By Michael Russo
Live from the Xcel Energy Center press box, I’m back on the blog after a couple days of dishing it off to the trusted hands of the man we call, “Blood.”
I’m ready to go — the nice Starbucks barista slipped me a Venti instead of a Grande. She’s a very nice person. I’ve also got the Bose headphones on and tuned in to Eddie Vedder’s Into the Wild soundtrack. Highly recommend.
Wanted to thank you for all the emails I received on the Kurtis Foster story, but he deserves all the thanks. Those stories can’t be written without the access, and the openness and honesty.
And quite frankly, next week you’ll be getting another personality piece on another player who gave me some sensational access to him yesterday.
You’ll be happy to know Foster is slowly getting better. For the first time in two weeks, he walked (crutched or wheeled, actually) into his Uptown home last night.
As for tonight’s giant contest against the Flames, Aaron Voros, Benoit Pouliot, Matt Foy and Petteri Nummelin are scratched.
Can’t give you the exact lineup because if you do the math, that leaves one extra forward. I’m assuming Chris Simon, Todd Fedoruk and Derek Boogaard all play, so I assume Mark Parrish will be the scratch. But we will see. Maybe Jacques doesn’t re-insert Stephane Veilleux, who missed the last three games with the flu, but you’d think you’d want Veilleux’s grit and speed to check Jarome Iginla.
Of course, the Wild needs to figure out a new way to check Iginla because the other ways don’t work.
This is what I would do: I’d play Brian Rolston and Mikko Koivu head-to-head with Iginla. I don’t care how good your checkers are, if you spend the entire night in your own zone, Iginla’s eventually going to strike.
Last game against Colorado, Koivu and Rolston spent the entire game in the offensive zone. The best way to keep Iginla from scoring is to play 200 feet from your own net. And then, on the occasions you do wind up in your own zone, Koivu and Rolston — two Selke-type forwards — at least can play defense.
Lemaire’s way of stopping Iginla: “Steal his stick.”
Lemaire had his game face on early today. Once I noticed his surly demeanor this morning, I just refrained from asking questions — just listen to the Podcast — not Pondcast — on Wild.com and you’ll get what I mean.
Lemaire’s best stuff had to do with the fact that the Wild is coming off three days off and whether there could be some rustiness: “This is the first time that it happens (winning the division) — that we’re close, it’s right there — so I don’t see that I have to do a lot because they know what’s at stake right now. You know, winning the division, every team wants that, but when it’s in front of your door, you just have to open the door and take it. I don’t see how you have to motivate people that much.”