Tag Archives: Mikko Koivu

Team Finland Gets Heroes Welcome In Helsinki

Believe it or not, there was some good news for Wild fans over the weekend, although it was hugely overshadowed by the tragic passing of Derek Boogaard.

But one of Boogaard’s former teams, the Houston Aeros, is now two wins away from advancing to the Calder Cup finals after a 3-2 victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs last night. Colton Gillies notched the game-winner while Robbie Earl and Marco Scandella also scored. Jared Spurgeon notched a pair of assists.

There is still a lot of work to be done right now for the Aeros, but thus far, their playoff record is an impressive 10-3. And this was a team that didn’t get a sniff of the postseason a year ago.

And across the pond, Boogaard’s fellow 2001 Wild draftee Mikko Koivu won a gold medal at the World Championships as Finland thumped their arch nemesis, Team Sweden by a 6-1 score. Koivu and Mikael Granlund each had an assist in the game, but of course the talk of the tournament was Granlund’s jaw-dropping goal in the semifinals against Russia. The Wild’s top pick last year finished the tournament with two goals and seven assists in nine games.

If you have any doubt about how popular the kid is over there, check out this link so you can build your own Granlund Paper Doll.

As for Koivu, he picked up two goals and six assists in the nine games and served as team captain.

To view some photos upon Team Finland’s arrival back in Helsinki, you can check out this gallery courtesy of Tomi Natri.

Finally, Martin Havlat and Marek Zidlicky picked up bronze medals after defeating Russia in the third place game. Zidlicky had a goal and four assists in nine games, while Havlat had two goals and four assists in six games.

Wild World Championship Update

Last week, Dennis Endras started things off the right way for players with Wild ties at the IIHF World Championship. He posted a shut out of Russia in the opening game of the tournament. He appeared to set the tone for some other players of interest to Wild fans.

Mikael Granlund has had himself a nice showing through two games in helping Finland go 2-0. The 2010 first round pick tallied a power play goal in a 5-1 win over Denmark, becoming the first Team Finland player born in the 1990’s to register a goal in World Championship competition. In a 3-2 shootout win over Latvia, Granlund picked up assists on both regulation goals and would have been Finland’s final shooter in the shootout if not for Mikko Koivu sealing the win with his patented backhand roof shot on the glove hand side. Koivu also has an assist through two games.

Finland’s next opponent will be the Czech Republic, which is also 2-0 thus far.  Martin Havlat is tied for the team lead in scoring with a goal and two assists, while Marek Zidlicky has one helper.

Brent Burns and Cal Clutterbuck each have a point for undefeated Team Canada, with Burns notching a goal and Clutterbuck assisting on a Travis Zajac tally in a 9-1 rout of France. Canada is currently trailing Switzerland, 1-0 in the final game of pool play.

Wild Preps For St. Louis; Viewing Party Tuesday

Good afternoon, State of Hockey Legion! Hope your work weeks are off to a great start. Mine is a little busier than normal since Glen is spending the week with his family in sunny Florida, but no worries wild.com superfans (and I know there a million of you), I’ve got his back.

The Wild had an upbeat practice that lasted about 45 minutes at Xcel Energy Center this morning before departing for St. Louis. Both Mikko Koivu and Chuck Kobasew missed practice, but Head Coach Todd Richards said it was just a maintenance day for each of them and both should be back in the lineup tomorrow night against the Blues. Cam Barker and James Sheppard also took part in practice, but neither will travel to tomorrow’s game, nor will any of the other injured players.

An interesting side note from today’s skate was that much of the team was sporting the clean shaven look. I wasn’t at yesterday’s Wild practice, so I don’t know when exactly the razors came out, but I definitely noticed the lack of facial hair around the locker room today. I counted at least five guys that had trimmed nearly everything off, and I’m sad to say that includes Kyle Brodziak, who had been rocking his Movember stache for the last four months. Brodziak said he just decided to change it up but that it will probably reappear at some point. Farewell, Brodzstache. You made all of your fellow Movember dusters proud.

Onto the business on the ice, it was a fairly typical practice for the Wild, minus some line shuffling to adjust for the absence of Koivu and Kobasew. Richards did say after practice that he will start tomorrow’s game with different lines in hopes to get some productivity and chances in the offensive zone. That means the second and third lines should be shifted around, with Havlat possibly lining up with Cullen and Kobasew like yesterday’s practice. Jose Theodore will start in net tomorrow against the Blues.

In case you missed it, radio play-by-play man Bob Kurtz missed his first Wild game – ever – Saturday night because he was sidelined with a bad sinus infection. Kurtz had previously called all 912 Wild games – including preseason and playoff games – which in itself is an amazing stat. Kurtz is still under the weather so Kevin Falness will once again fill in for him. Feel better, Bob! Listen to Falness’ practice update in today’s PONDcast.

