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The United States is currently experiencing a declining economy that has affected every market from the grocery store down the street to the biggest business in the city; layoffs, foreclosures and bankruptcy are becoming common.

One industry, however, doesn’t appear to be affected by the economy – the National Hockey League.

Or is it?

Tripp Mickle, a staff writer from the Sports Business Journal reported in December, “The NHL projects a 2 percent increase in league revenue, from $2.6 billion to $2.65 billion, for the 2008-09 season despite facing one of the worst economic crises to hit North America since the hockey league contracted from ten to six franchises around the time of the Great Depression.”

So how is the economy affecting other professional sport leagues?

Mark Garfinkel reported in an October edition of USA Today on the current state of the NBA, NFL and NASCAR.

In an interview with Garfinkel, NBA commissioner David Stern said, “Anticipation of a slowing U.S. economy has led the NBA to lay off 80 employees, or 9 percent of its domestic work force.”

Garfinkel reported, “The NFL, the nations richest professional sports league – one that receives $3.7 billion a year from TV networks alone – faces some significant belt tightening.”

Andrew Giangola a spokesman for NASCAR told Garfinkel, “Attendance at NASCAR races this season is down in the single digits percentage-wise.”

When the NHL is compared to the rest of the professional sports leagues it seems to be doing pretty average for this economy.

In an interview with Scott Burnside of ESPN.com, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said, “We haven’t yet felt a significant impact from the economy, attendance is up and television ratings are up, we’re actually having a pretty good season, we have fewer empty seats than we did last year.”

Stu Hackel, a blogger for the New York Times, wrote, “The league increased its attendance in part because 10 of its 30 clubs played to 100 percent capacity during the first half of the season.” Meaning a third of the leagues teams played every game in front of a sold-out crowd which dramatically increased the whole leagues overall attendance numbers and revenues, even if it wasn’t an accurate reflection of the other 20 teams in the league.

So what about the other 20 teams in the league?

According to Hackle one way these other 20 teams bolstered attendance ratings was through the type of attendance report they gave to the media, as each team had a choice to report either paid attendance or actual attendance.

Hackle explained, “In some cities, teams are papering the house, giving away tickets for free just to get people into the building, and those numbers are included in the overall attendance figures that are announced to the public.” For example, if a team gives away 1000 free tickets there would be a discrepancy between actual and paid attendance.

So what?

Hackle discussed how most teams report actual attendance, which can reflect positively on the economic state of the NHL because when looking at the numbers it is assumed that all in attendance are paying fans, however, that might not be the case, which can lead to misrepresentations and false confidence of the NHL’s current economic situation.

Despite that the NHL is projected to do considerably well this year. As Bettman told the Sports Business Daily, “We thought we would grow 7 percent this year, but instead we’re growing 5 or 6 percent.” However, commissioner Bettman admitted, “a good chunk of that growth was locked in before the season and the economic plunge began.”

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman

Some of the economic success of the NHL and other professional sport teams despite the economy could be due to a ‘layer of security.’ In an interview with Mark Garfinkel of USA Today deputy commissioner of the NHL Bill Daly explained, “The NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NASCAR are protected by multiyear TV and sponsorships deals, 60-70 percent of our revenue is contractually committed already, it does provide a layer of security.”

The NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL and NASCAR will escape this year with only minor economic bruises.

So how does next season look for the NHL?

Scott Burnside of ESPN.com wrote, “this spring playoff tickets sales and season ticket renewals will be an indication of whether the NHL can maintain its momentum in spite of the economy.”

The NHL looks at playoff ticket sales and season ticket renewals as an economic thermometer because it measures fans interest and willingness to pay for tickets and serves as an initial indicator of next seasons revenues because many season ticket packages sell out before the next season begins.

To get a glimpse into what next season will look like for one NHL team from this seasons playoffs lets examine the New Jersey Devils.

The Devils reported selling out the first home playoff game against the Carolina Hurricanes, something that traditionally, even in a good economy, is rare. Yahoo sports blog Puck Daddy reported, “We’ve heard from a few folks on press row that attended the game in New Jersey that there was audible laughter when a sellout was announced.” The laughter doesn’t mean that every ticket wasn’t distributed; it simply meant that people were reacting to what they saw and the two didn’t add up.

Playoff ticket sales were good for the Devils, but what about season ticket renewals?

Fire and Ice, a blog about the New Jersey Devils, reported in April that “Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek said today that 60 percent of the team’s season ticket holders have already renewed their subscriptions for the 2009-10 season.”

