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The Ryan Stanzel Blog: Oct. 4, 2008

Saturday, 10.04.2008 / 12:59 AM / Minnesota Wild | Features
By Ryan Stanzel  - Wild Digital Content Manager
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The Ryan Stanzel Blog: Oct. 4, 2008
-- GAME INFO --
Minnesota vs. Montreal
6 p.m. CDT
830 WCCO

 -- NEWS --
Injury update from Friday night:
Scott -- Sore leg after leaving game. Will not  play Saturday, and will be reevaluated when  team returns.

-- BLOG --
* The Ryan Stanzel Blog (Oct. 3)
Beginning with the travel plans, Stanzel stuck with the game until having to prepare media relations duties postgame

-- PROBABLE LINEUP --
Listed below
Media Relations and Team Services Coordinator Ryan Stanzel will file a periodic blog throughout the 2008-09 season, if only to prove to his mother that her son does more than “watch sports for a living. He can be reached at rstanzel@wild.com.

Oct. 4, 2008

11:59 p.m. "Friday"

I wrote Saturday again. I really am looking forward to coming home, apparently!

Blogging by BlackBerry tonight. This plane is not equipped with plugs (the plane's only fault, it's a good one), and I'm not sure about my wireless card in Canada, so here we go.

We were out of the arena in record time. The bus pulled out at 9:52 for a 10 p.m. departure time. Beat that, Aaron Sickman. So fast on the bus, in fact, that we had to grab our coach and general manager on the way out!

The speed was impressive, considering we had to get an update on Big John Scott, the Wild's 6-foot-8 defenseman who was felled by a leg injury in the third period. It looks to not be too serious.

It took us a bit to get out of downtown due to a ...

That pause was for dinner. Tonight, the boys had a choice between fillet and twice baked potato or chicken marsala. I didn't hear a lot of guys say "chicken." Wild radio's Tom Reid called it the best meal he's had on a charter with the Wild.

lane closure. It was a good thing we left early. I talked to both the pilot and security at our hangar, and there was just a slight delay as they checked under the bus before they brought us to the screeners. On the bus, I sat on top of my briefcase in the aisle. We picked up director of scouting Blair Mackasey in Columbus, plus we had Tom and Bob Kurtz with us. Usually on the road, media has its own bus.

Screening started slow but finished with a flourish. While the flight attendants picked up the appetizers and stowed them for takeoff, we ordered some more ice from the hangar. Today's Did You Know Fact ... We can use up to 75 pounds of ice after a game on a plane.

We were in the air right at 11 p.m., an hour after the game. All things considered, not bad. I called the hotel in Montreal to update them on our arrival time. I speak very fast -- very -- so I'm trying to make sure to go as slow as I can when speaking in Quebec, because I can be hard to understand. Everyone has been great and patient with me so far.

I also touched base with Sickman, who is leaving for a big Brewers win first thing in the morning. We'll try not to bother him other than a congratulatory e-mail.

I must be living right, as it looks like the ticket situation will be OK tomorrow/today. It's going to be very tight. There is an optional skate at 10:30 a.m., so I need to know before then, otherwise I won't see many guys until lunch, or maybe not at all.

Generally, home teams do pregame skates at 10:30, and visiting teams are at 11:45. Montreal elected to skate later, so, even with our anticipated 1 a.m. arrival time at the hotel, we will have some guys on the ice at 10:30. With three guys named Risebrough, Lemaire and Tremblay in town, I'm anticipating a big media showing.

The early skate can be a bummer, but it gives you an extra hour during the day. I plan on blogging some, but I am going to explore some of downtown Montreal.

Before we can deplane, Canadian customs agents will board to clear us. It's usually a painless process -- I stay on board and am the last one off just in case there's an issue.

After the game, we will go to the main terminal in Montreal just like everybody else. Hopefully, everybody else won't be at the airport at 10:30 at night. We'll be sure to not let anyone linger too long with their guests post-game, so we can get a move on and get in the air back to MSP.

I have some more e-mails to sift through before we get to another mailbag. We'll try to do one Saturday.

I just reminded Frances, our lead flight attendant, to pass out the forms for Canadian customs. Thanks to trainer Don Fuller for reminding me! I have American forms in my briefcase, but that's it.

It's time to get out the passport, hockey fans. We'll chat with you later, after some sleep, with hopefully a playing roster.

Lastly, before we go ...

I do need to thank Tom Reid real fast for showing me there was a part of the customs form to fill out in English too. I was struggling with the French side of it!

Good night

10:39 a.m.

