Game 14 – Minnesota Wild @ Pittsburgh Penguins

MINNESOTA @ PITTSBURGH 

Last night was the first game of the season that the Wild never trailed.  Can they build on that against the defending Cup champions?  It’s a tall order, but once again they’ll face an Eastern Conference team without one of their top scorers.  After missing Gaborik against the Rangers, now they will miss Malkin when they face the Penguins.

Bold Prediction – No one will mention the obvious trend of top scorers in the East being too frightened to play against the dominat Wild (2-0 v. the East).

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Game 13 – Minnesota Wild v. New York Rangers

MINNESOTA v. NEW YORK 

Anyone remember the last time the Rangers visited Minnesota?  Here’s a refresher.  Maybe it would be a good thing if injury kept Gaborik out tonight.

Yes, the much-anticipated return of Gaborik to Minnesota was to happen tonight, but a knee injury may keep him on the sidelines.  It’s too bad if he doesn’t play, I’d like to see the reception he would get from the home crowd.  Personally, I would cheer him if I were in attendance, but I’m guessing other may disagree with me there.

Bold prediction – The number of jokes made about Gaborik missing this game due to injury will not be affected by whether or not he actually plays.

Random Ten – Now with Unnecessary Vulgarity

New Music

Neil Young – Tonight’s the Night – Been feeling a little bit bleary lately (waking up before the sun will do that, can’t wait to gain an hour this weekend), so it seemed like a good time to try this album out.  Neil Young has never been a polished singer, but even after hearing from others how raw this album was, I guess it was still more than I expected.
Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport – Noise music, it’s actually pretty close to the minimalist orchestral kick I’ve been on recently.  The opening track ‘Surf Solar’ is my favorite, although the finale ‘Flight of the Feathered Serpent’ is also pretty cool.  Yeah, the band name is dumb, but that’s pretty easy to ignore.

Random 10

  • Drunk with Power – Puscifer – V is for Vagina
  • Consequence – Incubus – Make Yourself
  • With Teeth – Nine Inch Nails – With Teeth
  • The Greater Good – Nine Inch Nails – Year Zero
  • Speedway – Counting Crows – This Desert Life
  • My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue) – Neil Young – Rust Never Sleeps
  • Fern – Zoë Keating – Natoma
  • Space Mountain – Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport
  • A Bower Scene – The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love
  • Pocket Symphony, B – Eighth Blackbird – Fred: Music of Frederic Rzewski

Even with more songs on my bigger iPod, it’s nice to know that I can still get back-to-back Nine Inch Nails.

Game 12 – Minnesota Wild v. Nashville Predators

MINNESOTA v. NASHVILLE 

 

Updating some stats I looked at a couple weeks ago:

Time spent behind – 378:46 (57%)

Time spent tied – 224:02 (33%)

Time spent with the lead – 67:15 (10%)

The Wild have trailed at some point in every game this season (they’ve had a lead in only 4 games).  Another little note, of those 67 minutes, the Wild have lead by 2 goals for only 2:12 (against San Jose).  That’s a ton of time where one mistake makes a whole lot of difference.  It’s just not fun to play that way, and I’m sure all involved are getting tired of it.

Bold Prediction – Final margin of victory tonight will be greater than or equal to two goals (not going to pick a team, but whoever wins will win by at least two).

Game 11 – Minnesota Wild @ Chicago Blackhawks

MINNESOTA @ CHICAGO 

Busy weekend, so this is going to be brief.  The Wild go once again in search of their first road win.  Chicago had been a good venue for the Wild in recent years (6-2 since the lockout), and since that has no bearing on this season, I’m sure everyone is optimistic.

Bold Prediction – Zidlicky will score a goal tonight. (thought he looked pretty good against Carolina Saturday)

Game 9 – Minnesota Wild @ St. Louis Blues

MINNESOTA @ ST. LOUIS 

Sunderland (English Premier League Soccer, bear with me) defeated Liverpool last weekend thanks to a pretty bizarre goal. (Video)

Deflecting the ball off the balloon on the field is a pretty inventive way to score, and since I’ll be at the game tonight, I may just have to bring along some supplies in case we’re in need of a rally.

inflatable_puckBold Prediction – The last time I saw the Wild lose on the road in person … Well, I never have – they are 3-0 away from the Excel with me in attendance.  So my prediction is a shootout victory.

10 For the Road

Traveling to St. Louis today.  Spent the evening searching for driving music (I think Mrs. Mak will lose it if we listen to Farm one more time).

  • Come to Daddy – Aphex Twin – Come to Daddy EP
  • Milk It – Nirvana – From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah
  • Stupid Girl – Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Zuma
  • Quotes – Dredg – The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion
  • Dead Leaves and Dirty Ground – The White Stripes – White Blood Cells
  • 02 Ghosts I – Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts
  • Immigrant Song – Led Zeppelin – How the West Was Won
  • Let it Loose – The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street
  • Doesn’t Remind Me – Audioslave – Out of Exile
  • Rocking Horse – Dead Weather – Horehound

[11:30 PM UPDATE – We have a decsision!]

Eighth Blackbird – Fred – I know next to nothing about this one.  Saw the group on the Minnesota Orchestra webpage, thought they sounded interesting.  We’ll see.  This is a collection of works composed by Frederick Rzewski.  ‘Coming Together’ based on a letter written by a prisoner during prison riots at Attica is the piece that really caught my eye.

