Sports Outside the Beltway

Devil of a time- Minnesota beats New Jersey 2-1

Nothing is bouncing well for the NHL’s worst hockey team.

When Clayton Stoner drew up the first goal of his NHL career as a kid, it probably didn’t look anything like the game-winner he scored against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night. From

Out of gas at the end of a shift early in the third period, the rookie defenseman of the Minnesota Wild dumped the puck into the zone and turned toward the bench. Stoner never saw the puck hit the stick of Ilya Kovalchuk, ricochet off the glass and carom into a vacated net.

The goal turned out to be the difference in the Wild’s 2-1 victory at Prudential Center.

“I was thinking about burning the tape and telling a different story a few years from now,” the 25-year-old said. “It was a lucky goal. It was one of those ones that sometimes you need that lucky goal just to win a hockey game. We needed those two points. That’s pretty huge.”

Here’s the goal.

Ilya Kovalchuck scored his 12th goal of the season last night. That would tie him for the team lead on the Florida Panthers. All that goal production for 6-7 million dollars a year.


Vancouver Canuck Rick Rypien assaults fan

Some unscheduled boxing matches took place in Minnesota last night. From AP-

Vancouver Canucks center Rick Rypien pushed a fan in the team’s 6-2 loss against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.

Rypien and Minnesota’s Brad Staubitz, who fought in the opening period, were about to square off in the second period before being separated by the linesmen in front of the Wild bench.

As Rypien, who was assessed a double minor for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct, was pulled by linesman Don Henderson toward the Vancouver bench, he appeared to push the official.

On his way down the tunnel to the dressing room, Rypien pushed a Wild fan who was applauding at the railing. Rypien was quickly pulled away by teammate Manny Malhotra. The fan was removed from the area.

Rypien was not available for comment after the game, but Malhotra thought the fan “got a little bit too involved.”

“There’s boundaries that should never be crossed. We’re in our area of work,” he said. “We’re all for the hooting and hollering and supporting your team and saying whatever is tasteful. But as soon as you cross that line and want to become physical with a player then we have to make sure we take care of ourselves. … We have no idea of what their intentions are.”

What a wimp Malhotra is. An NHL player perceives a fan as a threat? He should go run a child day care or something.

I don’t get this pushing BS in the Associated Press article. Watch the video I will post below and tell me its not assault.

What will be the length of the knee slap suspension the NHL hands down on Rypien? I bet its 10 games or less. The NHL suspension policy is a joke and has been since Todd Bertuzzi broke a player’s neck six years ago. Steve Moore suffered a career ending injury from the sucker punch. Bertuzzi is still playing in the NHL. Enough said about suspensions, right?

Hat tip- Litter Box Cats


Under Way- Carolina Hurricanes defeat Minnesota 4-3

The first game of the 2010-11 NHL season is in the books. From AP-

HELSINKI — Brandon Sutter scored twice as the Carolina Hurricanes held on to beat the Minnesota Wild 4-3 in the opening game of the NHL season on Thursday.

Anton Babchuk, back after a year in the Russian KHL, and Jussi Jokinen also scored for the Hurricanes.

Brent Burns scored for Minnesota with 3:21 left, but Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward made a late save to preserve the win.

Guillaume Latendresse scored for Minnesota 3:33 into the game, but Sutter tied it on a power play with 10 seconds left in the first period.

Babchuk put Carolina in front at 5:58 of the second period on another power play in which coach Paul Maurice lined up three forwards.

“I’ll do it again. If the power play struggles, it affects the offense, and it has been good to think of something which could be positive,” Maurice said.

New Minnesota center Matt Cullen tied it at 9:52 against his former team, but Carolina upped the pace and took control.

Jokinen restored the Hurricanes’ lead on a two-man advantage at 11:16, and Sutter made it 4-2 at 18:03 after a great rush by Patrick Dwyer up the right wing.


Ward came away with 29 saves, while Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom turned away 31 shots.

The NHL season opener belongs in North America, not Europe. I’m dead set against regular season sports games being played any where but at sites chosen by the teams involved.

The Florida Panthers won the first game of the 2009-10 season also played in Finland. They went on to finish with the 3rd worst record in the league. I expect Carolina to do better this season, but not make the playoffs.


Record win- Florida beats Minnesota 3-2

Tonight’s Panther game was frankly unbelievable.

The Wild scored two goals on four shots and were up 2-0 approximately 11 minutes into the game.FL-Minn

Minnesota had only 7 shots on goal for the first two periods but were still ahead 2-0. Florida had 21 SOG and had lots of opportunities to score but couldn’t. I was ready to throw in the towel on the game and the Panthers remote chances of making the playoffs.

