By Brian Stensaas
Twice it came up after the game, and twice the same words were used.
Wild players today, several playing hurt, "sucked it up" in a 4-2 win over a St. Louis team that has lost for just the second time in nine games.
It puts the Wild into within one point of the Blues for 10th place in the West.
Greg Zanon, who left for half of the second period after he blocked a shot and limped to the bench, and coach Todd Richards both used the "sucked it up" line in talking about the game.
The Wild came into Sunday already knowing it would be without Nik Backstrom, Brent Burns and Shane Hnidy (and, of course, Clayton Stoner and Pierre-Marc Bouchard). Then warmups came and no Owen Nolan.
He missed the game because of what the team called a "lower body injury."
Then Boogaard fought DJ King. Boogaard won the fight - including a sweet punch that sent King's helmet spinning to the ice like a top - but never returned to the ice. No word on his injury. Yeah Boogaard's not a points guy, but his absence meant for a good chunk of the third the Wild played with only 11 skaters on the bench.
And apparently it was worse than we knew.
" ... some guys were playing through injuries that I think normally they’d be out of the game,” coach Todd Richards said. “They sucked it up and finished. I’m coming out of the game feeling happy with the way the guys competed and played. We need efforts like that.”
Add Andrew Ebbett and Guillaume Latendresse to the list.
How about that top line tonight? Mikko Koivu, Andrew Brunette and Antti Miettinen combined for seven points. And Martin Havlat was SOLID on his two assists. Great play intercepting that Blues' clearing pass on the blue line setting up Koivu's goal, and Havlat's puck control coupled with the speed (are you listening, Montreal ...?) of Latendresse was the reason Minnesota went up 3-0.
Before I go, how about this from the Blues' Cam Janssen on the fight between Boogaard and King, in which they dos-ee-do'ed (I am probably butchering that) before throwing haymakers (quote courtesy of the St. Louis Post Dispatch):
"I give him all the respect in the world . . . he's a big guy and he's one of the toughest in the league by far," Janssen said. "But he doesn't have much respect for anybody else, the way he squares off. He showboats himself. I don't think he gave 'Kinger' the respect that he needed. Kinger caught him with a good one and now Boogaard is rearranging his face tonight . . . that's what he gets for not having any respect."
The Wild and Blues are done playing each other this season ... this regular season, anyway.
OK - that's it for me. I won't see another hockey game in person until ... wow, I don't know when. I'll probably pop in here and there to catch the home team before the season is up. But as far as reporting goes, I think this is it for this year.
There is no practice Monday, but there will be a Wild-related story in Tuesday's paper. Make sure to check it out.
I have an item in Monday's paper. The Wild's trying hard to sign UMass sophomore Casey Wellman, tied for sixth in nation in goals (23). Remember, Chuck Fletcher said earlier this season that he plans to annually dip into the college free-agent market. The Wild's one of several teams interested. He's expected to make a decision in the next couple of days. It would not be shocking at all that if the Wild signs him, he'll play immediately in Minnesota.