Glen Andresen's In-Game Commentary vs. Boston
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Happy Hockey Day in America, y'all! Welcome to this special edition of live in-game commentary presented by Sun Country Airlines. Let's talk a little Hockey Day in America for a bit before we get down to brass tacks. It's fitting that today's nationally televised broadcast is pitting the State of Hockey against Chowderland. There's been some debate over the years about which state can proclaim itself as America's top dog when it comes to hockey.
Sure, Massachusetts is the home of Jeremy Roenick and Keith Tkachuk. It's got 10 Division 1 college hockey teams (although I think people in Boston only recognize two of them) and a kid from that state scored the game-winning goal during the Miracle On Ice and then went on to give speeches about it for the next 32 years. Here, we're the home of Phil Housley and Neal Broten. We've only got five D-1 teams (including last year's national champions). And, the other three goals in that game against CCCP happened to be scored by dudes from Minny. Oh and a kid from Eveleth assisted on that game-winner, thank you very much.
So now that we've settled the off-ice argument, we can get down to business and wax these Boston Bruins, who happen to be the current Stanley Cup Champions (or Brad Marchand might call them, "the Champians"). So, to say this one is going to be easy would be a falsehood. It's going to take some down deep digging to come up with a much-needed victory, and I know it's going to happen. We've got Niklas Backstrom in goal, so that's a positive to start off with.
I don't want to take a turn to Negative Town and start talking about injuries, but we've got a few to deal with. Mikko Koivu (undisclosed) is out. Mike Lundin (lower body)? Out? Carson McMillan (lower body)? Yep, he's out. Guillaume Latendresse (concussion), Jarod Palmer (concussion), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion) and Clayton Stoner (lower body)? You guessed it, they are out as well. Justin Falk is a healthy scratch, and it looks like Warren Peters is out due to a suspension. But that's okay. We've got Chad Rau up today, and he's going to rep our hood to the fullest today and carry his home state team to a win.
On this special day, the Wild will break out the green third jerseys for this nationally televised broadcast on EEEEEHHHHHNNNNN-B-C. The Bruins are in their classic road whites trimmed in black and gold with the iconic "B" on the chest.
The legendary Doc Emrick, who is calling today's game on NBC, gets us started with the "Let's Play Hockey" declaration. It's never sounded better. Let's do the dang thing.
16:17 - First good scoring chance goes to the B's as Patrice Bergeron feathers a nice pass into the slot for Tyler Seguin cutting to the net. The youngster fires from close range, but Backstrom comes up big and knocks it into the corner with the waffle mitt.
14:12 - Backstrom is up for this one it appears. He makes one big save on a Daniel Paille slapper, and then on the rebound attempt from Gregory Campbell.
11:19 - Paille is causing all varieties of trouble for the good guys right now. He fires another missile from the left circle. Backstrom gets just enough of the shot, but the puck drops behind him in the crease. Erik Christensen is there to knock the puck back under his netminder to get the whistle.
11:05 - Who is this Paille fella? He might be the League MVP if he keeps up this play and improves on his total of nine goals in 52 games. He gets behind the D for a breakaway and tries to sneak a wrister between Backstrom's legs, but the Wild keeper stays strong with his 10th save already.
6:17 - The Wild gets its best chance of the period here. Nick Johnson does some nice maneuvering through the offensive zone before throwing the puck to the front of the net. Darroll Powe is battling down there, but his deflection is steered just wide.
2:42 - There's ol' Benoit Pouliot causing trouble around Backstrom, who goes down to his stomach to cover up a loose puck. Pouliot takes one extra hack at it, and that brings Marco Scandella in to rough up the former Wild first rounder.
0:48.8 - It's been all Niklas Backstrom thus far in this one. With the B's on the power play, Andrew Ference appears to have a gimme in the low right circle off a perfect cross ice feed. Backstrom quickly slides to his left and makes a big pad save.