If all stays true to what the puck experts said about playoff ticket sales and renewed season tickets the New Jersey Devils are well on their way to a successful 2009-10 season.

What about the other playoff teams and the rest of the league?

Tripp Mickle wrote, for the Sports Business Journal, “The NHL barreled through one of its most successful first-round playoff series in years selling out all but four games, generating ratings increases across national and local television and driving significant online revenue increases.”

John Lombardo and Tripp Mickle reported, for the Sports Business Journal, “In the NHL, 13 teams plan to offer same season-ticket prices as they did for 2008-09; two clubs, the Tampa Bay Lighting and Dallas Stars, plan to reduce season-ticket prices for next season; and three clubs, the Buffalo Sabers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals, plan to increase prices and twelve clubs haven’t yet made a decision.”

If all goes according to plan the NHL should have another successful season despite the failing economy.

In the mean time the executives of the NHL are lacing up to finish the rest of the Stanley Cup playoffs before re-focusing their time on how to minimize the affects of the economy on the 2009-10 season.

Below is a google map of the 10 NHL teams that played every game in front of a sell-out crowd over the course of the 2008-09 season.

NHL Final Blog Wordle


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Minnesota Wild All-Star goalie Niklas Backstrom recently underwent surgery on his left hip to remove two cysts, which caused him groin problems and periodically affected his play this past season.

Dave Campbell of the St. Paul Associated Press reported, “the procedure will keep Backstrom out for three to six months.”

Tom Lynn, acting general manager of the Wild told Campbell, “I expect Backstrom to be recovered in time for training camp in mid-September, provided Dr. Marc Phillppon doesn’t find any red flags.” Campbell explained how Backstrom’s young age and good health should aid him to a quick and full recovery.

Campbell wrote that Backstrom sought the advice of other players and coaches throughout the NHL in regards to the surgery, but ultimately both he and Lynn decided that surgery was a good option. Lynn told Campbell, “we decided the best course was to get this fixed and have him ready for the [2009-2010] season.”

Lynn explained that Backstrom’s hip injury was due to normal wear and tear, not from a collision or other accident. Lynn told Campbell, “The joints like a bar of soap, it is going to wear down; it isn’t going to replace itself.”

Campbell reported, “the surgery occurred last Friday afternoon in Vail, Colo., by Dr. Phillppon, who has performed hip surgery on other athletes such as New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez and the Minnesota Wild’s All-Star center Marian Gaborik.”

Backstrom acted as the backbone of the Wild this past season as he started 71 of 82 games and finished with an overall record of 37-24-8. His regular season save percentage of .923 was good enough to rank him fifth overall for NHL goalies. Backstrom also averaged 2.33 goals-a-game against during the regular season, which landed him the third place spot among NHL goalies.

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Backstrom’s solid play this past season has earned him a finalist spot for the Vezina Trophy, which, according to a report on the Minnesota Wild’s website, is presented to the “goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at this position as voted by the general managers of all NHL clubs.” Backstrom is joined by two other finalist, Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins and Steve Mason of the Columbia Blue Jackets.

Backstrom and the other two finalists are scheduled to attend the NHL hockey awards in Las Vegas on June 18th during which the winner will be announced.

In the time being, Backstrom will recuperate and get prepared for another ‘Wild’ season.

Below is a player profile video on Niklas Backstrom from NHL.com 

Big John Is Back

April 29, 2009

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The Minnesota Wild got their man as they signed John Scott, the 26 year old, 6-foot-8 defenseman, to a one-year $550,000 deal.

Star Tribune writer Michael Russo reported that signing Scott was the first move conducted by Tom Lynn, current interim GM for the Wild, because they were concerned about losing Scott via waivers. The Wild didn’t want that to occur because they would have lost exclusive negotiating rights on Scott if they didn’t act before July 1, when Scott would have been released as a free agent.

Michael Russo explained that the Wild’s contract with Scott is a one-way contract, meaning Scott has a better chance of making next years NHL roster because he’d have to be paid his full NHL salary even if he was sent back down to the Wild’s minor team, the Houston Aeros.

Scott started the 2008-2009 season shaky as he spent the first half playing for the Aeros and didn’t even see the ice, because of injury, until 20 games into the year. Scott was called up to the Wild’s NHL roster for the last 20 games of the season and Russo reported, “during those 20 games he provided one assists and 21 penalty minutes.” While those numbers don’t seem great Scott was still a solid contributor to the team as he provided something the Wild had been missing; a physical presence at the blue line.

