Good Afternoon from St. Paul, where the Wild players are currently packing up their hockey bags and getting ready to head to the airport as they go out on the road once again. It seems like every time you turn around, the team is leaving for a road trip – but with the way the guys have played on the road this season, you can’t really complain about a lack of extended home stands.
This time, the Wild heads to Denver for a matchup with the Avalanche tomorrow and then to Phoenix for a game Saturday. Tomorrow’s game should be interesting because the Wild and Avs had some VERY physical contests earlier in the year, but the last contest between the two was relatively mellow – what type of game will it be tomorrow? Of course, both games have plenty of importance since they are Western Conference battles and the playoff race continues to get tighter, even when you think it can’t be possible.
Speaking of Phoenix, they blew a lead last night to San Jose and the Sharks ended up winning 5-3, meaning the Wild’s stay 8th place and playoff position lasted about two hours. I talked to Matt Cullen about it after practice and thought some of the things he said were very interesting: basically saying that while it can at times be frustrating that the Wild’s winning and not making much headway in the standings, the team feels good because the tight standings are practically like a playoff race and the Wild is dealing with the pressure of that and winning.
As for practice itself, every Wild player was on the ice for a pretty fast-paced 45 minutes or so and looked like they’ve gotten rid of the All-Star rust. Todd Richards reiterated after practice that Jose Theodore will start in Colorado, adding that they made the decision before break. Regardless of Niklas Backstrom’s great play of late, they want to make sure they have both goalies to use down the stretch and Jose needs to get some playing time in. Listen to Todd Richards entire scrum with the media on this Wild PONDcast.
I saw photos last night, but I finally got to see the shirts honoring Andrew Brunette’s 1,000th NHL game that all the players and team staff got yesterday:
They’re pretty sweet up close. Brunette was on NHL Live this afternoon to talk about the milestone and will be honored with a pre-game ceremony at the next Wild home game Wednesday against the Avalanche.
Finally, in case you didn’t see it last night, I’ll leave you with video of Niklas Backstrom’s absolutely unbelieveable, amazing, jaw-dropping and a million other adjectives save on Jack Johnson in the shootout last night. Watch it here.