By Brian Stensaas
I need a backup Wow - what a week to cover the Wild!
Seven straight days of covering this team in place of the Great Michael Russo have come to an end for yours truly. And the IOC sure picked a helluva week (for me) to begin all its stuff out in Vancouver. I took over this team while it was on a great ride at home - 8-0-1 in its last nine - and saw it fall in two straight.
It then breathed in some optimism by trading for a solid, young, talented kid in Cam Barker (did you see that shot he has??) and ended the week by totally controlling a game against the road-weary Canucks.
Minnesota returns to action March 3 in Calgary. It will do so in 13th place in the West, five points back of eighth-place Calgary with a game in hand
Coach Todd Richards joked after the game that he's so ready to shut things down for a few days that he might just fall down in the hallway after his presser. I doubt he did that (then again ...) but I'll also bet that if he were given the option he'd like to have the Wild play again el rapido. Minnesota totally clicked tonight against Vancouver. The move to the fourth line did not affect Kyle Brodziak one bit (evidenced by his three-point afternoon) and from puck drop to horn this one was the Wild's game. It went 4-for-7 with the man advantage. Opportunity knocked, Wild said "c'mon in."
Great, great efforts today by Greg Zanon, who singlehandedly bailed out Nik Backstrom twice by saving shots in the crease. How nice to see that after Backstrom has been hung out to dry countless times by his teammates this year, eh?
No one had a "bad" game in my mind. Some played better than others, but in the grand end of it all, this was a good one for the home squad.
Have to give a nod to James Sheppard (playing for the first time since Feb. 2) for scrapping with Aaron Rome there in the second period. At first I thought Rome just picked a fight with Sheppard because he (Rome) was the one who let Derek Boogaard get the puck to Clutterbuck, who got it to Brodziak for a 2-0 Wild lead. The fight came just 18 seconds later, after all. But I chatted up Sheppard after the game and he said he though Rome was miffed because Sheppard bumped one of the Canucks' skill players (Ehroff, maybe?)
Anyway, it was a good fight that Sheppard was OK with getting into.
Wow - The Vancouver writers have just left the press box, leaving me alone up here with the cleaning crew. I think that's a sign ...
OK - a couple of notes and then this blog belongs exclusively to Russo again:
Brodziak's three points are a career-high
Latendresse now has 18 goals in 36 games with the Wild. Anyone who says a change of scenery doesn't help a player might as well go wait for the pot of gold to appear at the end of the rainbow this spring ...
Zidlicky has 31 assists this season, a new franchise record for a defenseman
Clutterbuck has 12 goals this season, a career-high
Boogaard (whom I was so, so confident would score a goal while Russo was away) has tied a career-high with four assists
Barker: 13 minutes of average ice time with Chicago; 19:50 today with the Wild, +2, goal scored. This kid is going to make a difference
I AM OUT!
Thank you, readers, for sticking with our coverage this week even though your favorite writer of all time was away on other business.