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One week ago Scott was bumming over the fact that the Wild didn’t send him back down to the minors to play with the Aeros in the AHL playoffs, however, his attitude has since changed as he told Russo, “I would never have dreamed of this last year.”

Russo explained how Scott is known for his physical game but believes he can get better as Scott said, “I feel I’m accustomed to the speed of the game, but as a big guys, I don’t feel I physically dominated like I know I should have. I’ve got to work on that.” Scott is making an effort to improve his strength and physical game as Russo reported that Scott plans to spend the summer in the Twin Cities in order to work out with Wild strength and conditioning coach Kirk Olson.

Scott knows the areas that he needs to work on and what he has to do in order to be a contributing factor to the Wild next season. But for now, he’s just happy to call Minnesota home, as Scott told Russo “I can’t believe it happened. It’s pretty cool.”

Check below for a slideshow of some highlights from John Scott’s 20 games with the Wild this season. 

Fired

April 22, 2009

Former Wild GM Doug Risebrough

Former Wild GM Doug Risebrough

 

Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold fired general manager Doug Risebrough just after the noon hour Thursday April 16.

Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported, “the Wild, in an announcement released to the media, said Risebrough’s contract will not be renewed beyond the 2008-2009 season.” Russo reported that this decision came as ‘a surprise’ to many within the Wild organization.

Wild Owner Craig Leipold commented on the dismissal of Risebrough as he said, “the entire Minnesota Wild organization is forever indebted to Doug for his substantial efforts in establishing this franchise’s solid foundation and winning tradition and the positive impact of Doug’s service will be felt for many years to come.”

Approximately 13 months ago Craig Leipold took over the reigns of the Minnesota Wild. Before his time in Minnesota Leipold had a 10-year stint as the owner of another NHL team, the Nashville Predators. During his time with Nashville he had one coach and one GM. Leipold made sure this reputation would not follow him to the land of 10,000 lakes.

Wild Owner Craig Leipold

Wild Owner Craig Leipold

In an official statement on wild.com Leipold wrote “I have agonized over this decision for some time now, but ultimately, I reached the conclusion that change was in order.” Leipold expanded on this as he told reporter Russo, “It’s very well-thought-out, trying to understand what I feel it will take to get to the next level. It’s my feeling now it’s time to move forward. It’s time to move on.”

Russo reported, “Leipold feels as if a change is needed because of the scrutiny he has received from both the fans and the media over the past year.” Scrutiny is understandable and should have been expected as the Wild, who won the Northwest Division last year, lacked consistent play this season, and it reflected as they only had two 3 game win steaks all season, which ultimately led to an overall disappointing year of hockey as the Wild fell one spot short of making the playoffs.

A change in leadership could prove itself advantageous for the Wild in the long run because as the franchise approaches the decade mark they have yet to make it to the promised land that is the Stanley Cup finals.

The Wild definitely have their fish to fry this offseason, but first things first.

To start, the Wild have to fill the void at the general manager spot before they begin to look for a new head coach. Leipold told Russo “the Wild’s new GM will hire the coach, determine the Wild’s style of play and assess the remaining members of the front office and scouting department.”  There have yet to be any reports from the Wild as to whom they’re interested in as the teams next GM.

Whomever the Wild choose as their next GM there is one thing that person should be aware of, and that is that Leipold is willing to give them the flexibility and resources needed to turn the Wild into a winning organization, as Russo reported that Leipold said, “He’ll have the freedom and flexibility to build his own organization.”

 

Meaningless Win

April 15, 2009

mn-wild-41109The Minnesota Wild did just about everything they could to make this years Stanley Cup playoffs, they won out their last three games and in the process racked up the 6 points they needed. However, Anaheim and St. Louis weren’t as cooperative as they both won their games over the weekend, which secured Minnesota’s spot at number 9 in the Western Conference standings, one spot shy of the playoffs.

“We can be proud of ourselves to finish these three games strong,” said Marion Gaborik to the associated press for Wild.com after the conclusion of Saturday night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets in which the Wild won 6-3.

The Wild’s first period of play against the Blue Jackets looked rather shaky as Minnesota finished the first 20 minutes of hockey down 2-0.

However, the Wild quickly answered back as they scored the next 5 goals of the game.

Kurtis Foster, Marian Gaborik and Martin Skoula all scored goals for the Wild during the second period to put Minnesota up 3-2 going into the second intermission.

