Wednesday morning update: Before my flight out of L.A., the Czechs and Finns named their Olympic rosters. As expected Martin Havlat and Marek Zidlicky made it from the Wild for the Czechs, and Mikko Koivu, Niklas Backstrom and Antti Miettinen make it for the Finns.
First, before I forget, as I guessed on the previous blog, defenseman Clayton Stoner does have a groin injury. He's day-to-day.
Second, Russo Radio will be Wednesday night at 6 p.m. on KSTP. Last show with Matt Thomas
It took awhile for the Wild to get into this game against the desperate Ducks, but after a tough first period, the Wild showed some life in the second and third and nearly pulled off another comeback. But coach Todd Richards admitted the Wild never matched Anaheim's desperation and made uncharacteristic mistakes, probably because the team was tired from playing the night before and because of all the hockey lately (18 games in 35 days).
But that's the new condensed NHL due to Olympics. The Wild will amazingly reach the season's halfway mark New Year's Eve. That's 41 games before 2010. Every night in this league it seems at least one of the team's played the night before, which always makes for tired hockey. Feel for L.A. Thursday. The Kings play in Calgary Wednesday night. Now that is not an easy back-to-back.
Tonight, the Wild, at least the players, was very unhappy with the officiating. The winning goal -- Bobby Ryan's second of the game late in the second -- came just as a 5-on-3 expired. The Wild felt the calls on Eric Belanger and Kyle Brodziak were borderline at best. I agree especially on the Brodziak one. As he said (you can read in the gamer), it was a nothing play in the neutral zone and yet referee Dennis LaRue thought it was so blatant, he'd put the Wild down 5-on-3 for 1:15. Look at the replay on NHL.com's GameCenter and you be the judge.
Ryan made it 3-1, and when Kim Johnsson made it 3-2 with 6:53 left in the third, teh Ryan goal became the winner. The Wild flirted with the tying goal. Jonas Hiller made a pair of clutch saves on the Andrews -- Ebbett and Brunette -- before Todd Marchant's empty-netter.
As you can read in the gamer, there were a couple on-ice altercations tonight that resulted in Derek Boogaard and John Scott making physical contact with the linesmen. Tony Sericolo actually took an accidental punch to the ribs from Boogaard and left the game twice because of the injury. Here's the video on Yahoo's Puck Daddy. But he finished because he's a hockey linesman. Scott actually threw Lonnie Cameron's grasp off of him as the linesman tried to break up a fight. You can read about these in the game story (that's why I write them). I don't foresee any league discipline. If the officials thought this was deliberate abuse of officials, the players would have gotten game misconducts, not 10-minute misconducts.
Got some emails ripping into Josh Harding. Gimme a break. Tonight was not Josh Harding's fault. He was good early. Bobby Ryan's first goal was a great shot against the grain after a turnover by Boogaard. Third goal was a perfect goalmouth pass backdoor to Ryan. Second goal, 2-on-1. He was obviously way out of position, but another bad play by the guys in front of him left him hung out to dry.
Harding's been bad in some games, but tonight's not one of them in my opinion. This is also a guy who plays once every three weeks usually in the second of back-to-backs and always on the road. His last home start was a year ago.
That's it. I've got to drive back to L.A. for an early flight. Wild will take Wednesday off.