Look for Pavol Demitra, and you'll surely find Marian Gaborik nearby. The high-scoring forwards complete each other's passes -- as well as sentences. Their chemistry will be key as the Wild begins the playoffs.
Robyn Regehr doesn't suffer from motion sickness, and that's a good thing, because the Calgary defenseman wasn't expecting to spin up and down the ice like a dreidel when the Flames arrived in Minnesota last month.
Regehr was given the unenviable assignment of defending Pavol Demitra and Marian Gaborik, and the Wild wizards spent the night making Regehr twist and turn as he tried to guard against what's been dubbed the "Lob Pass."
You know, the pass where Gaborik takes off the second Demitra gets the puck. Demitra then lobs the puck up ice in the hope of Gaborik catching up on either a breakaway or a one-on-one situation with a very vulnerable, very dizzy defenseman.
You can bet the Anaheim Ducks, the Wild's opponent when the first round of the NHL playoffs open tonight, have been well-schooled about the lob pass. In fact, you can be certain the Honda Center is well stocked with Dramamine.
"It's something that doesn't happen against any other teams," said Regehr, who looked like a cornerback who lost sight of the football. "It's a total adventure when a guy like Gaborik, with all that speed, is skating forward and you're skating backward. And even if you're with him, one bad bounce, next thing you know he has the puck in the slot and you're in trouble."
And that's just the way Demitra likes it.
"It's a good play, because at least you're forcing the defense to always be nervous about it," Demitra said. "I'd be nervous if I had to challenge the fastest guy in the league. When Gabby gets going, it's almost impossible to stop him."
Gaborik nods, proudly. Demitra, sensing this, adds, "When we play with [Atlanta Thrashers superstar Marian] Hossa [in international competition], I lob it and let Gabby and Hossa fight for the puck and the breakaway.
"I do it just to amuse myself."
Best friends, on and off the ice
Spend any time with Gaborik, 25, and Demitra, 32, and it's easy to see why they're one of the NHL's most electrifying dynamic duos, why sometimes they seem to read each other's mind.
"Because we only use one brain -- mine," Demitra said, straight-faced.
Gaborik, laughing hysterically, shot back, "Yeah, we use the bald one."
Seemingly attached at the hip -- "On the road we spend 24 hours a day together," Demitra says -- the Slovak sidekicks live to cut each other up.
That was evident during last week's Star Tribune photo shoot, when Demitra was impatiently ready to strike a pose while Gaborik stared endlessly into a mirror fixing his hair.
"Gabby, come on!" Demitra screamed. "You're still going to be ugly."And you still won't have any hair," Gaborik retorted.
Asked how much they love picking on each other, Gaborik smiled ear-to-ear.
"Lots of different jokes," Gaborik said. "We pick on each other in all kinds of areas. Sometimes it gets too much though, too personal with stuff, and we get mad. I always tell him he's bald and 'Big [Butt],' and he's always calling me ugly and how he's so good-looking."We're very close. We know everything about each other," Demitra added, before interrupting himself. "You should listen to us on the bench. We yell at each other a lot. If we don't get the puck when we want it, we let each other know when somebody's unhappy. That's how it's supposed to be."Yeah," Gaborik said, "it's good to be honest. I think every duo out there does the same thing, or you can't have success."
|Cincinnati - M. Lorenzen||6:05 PM|
|Pittsburgh - J. Locke|
|Miami - M. Latos||6:05 PM|
|Washington - S. Strasburg|
|NY Yankees - M. Pineda||6:07 PM|
|Toronto - M. Estrada|
|Philadelphia - C. Billingsley||6:10 PM|
|Atlanta - S. Miller|
|Baltimore - B. Norris||6:10 PM|
|NY Mets - B. Colon|
|Tampa Bay - D. Smyly||6:10 PM|
|Boston - R. Porcello|
|Los Angeles - Z. Greinke||7:10 PM|
|Milwaukee - M. Garza|
|Cleveland - D. Salazar||7:10 PM|
|Kansas City - J. Vargas|
|Detroit - S. Greene||7:10 PM|
|Chicago WSox - J. Samardzija|
|Oakland - J. Chavez||7:10 PM|
|Minnesota - T. May|
|Texas - W. Rodriguez||7:10 PM|
|Houston - S. Feldman|
|Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks||7:15 PM|
|St. Louis - T. Lyons|
|Arizona - J. Collmenter||7:40 PM|
|Colorado - T. Matzek|
|Seattle - J. Paxton||9:05 PM|
|LA Angels - G. Richards|
|San Diego - A. Cashner||9:15 PM|
|San Francisco - R. Vogelsong|
|San Jose||7:30 PM|