Game 8 – Minnesota Wild v. Colorado Avalanche

MINNESOTA v. COLORADO 

Since the Wild last saw action, there have been some changes:

  • They’re at home (only for one game, but hopefully home cooking makes a difference)
  • Mikko Koivu has been named the permanent captain (finally)
  • The Wild traded for Chuck Kobasew (Another forward couldn’t hurt)
  • I have started going with the horizontal header for the game previews instead of vertical

Hopefully one or two of those things are enough to end the five game losing streak we’ve all been enjoying for the past week or two.

Bold Prediction – Wild win 5-0.  They’re due to string together a couple good periods, and I think they probably want a win more than I do.

The First Six (or so) Pack

I’ve been doing mostly game previews up to this point of the season, so let’s take a moment and (as much as we’d hate to do it) look back at the first seven games of the season.

COLUMBUS 2 – MINNESOTA 1

MINNESOTA 4 – ANAHEIM 3 (OT)

LOS ANGELES 6 – MINNESOTA 3

SAN JOSE 4 – MINNESOTA 2

ANAHEIM 3 – MINNESOTA 2

EDMONTON 5 – MINNESOTA 2

VANCOUVER 2 – MINNESOTA 1

Okay, first off, 1-6 is terrible.  Terrible.  A winless five-game road trip makes it really hard to pick anything positive out of the mess.  But I’ll put on my optimist hat and see what I can do.

Nicklas Backstrom

2.82 GAA / .913 SV% (on 161 Shots)

Only four goalies in the NHL have a better SV% facing more shots (Anderson, Lundqvist, Ward, Fleury) and only two goalies have a higher SV% with higher Shots Faced per 60 minutes (Hiller – 33.8, Ward – 32.6, Backstrom – 32.5).

So he’s been very good.  Which makes it seem like the mild concerns about Backstrom being a ‘system goalie’ were unfounded.  Unfortunately, he’s getting shelled.  But we’re being positive here, so let’s move on.

Eric Belanger

Somehow Belanger is +1.  This is really impressive considering the Wild have scored only 7 even strength goals this season and only allowed 3 power play goals.  So, only seven goals could account for a ‘plus’ and 22 opponent’s goals could account for a ‘minus’.  Belanger has the only positive +/- on the roster (not surprising), and he’s been on the ice for four of those seven goals (and 4 power play goals).  He’s tied for the team lead with 8 points (2 G, 6 A) and he’s winning faceoffs (51.4%).  All in all a pretty solid stretch.

——–

That’s really all I got for positivity.  I’m sure there are plenty of other places where you can find what’s wrong with the Wild or who needs to step up their game, so I’ll leave that portion in others’ capable hands.

Game 6 – Minnesota Wild @ Edmonton Oilers

MINNESOTA @ EDMONTON

I try to inject a little bit of positive attitude with last game’s post, and what do I get? That was really ugly. I’m still going to refrain from declaring the season over, but yeesh, that game in Anaheim is certainly a low of the season.

The road trip rolls on into western Canada, where the Northwest Division portion of this season’s schedule will begin. The Oilers haven’t been too impressive thus far this season, so let’s jump on them early and get a few quick tallies. Please?

Also, it’s great when the defensemen jump into the play and pick up a goal, but so far this season, it seems like opponents are just flying through the neutral zone without resistance far too often.  Watch a few of these links to see what I mean (don’t watch all of them, in fact, skip Marleau’s goal unless you really like feeling awful about your hockey team).  The defense just can’t be aggressive in the face of that onslaught.

Selanne w/ speed

Penalty kill 2 on 0

Marleau’s goal

Watch Purcell (LA #54) because no one else on the ice is

4, count ’em, 4 Ducks waltz through center ice

Bold Prediction – Keeping it simple. Wild get at least a point tonight.

Random 10 – New iPod edition

For my anniversary, my darling wife got me a new iPod with about 10 times the storage space as my previous model. So now I’ve got room for all my music, not just the handpicked good stuff you’re used to. Let’s see what comes up…

  • Maybe Someday – The Cure – Bloodflowers
  • I’m Not Sleeping – Counting Crows – Recovering the Satellites
  • All Apologies – Nirvana – Unplugged in NY
  • Pittsburgh to Lebanon – Butthole Surfers – Locust Abortion Technician
  • You Shook Me – Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin I
  • Sunspots – Nine Inch Nails – With Teeth
  • Jambi – Tool – 10,000 Days
  • I’ll Take the Rain – REM – Reveal
  • Take It Like a Man – The Offspring – Ignition
  • Even in His Youth – Nirvana – With the Lights Out

Hm, Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, NIN, Tool, and the Offspring. Something seems familiar about this list. The more things change, I guess.

Game 5 – Minnesota Wild @ Anaheim Ducks

MINNESOTA @ ANAHEIM


I read the Strib’s Michael Russo every day, and he’s an invaluable resource for any Wild fan.  Sometimes though, I feel like he relishes the “truth-teller” mode a little bit too much.  The Wild have had a single home game, they are clearly still adjusting to a new coach and a new system.  And yet, in the middle of a road trip that has seen a not insignificant number of forwards go down to injury, Russo calls games 5-7 “gut-check time”, and has been penning articles detailing the lack of depth in the organization.

Pardon me if I don’t buy it.  The 1-3 start is pretty awful, no one argues that.  but it’s only been four (4) games.  I resolved to give the new system at least 15 games before I start considering the path of this season determined in any way.  And I’m certainly not going to base my perceptions on a West coast road trip, which is all that’s really happened this season.

Bold Prediction – Nobody Panic.  The Wild will remain undefeated at home.