By Michael Russo
Same Wild lineup as last night. John Scott scratched.
Good afternoon from soaking wet Vancouver, where I just took a long walk on the water. Even in the pouring rain, there’s few better cities to walk around than Vancouver. Well, here and Buffalo, of course.
Dreary day and I’m in as much of a writing mood as Brent Burns was in a mood to talk with me this morning down at GM Place, site of the men’s hockey at the 2010 Winter Games (I’ll be here, yeah).
Speaking of Burnzie, he’s scheduled to be on Hockey Night in Canada’s After Hours with the great Scott Oake after tonight’s game. Let’s hope Burnzie’s in a more talkative mood tonight than he was this morning, or that won’t be good TV.
Yes, the Wild and Canucks will be the late game on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada tonight. The Wild will either fall to 0-6 on the road, or win for the first time to salvage some semblance of this road horror show. We will see.
This is a tense team to be around at the moment, for obvious reasons. Not fun for the local reporter in that locker room this morning. Even normally-pleasant assistant coach Mike Ramsey was a tough interview.
I once covered a 1997-98 Florida Panthers team that was winless on an eight-game road trip, then later the same season went winless in 15 straight games (lost 13 straight if I remember correctly). Every time I walked into that locker room, I looked over my shoulder.
It hasn’t gotten that bad here yet.
More than a dozen players down at the rink this morning for today’s optional. Most veterans, and coach Todd Richards, exercised their options this morning. Not sure of the lineup. It did look a little bit that John Scott was getting a slight bag skate, but Derek Boogaard was last one off. We will see tonight.
Marty Havlat and Petr Sykora tested their abdominal regions on the ice this morning. Both won’t play tonight, but perhaps with three off days after tonight, they could return Wednesday at home. That’s me talking. Not them or the team.
I did talk to Havlat and he said it’s getting better.
The Wild didn’t make a claim in on Andrew Ebbett after some discussion. If I had to guess, I think it’s because the Wild only has so many small jerseys if you catch my drift.
I think as more roster spots become available to Chuck Fletcher to put his stamp on this team in the coming summers (expiring contracts, in other words), I see him trying to get much faster and bigger up front. This team isn’t very big up front, and after having so much speed at forward two years ago, well, not so much anymore.
Niklas Backstrom in the cage. Roberto Luongo will be in Vancouver’s net after last night’s blowout loss vs. Calgary. Two struggling, banged-up teams tonight.
By the way, I got my first, “[Tonight's] the biggest game of the year,” from leading scorer Eric Belanger.
Yes, Game 7. That’s the sign of a desperate hockey team.
This epitomizes my day so far — the sun’s coming out just as I sit down to write tomorrow’s notebook. Lovely.
Want to know the first thing that went wrong today? I took somebody else’s bag from the airport. Same make of suitcase, same color. I am an idiot. Luckily, the family whose bag I accidentally stole couldn’t have been nicer as I profusely apologized.
Final day of the road trip. I must be mentally fatigued. It’ll be nice to get home tomorrow. Talk to you tonight.