March Madness Officially Begins

Yesterday was the first day of March, but tonight is the real start of hockey’s biggest month in Minnesota. Not only does the Wild start its stretch run of 19 games to close out the season tonight, but the first Section final games in boys’ hockey will take place tonight around the state.

Pretty soon we’ll have the state tourney, the WCHA Final Five, the NCAA regionals and then April comes in with the Frozen Four at Xcel Energy Center and the NHL Playoffs, also at Xcel Energy Center, mark my words.

The Wild will look to avoid an upset tonight against the New York Islanders, the 28th ranked team in the League. Niklas Backstrom will get the start in goal, and will yield to Jose Theodore tomorrow night in Madison Square Garden.

Chuck Kobasew remains in Minnesota, recovering from an illness. That means Jed Ortmeyer, who was recalled last night, will get into the lineup.

One final note, since I wasn’t able to address yesterday’s trade of Petr Kalus to Columbus for future considerations. I think it’s safe to say that Kalus didn’t quite “pan out” since coming to us from Boston along with a fourth round pick in 2009 (Alexander Fallstrom, who was ironically traded to Boston for Chuck Kobasew last year) in exchange for Manny Fernandez.

There were some high hopes for Kalus after he scored four goals in nine NHL games with Boston at the end of 2007, but never could prove himself at a Wild training camp. The fact that he had just eight points (6-2=8) with Houston this year didn’t exactly bode well for future callups with the Wild.

But it was not to be. I’m not sure what “future considerations” the Wild would get. I assume it might be a late round pick down the road, or perhaps a free press meal at the Wild’s next visit to Nationwide Arena. I’m not really sure.

I do hope Kalus finds his way to the NHL someday. If anything, he allowed the Wild to send Fernandez to the Bruins, which allowed goalies like Niklas Backstrom, Josh Harding, Anton Khudobin and Jose Theodore to take over the goaltending stalls in the Wild locker room. Let’s just say those four are/were a little easier to deal with than Manny.

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