Wild 6, America’s team 2; Gaborik four points; Things get physical; Clutterbuck tells Minnesotan to shave

Posted on March 25th, 2009 – 4:47 PM
By Michael Russo

The Wild beat my Islanders. Blasphemy!

Funny thing, but after tonight’s game, the NHL tested out the huge STANLEY CUP FINAL AND STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS signs in the middle of the ice to test for TV. It looked pretty out of place.

The Isles are a shell of my former favorite team, but you know what, the Islanders are ravaged with injuries and clearly have to hit rock bottom to get a couple top, top draft picks (it should pay off in the long run). Plus, the cast of minor-leaguers on the ice who have little to play for but future jobs showed some heart.

Coach Jacques Lemaire wasn’t exactly enamored with the way they played, saying they tried to “run us out of the building,” and went after their skilled guys like Bouchard and Miettinen and Zidlicky. Lemaire said it’ll be interesting what’ll happen when the Wild plays the Islanders again next year and a lot of Isles were “brave.”

The guy running around the most was one of ours — former Gopher and St. Paul native, Kyle Okposo. Okposo was a slashing, cross-checking machine tonight. He must be taking pointers from teammate Brendan Witt, who’s made his entire living cross-checking and slashing people.

In the third, after Okposo tried to remove Zidlicky’s kidneys, Clutterbuck and Okposo were having an unbelievable barking match from penalty box to penalty box. Then Clutterbuck started gesturing. I thought he was pretending to wipe tears or something. After the game, I asked Clutterbuck what he was doing and he said, “Told him to shave his neck. I told him if he can’t grow it on the rest of his face, why try at all?” 

Clutterbuck, by the way, had seven hits and now has 317, the most-ever recorded by the NHL in the short period it’s been recording the subjective stat.

Marian Gaborik — awesome. Two goals, two assists, best player on the ice. Gaborik’s known for lethal speed, a lethal wrister. Well, all six of his goals this season are from the goalmouth. “He’s taking notes, I guess,” quipped Owen Nolan.

Nolan scored a goal and two assists. So did Andrew Brunette. Marek Zidlicky, whom I’ve picked on lately, was great, and not just because of his three assists. Antti Miettinen and Martin Skoula scored goals as well.

Wild’s back to 10th in the West, tied with 78 points with ninth-place Nashville. Anaheim’s about to hop into seventh, meaning the Wild will be one point from eighth-place Edmonton, which has a game in hand on Minnesota.

Needless to say, you know which opponent — and where — the Wild plays next. The Wild’s won like once in Calgary since the FIRST Bush administration, so let’s just say, that needs to end. Huge back-to-back in Alberta coming up for your Minnesota Wild.

OK, read the gamer and notebook in Thursday’s paper. Some funny stuff in there. I especially liked Jacques Lemaire talking about tonight’s 3-on-3 action, saying he was “like numb,” and Clutterbuck talking about his fight with Sean Avery.

Back to Minnesota for not even 24 hours for me tomorrow, then off to Calgary.

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I’m surrounded. The Islanders’ press box is a cramped, weirdly-designed area with classroom chairs above the writers/broadcaster section. So straight behind, looking like they’re ready for English class, is Kurtis Foster and Craig Weller.

To my right is assistant GM Tom Lynn (who I made move because I didn’t want him reading over my shoulder :) ), Director of Hockey Ops Chris Snow, wild.com guru Jamie MacDonald and P.R. guy Ryan Stanzel (that of the RSS Feed).

To my left is broadcasters Bob Kurtz and Doug Risebrough, who just asked for a roster, ha. I better keep my comments to myself, eh?

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Should be a fun one.

Niklas Backstrom’s in net. In a second consecutive start of back-to-back’s, Backstrom’s career numbers are 4-4 with one no-decision, a 3.81 goals against average and an .896 save percentage.  He’s been pulled in his four of nine career starts in the second of back-to-back’s.

The Islanders did call up an 18th skater — right wing Joel Rechlicz.

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