We were back at it early here with a fairly quick turnaround, so I'll start with the most important information:

Defensemen: Schultz, Burns, Johnsson, Skoula, Reitz, Bergeron

Forwards: Bouchard, Sheppard, Koivu, Veilleux, Belanger, Weller, Miettinen, Pouliot, Gillies, Nolan, Gaborik, Brunette

Goaltenders: Backstrom, Brust

1:15 p.m.

I'm back at the hotel, watching the Rangers dominate the Lightning territorially in the first NHL regular season game, but the game is still scoreless.

As expected, things were a bit crazy at the rink this morning, although it could have been much worse. Stephane Veilleux, Eric Belanger and Pierre-Marc Bouchard did not skate, so the media spent 15 minutes with Jacques Lemaire and much time also with Marc-Andre Bergeron, who is set to play tonight with a couple of black eyes. Mikko Koivu was also a star with the media.

Jacques also gave an impromptu speech with a group of a couple thousand Canadiens fans. They held an open practice this morning after the Wild skated, and Jacques spoke for a few minutes before showing his sons and grandchildren around the locker room.

It's a rather chilly day in Montreal, so we'll see how much sightseeing I'll do this afternoon. I'm also in desperate need of a quick nap.

I have to get things set for our departure tonight, including talking to the guy who will help get us through customs. There was an unbelievable amount of construction on the way to the hotel last night, and we actually turned around at one point. After 20 minutes, we finally saw a construction worker. We're going to have to find a different route out tonight headed to the airport.

6:45 p.m. - almost gametime

We’ll get more up on here shortly folks: we had some technical issues from Montreal, but we’re good to go now. Ryan flying the mothership alone tonight, so you’ll just have to bear without updates when I’m downstairs in the final minutes of the period for interviews. Tonight’s game is on RDS, the French-speaking station in Quebec, and we already have Mario Tremblay lined up for an interview during the second intermission.

Same lineup I posted earlier. We’ll be not only watching tonight’s game live, but also on the Canadiens’ new state-of-the art, $8 million high-def scoreboard. It’s 521-square feet – each side – more than five times larger than the previous scoreboard at Bell Centre. It is amazing.

I did not get out and see the city nearly as much as I had hoped. It took me a while to nail down our ticket list, and then the late arrival (not to mention watching the O.J. Simpson verdict) got to me. I unfortunately didn't nap, but I got a nice rest in, to be followed by more of the same tonight on the plane. It's more than a two-hour flight, with no outlets for the laptop.

You know you're in a Canadian NHL building when A)the press box is a catwalk and B)there are seats behind and above you. Of the Canadian arenas, this is the granddaddy of them all, for sure. And this scoreboard is amazing. They are essentially honoring something each of the 41 home games in this their 100th anniversary season, and seeing some of this old footage is just awesome. They are also unveiling a new goal song tonight  -- let's hope we don't have to hear it.

First period

20:00 - The Canadiens are playing most - if not all - of their regulars. Mikko Koivu and his older brother Saku will take the opening faceoff after we break for both anthems. Carey Price is in net for the Habs. Justin St. Pierre - who I saw in the hotel lobby this afternoon - and Don VanMassenhoven are your refs.

19:55 - Koivu the younger gets the best of his brother on the faceoff. I talked last night about how small the bench in Columbus was. Tonight, Barry Brust is even further separated from his teammates, sitting on the other side of the ice, in the runway where the Wild come out.

19:29 - The Wild with an early power play, as Saku Koivu goes to the penalty box.

Logistically, this is the closest I ever am to the Wild locker room during a game. And it's also the furthest walk. How so? The locker room is beneath me, and the benches are across from me. However, I have to walk 180 degrees around the arena for the elevator downstairs. Which, of course, puts me a 180 degree walk from the locker room. So we'll have to leave a bit of extra time to get downstairs.

17:45 - Backstrom a terrific diving save on Tomas Plekanec's shorthanded break.

15:35 - Looking below to where Brust is, Big John Scott stands behind him. Scott is out tonight with the sore leg that he injured last night in Columbus. Assistant equipment manager Brent Proulx - who is usually on the bench when there is more room - is in the tunnel too.

14:36 - And the Wild strike first, with its first shot of the game. Marian Gaborik took a pass from Stephane Veilleux and unleashed his patented wicked wrister top shelf over Price. It is Gaborik's second goal in as many nights. Stephane Veilleux and James Sheppard with the assists.

13:05 - With the Wild still warming, Price robs Andrew Brunette.

12:51 - And it's 2-0 as Veilleux - who has more than 10 friends and family in attendance tonight, is credited with his fourth goal of the preseason. Price stopped his original shot from the right circle, and it looks like a defensemen helped the puck into the net. James Sheppard with his second assist of the night.