For how often has Florida come back from a 2-goal deficit with just one period to play? I don’t know but it is not often.

Minnesota still couldn’t put pucks on net as the 3rd period opened. In fact they went 10 minutes into it before Panther Goalie Tomas Vokoun had to make a save.

In the meantime, Florida tied up the game. Michael Frolik scored two minutes into the period to make the game 2-1.

Then at the 10:40 mark, Cory Stillman took the puck away from fellow Panther Steven Reinprecht and got it past Wild Goalie Niklas Backstrom. Florida had wiped out the 2-goal deficit and the game was now tied.

Nothing more happened in regulation and the same for overtime. Then as the shootout commenced, I asked myself when’t the last time Florida won a shootout. It was last year I think and Florida hasn’t beaten Minnesota in 9 years either. The Panthers are doomed.

The first two Panther and Wild players a piece can’t score in the shootout. A 3rd Wild player can’t beat Vokoun. Then Peter DeBoer sends out Holy Kreps to get a shootout goal. Guess what happens?

Kamil loses control of the puck and doesn’t get a shot off. How embarrassing and what was DeBoer thinking by sending a player out in the shootout who had 1 goal in the first 63 games of this season?

A 4th Wild player does nothing then Cory Stillman beats Backstrom again and Florida wins 3-2.

Holy Cow! Even with the win, Florida is still 6 points out of the last playoff spot.

Minnesota finished the game with just 11 shots on goal. That is the lowest total ever allowed by a Florida team. The previous mark was set in 1997. It ties Minnesota’s all-time low output and this NHL season’s lowest.

Who out there thought Florida could overcome a two goal deficit with 20 minutes left to play, allow only 11 shots on goal the whole game, and win in a shootout?

Bueller? Bueller?

Donny at The Litter Box is also commenting. He makes mention of tonight’s Florida win being the 500th in franchise history.


Home New Home- Calgary beats Minnesota 5-2

The win allows Calgary to keep pace with Detroit, who also won today, in the race for the NHL Western Conference’s last playoff spot. From AP-

Despite being the career leader in goals against Minnesota Wild, Jarome Iginla hadn’t scored one in 10 games.

He certainly broke out of his slump in a big way.Calg-Min

Iginla recorded his 10th career hat trick — his third against Minnesota — and Vesa Toskala made 27 saves in his first start since being traded to Calgary as the Flames beat the Wild 5-2 on Sunday. Rene Bourque and Mark Giordano also scored for the Flames, who stayed within a point of Detroit for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Iginla hadn’t scored a goal against Minnesota since March 22, 2008 — he had a hat trick in that game, too.

That’s a long time in light of the fact that Minnesota and Calgary are in the same division and play 6 times a year.

Toskala was traded to Anaheim for Jean-Sebastien Giguere on Jan. 31, and then to Calgary for Curtis McElhinney on March 3. He made his first start since Jan. 30, when he was still minding net for Toronto, playing in place of resting Olympian Miikka Kiprusoff. He looked solid in net for his new team, save for the couple of second-period goals by Latendresse, who has 21 goals in 39 games since being acquired by the Wild.

Toskala who was a excellent number #2, struggled terribly(2.74, 3.26 and 3.66 GAA average respectively) in Toronto over parts of three seasons and didn’t even play during his short time in Anaheim. He played great today, but one result is not enough proof to say this marks a comeback for the Finnish born Goalie.

Minnesota plays the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night. I hope the cats tame the Wild also.


Minnesota Wild release Winger Petr Sykora

Just a year ago he helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup. From AP-

The Minnesota Wild have placed right wing Petr Sykora on waivers.

Sykora and rookie Robbie Earl were placed on waivers on Tuesday. Earl can be returned to the minors or stay with the Wild if he clears, but Sykora’s stint with Minnesota is all but over.

Sykora turned down richer offers to play in Russia and signed a one-year, $1.6 million contract with the Wild in September.

The 33-year-old ranked fourth on the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins last season with 46 points in 76 games. He had only two goals and one assist in 14 games with Minnesota, missing nearly two months while recovering from a concussion.

The well traveled Sykora, who played his first NHL game back in 1995, may well be finished as a player for the 2009-10 season. If the concussion isn’t too bad, I am certain he will be back playing pro hockey but perhaps not in the NHL. As of a year ago Sykora could still help a team, and concussion aside, that is the basis for my evaluation.


NHL Western Conference at the mid point of the 2009-10 season

Due to the Winter Olympics, the NHL season is being being played at a more accelerated rate than normal. For instance, prior to Christmas week the Florida Panthers had four games in a week, five straight weeks in a row.

