By Michael Russo
It was decided during a coaching staff meeting this morning that if tonight’s game is tied in the final minute, Niklas Backstrom will be pulled for an extra attacker.
Lemaire said he refuses to assume St. Louis and Anaheim, two of the hottest teams in the West, will go 0-2 (for how they make it, how they miss it charts, go to below blog posts or wild page on startribune.com).
So in his mind, there is only one scenario to get the Wild past the first obstacle toward making the playoffs – getting a win in regulation, not overtime, to keep Nashville from getting a point and thus ending the Preds’ season.
Just had a couple chats with Joel Ward and Ryan Jones, who’s college team, Miami (Ohio), is in the Frozen Four Final vs. Boston University.
Ward never got a chance in Minnesota even though two years ago he was one of the most impressive callups of the year. Now he’s turned into a diamond in the rough in Nashville, playing for a half-million buckaroos — or $25,000 over the league minimum. Ward seems to be in the middle of every one of the Predators’ seemingly nightly rallies.
Check out this quote in the Tennessean by Nashville GM David Poile: “It’s a story that every team is hoping to have every year. This is the speech that every NHL manager gives to his scouting staff — ‘Go and find that diamond in the rough, that player that needs to be given a second or third chance with a new organization, somebody that can fit into our team that maybe didn’t fit with another team.’
“I ask that of our scouts every year because it’s the type of thing that in a lot of cases kind of gets you over the hump — finding a new player.”
Talked to Jones, too. Remember, the Wild signed Jones to a Houston contract after Miami’s season ended last year. After Houston finished, Jones had offseason shoulder surgery in Minnesota, then lived here working out with strength coach Kirk Olson until the day he was called into Doug Risebrough’s office and traded along with a second-round pick for Marek Zidlicky on July 1.
Jones says he’s had a rookie year too inconsistent for his liking and that’s something he aims to correct during his future in Nashville. I talked to a league exec today who thinks he’s going to wind up being a Ryan Smyth-type player in this league.
Wild plans to go with the same lineup tonight. Very loose group of guys.
Huge night of hockey on the horizon. Keep one eye on the Wild and your other eyes on the Blues and Ducks, although that’s one too many eyes. I never was no good at math — or english.