By Michael Russo
First, as an update to the bottom of this blog, which was put up before the game, Dan Terhaar did not pass his kidney stone. But the suspense is killing him! How about that? Two Cozmo Kramer references in one day (see previous blog).
Eight nights ago, the Wild was first in the division. Now, it’s tied with eighth-place Nashville with 31 points.
So much for setting a new Wild record for longest winning streak (10) against one opponent. The Coyotes beat the Wild for the first time since Nov. 14, 2006.
The Wild’s dropped three games in a row. Just looked this up, in the six games prior, the Wild went 13 for 32 on the power play and scored 26 goals. In the three games since, 0 for 11 on the power play and two goals. Minnesota was 0 for 5 tonight. The first two power plays, the Wild did everything but beat Ilya Bryzgalov. He made eight saves on the two disadvantages.
As Antti Miettinen — the lone Wild goal scorer said tonight — it was truly “shocking” the way the second period ended. The Wild was 27 seconds from taking a 0-0 tie into the third against what was supposed to be a tired team that played the night before in Texas.
Instead, Marc-Andre Bergeron dropped his stick behind the net. I said out loud to my colleague, “This … will … not … be … good. Guaranteed.” Boom, goal, by the Michalek brother that’s not the awesome Michalek brother from San Jose.
Then, as I wrote in the gamer, Mikko Koivu should have taken a knee and the 1-0 deficit to the third. Instead, he tried to create something out of zippo. He tried to beat three guys at the Coyotes’ blue line. As Terry Murray — the current Kings coach — once told me in Ottawa after two Dan Boyle turnovers, there’s few worse places to turn a puck over than the offensive blue line.
Ironically, and you’ll know what I mean if you read this morning’s blog and Friday’s game notebook, Phoenix exploded out of the zone on a … THREE-ON-ONE. Well, Niklas Backstrom should have been ready for this considering he exploded after all the 3-on-1′s he faced this morning. But Peter Mueller perfectly set up for the same type of Olli Jokinen one-timer I’ve seen in person a million times.
In fact, one of my biggest heart attacks ever came in this building. I’ve got to look it up, but the Panthers once trailed here 4-2 in the final minute and won 5-4 in overtime on an Olli Jokinen one-timer.
Before Phoenix’s two goals, Eric Belanger missed an open net by waiting too long and getting handcuffed that could have changed the game.
Boy, the D had trouble at the point tonight. Don’t know if it was the ice or what because Phoenix’s point guys had pucks bouncing over and under their sticks, too, but with the Wild pressing for goals in the third, Bergeron — who can be erratic at times — let one go by him, as did Kim Johnsson.
Not much else to say. As somebody joked tonight, this building was so empty tonight, it would have been a bad Swarm crowd.
James Sheppard was certainly motivated for some reason tonight. His ice time was around 18 minutes (I can’t tell you for sure because the Coyotes’ PR guys don’t bring game sheets up to the PRESS BOX!!! and I can’t get into NHL.com for some reason), he won 7 of 11 draws, had three hits and five fights (I know that because I saw it on NHL.com when I filed my first deadline story at the buzzer).
Colton Gillies got first-line duty with Koivu tonight but I can’t tell you his ice time because for some bizarre reason the Coyotes’ PR guys haven’t in the history of me covering games in this building brought game sheets up to the PRESS BOX!!!
Obviously, the Wild is in its first crisis of the season. Minnesota’s sticks have dried up again, but like I mentioned this morning, it appears it’ll have to wait for Marian Gaborik to return until next week.
It’d be foolish — no matter how desperate the team is — to play him in back-to-back games with no morning skates to warm up in. Makes no sense. It’ll have to dig deep and somehow salvage this road trip.
The Wild doesn’t practice until 3:30 CT Friday, so it’ll be another late blog.
Jacques Lemaire said this morning the scratch was between Colton Gillies and Craig Weller, but both are in warmups and Derek Boogaard is not. Working to find out if Boogaard is a healthy scratch, sick or hurt. There is an illness starting to mess with the team.
Lemaire’s been sick the last two days.
From Risebrough, Boogaard is a healthy scratch.
Speaking of illness, Dan Terhaar is the gutsiest guy in the building tonight. He is pale white but working the game despite a kidney stone. You should see how he’s walking.
Up until an hour ago, Mike Greenlay was set to make his play-by-play debut and sideline reporter Kevin Gorg was going to do color. But Terhaar decided he could go. He just went down to the Phoenix trainers room and the Coyotes’ doctor gave him a shot of something to ease the pain.
So, let’s just say, it could be an interesting show on FSN tonight.