Kukla's Korner Hockey
from John Shipley of the Pioneer Press,
The stars finally seem to have aligned for John Scott and the Wild. Opportunity, attitude and performance have come together just in time for the big defenseman to contribute as Minnesota battles desperately for a playoff spot.
Yet the timing isn’t perfect, because Scott will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
“I don’t know if that’s good or bad,” he said. “You’d have to ask my agent. He says it’s good.”
Though the collective bargaining agreement has allowed many young players to become unrestricted, Scott’s case is unusual. At 26, he already is playing through his third pro contract, though he has played only 16 NHL games — all since Jan. 1.
But he’s been good, good enough to play in 11 of 12 games since being recalled for a second time on March 8. Not bad for an undrafted free agent whose college career was notable mostly because he was considered Division I hockey’s tallest player.
from Michael Russo of Russo’s Rants,
There is no excuse — none — that Jacques Lemaire didn’t use Marian Gaborik on the 1:32 4-on-3 to open overtime. I know this is Monday morning quarterbacking. If the Wild scores, it’s a forgotten element.
Gaborik should have been on the ice. Lemaire said he went with the same crew he’s gone with all year — Koivu, Brunette, Zidlicky and Bergeron, and that 4-on-3 is about puck movement and knowing what to do.
Sorry, don’t buy it. In must-wins, you should use your best weapons during the best opportunities. Here, Sami Salo hands the Wild a gift by errantly sending the puck into the scorer’s table. And Gaborik’s on the bench. There isn’t a team in this league whose best scorer would have been on the bench in this situation.
Enough said on that.
This was a heartbreaking loss for the Wild, which held the Canucks, now first in the Northwest, without a single shot in the third period.
from Bruce Brothers of the Pioneer Press,
Manny Fernandez looked like he’d seen a ghost.
Clearly trying to put all things Minnesota behind him, Fernandez appeared stunned when a reporter from St. Paul walked up to him the other day in Ristuccia Arena, where the Boston Bruins practice.
You could almost see the wheels turning. Did he mix up the next opponent? Weren’t the Bruins scheduled to play the Devils the next afternoon?
At times cordial and at times a smoldering volcano during his six seasons with the Wild, Fernandez seems to have turned over a new leaf with the Boston Bruins. After a moment, he extended his hand, peeled off his big goalie pads and said he’d be happy to talk a little puck.
Minnesota Wild defenseman Kurtis Foster goes through a rigorous rehab to get back on the ice.
from Michael Russo of Russo’s Rants,
The Wild just didn’t create a whole lot tonight (outshot 30-19), but in the end, if Marian Gaborik buries the partial breakaway or Dan Fritsche doesn’t redirect the puck wide on the 2-on-1 or Eric Belanger buries the 3-on-2 or Cal Clutterbuck can score on that late scramble, it’s a tie game.
But there’s no what-if’s anymore, not when the season’s quickly evaporating and the Wild lacks such go-to guys right now with the injuries to Mikko Koivu and Brent Burns. The Wild has missed the spark Burns provides for some time. But tonight, you really saw how much Koivu’s absence kills. Not just the 22 minutes a night he plays — “and not just 22 minutes of skating around,” said James Sheppard — but the big minutes.
from Brian Stensaas of the Star Tribune,
The Wild likely took a direct hit on its hopes for postseason action when forward Mikko Koivu left the game because of a knee injury.
After exiting the penalty box midway through the first period following what replays showed to be a phantom interference call, Koivu’s next move was into the Edmonton zone, where he got tangled up with Ales Kotalik. Koivu fell backward as the two battled for position. Koivu twisted awkwardly and his right knee appeared to buckle.
Koivu, who leads the team with 62 points this season, will be re-evaluated today. But there wasn’t much optimism being thrown around by Wild personnel after the game.
“Mikko’s been our best player game in and game out,” coach Jacques Lemaire said. “He hasn’t had too many days off this year. Losing him, it’s a huge loss for our team. But, you know, as I always say, if you’re going to lose players—and sometimes you lose your top players—somebody’s gotta step up and do some of his work.”
more on the Wild…
added 1:53pm, from the CP via TSN,
Assistant general manager Tom Lynn says Koivu had an MRI and saw team doctors on Monday and will be out at least seven days. Lynn also said Koivu could miss all 10 games through Minnesota’s regular-season finale on April 11.
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
All season, Wild coach Jacques Lemaire has grumbled that the Wild often enters games with too many “passengers.”
Friday night, after the Wild’s playoff hopes took another Sopranos-like whack to the head during a 4-0 loss in New Jersey, Lemaire grabbed one of the passengers off the bus and threw him underneath the wheels.
Defenseman Marek Zidlicky derailed the evening with two mind-boggling goof-ups on his first two even-strength shifts of the second period.
“You can’t make mistakes like that, not when you’re on the road, playing against a good team,” Lemaire said. “To me, they’re mistakes you have to avoid. You do this once a year—and one time!
“I hate to blame a guy for a loss. The team overall didn’t play good enough to win. But these mistakes, they just don’t help.”
Brian Stensaas of Russo’s Rants,
Big news out of Wild practice today. Barring any setbacks, Marian Gaborik said he feels he will return to the lineup Sunday afternoon against Edmonton.
Gaborik will travel with the team to New Jersey this afternoon. But he said playing tomorrow night against the Devils is unlikely. Instead, he’ll wait for the Oilers.
“We’ll probably shoot for Sunday’s game,” Gaborik said after an hourlong practice this morning. “Hopefully everything will progress. Hopefully I’ll be more pain free each day and go from there.”
Gameshow-type segment on who knows Cal Clutterbuck of the Minnesota Wild better: former teammate Barry Brust (Houston Aeros goalie) or current teammate Derek Boogaard.
From Wild Nation:
Yes, it is the famous (or infamous) March 17th. The day where public intoxication becomes not just acceptable, but expected. So, we here at Wild Nation have decided to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by putting together a small tribute to our favorite Wild player and resident Irishman, Owen Nolan.
Nolan was born in Belfast, Ireland on February 12, 1972. His family soon moved to Canada, where Nolan began playing hockey at the age of nine.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org