Most Minnesota Wild fans would certainly agree, any time you can take any points out of the Shark Tank -- a.k.a HP Pavilion at San Jose -- you are most certainly grateful. Such was the case Wednesday night as the Wild came off the deck with Marian Gaborik scoring his second goal of the night (38th this season) as the Wild pushed the Sharks all the way to the shootout before their old nemesis -- the continued poor shootout performance of an otherwise stellar Niklas Backstrom -- rose up to bite the hand that feeds them, as the Sharks walked away with a 4-3 final victory in the last inter-divisional game for these two Western Conference teams.
What made matters worse for the Wild -- already short-handed at the Center position -- is the apparent loss of Defenseman Kurtis Foster, probably for the remainder of this season and possibly longer, due to a crushing cheap hit into the boards in the Minnesota end of the ice 5 minutes into the second period at the hands of San Jose center Torey Mitchell, who was given a minor penalty (instead of the 'deliberate attempt to Injure' major he should have received) after a 12-minute delay while Foster was hauled off the ice, totally immobilized, as a stretcher case. First reports indicate that Foster has a broken femur; further information was not available when this blog entry was filed.
Update 12:10 AM Pacific Time -- Michael Russo (Minneapolis Star-Tribune) reports a steel rod has been inserted to stabilize Foster's left leg. He is out for the season.
This fired up the Wild for the remainder of the evening, one which, except for Derek Boogaard's re-crushing (again) of Jody Shelley, one of his favorite victims, and the beautiful tip-in by Stephane Veilleux of a Foster shot from the point, didn't hold much for the Wild to hang on to, as the San Jose style of 'pack the defensive zone' hockey was slowly taking hold.
Hey, it's late, so let's go right to the remaining group:
Chicken Little says: Oh great. Foster's out, Skoula sucked again tonight and we have no room for error. NOW do you believe me that the sky is going to fall?
Pollyanna says: Gaborik scored twice tonight, Backstrom looked nearly amazing for 65 minutes, and we actually increased our lead in the division. Next case!
Bottom Line: The Wild needed the point. The Wild went out and got the point. The Wild screwed up by not replacing Backstrom with Harding for the shootout. But they did get a point in San Jose, and that should be the end of the discussion.
STUD: Gaborik, no question. Two goals, and looked like he was really into the game from start to finish. You've not been able to say that about the March captain lately.
DUD: Again, No question. Martin (-3) Skoula needs to have his head examined...or maybe the contents thereof (or lack of same) after his bonehead pass attempt led directly to San Jose's 3rd goal. Any time Jeremy Roenick has a multi-goal night against you, you've got to wonder 'What in the 'F' were you thinking there, Marty?' Yes, Skoula has been playing better lately. However, a leopard can't change his spots; neither can Skoula.
Next game for Wild: at Vancouver, 7 PM PDT (9 PM CDT), Friday, March 21 (KSTC 45, Rogers SportsNet Pacific, NHL Network-US).
Final thought: If anyone in their right mind thinks Seattle cares about hockey, the answer is NO. They have too much else to do around here (I'm actually in Seattle en route to Vancouver for Friday's game), like wait for the Mariners to break spring training, wait for the Seahawks to start 'OTA's' (Organized Team Activities) or, like tonight, wait for the Sonics to be handed their heads on a platter. This is a bad sports town. Don't even THINK of expanding here, Gary Bettman.
That's it. G'night from the Emerald City.