Gaborik and Marc-Andrew Bergeron widened the gap on Columbus in the third period as they both hammered in slap shots within a minute of one another to put the Wild up 5-2. Derek Dorsett of Columbus answered back with a wrist shot goal of his own, which brought the game to 5-3, with less than 7 minutes remaining.

Minnesota’s Mikko Koivu put the final nail in the coffin as he scored an unassisted shorthanded goal with under 1 minute remaining in the game to cap off the Wild’s season with a victory.

Josh Shipley of the Minnesota Pioneer Press reported that Minnesota goal tender Josh Harding got the start on Saturday and earned his first victory since January 22nd when the Wild beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1. Shipley went on to report that Saturday’s win marked Minnesota’s first three-game win streak since early November. Unfortunately this streak of winning came much too late in the season to have any significant positive impact for the Wild.

“The Minnesota Wild once again played a fantastic offensive game in a match that didn’t mean anything” said Niede, as he reported on Saturday’s game for hockeywilderness.com. It’s a shame that the fantastic offensive effort put forth from the Wild over their past three games was relatively all for nothing.  

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The conclusion of Saturday’s game not only marked the end of the Wild’s season but also the end of Jacque Lemaire’s career in Minnesota as he stepped down as the Wild’s head coach. Lemaire has been Minnesota’s only head coach since the franchise started back in 2000. The associated press reportedon Wild.com that coach Lemaire said, “There comes a time when you know it’s the right time to go, and I know this. I had a great time here, I had eight great years.” It is a sad moment for Minnesota fans to see the man who has singlehandedly helped build the Wild franchise from the ground up step down as coach and go his separate way.

The Wild hope that the foundation Lemaire laid was solid enough to keep the players in Minnesota happy during the transition process of finding a new head coach. With plenty of unanswered questions the Wild are sure to have a busy offseason ahead of them.

Check out the video below for highlights from Saturday’s game

Tough Loss

April 8, 2009

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The Minnesota Wild have found themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place as they came up short in a last second loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday, April 5th.

 “We came here to play good and try and take two points, we came close to getting one, but we didn’t come out with anything,” said Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom to the associated press, which reported Sunday’s game for wild.com. The thing that the Wild so desperately needed on Sunday was at least a tie game, which would have resulted in them earning one point towards playoffs, and they would have earned that one point if it hadn’t been for Detroit’s Marian Hossa.

The first period of Sunday’s game saw the Detroit Red Wings dominate the offensive side of the game as they scored 2 goals within 2 minutes to put them ahead of the Wild 2-0. Minnesota continued to play scrappy and it paid off as Minnesota forward Cal Clutterbuck snapped a wrist shot from just below the blue line that found the back of the net with under 2 minutes left in the first period to bring the Wild within one.

The second period was played tighter as both teams had offensive opportunities but were turned away by outstanding performances by both Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom and Red Wing goaltender Chris Osgood as together they turned away 26 shots on goal.

It wasn’t until the final minute of the second period that the Wild mounted a solid offense attack as Wild center Marian Gaborik, who has been on fire with 7 goals and 10 points in his last eight games, rifled home a wrist shot from the slot to even the score 2-2.

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The Wild looked strong as they came out in the third period checking hard and playing solid defense as they only allowed 10 shots on goal for the period. Minnesota had the momentum and it seemed as if they had found the spark they needed to catch fire for the rest of the game. That was until Marian Hossa of the Detroit Red Wings doused the Wild’s flame as he scored the game winning goal with 55 seconds left to not only steal a desperately needed point from the Wild but also could have very well eliminated any hopes Minnesota has of a post season.

The Wild are currently three points out of the eight and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with only three games remaining. The maximum amount of points Minnesota could earn would be 6 points, and that is if they win all three of their games. The Wild will also need St. Louis, Anaheim and Edmonton to all lose over the course of the next week. As you can see the Wild do have a chance of making the playoffs, it’s just a very slim and rather unrealistic chance.

Sunday’s game sums up Minnesota’s season fairly accurately. Niede of Hockeywilderness.com, a blog about the Minnesota Wild, said “Outshot, out played, overmatched, but thanks to Niklas Backstrom the Wild are just good enough to stick around and be in the thick of it until the end.” Maybe it’s luck, maybe it’s skill or maybe it is just all Niklas Backstrom. Whatever it is, the Wild have found themselves with their head just above the water and as the end of the season rapidly approaches its becoming time to either sink or swim.

