Mike Doyle's In-Game Commentary At Columbus
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What up State of Hockey legion? On this day in 1935, the Commonwealth of the Philippines was officially established, with Manuel L. Quezon inaugurated as its president. Since this historic day, other notable Filipinos include Imelda Marcos (shoe hoarder), Manny Pacquiao (beatdown giver) and me (second-generation Filipino and commentary hoster).
The Philippines is not known for its hockey – or ice for that matter – but the place that is known for its puck prowess? Minnesota. And your Wild is currently in first place in the Northwest Division and third in the Western Conference.
The Wild has earned 21 points through 17 games, and is off to one of its best starts in franchise history – two points off its record 23 points at the 17-game mark in 2008-09. And tonight, the team is looking for more against the Columbus Blue Jackets. It’s the final of a five-game road trip and no better way to end it with a big W.
I for one think the Wild are going to net two more points. And do you know why? We have Niklas Backstrom patrolling the blue paint and he’s 8-3-1 in his career against the Jackets with a 2.25 goals against average and a .920 save percentage.
But before we get too cocky, let’s not forget about the Blue Jackets. Sure their win total is thinner than Jared Spurgeon’s moustache, but the Bees have won three of their last five home games.
For the Wild, out of the lineup with injuries are Guillume Latendresse (concussion), Marco Scandella (concussion), Mike Lundin (back) and Greg Zannon (groin). Casey Wellman was called-up from Houston yesterday, but won't get his first NHL action tonight and will be the healthy scratch.
The good guys will wear their road whites for the last time for a while and the Jackets are outfitted with their blue star sweater with American swirl-flag across the chest.
19:16 - The Wild are on their heals early as the Jackets are pushing the pace. Samuel Pahlsson just turned the corner on Justin Falk, but the rangy Wild D-man got a stick on the Pahlsson shot. The puck got through, but Backstrom is there to make a big right pad save.
17:52 - The Wild's penalty killers have been solid and they'll get another opportunity to earn their keep. Brad Staubitz is called for boarding. What? Finishing your check isn't allowed in Ohio?
16:28 - Big opportunity for Columbus on the PP as Grant Clitsome blasts a one-timer from the point. Backstrom makes another kick save and the puck bounces to Ryan Johansen on the left post. The puck bounces to the right side to Vinny Prospal who slides it through the crease and out of harms way. Backstrom is on his game tonight and early on he has to be.
15:01 - Something you don't see everyday double offsetting 10 minutes misconducts. After a short scrum in front of Backstrom, Clutterbuck and Bouchard going to the box for the Wild and Calvert and Boll in the box for the Jackets.
14:49 - Wild go on the PP as Pahlsson gets called for a hook. I'm all for calls in our favor, but that looked pretty weak. But hey we'll take it.
13:09 - MIN 0 - CBJ 1 - Columbus strikes first as Antoine Vermette strikes on the man disadvantage. Vernette causes a turnover at center ice by tripping Kyle Brodziak then walks in on Backstrom. Vernette lets go of a wrist shot, and Backstrom makes a glove save. The puck squirts out of Backs glove and Vernette slides his own rebound behind the Wild netminder.
10:56 - Dorsett drops Zidlicky with a big hit in the Wild's D-zone and Warren Peters drops his gloves. Peters shows great hart but Dorsett is the much bigger pugilist. Stoner sent a cross check Dorsett's way and the ref sent Stoner to the box for two minutes.
9: 18 - MIN 0 - CBJ 2 - Not the kind of start we want folks. Letestu makes the Wild pay on the man advantage. He walks over the blue line and drops the puck off to Clitsome, who finds Nikitin at the top of the left circle. Nikitin fakes a shot on goal and finds Letestu on the right post for a tap in. Heatley got a piece of the pass but it wasn't enough. Backstrom never had a chance.
6:40 - Wild with their best shift of the period as the Cullen, Gillies and Staubitz line get some pressure with a great offensive zone forecheck…wait what? Because of the fighting major to Peters and offsetting 10 minute misconducts to Clutterbuck and Bouchard, the Wild are forced to go with some interesting line combos. Either way, that line looked good and was playing with energy, something the boys will need to continue.
2:49 - The Wild's energy line, and on this road trip scoring line, of Powe, Johnson and Brodziak hold the puck in the Blue Jackets zone with some rabid dog-like attack. After cycling the puck for several seconds down low, Powe finds Johnson sneaking behind the net. Johnson makes a quick move to the front of the net and releases a backhand shot but Mason is there to make a save.
1:06 - Nash is in the box for slashing Justin Falk. You can't do that, Wild on their secon power play of the game.
0:00 - I'm going to go ahead and blame that first period on jet lag. The Wild have two periods to turn this one around, but have 54 seconds of power play time to do some damage at the start of the second period.
