Happy Saturday everybody. If you want to get a bit of a hockey fix and listen to me talk NHL (lockout) and Gophers, I’ll be in studio with Dan Barriero on Sunday from 10-11 a.m. on KFAN (100.3 FM). 

Last night in Chicago, “Champs for Charity” raised more than $300,000 for the Ronald McDonald House when a bunch of locked-out NHLers, including the Wild’s Niklas Backstrom, Ryan Suter and Jake Dowell, entertained a soldout Allstate Arena. The game was reportedly the brainchild of hard-working checker Adam Burish and agent Bill Zito.

In the game, Backstrom, much to the glee of the crowd, actually beat Craig Anderson on a penalty shot with a suave, top-shelf wrister (see below).
Also, apparently Patrick Kane beat Backstrom in the shootout with a similar super-slow move he used to score against Backstrom in a real game last season (only with a back-handed finish in the charity game).
Remember, Sunday night at 7 at Mariucci, a bunch of locked-out NHLers, headlined by Zach Parise and Suter, here plan to put on a show during a game and auction to benefit Defending the Blue Line. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $20 at mygophersports.com. If you wait ‘til the door, it’s $30.
What will Backstrom do for an encore after Friday's snipe? We know he'll tend goal, but will he also play forward, do handstands in the crease, drop the gloves, drive the Zamboni?
In the game will be Wild players Parise, Backstrom, Suter, Dowell, Clayton Stoner, Cal Clutterbuck, Matt Kassian, Justin Falk, Darroll Powe, Stephane Veilleux, Kyle Brodziak, Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien and Blake Wheeler, Colorado’s Erik Johnson, Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk, Vancouver’s Keith Ballard, the Islanders’ Kyle Okposo, Pittsburgh’s Paul Martin, New Jersey’s Ryan Carter, the Kings’ Davis Drewiske, Washington’s Jack Hillen and Matt Hendricks, the Rangers’ Stu Bickel, San Jose’s Justin Braun, Ottawa’s Mike Lundin and Jimmy O’Brien, St. Louis’ Chris Porter, Anaheim’s Dan Sexton, Calgary’s Tim Jackson and former Wild fan favorite Wes Walz.
Doors open at 6. There’s a pregame ceremony at 6:45. The National Anthem will be fittingly performed by the locked-out musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra. Fans are entered in a raffle for prized and game-worn jerseys will be autographed and auctioned off after the game.
Should be a blast, and it’s for a good cause.
Couple other notes:
-- Locked-out Wild captain Mikko Koivu is back with TPS in the Finnish Elite League and is already piling up points. In a 5-3 loss to Ilves in his debut two days ago (see below), Koivu scored twice, had five shots and logged 25:07. In today’s 4-3 overtime, Koivu scored the overtime winner on his seventh shot to lift TPS to a win over Blues (or is it the Blues?). TPS is second to last in the 14-team SM-liiga.
Check out Koivu's grand entrance through smoke in his return Thursday (his 2 goals start at 3 minutes):
If you saw last night’s blog, I have info on there about Tyler Graovac’s huge night (leads OHL with 14 goals) and the Aeros’ win at Oklahoma City.
Houston is at home tonight against Milwaukee. Mikael Granlund is now tied for second in the AHL in rookie scoring with eight points. Granlund and Charlie Coyle are tied for second among AHL rookies with three goals each.

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Gophers pregame: Sam Warning sidelined this afternoon; Line charts