A NHL season is 82 games in length. Half of 82 is 41. Most teams are at 41 games or more

San Jose 42 games 27 wins 8 losses 7 overtime losses 61 points
Chicago 41 28 10 3 59
Colorado 43 24 13 6 54
Phoenix 43 25 14 4 54
Calgary 41 24 12 5 53
Nashville 42 25 14 3 53
Vancouver 42 25 16 1 51
Los Angeles 42 24 15 3 51

Detroit 41 21 14 6 48
Dallas 41 18 12 11 47
Minnesota 42 20 19 3 43
St. Louis 41 17 18 6 40
Anaheim 41 16 18 7 39
Columbus 43 15 19 9 39
Edmonton 42 16 22 4 36

Bold denotes all teams who would make the playoffs as of this minute.
The above standings are as of 10 a.m. on Sunday January 3rd.

Teams all but certain to make the playoffs- San Jose, Chicago
Team that won’t make the playoffs- Edmonton

I think Detroit will get their act back together and make the playoffs. Who do I think they will bump? I’m not sold on Phoenix yet. Los Angeles is the next most likely team to drop from the top 8

Columbus won’t make the playoffs unless Steve Mason returns to his form of last season. Dallas could also climb into the top 8. I won’t rule out Anaheim, Minnesota or St. Louis from making the playoffs but IMHO it will be a surprise if any of them do turn around their seasons.


The show must go on- Ottawa beats Minnesota 4-1

The Wild had to scramble for equipment after most of it was destroyed in a Friday fire. From the AP-

Mike Brodeur made a name for himself Saturday night in his NHL debut for the Ottawa Senators.Mike Brodeur

No relation to New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur, the rookie goalie carried a shutout into the third period, and Erik Karlsson scored his first career goal, leading Ottawa to a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild.

Brodeur stopped 22 shots in his first career start after backing up Brian Elliott for 13 straight games.

Actually this article states Mike and Marty Brodeur are distant relatives.

Just last season Mike Brodeur was toiling for the Rochester Americans, the AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers. In spite of having a very good season, Ottawa some how came into possession of the Goalie. The Panthers are so cost conscious, I’m at least partially surprised they didn’t bring Brodeur to the NHL this year rather than sign free agent Scott Clemmensen. Brodeur would have been cheaper, and die hard South Florida hockey fans all know how much the Panthers watch their bottom line usually to the detriment of the team’s chances to compete. Just look at how the exchange of Clemmensen for the slightly higher priced Craig Anderson has been working out for Florida this year.

BTW Clemmensen had one of his better games as a Florida Goalie last night. Still the Panthers ended up losing to the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2.


Wild Times- NHL equipment van catches fire

I won’t make any hot wisecracks*. Only because I can’t think of any at this time. From AP-

A van carrying equipment for the Minnesota Wild caught fire on Friday afternoon and left the team scrambling ahead of its Saturday game against the Ottawa Senators.Wild fire

The fire occurred in the parking lot of Scotiabank Place, where the van had been driven following the team’s afternoon practice at a neighboring facility.

“It was a five-minute drive,” head equipment trainer Tony DaCosta said, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Firefighters took care of the flames, which were located in the back of the van. Police said there were no injuries.

“There was a fire in an equipment van in the parking lot at Scotiabank Place this afternoon. No one was injured, but some of the Minnesota Wild’s hockey equipment was damaged,” the team said in a statement. “The Wild is in the process of taking inventory to determine the damage to the equipment.”

The team said that goaltender Nicklas Backstrom’s equipment was destroyed.

Minnesota and Ottawa are scheduled to play on Saturday. The game is on according to the Wild’s website.

*- OTB Sports readers are free to make their own jokes.

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Minnesota Wild trade Benoit Pouliot to Montreal

The 4th overall pick of the 2005 NHL entry draft has scored 18 points in 65 career games. From AP-

The Minnesota Wild have traded former first-round draft choice Benoit Pouliot to Montreal for left wing Guillaume Latendresse.

The 23-year-old Pouliot has been one of a handful of first-round disappointments for the Wild in recent years after being drafted fourth overall in 2005. Defenseman A.J. Thelen, drafted in 2004, never played for the team and 2005 pick James Sheppard, a center, has not developed as quickly as the team had hoped.

Latendresse, who has only 2 goals and 1 assist so far this year, I think is just off to a slow start.

Benoit Pouliot(2 goals and 2 assists for the year) on the other hand looks like a NHL draft bust. Maybe a change of scenery will get Pouliot’s career on track, but I doubt it.


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