17:12 - The Wild's opponent might be called the Blue Jackets, but the Powe, Brodziak and Johnson line is buzzing. So much so, I'd like to call them the Wasp Line. After anther shift of continuous cycling, Powe gets off a one-timer in the slot after Johnson find him from behind the net. The shot wasn't that hard, but the Wasp Line is playing extremely hard.
11:55 - The Blue Jackets are again threating to extend the lead. After some offensive zone pressure Dorsett rifles a tricky shot from the bottom of the right circle, but Backstrom snatches it up with his glove.
10:55 - Columbus trying to play with six players, that's illegal. Wild go back on the power play and a golden opportunity to turn this thing around on a Blue Jackets mistake.
9:48 - Wild with their best opportunity of the power play. Prosser sneaks down from the right point and finds Koivu on the other side of the net. Koivu puts one out front and Setoguchi tries a spin-o-rama in front of the net, but Mason there.
9:28 - MIN 1 - CBJ 2 - That's how it's done. Matt Cullen gets his eight of the year cleaning up a rebound, dirty goal style. Prosser slide the puck over to Spurgeon who rips a one-timer on net. The puck bounces off Brodziak in front and Cullen swoops up the rebound and puts a backhand over an outstretched Mason.
9:08 - MIN 2 - CBJ 2 - The Wasp Line stings again this time Johnson cleans up another dirty goal. Peters (taking the place of Brodziak who was on that last PP) cycles the puck deep. Johnson steps out from behind the net and releases a backhand, stopped by Mason. Powe gets his stick on the rebound, save Mason. Johnson swings around to the left side of the net and picks up another rebound, and this time puts it past Mason. It looks like the jet lag has worn off and we have a hockey game.
4:49 - The winds have changed as the Wild go back on the power play. Fedor Tyutin takes down Clutterbuck, on his way to the net. The Wild is feeling it right now and the Jackets are on their heels.
3:05 - Wild with another great opportunity on the power play, Nick Schultz takes a sneaky wrist shot and Brodziak is going in for the rebound. Mason gobbles up the rebound and Brodziak goes through the top of the crease. Mason goes down like he was shot with a cannon, but seems to be alright. Maybe he is tired and needed a rest because the Wild has been applying the pressure.
1:50 - With all this action in the Blue Jackets' end, I forgot Nik Backstrom was in net. Good thing he is because he makes back to back saves on Johansen and Letestu. Still square at two thanks to Backstrom.
0:44 - Chance for the Wild with the guys you want to get chances. Koivu leads a 3-on-1 with Spurgeon going to the net and Heatley trailing. Koivu drops the puck to Heatley, but the Blue Jackets get back in time to deflect the Heatley shot over the net and out of play.
0:00 - With the jet lag gone and the team adjusted to the time change, that period is what Wild hockey is supposed to look like. With 20 minutes left, and the momentum flowing with the Wild, I expect we'll be celebrating tonight.
17:35 - Blue Jackets with their best chance in a while as Umberger gets a pass from behind the net, but Backstrom is there to make another save. Umberger didn't get great wood on the chance because Schultz gave him a little hook and he'll spend a little time in the box serving a hooking penalty.
14:26 - Dany Heatley loves to play in the high slot on the power play. What does he do while he is there? Get open and tip pucks. Heatley redirected a Koivu wrist shot but it was a little high. If it hits the net Mason is beat. That play is going to work one day, as the Wild have been so close a few time tonight, mark my words.
12:22 - MIN 3 - CBJ 2 - CLANK! And in. Cal Clutterbuck puts one where he always does, high over the glove of Mason. Bouchard makes a great play crossing the blue line and freezes the defender with a few quick dangles. Bouchard then drops a puck to Clutterbuck for a deadly one-timer. It's okay if you go to Twitter and check out what @clutterstache is saying right now, but I expect you to come right back to finish this thing with me.
11:02 - Rick Nash on the doorstep and he misses a wide open net. I'm not sure if Backstrom made the greatest save of all time or if Nash completely chocked. Spurgeon came diving across the crease as well and someone deflected it enough to hit the post. We'll have to wait for the replay. Either way, Umberger was behind the net celebrating…a little prematurely.
5:23 - I was so shocked about that last save by Jared Spurgeon (they eventually showed the replay) that I forgot I was doing the In-Game Commentary presented by Sun Country Airlines. Good thing Backstrom didn't forget to make another save again on Nash. This time is was all Backy sliding from right to left to rob Nash. At this point, Nash has to be thinking what do I have to do?
1:33 - Backstrom again keeps the Wild ahead, this time robbing Tyutin. The big D-man walks off the point and unleashes a bullet. But Backstrom does his Superman impression, stopping that bullet with a beauty of a glove save.
0:07 - MIN 4 - CBJ 2 - Put a fork in it, this game is done. Devin Setoguchi ices the Blue Jackets, sliding the puck into the empty net, as Mason was pulled for the extra attacker.
0:00 - Well that's it folks, good road trip for the Wild, going 3-2. The boys had to earn it tonight, and they did with a great comeback. See you all in Saint Paul.