustrating NHL team I usually ramble on about. I will continue this impromptu coverage of the 2009 college hockey season with predictions for the NCAA tournament.

Northeast Region
Verizon Wireless Arena - Manchester, New Hampshire
Pretty much a no-brainer, but I’ve got #1 overall Boston University coming out of this region. I am going with a slight upset in the #2/#3 game, with the host New Hampshire Wildcats beating the North Dakota Fighting Sioux. This will not make my wife, a few friends, and some relatives very happy, but after the standard start-slow, finish strong to win the WCHA regular season, North Dakota hasn’t quite been the same since the playoffs started. They less-than overwhelmed Michigan Tech in the first round, then lost to UMD and Wisconsin in the Final Five. They’re headed into an arena 38 miles from UNH, and I think the Wildcats will ride the wave to one W. They will be overmatched in the next round v. Boston U, and BU will be in the Frozen Four.

East Region
Bridgeport Arena at Harbor Yard – Bridgeport, Connecticut

Yale is the host school for this regional…only 16 miles from the arena. I think Yale beats Vermont, Michigan beats Air Force, and Yale upsets Michigan to get to the Frozen Four.

West Region
Mariucci Arena – Minneapolis, Minnesota
First one to comment who I think will win this region gets the Atta Boy prize. I gotta believe UMD’s run continues for a few more games. Bulldog G Alex Stalock let in one goal last weekend in the Final Five and he’s playing like the best goalie in the nation. That said, I’ve heard rumblings that Princeton has the ACTUAL best goalie in the nation. I’m looking for Stalock and MacGregor Sharp to stay hot, for some other Bulldog scorers to join the party, and for the Dogs to beat Princeton in a low-scoring affair. Then it’s UMD v. Denver to get to the Frozen Four. All sorts of history here…UMD just beat Denver in the Final Five championship game this past weekend. Denver ended UMD’s last NCAA run in the national semifinal in 2004. I think UMD has the tie-breaker here because they’re the hot team and it’s their turn to win on the big stage.

Midwest Region
Van Andel Arena – Grand Rapids, Michigan
I know next to nothing about most of these teams. I know Bemidji State wants to get into the WCHA, and I know that UMD swept them in Duluth this season. When BSU gets into the WCHA they’ll play against better competition, but for now they’re overmatched. Notre Dame wins that game, and I’ve got Northeastern beating Cornell, and the Fighting Irish advancing to the Frozen Four.

Frozen Four
Verizon Center – Washington D.C.
Boston U will end Yale’s cinderella run  and advance to the championship game. In the other semifinal…you guessed it, I have UMD over Notre Dame. That sets up a Bulldog v. Boston Terrier final. Naturally the Bulldogs will win that matchup, and UMD will win it’s first-ever NCAA hockey championship!

While I was able to apply at least a little logic to the regional games, I’m clearly looking at the Frozen Four through Bulldog-colored glasses. But when your team has only been to the hockey dance 5 times previously, you’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity!

Here’s proof of my prognostication, courtesy of the poor low-light picture-taking abilities of my iPhone…

download (1)

Check back later for recaps of this weekend’s games.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Let’s Go Bulldogs – Clap – Clap – Clap-Clap-Clap

I’m finally able to say this…the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs are the WCHA Final Five Champions!

photo: duluthnews.com

UMD beat Denver University, a team they historically struggle against, 4-0 in Saturday’s championship game at Xcel Energy Center. They are the first team to win the Final Five having to play 3 games in 3 nights starting with the Thursday play in game. They earned an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. They are on an unbelievable high and who knows how long they can ride it.

I wasn’t able to pay 100% attention unfortunately. My family and our cousins had a great idea to go to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch and baby girl was all riled up. I actually missed all 3 goals in the first 2 periods, looking up just in time to see the celebration. But trust me, I’m ok with it. I’m just too excited to care!

MacGregor Sharp had a hat trick and G Alex Stalock stopped all 20 shots he faced to secure the Broadmoor Trophy. Stalock was named tournament MVP (duh).

photo: duluthnews.com

NCAA Tourney
UMD got a nice break from the NCAA selection committee. They will play in the West regional, which is being played at Mariucci Arena at the U of Minnesota. They drew the #2 seed in the region and will play #3 Princeton Friday night. The other game is #1 Denver v. #4 Miami of Ohio. This will be UMD’s 1st appearance in the NCAA since 2004, when they made it to the national semifinal before losing to that infamous Denver Pioneers squad.

On a side note, Minnesota did not earn a spot in the tournament for the first time since 2000.

Look for more coverage on the NCAA tourney here later this week, including my bracket predictions!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Don’t Stop…Believin!

Dogs Logo 
For the first time ever, the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs are in the WCHA Final Five championship game. The Dogs are riding a wave of unbelievable goaltending, strong defense, and a bit of luck into a chance to actually lift a trophy.

