Finally, after being in Calgary for a month, the Wild and the Flames play tonight.
Russo multi-media today: Sirius/XM Radio at 2:33 p.m. CT, NHL Network at 3:05 p.m. CT, KFAN at 5:15 p.m. CT and then Fox Sports North +++++++++++ during the pregame show and first intermission.
Devan Dubnyk vs. red-hot Chad Johnson tonight.
Coach Bruce Boudreau claims Kurtis Gabriel decision will be made after warmups, but Gabriel came off the ice before Zack Mitchell, who worked after the skate with the assistants. So did Gustav Olofsson. As good as I thought Olofsson was the other night, getting Prosser in there as a right-shot allows the Wild to get Jonas Brodin back to his left side, where he has been so good.
Still lots of talk this morning about wherther there could be a chippy game tonight stemming from Johnny Gaudreau breaking his finger in last month's meeting with the Wild.
The big reason: the Flames were off today, so the Calgary media had to obviously ask the same questions to the Flames that we asked the Wild yesterday.
Nothing outlandish at all was said from inside their room, so this is very much making something out of very little. Captain Mark Giordano basically said there were some "unnecessary whacks," and they'll play the Wild's top guys hard like they'd play any other team's top guys.
Troy Brouwer, who's always a good quote said, "I might be a hypocrite to say anything because I like to throw a few slashes here and there. But, no, our mentality isn’t going to change. Your hand and fingers aren’t terribly well protected. It’s unfortunate what happened (to Gaudreau) happened. But we’re not going to take our focus away from trying to win a hockey game here.”
On Boudreau's comments yesterday, Brouwer said, "You’re always focused on teams top players. I know Bruce a bit (from Washington) and he’s not a guy that’s going to call guys out. That being said, when other teams top players are on the ice, you’re aware they’re on the ice. You want to focus on taking their time and space away. I certainly hope there wouldn’t be instances where they’d be targeting (Gaudreau) directly. But it’s part of hockey. It’s part of playing sports.”
Boudreau had some other comments this morning, again, ONLY because he was asked about it again.
"I think they’re making mountains out of molehills quite frankly because every game you watch, there’s little slashes on the hands. I don’t know, but I’ve got to believe we’re one of the least penalized teams over the years in the league, so if they think we’re targeting people’s hands, they’re nuts.
"Eric Staal has never been accused of being a goon or anything, so you've got to believe it wasn’t intentional. As to what they think, they can think what they think, ..."
Like I said, it looks like Mitchell, who has no points in 10 games, is out. Boudreau said of Mitchell, "He has good games and then he’ll be inconsistent, which a lot of American League guys tend to do. He’s played every position for us and hasn’t hindered us. He was on for his first goal against in the 10 games the other night."
Boudreau is a guy that likes to roll four lines. He said, "I’d like to use them more," but then he noted that in the last 11 games, the Wild's one game below .500 and in a lot of one-goal games or are chasing, so he has had to double up the other lines (in other words, the reason for the fourth line's low ice time).
Gabriel has played three NHL regular-season games and has no points and two fighting majors.
He said, "I'm not a hired hitman or anything. I'm here to play hockey. I know everybody knows I can play tough. I also know the game is changing. I've been working on it down there. I'm hoping to bring some energy like any fourth-line guy does.
"I'm trying to prove that I can play consistently. I showed that in the playoffs for four games. I know four games isn't much. I'm taking it one day at a time. Those old cliches are true. I'll try to play well and see if it make it to the next day."
Talk later. Slashgate makes for a fun storyline, but the Wild bigtime needs two points. That's the focus, players say.