Minnesota’s destiny is now up to them. “The only thing we can do is work as hard as we can,” said Minnesota’s Cal Clutterbuck, “The rest is out of our hands.”

To check out highlights from Sunday’s game watch the video below.

 

An Uphill Climb

March 31, 2009

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The Minnesota Wild face a monstrous task as they head into their final nine games of the regular season without captain and leading scored Mikko Koivu. The Wild are hanging in the balance of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, which is about as fickle as springtime in Minnesota.

“Everyone has to step up their game and pull as a team,” said Marian Gaborik to Wild.com reporter Adam Birnbaum. If the Wild have any chance of making the playoffs they will need to work together both on and off the ice to stay healthy and focused.

The Wild only added to their troubles as the New York Rangers defeated Minnesota 2-1 on March 24th at Madison Square Garden.

Gaborik scored the only goal for the Wild, as he played in his second game back after missing 38 games due to hip surgery. The goal came early in the second period to tie the game 1 – 1.  The Rangers responded with a goal 2 minutes later and sealed the deal as they shut down the Wild for the rest of the game.

Niede reported for hockeywilderness.com on the Wild’s latest loss as he said “you can’t win when you only get 10 shots [on goal] in two periods, are outshot 30-19 and win only 19 of 54 face-offs. It’s that simple.” Well put and painstakingly true. What the Wild need is a consistent offensive attack, which hasn’t happened since they lost Gaborik early in the year, and now the loss of Koivu eliminates the consistency and the one-two punch of Gaborik and Koivu that the Wild so desperately need.

The one thing the Wild did beat the rangers on tonight was picking fights, especially during the first period. The Wild had an embarrassing 3 shots on goal but managed to get into 2 scuffles during the first 20-minute period of hockey. The Wild do need to play scrappy, aggressive and with a chip on their shoulder if they hope to make the playoffs but they also need to play smart, and at the end of the day the team with more goals, not fights, wins the game.

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The Wild’s fate lies in the ability of GaborikNolan and Fritsche to step up their game and increase Minnesota’s offensive attack in order to take pressure off of goaltender Niklas Backstrom and instead put pressure on the opposing team, that is, if Minnesota hopes to play more than the nine regular season games they have left.

Check out the video below to see highlights from the Wild’s game against the Rangers. 

koivu-injuryEarly in the first period of the Wild’s game against the Oilers on Sunday march 22nd Minnesota center, top-line player and captain Mikko Koivu fell to the ice in agonizing pain as his right knee awkwardly bent when he was pulled down by Oilers forward Ales Kotalik.

The loss of Koivu is a huge hit to the Wild as they fight for a playoff birth in the Western Conference. Brian Stensass of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported on the impact of Koivu’s injury as he said, “the Wild likely took a direct hit on there hopes for postseason action when forward Mikko Koivu left the game.” Koivu has been a big part of the Wild’s success this season as he has helped fill the void left by the Wild’s injured center Marian Gaborik.

Jacques Lemaire, the Wild’s head coach, wasn’t too pleased about Koivu’s injury as coach Lemaire said “Mikko’s been our best player in and out of the game. He hasn’t had many days off this year. Losing him, it’s a huge loss for our team.”

Scott Burnside of ESPN.com reported on Koivu’s stats so far this season as he said “With 18 goals and 44 assists, Koivu’s career-high 62 points by far lead the team.” The Wild haven’t been able to catch a break, as they have been plagued by injuries all year. Other players such as Eric Belanger, James Sheppard and Dan Fritsche will have to pick up the slack if the Wild hope to contend.

“I don’t want to see him go, but it’s an opportunity for me to show what I can do,” James Sheppard said to Scott Burnside of ESPN.com. As long as the younger Wild players are confident in their ability to fill the gap created by Koivu the Wild should be capable of finishing out the rest of the season strong and make strides towards reaching the playoffs.

mikkokoivuDespite the devastating loss of Koivu on Sunday the Wild also welcomed back an old friend as Marian Gaborik returned from his injury and rejoined his teammates on the ice. Having Gaborik back in the line up should give the Wild the consistency they have been lacking as ESPN.com explains how since Gaborik was injured in November the Wild haven’t been able to put together a win streak longer than 2 games.

Koivu underwent an MRI on Monday morning and met with team doctors about the condition of his knee and a possible timetable for his return. ESPN.com reported that Coach Lemaire said “I don’t know if he’s going to get back, all of it is in the air right now.” The most probable situation is that Koivu will be out the rest of the regular season and won’t skate again until the playoffs, if the Wild can get there without him.

