Sunday’s fiery practice; Wild to catch break against Caps

Posted on November 23rd, 2008 – 2:07 PM
By Michael Russo

I’ll be on Rosen’s Sports Sunday tonight on Channel 4. 

Wild may catch a break tomorrow. I just got an email from Tarik El-Bashir from the Washington Post. The Capitals will be without Mike Green and Sergei Fedorov tomorrow, and Alexander Semin is doubtful.

Everybody but Marian Gaborik practiced today for the Wild, meaning Brent Burns is fine from his hit last night from David Backes.

Just got back from practice at Parade, which is always cool on weekends because the kids flock to the rink and the players are more than accomodating at signing autographs and taking pictures.

Jacques Lemaire ran a up-tempo, intense practice this morning. Every drill was aimed at getting players to shoot the puck and drive the net as the Wild tries to break out of this offensive slump.

The Mikko Koivu-Andrew Brunette-Antti Miettinen line from yesteryear was reunited, but Lemaire said that meant nothing.

“Rammer (Mike Ramsey) made the lines today, not me,” Lemaire said.

Rookie Colton Gillies was a practice star today. He scored an incredible top shelf goal after wheeling around a defenseman. The players were all going nuts, as were the coaches, so maybe that’ll get him back in the lineup tomorrow.

I’m sorta writing an Ovechkin-focused story for tomorrow, so I’m going to throw up some Lemaire quotes in case I can’t squeeze them into the newspaper. He was pretty fiery today, in a humorous sorta way. Some of his quotes were gold:

“We’ve got to wake up in the second period, first of all. OK? Our second periods have been bad, so we have to wake up there. We’ve got to stop to think that we’re home and we’ve got to play. OK? You know, we can’t have guys loose. Loose is OK when everything goes well, but you don’t play loose when they’re tight games. You’ve got to be ready. Loose meaning, if this pass is good, it’ll be good. If it’s not, it’s no big deal. Make it happen!”

Unhappy with the effort? “Because I see certain things coming. You know when you get flurry of snow, you might get a [expletive] storm! They’ve got to find a way. You’ve got to be mentally sharp. We made two mistakes on the two goals. You see this rarely, rarely, in a hockey game. Christ, we gave them two goals there.”

Referring to Zidlicky going to the wall? “The guy with the puck goes at the net. He’s got to be a little patient. The thing is, he did good things in the game. [The defense] has been good.”

On the quality of shots, the fact forwards skate behind the net instead of stopping in front, etc: “Look at Owen as an example. He must have missed three goals last night. Just little things. Bruno’s, he’s got the puck [on the goal line, he reaches] and goes over the puck as it’s laying on the goal line. Burns, the crossbar. The thing is the goals are not coming easy. We’re getting chances that we should score and we don’t score. Now there’s one thing to do, is work harder. When this happens, it’s work harder. It’s not my grandma, it’s not my girlfriend, it’s me working harder! Period! It’s nothing else.”

By the way, I laughed out loud at that. Couldn’t help myself, which at least brought some levity to the situation because Lemaire broke down laughing, too. But he continued.

“Now we want to have the nice goals. We get the puck, we want to move outside to get the puck back, to make another play. And if he gets it, the other guy moves outside to get the puck to make another play. How many times we’ll try to move outside to get the puck and make another play? If goals are tough to get, we don’t want to make fancy plays. Go at the net. If we get those plays, you don’t say a word. But now, if we get a chance to shoot, … shoot.”

That’s what showing today in the drills? “Yes. Get them to think that they have to go at the net, not behind the net. You know, there’s a shot, the guy goes behind the net! Every team goes through this. It’s not something that only happens to us. Every team goes through this.”

OK, talk to you after tomorrow’s morning skate.

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