Finally, don’t forget to come join me, other Wild staff members and fans at the Wild Interactive Viewing Party tomorrow night at the Mall of America. Former Wild great Wes Walz will be on hand to sign autographs and there will be a ton of great giveaways including a game-worn Bouchard jersey, video game systems, Wild tickets and much more. Of course, we’ll have the Wild-Blues game on the big screen but the party starts at 6 p.m. so stop by. Get all the details here.

Clutterbuck And Koivu May Both Be Back Tonight

The Minnesota Wild has just wrapped up its morning skate in Vancouver, and the news is sounding good. Head Coach Todd Richards is saying that Cal Clutterbuck and Clayton Stoner are both in, and that Koivu is a gametime decision.

When Koivu was asked if he’ll take pregame warmups, he said, “we’ll see.” One would think that if he wasn’t going to, he would have just said “no.” And one would also think that if he’s taking warmups, he’s playing.

What a huge boost this would be to a team in need of a win against the best team in the Western Conference tonight. Of course, here in Minnesota, we always brush off that label when it comes to the Canucks. It doesn’t matter where they are in the standings, the Wild always seems to have its best ready. To have their best, it helps to have their best players and Koivu and Clutterbuck fit into that category.

Expect Niklas Backstrom to get the start in this most gargantuan of games.

I’m aware of some consternation as the result of two shutout defeats from last week, but I did some research and data analysis. By my calculations, a 4-3 loss counts for the same amount of points as a 4-0 loss, thus rendering the “shutout” tag irrelevant. Also, the Wild remains four points back of eighth place Calgary, with two games in hand, so the playoffs are still there for the taking with 13 games to play.

And, if the Wild can bag a couple wins over a too cool for school Vancouver team, and a Sharks team that has lost three of four, things are going to get very interesting come the weekend. Following this road trip, the Wild will play five of their next six games against teams on the outside of the playoff picture. The only exception is Montreal.

My point is, things are far from over.

And finally, as a product of the great white North, I have to comment on perhaps the most tension filled hockey day that the Duluth area has ever seen. On Saturday, Hermantown (which is basically a Duluth suburb) fought should-be Double A school St. Thomas Academy to the very end in an overtime defeat in the Class A state finals. That night, my alma mater Duluth East, fought Eden Prairie, a school with a student population right around 1 million, for three overtimes before finally succumbing. All the while, the UMD Bulldogs were tangling with St. Cloud State in a three overtime thriller to get to the WCHA Final Five. FYI – the Bulldogs won.

For folks who saw any of those three games, I’m willing to bet they won’t forget any of them. To use a cliche, those games are why we love hockey. So thanks to all the players and coaches and fans who were involved for creating those memories.

Now then, don’t expect triple overtime tonight in Vancouver, because it’s impossible. But, expect a Wild win, and it will be so.

Koivu Practices; Latendresse A “Maybe”

It was a big news day at Xcel Energy Center on Monday with who was and who wasn’t on the ice. So rather than meander through, let’s get down to brass tacks with some bullet points. And come back later today as Wild TV will have footage of Todd Richards (on Koivu and on Latendresse), Guillaume Latendresse and Mikko Koivu speaking with the media:

  • Koivu practiced with the team today and got a stick tap from his teammates prior to drills taking place. Koivu saw the doctor today, who said he continues to heal nicely. Koivu still can’t participate in battle drills, and he can’t fully grip the stick like he’s accustomed to doing, but it’s clear he’s getting closer. The captain will be on the team’s upcoming four-game road trip, and it’s possible he could return during one of those games.
  • Richards was asked about the status of Latendresse, and Richards said he would be a “maybe” for tomorrow’s game against Colorado. Said Richards: “Tomorrow, maybe. On the road trip, maybe. He’s getting close though.” Latendresse said he felt good during today’s practice, but he was hesitant to say he would be ready by tomorrow. “It’s hard to say,” he said.
  • Three players did sit out today’s practice, including Cal Clutterbuck. Richards didn’t have any further update on his status, other than that he is “day-to-day” with an upper body injury. Clutterbuck was on the ice prior to practice for the team photo. Clutterbuck was actually the first player out there and he started shooting a puck into an empty net for awhile, but that was the extent of his ice time today.
  • Andrew Brunette also sat out practice with an illness, which is likely the same bug that sidelined Kyle Brodziak and Chuck Kobasew earlier. Richards did not know if Brunette would be ready tomorrow or not, and said he wasn’t sure if a player would need to be recalled from Houston or not.
  • Clayton Stoner also was held off the ice with a lower body injury, but Richards said it was more of a maintenance issue, and Stoner should be ready to go tomorrow. The Wild will have seven defensemen available as Cam Barker is now back to full strength.
  • Niklas Backstrom is going to get the start in goal for the Wild against the Avs. Obviously, with back-to-back games in Nashville and Dallas on Thursday and Friday, both he and Jose Theodore will be used.