0:00 - There's a little scrum after the buzzer behind Backstrom, but nothing significant. We go to the intermission with the Bruins holding a 14-12 shot advantage.
18:22 - Backstrom appears to like this national TV spotlight. He again makes a spectacular stop, laying the pad down to stop David Krejci's deflection from the top of the crease.
14:54 - Here's why guys get away with cheap shots: because half the time they don't get called. Milan Lucic is upset that Nick Schultz isn't whistled for a high stick. Well after the whistle, when it's apparent that he's not going to get the call, Lucic delivers a cross check to the back of Schultz right in front of the ref. No call. Words just can't explain it.
9:45 - MIN 1 - BOS 0 - Minnesota is in the house, y'all! Fresh out of Houston, Chad Rau comes up with a gorgeous goal. He skates up the left side and picks his spot, putting a missile past former Vermont Catamount Tim Thomas in the upper corner. So Rau now has two goals, one on Hockey Day Minnesota and another on Hockey Day in America.
5:27 - Marek Zidlicky makes a nice play to catch up to a loose puck in the neutral zone. He drops a pass back for Dany Heatley who lets a heavy shot go that Thomas snatches with the lobster mitt.
4:30 - MIN 2 - BOS 0 - Moorhead is representin'! Matt Cullen becomes the second Minnesotan to tally in this game, and it comes on the power play. He takes a pass in the slot from Devin Setoguchi and tries to fire one from between the circles. He fans on the first attempt, but that pulls Thomas out of position and then he regains possession and buries it. That snaps a 15-game goal drought for the Minnesota kid.
3:13 - One guy that doesn't care about Zdeno Chara being 7-foot-13 is Powe. He gets into the crease and when Chara comes after him, he doesn't back down and comes back with a shove of his own.
0:00 - The horn sounds and the crowd lets the home team know it likes the effort. There's more where that came from, I assure you.
19:16 - Backstrom is just on fire today. He makes two point blank stops on Seguin, for his 28th and 29th saves of the game.
17:45 - Matt Kassian and Shawn Thornton line up across from each other and they obviously agree to go. These are two of the toughest hombres in hockey and they show it here. This is a true heavyweight battle and these two are going at it. Kassian is just drilling Thornton at the beginning, but he refuses to go down and actually comes up with some of the better punches at the end. This is a candidate for longest fight in Wild history, and the refs finally have to step in to break it up. Quite a battle there.
15:17 - Thomas' goaltending style is comparable to his philosophy about going to the White House after winning a Stanley Cup: a little unorthodox. He decks the pads to stop a shallow angle bid from Jed Ortmeyer, who gets the rebound behind the net and throws it to the front. Thomas, laying on his back, makes one save with his arm, and then he flips his pads over and makes one more stop while laying on the ice.
14:42 - This just would have been too good and would have made my stupid introduction look a little better. Jeff Taffe comes within an inch of becoming the third Minnesotan to score in this game. From between the has marks, he flips a shot past Thomas and puts it off the cross bar.
10:09 - I don't care what happens the next 10 minutes, Niklas Backstrom is the star of this game. After Chara dives headlong to poke the puck to an open Lucic, he's got a wide open net to shoot at and he puts his wrister toward the yawning cage. But Backstrom somehow gets the glove over and snaps it out of the air just before it can cross the goal line. Lucic can't believe it and he slams his stick to the ice in frustration.
8:31 - Heatley nearly puts this one away as Kyle Brodziak leads a two-on-one into the Boston end and saucers a perfect pass over to Heater in the slot. He pumps a shot right on, but Thomas slides over to rob him of one.
1:30 - Faceoff in the Wild end and Thomas is heading to the bench after a Boston timeout.
0:00 - Beating the Stanley Cup Champs on Hockey Day in America on national TV in front of a packed house with a career-high 48 saves from Niklas Backstrom and two Minnesotans scoring the goals...Not a bad way to snap a seven-game skid.