Check out one of Mikko Koviu’s amazing goals from this season below, this sums up Koviu’s terrific effort and outstanding ability; he will truly be missed. 

Big Win

March 25, 2009

mn-wild-32209The Wild picked up a big win on Sunday March 22nd at the Excel Energy Center in St. Paul as they defeated the Edmonton Oilers 3-0 and brought the Wild 2 precious points closer to making the playoffs.

Robert Desimone of Wild.com chatted with Wild forward Dan Fritsche about Sundays win, “It’s huge. It does a lot for us and for our confidence” he said. The Wild needed a boost as they have been on the fringe all season flirting with the .500 mark and always keeping playoffs faintly in the picture. This win brings that picture a little more into focus.

With Sundays win the Wild are now only 3 points behind Edmonton for seventh place in the Western Conference and only 1 point behind Nashville for the eigth and final playoff spot.

Sunday’s game started out even as neither team scored in the first period.

The rest of the game was the Owen Nolan show as he slammed home a wrist shot on the power play at 14:26 of the second period and then added another goal to his nightly total at 4:19 of the third period. The Wild’s Stephane Veilleux sealed the deal with a goal of his own with less than 8 minutes remaining in the third period.

Niklas Backstrom showed up in a huge way on Sunday for the Wild as he recorded his 16th career shutout by turning away all 31 of Edmonton’s shots. Just what Backstrom needed to do to bounce back from a disappointing and embarrassing game against the New Jersey Devils on Friday in which he was pulled out and replaced by backup goaltender Josh Harding.

Owen Nolan wasn’t the only star on the ice Sunday as the game included the return of Wild All-Star Marian Gaborik. Robert Desimone reported “Gaborik struggled to get involved in the first period, but he found his form in the second.” Once Gaborik caught accustomed to the pace and flow of the game he made his presence known as he churned out four shots and drew multiple penalties on Edmonton even setting up a Wild 5-on-3 power play.

Neide of Hockeywilderness.com reported on Gaborik’s return to the ice as he said “he looked solid in his first game back…it’s nice to see #10 on the ice.” Every hockey fan in Minnesota can agree on that fact. Having Gaborik back in the line-up will add the offensive consistency and threat that they have been lacking all season.

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With Gaborik healthy and Backstrom refocused and playing solid the Wild are starting to look like they have all engines firing at once, now it’s just a matter of keeping gas in the tank.

 

Shootout Victory

March 23, 2009

mn-wild-31709The luck of the Irish seemed to be with the Wild on Tuesday March 17th as they defeated rival Colorado 3-2 in the shootout. The Wild recorded their seventh one goal finish of the month and left the crowd of 18,000 at the Excel Energy Center full of smiles and good cheer.

The Wild started off well outshooting the Avalanche 10-5, however, neither team scored in the first period.

The second period saw a different story as the Wild were outshot 12-0 and quickly found themselves down 2-1 by the end of the second period.

Minnesota looked defeated as they neared the end of the game until Nick Shultz slammed home a slap shot with less than 2 minutes remaining to send the game into overtime.  Overtime proved itself unsuccessful as both teams saw ample opportunities but no goals.

Mikko Koivu got the shootout started with a fancy backhand that put the Wild up 1-0. The Avalanche answered with a shootout goal of their own to tie the shootout 1-1. Minnesota got the last laugh as Martin Zidlicky buried a forehand shot into the upper right hand corner of the goal to give the Wild the victory.

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James MacDonald of Wild.com caught up with Wild coach Jacques Lemarie about his thoughts on the shootout victory. Lemaire said, “I didn’t want to go there. I was wishing to get a goal in overtime because I know they [Colorado] have great shooters.” Lemaire is right that the Avalanche do have great shooters and one of the best overtime and shootout records in all of the NHL , as Colorado was 9-1 overall in extra minutes before entering Tuesday’s game. Thankfully lady luck was on the Wild’s side.

Hockeywilderness.com was excited about the shootout victory as the website said, “These are the games Minnesota desperately needs to win if they plan on getting to the playoffs.” It’s true. If the Wild hope to make the playoffs they need to continue to be scrappy and play the full 60 minutes of every game because if nothing else Tuesday night’s victory proved that as long as the Wild play hard and fight for the whole game, good things can happen.

Below is a highlight reel from the Tuesday March 17th game