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Michael Russo gives you complete coverage of the Minnesota Wild and the NHL

Boudreau says Calgary 'making mountains out of molehills' over Gaudreau injury

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.

Boudreau: 'Crazy allegation' that Wild targeted Calgary's Gaudreau

The Wild recalled rugged left wing Kurtis Gabriel from AHL Iowa today. He didn’t arrive in Calgary in time for practice, but there’s a chance he could be in the lineup Friday night when the Wild visits the Flames.

While coach Bruce Boudreau said Gabriel won’t necessarily play, it’s clear Gabriel was chosen as the callup in part because the Wild’s worried the game could get chippy if the Flames seek retribution after the last meeting Nov. 15 when star left wing Johnny Gaudreau fractured a finger and ultimately underwent surgery.

The Flames have been shorthanded 97 times, the most in the NHL (34 times more than the Wild). Their penalty kill has been beatable, too, ranking 28th, killing just 77.3 percent.

Flames bloggers, especially, accused the Wild of targeting Gaudreau with 21 slashes throughout the course of the game. As you can see by the videos on the links, he seemed to first hurt himself on a Ryan Suter slash, then a couple from Eric Staal.

Asked if he expects the game to get chippy, Boudreau said, “It shouldn’t be. Look it, the Gaudreau injury, if you watch hockey, it was an accident. If you play hockey, you know the gloves are made out of nothing now. Everybody gets touched. It was Eric Staal.

“Eric Staal, what was the most penalty minutes he’s ever got in a year? If you think he’s a dirty player that’s going for Gaudreau’s hand, then we’re all mistaken. I think it was a crazy allegation by them, but at the same time, you never know what’s going to happen.”

You may laugh at the glove comment, but a couple NHLers I’ve actually talked to lately commented that if Gaudreau plans to carry the puck as much as he does, especially the circling in the offensive zone, he probably has to get better protection on the gloves.

Staal said, “I’m not worried. You play the game the same way every time regardless of circumstances. We’ll be prepared to go and try to get the two points because that’s the most important thing.”

Added Suter, “That’s a [crappy] part of the game. Guys get hurt. It [stinks]. You don’t want to see anybody get hurt. I honestly don’t expect anything. He’s a really good player and it [stinks] that he got hurt. But it’s part of the game.”

Suter said the Wild didn’t target Gaudreau, saying, “Honestly, he’s so quick and gets away from you so quick that you’re trying tap him on the stick just to throw him off. That’s part of the game.”

Boudreau also said with the Iowa Wild in Grand Rapids on Friday and Saturday and Minnesota playing in Edmonton on Sunday, the Wild wanted an extra forward with the team in case it needs to get a player here.

“He’s not necessarily playing,” Boudreau said of Gabriel, adding, “He’s coming up here, played games here last year. From all reports is he’s doing OK down there.”

Other than that, it was a big special teams practice today, and unusually the penalty kill.

The PK has cost the Wild bigtime in the previous two losses.

Remember, in the first 10 games of the season, the Wild’s kill was 26 for 27 for a league-best 96.3 percent. In the past 12 games, the Wild’s kill is 27 for 37, dousing just 72.9 percent of opposing power plays.

It has plummeted to 14th in the NHL (82.8 percent).

Before practice, the team had a PK meeting where they showed video clips of what it was doing so well the first 10 games.

It was outworking power plays, having a great neutral zone forecheck where it didn’t allow teams to enter the zone cleanly or set up and clearing pucks 200 feet.

“It was more of a meeting to reset,” Boudreau said. “Because some guys, over time, if you don’t practice it, then you get loose at it, which is why we had power play specific and penalty killing specific out there today.”

In other words, normally the Wild will practice the power play with a penalty kill unit or two going up against them. But because so many Wild power-play guys are also on the penalty kill, the Wild practiced both, which made for a little longer than normal practice the day before a game.

Staal: “We just got to get crispier in some areas. Our ability to make teams have to dump it and not set up with possession carrying it in is huge. If you can continually have teams go back and forth going up and down the ice trying to break in, that’s a big thing. I thought we were really, really good at that the first 10, 11 games using a lot of bodies and rolling over shifts and not letting teams set up. Once teams set up, guys can make plays. That’s how it is. If you can limit them opportunities to set up, for the most part you’re going to find success.”

Devan Dubnyk: “We need to get back to the way we were killing before. It’s not any magic recipe that we need to change. I just think we have to sharpen up a little bit, some small areas, as simple as getting the 200-foot clears down the ice. That was one thing we were really, really good at the first 11 games was getting pucks down the ice and getting clears and momentum.”

Erik Haula: “It’s just some little things. It wasn’t black and white as it was at the beginning of the year. I got to watch it a lot up top there for seven games [when I was hurt]. During that time, it looked really spot-on, guys working together, and now it’s a little bit of kind of guessing, should I, should I not.”

The big thing is clears, he said. “You have a chance to clear it, it’s got to go 200,” Haula said. “Otherwise it’s always one out of three at least that end up in the back of the net. You always get that feeling watching from the bench when you don’t get a clear and it stays in the zone.”

Maybe the Flames can be the PK’s tonic.

They have the worst special teams in the NHL. Besides being 28th on the PK, they’re 30th on the power play.

Talk Friday. I'll be on XM at 2:30 p.m. CT (I believe), KFAN at 5:15 p.m. and Fox Sports North Plus during the game and before the game.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

< >
  • Timberwolves at New York

    6:30 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Wild at Calgary

    8 pm on FSN PLUS, 100.3-FM

  • Ohio State at Gophers men's hockey

    8 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Detroit at Gophers women's basketball

    2 pm on 1500-AM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Wisconsin

    3:30 pm

  • Timberwolves at Charlotte

    6 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Gophers men's basketball vs. Vanderbilt at Sioux Falls, S.D.

    7 pm on 1500-AM

  • Ohio State at Gophers men's hockey

    7 pm on FSN PLUS, 1500-AM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Wisconsin

    2 pm

  • Wild at Edmonton

    8:30 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • NJIT at Gophers men's basketball

    7 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • San Antonio at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN, NBATV, 830-AM

  • Gophers women's basketball at New Mexico

    8 pm on 88.5-FM

  • Wild at Toronto

    6:30 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at Toronto

    6 pm on TNT, 830-AM

  • Army at Gophers women's basketball

    8 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Gophers men's hockey at Michigan State

    5:30 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Boston U.

    6 pm

  • Edmonton at Wild

    7 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Detroit at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN PLUS, 830-AM

  • Georgia Southern at Gophers men's basketball

    8 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

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Today's Scoreboard

No MLB games today

No NFL games today

  • Orlando

    Philadelphia

     

    - F

    105

    88

  • Sacramento

    Boston

     

    - F

    92

    97

  • Minnesota

    New York

     

    - F

    114

    118

  • LA Lakers

    Toronto

     

    - F

    80

    113

  • Detroit

    Atlanta

     

    - F

    121

    85

  • Cleveland

    Chicago

     

    - F

    105

    111

  • LA Clippers

    New Orleans

     

    - F

    114

    96

  • Washington

    San Antonio

     

    - F

    105

    107

  • Houston

    Denver

     

    - 4th, 8:52

    107

    90

  • Minnesota

    Calgary

     

    - F

    2

    3

  • Montreal

    San Jose

     

    - 3rd, 13:43

    0

    2

No MLS games today