Last night the Dogs took on the #1 seeded North Dakota Fighting Sioux, they beat them 3-0, and I finally made it down to the X for the first time this season.

Ticket Hunt
We met up with some friends at Great Waters Brewing and hoped to find a good deal on tickets outside the arena. I thought alot of Gopher fans would be selling their tickets. To my surprise, all that were available outside were singles, and they were going for more than we were looking to pay. I’ll give Gopher fans props for still attending the game after they were knocked out of the tournament. We wound up buying tickets at the box office, which wasn’t really all that bad…we were able to avoid Ticketmaster’s ridiculous fees.

Early Lead
The Dogs capitalized on an early miscue by UND G Brad Eidsness on a UND powerplay when UMD cleared the puck and Eidsness went behind the net to stop it. He left it for a teammate, but UMD F MacGregor Sharp got to it first and snuck it into the net. Later the Dogs got another goal on a 4-on-4.



Alex Stalock – Clap Clap Clap Clap Clap
UMD’s goalie was again outstanding. He made several key saves when UND eventually got their game rolling. And he was also lucky. UND missed alot of opportunities where the puck would hop a stick or go off a skate.



Hang On!
The 2nd and 3rd periods were definitely tense for the outnumbered UMD fans at the X. Much as I love the Dogs, they always have had a tendency to become complacent and let a team back in. But it didn’t happen last night.

The key to the game after a long 5-minute major penalty called on UMD D Brady Lamb. UMD was able to kill the powerplay and got a ton of momentum and confidence for the rest of the game.

Suite 32
Our friends got us into their suite for the 2nd and 3rd periods. That was cool, because the seats were better than we had, and the beer was free! Definitely appreciate Paul for getting us in. Thanks buddy!

Every other fan in the suite were Sioux fans, and they were all crabby by the time we got there. They were very cordial to me, but you’d think UND was the worst team ever if you listened to their grumbling.


UMD v. Denver
The Broodmoor Trophy will go to either the Pioneers or the Bulldogs. UMD has never played well against Denver in my memory, and they knocked the Dogs out of the Frozen Four a few years ago. It will have to be another stellar defensive show if the Dogs want to win, and Stalock will again need to be good. If the Dogs can get the first goal again, I like our chances. I may just get to see my team hoist a trophy!

Friday, March 20, 2009


Dogs Logo

My regular readers know I am a huge University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs hockey rube. After an impressive upset in the first round of the WCHA playoffs over Colorado College last weekend, the Dogs earned a rare birth in the WCHA Final Five. Tonight was their play-in game, against our (and about 5 other team’s) biggest rival, the University of Minnesota Gophers. This house was riled up. My wife is from Grand Forks, ND, and is a Fighting Sioux fan, so clearly we both were looking for a Bulldog victory.

And that is exactly what we got…UMD 2, UMTC 1. It was a really good game. The Dogs went up 1-0 early in the first period and also killed an extended 5 on 3 Gopher powerplay. They got another goal in the 2nd to go up 2-0, and the Gophers seemed to be disinterested the rest of the second period. Even the homer Gopher announcers for FSN noted that they just didn’t seem to have life.

But as everyone would expect, the Gophers brought it in the third. They got a goal about midway into the period on a deflection and the Dogs held on for dear life. A key point in the game was with about two minutes left, after playing almost all of the period in their own defensive zone, UMD put a little pressure on the Gophers and came up with a couple good scoring chances. That was enough to run out the clock, although as time expired UMTC had a nice little last-second opportunity and a UMD player got a hook in to draw a penalty, but time expired and the Dogs get the W. UMD goalie Alex Stalock has been getting a TON of press around the Twin Cities about how he is the best goalie in the WCHA right now and one of the best in the country, and he absolutely lived up to the hype. He kept the Dogs in the lead in this one.

Sweet victory for me. I am a UMD fan living and working in Gopher-land. Gopher fans were looking past tonight’s game to a matchup with North Dakota in the semifinal. I hate to pile on UMTC fans after the basketball team was ousted early in the NCAA tournament, but then maybe they shouldn’t be so sure of themselves every time they get the opportunity.

So that sets up a Final Five matchup for my Dogs v. my wife’s Sioux in St Paul. UND won the WCHA regular season title, UMD finished 7th. UND is an unbelievable second-half of the season team, UMD is on an influential run. UMD beat and tied UND in two games this season. Tomorrow night should be fun. Julie and I will head to St. Paul and try to score a couple tickets from disgruntled Gopher fans unloading their ducats. If we are successful, come back here for some pics.

And all I can hope for is a competitive game and a chance to win at the end – and to only hear “Sioux Yeah Yeah” a minimal of times.