11:35 - Wild fans who have been clamoring for someone to stand in front of the net, take a beating and score goals, just watch Owen Nolan. He was stifled this time by Price, but a great tip out front.

9:59 - Because it's my job to know these things, we are two TV timeouts behind. Which won't make our friends at RDS, nor the Canadiens game ops department, very happy. A quick moving period is good, though, as we keep in mind an airport curfew tonight in Montreal.

7:51 - Both teams are still flying, and we get our first non-goal whistle since early on.

6:45 - Bouchard nearly takes Price's head off with a slapshot after intercepting a pass deep in the Montreal zone. And I have to get downstairs. Be back after the intermission.

First intermission

Unlike last night, no mass mayhem during the PR dude's trip downstairs. Montreal had a couple of good chances on the power play, but Backstrom, who is really on his game tonight, stood tall.

I shared an elevator with Habs GM Bob Gainey on the way downstairs. No interviews this intermission, but I was able to talk to the RDS stage manager to confirm things for Mario Tremblay's "walk-off" interview at the second intermission. It's a taped interview, so we have a little bit of wiggle room if Mario has anything to do first.

I also stopped by the press lounge here, which is packed to the limits. And they are all there for the Lafleurs - a just smaller than normal hot dog, on a cross between a bun and a piece of bread. And that's my food reference for tonight.

We'd also like to say hello to Brent Proulx who was logged on to Wild.com when we walked in the locker room.

Oh, and I paid the food guy $170 (with tip) for food tonight. That leaves us with some cash even to tip Richard, our trusty driver, tonight. If he can avoid the construction zones, we'll see about an extra $20. It's interesting to note that for the first time in a while, the American dollar is now stronger than the Canadian dollar.

Back when the second period starts.

Second period

19:55 - Montreal begins with 1:33 left on its second of back-to-back power plays.

19:08 - Marian Gaborik just missed making it a 3-0 game. He stole the puck shorthanded, made one move to get it to a breakaway and hit the outside of the net with a backhander.

16:12 - Kim Johnsson wearing the "C" tonight, while Mikko Koivu and Nick Schultz both have the "A".

13:05 - Sellout crowd of 21,000-plus tonight at Bell Centre. And our players certainly did their part. They're seeing both teams' chances limited during this middle period.

7:54 - Wild with a chance to push the lead to three on the third power play of the game.

6:41 - Veilleux and Gaborik are really working their magic together tonight. Gaborik is really flying. But the Wild can't find the net on the power play. And it's time for me to get downstairs. I'll be back!

Second intermission

Again, we didn't miss a whole lot, although just after I closed the computer screen, Kim Johnsson rang a shot off the post.

Mario was happy to chat with RDS, and I was able to multi-task and call Mike, our trusty captain tonight. We'll fight some headwinds to get back in 2 hours, 21 minutes. It's a midnight wheels-up curfew, which isn't a problem. But, remember, it's getting 44 guys and bags through customs, plus Montreal's construction issues.

We're counting down to the beginning of the third period, and the Wild is 20 minutes away from a 5-2-0 preseason.

Third period

19:55 - And we're underway.

18:58 - Niklas Backstrom flat-out robs Maxim Lapierre.

18:30 - Carey Price has been brilliant all night - despite the two goals - here covering the near post on Mikko Koivu's backhander.

17:46 - Check that ... Antti Miettinen makes a great one-on-one move at the blueline, moved the puck to his right and fired a shot by Price, who was screened by the defenseman. It's Miettinen's second of the preseason. Koivu gets an assist, as does Johnsson.

16:20 - The Canadiens, down by three, were all over the Wild for a shift, hitting the crossbar.

11:45 - The Wild get some good chances on the power play, but the lead remains three.

I have to head downstairs and try to get our 100-plus guests to break up the party early enough for us to leave on time. Wish me luck. We'll have one more update later on, probably on the way to the airport. I likely won't blog again until  Monday. There's no word yet, but we're all hoping for an off day tomorrow. You can, of course, log on to Wild.com to read all about the team's mascot, to be unveiled at a Kids Club event in the late afternoon.

10:05 p.m.

And we're off to the main terminal in Montreal. It must be very hard covering a visiting team's locker room in Montreal, because so many players are trying to get out to see family. We took care of every request, and I'm back in my familiar spot sitting in the middle of an aisle on top of my briefcase. It will be nice to start the regular season. But I'm also going to enjoy some time at home before we leave for Atlanta on Oct. 13.

We'll talk to you Monday.







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