By Michael Russo
This will be the most painful blog I’ve ever written. My finger tips are frozen, and heading toward the numb stage. For sportswriters, this is like a sprained MCL.
But like Mikko Koivu, I’ll just throw a brace on and try to give it a go because games are too important this time of year.
Koivu looked mighty good during today’s morning skate. He said it feels much better than he thought it would feel five days ago. He worked extra long on the ice today, which usually is an indication he wouldn’t play.
And coach Jacques Lemaire said if he’ll play this weekend, it’ll be tomorrow’s game at Edmonton rather than tonight because the team wouldn’t want him to play two games in two days.
But then he admitted Koivu “probably” didn’t know this was the team’s plan. I asked Lemaire if Koivu came to you and said he wants to play, would you change your mind, and he said, “I might,” before laughing.
So it’ll be up to Koivu, the trainers and oh yes, Dr. Sheldon Burns. Team doctors never travel until the playoffs, but whattayaknow, Dr. Burns is on the trip. Nobody’s saying why, but we can assume that the Wild wants to make sure Koivu’s taken care of and treated, and if he’s going to be playing, it’s Dr. Burns who is clearing him.
Koivu, with a ton of winks (maybe he just had something in his eye), said, “What do you think?” when asked if he wanted to play. When I asked if he’d be on the shelf a whole lot longer if it wasn’t this point of year, he said, “I don’t want to comment on that. You know how it is (with a wink).”
He said his knee feels steady and strong.
If Koivu doesn’t play, Calgary boy Craig Weller will. That’s because Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who has one career goal vs. Calgary, is out. He left the ice early with what the team is calling a headache. If Koivu plays, Weller won’t play.
It looked like John Scott’s in and Kurtis Foster is out.
As for the Flames, they are under the gun. Front page of the Calgary Sun: “TIME TO FIRE KEENAN?”
Just a tad absurd, even for the “Often Fired One.”
The Wild has come to Calgary umpteen times of the years with the Flames in the dumpster. And usually, the Wild is just what the doctor ordered for the sick Flames. I remember a few years ago the Wild came here in late October, and on the front page of one of the papers was a big panic button with the headline, “Is it time to press the panic button?” Flames beat the Wild, and then exploded onto a winning streak.
Obviously, the Wild cannot afford to be their medicine tonight. If so, it’ll be like a death blow. I truly believe the Wild has to win six of eight to make the playoffs — at least. It’s like they’re on a treadmill right now. Even if they win, they’re idle the next few days and wind up right back where they were. A win streak is going to be the only thing that saves this season.
Talked with Olli Jokinen for awhile today. He had a great line. I asked him about finally playing in a hockey market after years in Florida, and also places like L.A., Islanders and Phoenix. He said he went to the airport last night to pick up his family, and these kids came up to him. He thought they were going to ask for an autograph, and instead, they ripped into him for the way the teams been playing and that he hasn’t scored in a couple games.