Friday, March 6, 2009

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!”


  • 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.

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!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Niklas Backstrom Extension

Tuesday the Wild signed G Niklas Backstrom to a 4-year contract extension, reportedly worth $24 M. I have mixed feelings. I thought that Backstrom was really the only asset the Wild have at the trade deadline and that they could deal him for some offense in return. Add Marian Gaborik back from injury to that offense, and you might have a new force for a playoff run. You can read my great GM mind published here in a guest bit on Cycle Like the Sedins. But given that Wild GM Doug Reisbrough would never pull the trigger on a deal like that, I guess the next best scenario is signing Backstrom to a contract that keeps him here for a few years. At least he will not be leaving for nothing.

Initially after seeing the terms I thought that’s actually not a bad price to pay…it’s not an overly-aggressive deal. Then I read that it makes him the fourth-highest paid goaltender in the NHL. His stats certainly put him in that category. Pretty good for a guy signed two years ago as a nobody from Finland to be Manny Fernandez’s backup.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Wild in State of Flux

Wild @ Canucks – Tues Mar 3 – View from the Couch
Another ridiculous loss for the Wizzy tonight. After jumping out to an early 2-0 lead in the 1st period, they give up 4 unanswered to lose 4-2. A disastrous 2nd period where the puck was seemingly in the Wild zone for the entire period. The Wild dropped in to a defensive style from which they never emerged, and two Canuck goals 28 seconds apart tied it then gave VAN the lead for good.

Wild goals came from Dan Fritsche and Marek Zidlicky. The bulk of VAN’s scoring was especially painful…two from pain in Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s posterior Alex Burrows and one from former Wild F Pavol Demitra. Hurts extra hard.

The Wild have now lost 4 in a row and are in absolute free fall.

Mikko Koivu is March Captain

The Fight to…Make the Playoffs
This was a big loss. Since this was a late game we know where we stand…11th place in the Western Conference, 3 points out of a playoff spot. With 20 games to play obviously the Wild are not out of it, but they’ve got to turn this ship around in a big hurry.

The big west coast road swing continues Thursday in San Jose. Things just don’t get any easier.

Marian Gaborik Checked Out

This one really takes the cake. From the Does this Really Surprise You Bureau, unrestricted free agent and rehabbing Wild F Marian Gaborik met the press yesterday on a little conference call. During this call he said, and I’m paraphrasing, that during his rehab he hasn’t been watching the team’s games, he mentioned that he he is a free agent July 1, and he expects he will be back toward the end of the month, while the Wild have stated a return much sooner than that.

Are you kidding me? Is there any more proof that he does not want to be here? Ish. We’ll miss your offense Gabby, but we won’t miss your attitude.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Annoying Goal Horns 2 Wild 0

Wild @ Edmonton – Sat Feb 28th – View from the Recliner
This is enough to make a Wild fan panic. Tonight the Wild go to 0-2 in this year’s pivotal road stretch, 3-2 to the Oil. Even finally getting a first period goal was not enough. The Wild’s goals came from Mikko Koivu and Antti Miettenen, and Josh Harding was in net for the Wild who lost their third game in a row. While I can’t pin it on Harding, there were a couple that I think he probably should have stopped. I am on record saying the Wild should deal Niklas Backstrom for offense and go with Harding, and tonight didn’t exactly make me feel like a great hockey mind.

Derek Boogaard Suspended
The NHL suspended Wild waste of space Derek Boogaard five games for his elbow in yesterday’s game v. Calgary. For reference, see my recap from yesterday’s Wild loss. That’s one way to get him off the team.

Another Looserville USA Night
Seems like every time I have some sort of hockey night at my house the teams I am rooting for lose. Last night it went Flames 4 Wild 1 and Gophers 2 Bulldogs 2. Tonight it was Gophers 5 Bulldogs 3 and Oil 3 Wild 2. My UMD Bulldogs had an excellent opportunity to position themselves for home-ice advantage in the WCHA playoffs this weekend, but only get 1 out of 4 points. Both nights they had leads – tonight they even had a natural hat trick from MacGregor Sharp (UMD’s first hat trick in over four years). But defensive breakdowns lead to too many odd man rushes, and UMTC gets the most out of the weekend, and I will hear about it all week at work.

The Fight to…Make the Playoffs
With the win, Edmonton moves ahead of the Wild and is tied for 7th in the Western Conference, with Anaheim. The Wild drop to 10th, 2 points behind Edmonton and Anaheim. If the Wizzy don’t stop this skid in a hurry there won’t be any playoff push left for Marian Gaborik to solidify if he ever gets healthy.

The Wizzy HAVE to come out like it means something on Tuesday when they travel to Vancouver. I almost pulled out the must-win card last night, and I’m not quite going to do it here, but this is almost a must-win game.