Edmonton Oilers 5, Wild 2

Posted on October 16th, 2009 – 11:46 PM
By Michael Russo

Honestly, with four key forwards out of the lineup, you’re not going to get a much better effort from the Wild.

And like I said in my gamer, they still lost 5-2.

If you watched this game, the old line, “Every mistake we make ends up in our net,” certainly came true tonight. The Wild put forth a solid effort, but every time it screwed up, red light.

The Oilers didn’t have a shot the final 13 1/2 minutes of the first period. They were being outshot 20-8 at one point. At the end of two, they had 11 shots and three goals. At the end of the game, the Oilers were outshot 31-19 and won 5-2.

As Pat Quinn often says, coaches count one thing, chances, but like Todd Richards said after the game, I couldn’t concur more. The Wild outchances the Oilers by maybe a 2-to-1, or as Richards believed, a 3-to-1 margin in the second and were trailing 3-1. In fact, in my mind, they had three chances to score and did every time.

To cut and paste from my original play-by-play that I chopped from final edition story:

After a great opening period for the Wild (the Wild had fallen down 3-0 in three of five games this season), Mike Comrie gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead 1:49 into the second. After a long shift by the Mikko Koivu line, defenseman Greg Zanon blocked a Comrie shot. The puck stayed in the zone, Comrie jumped over a sliding Andrew Brunette and then one-timed Robert Nilsson’s beautiful feed.

The Wild didn’t give up another scoring chance until 10 minutes later. After Derek Boogaard creamed former Wild prospect Patrick O’Sullivan, O’Sullivan returned the favor by not only checking Boogaard in the defensive zone, but taking the puck.

O’Sullivan skated around the net and sent a no-look, cross-crease feed to the other side of the net for Dustin Penner, who scored his fourth goal for a 2-0 lead.

But the Wild made it a game again after defenseman Nick Schultz forced a turnover in the Wild end. Marek Zidlicky fed Eric Belanger, who took a shot more meant as a pass for Benoit Pouliot in front. Pouliot, who played a strong game, cut the deficit in half.

Back to me live :)

Gilbert Brule’s goal made it 3-1, and it was a killer two minutes later and with 43 seconds left in the period. As Richards likes to say, when you get tired, your mind goes first. Schultz proved it here. He was dead tired, and as his teammates went to the bench gassed for a change, he fired an errant pass by them all for a turnover.

Regardless, J-F Jacques took a harmless shot that Harding just dropped. Brule scored for the backbreaking goal.

Still Brunette made it 3-2 and the Wild make a couple more huge mistakes in the third.

Wild works hard. Gives up 19 shots. Gets an inspired effort from players like, say, Pouliot, who was tremendous. And it still can’t win. I mean, what can you do now?

I don’t want to make excuses for them, but you get four injuries like the Wild has, there’s just so many third- or fourth-liners that you can play. Wild has to work so hard to score that you better be squeaky clean everywhere else.

The Wild says it still has to take the positives out of this, but that can’t be easy when you lose 5-2. And that’s where the concern lies. At some point, when you exude so much effort and continually don’t get rewarded, the effort will disappear. It always does in every hard-knock team I’ve covered (and few have covered more, incidentally).

James Sheppard, don’t mean to pick on him, but minus-3 tonight and for a power forward, he just brings no power when driving the net. He’s got to be better than tonight.

Schultz is struggling. Brent Burns minus-3 and a league-worst minus-10 now.

1-5 overall. 0-5 on the road.

And Vancouver waiting. Talk to you Saturday (Wild might not skate, so maybe Saturday night).

Big question is do the Wild make a claim at Anaheim’s Andrew Ebbett? I believe they were at least debating it. Maybe you just sub the 5-9 Ebbett with the 5-9 Hilbert. Problem is Wild’s waiver priority is still where it ended last year until, I think, Nov 1. Have to confirm that fact though.

Wild vs. Edmonton Oilers

Posted on October 16th, 2009 – 7:04 PM
By Michael Russo

Good evening from high above the Rexall Place ice, where the banged-up Wild face the banged-up Oilers.

GM Chuck Fletcher confirmed in an email earlier this afternoon what a Swedish web site was reporting – he has “loaned” Morten Madsen to MoDo of the Swedish Elite League. Technically, he’s signed, but since the Wild retains his NHL rights, he’s “loaned.” They’re waiting on a transfer agreement, but the Wild retain his rights but relinquish the ability to obviously recall him this season.

Not a big loss. Terrible camp in Traverse City and one of the first cuts from camp.

I’ll be back after.

Clutterbuck, Bouchard updates; Boogaard in; Scott, Havlat out; Harding starting; Sifers at RW

Posted on October 16th, 2009 – 2:04 PM
By Michael Russo

Lots of news down at Rexall Place this morning, so to clean up the blog, here are the updates:

1. Cal Clutterbuck will be out “weeks” with a high ankle sprain. GM Chuck Fletcher said it’s not the severe kind, but it’s a significant injury. Usually it takes six to eight weeks to return, and all players I’ve ever talked to that has this injury says they felt it the rest of the season while playing.

2. Pierre-Marc Bouchard indeed officially has a concussion. He will be shut down for awhile to rest. I think we’ve seen the last of Bouchard for several weeks.

3. GM Chuck Fletcher, as I reported from Anaheim, acknowledged again he’s been working the phones. But he’s not going to mortgage the future for a quick fix. He said any trades he makes will be for the purpose of getting better long-term, not to just get bodies in here to get by all the injuries. So like I said the other day, no trading draft picks just for a body. He’s not against trading picks or players, but it has to be more than a quick fix. He said it’ll be very difficult to make a trade right now, so a lot of this is just intel work for later in the year to see where there are fits. With the Wild at about $56.2 million of the $56.8 million cap and several other teams near the cap as well, it’s hard to get teams, including the Wild, to take on 95 percent of a players’ salary (5 percent of the season gone, estimated) That’s the Cliff’s Notes version. Much more on this subject in tomorrow’s newspaper.

4. Havlat out with a groin day-to-day.

5. John Scott is scratched. Derek Boogaard will make his season debut on a line with Edmonton native Nathan Smith and defenseman Jaime Sifers, who will play wing.

6. Kyle Brodziak, a longtime former Oilers, had tons of cameras around him this morning.

7. Ales Hemsky out for Edmonton with a fever. Shawn Horcoff hopes to play, but he’s laboring with a foot injury. Steve Staios and Sheldon Souray out.

8. Pat Quinn said Tom Gilbert will play next to Mike Comrie and Horcoff in place of Hemsky. I assume he meant Robert Nilsson and that was a senior moment. I don’t see the Oilers pulling a Brent Burns and taking a gifted Minnesotan, I mean defenseman, and putting him at wing.

9. Oh, Josh Harding starting and Niklas Backstrom expected to start in Vancouver. Backstrom struggles in Edmonton, yanked in four straight starts before his win in the last visit to Edmonton last season.
10. Ill be on with Jim Souhan on KSTP at 6:20 pm tonight. CDT.

More tonight.

Clutterbuck has high ankle sprain; no Hemsky

Posted on October 16th, 2009 – 11:54 AM
By Michael Russo

Update: Wild lucks out tonight. Right wing Ales Hemsky out for Edmonton with fever. Shawn Horcoff hopes to play w foot injury.

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Wild update: Martin Havlat appears out tonight. He is not skating this morning. It appears as if defenseman Jaime Sifers will make his Wild debut — as a winger. He’s wearing a green forward sweater instead of a maroon defenseman sweater.

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Update: Judging by whom the D are shooting on in the skate, Josh Harding is getting tonight’s start. Will confirm and update if incorrect.

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An MRI has confirmed that injured right wing Cal Clutterbuck has a high ankle sprain, which is typically a six-to-eight week injury that even lingers after a player returns.

I expect that GM Chuck Fletcher will update the media after the morning skate, so more later. Wild will take the ice at 12:30 pm CDT, 11:30 local.

I hope to update lineup and starting goaltender later.

Havlat questionable, Sifers may debut

Posted on October 15th, 2009 – 7:36 PM
By Michael Russo

Good evening from Edmonton, where the Wild’s in town to face the Oilers in its first divisional meeting of the season.

It might have to do without Martin Havlat, who slightly pulled his groin on the first shift of the third period Wednesday night. Havlat rode the bike today, got treatment, and according to coach Todd Richards, “see how it feels [Friday].”

But Havlat didn’t practice today. Either did Petr Sykora, who’s definitely out with a groin, and Marek Zidlicky, who just had a maintenance day and is expected to play, Richards said.

But Richards did say Jaime Sifers might debut. If he plays his normal defenseman position, that means Richards will either sit one of his six D or use seven defensemen.

Richards did say Sifers might play both forward and D, but not sure if he was kidding.

The Wild didn’t call any forwards up today, so if Havlat can’t play, either Sifers will play in his spot or Derek Boogaard will return. Boogaard says he’s ready.

Obviously, Wild needs a better start against the Oil, who have given up 114 shots the last three games. The Wild has amazingly been down 3-zip in three of five games this season.

Richards talked a lot about the Wild’s best players being the best players today, mainly Havlat, Koivu, Burns and Johnsson. All four have struggled and the Wild need them.

Havlat was benched for the second time in three games late in the second period Wednesday.

Talk to you Friday.

No Czechs

Posted on October 15th, 2009 – 4:30 PM
By Michael Russo

Just landed in Edmonton. Got an email from PR guru Ryan Stanzel.

All three Wild Czech players missed practice today. Havlat and Sykora with groins, Zidlicky with what was called a maintenance day.

Wild hasn’t called up any forwards, so if they don’t and Havlat and Sykora can’t play, Derek Boogaard will have to return. If Zidlicky can’t play, we may see Jaime Sifers’ debut.