The Formidable Rival

Now some of you may disagree with me calling the Chicago Blackhawks formidable but with the longstanding rivalry between Minnesota and Chicago, yes including the North Stars days, it seemed fitting. As much as I would like to say I hate the Blackhawks, I actually don’t. I have a respect for Chicago that any true sports fan would have to agree with and when you look at their record, it demands respect because it is hard to deny that they are a very talented team.

Chicago is one of the few teams that Minnesota has always been pretty evenly matched with. The Blackhawks play quite similar and don’t rely on just one name to win games. The fact that they have quite a few “superstars” doesn’t hurt either but it can be a hindrance when everyone knows who those players are and teams focus all their efforts on shutting those players down. Players such as Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and even their defensemen like Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Brent Seabrook

With that being said even those guys couldn’t put a stop to the Minnesota Wild this evening. Despite having an early two goal lead before the halfway point of the game, Chicago wasn’t safe and the saying “a two goal lead is the hardest to keep” came true. The Wild were able to answer back with two goals of their own and end the second tied.

Going into the third it was a whole new game and a clean slate until Minnesota’s Jason Pominville found the perfect opening on the side of the net for a pass from Marco Scandella that Pominville was able to slide right past Chicago goaltender Scott Darling and capture the lead for the Wild. Minnesota kept the lead for the last 15 or so minutes left in the game and took both the game and FIRST PLACE in both the Division and the Conference from the Blackhawks. Yep, the Wild are officially in sole possession of the conference! Now they just have to keep winning and not look back, there’s still 41 games left of the season and anything can happen.

The Wild have been playing some damn good hockey this season and in this game alone they held Toews to zero shots on goal which rarely happens and Devan Dubnyk stopped 33 of 35 shots with a .943 save percentage. Kane had two goals and 12 shots but hardly any team can keep him at bay no matter how good they are and the Wild were still able to come out on top. Kane isn’t always scoring goals either, he nearly had a giveaway in front of his own net that the Wild’s Mikeal Granlund almost capitalized on.

Minnesota was out-shot but their defense made sure to play the box and keep the puck to the outside or not let Chicago control it for long meaning they forced the Blackhawks to take shots. Dubnyk had full support from his team and there weren’t very many Chicago players that ended up alone in front of the net. The Wild were also good at making Chicago panic with the puck and make blind passes that wouldn’t connect.

One thing the Wild need to focus on is staying out of the box in the last-minute of the game. I know this doesn’t happy all the time but Ryan Suter received a penalty in the last 40 seconds or so and at that time in the game with a one goal lead we need all of our players on the ice. It wasn’t an intentional penalty by any means but the Wild really need to keep an eye on that. Overall they only had six penalty minutes while Chicago had four and that is quite low for these two teams when they play each other.

The Wild now get to head for home and earned a day off before they face off against Zach Parise’s former team the New Jersey Devils who currently sit 12th in their conference and are 500. on the season. Former Edmonton Oiler Taylor Hall is now with the Devils and Parise’s former teammate from both the Devils and his time with the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux, Travis Zajac is still skating with the DEvils as well (Yes, I had to throw UND in there of course!). So it will be an interesting match-up as always whenever a a Wild player’s former team shows up.

The game will start at 7pm at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Tuesday evening. The Wild will be looking to defend their first place standing and continue to grab all those points necessary for playoffs. Thanks for reading!

Hockey rocks!

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The Former North Stars

Tonight the Wild will face the Dallas Stars, or as most Minnesota fans know them as… the former North Stars. There are still quite a few people who are upset over that whole deal that went down right before/during the time I was born. I think I was about three months old when the Stars moved south to Texas.

But now the Wild are here and have established a home in the short 16-17 years they’ve been playing in the beautiful Xcel Energy Center located just off the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul. The Wild won’t have that hometown feel tonight as they visit Dallas.

Both teams are coming off victories and it will also prove to be a big game points-wise. The Wild could tie for first place in the division with a victory and could take over first place tomorrow when they face the Chicago Blackhawks who currently sit atop the division and conference.

This is a big game for the Stars because they could climb closer to getting into a Wild Card position for the playoffs. They would also need Nashville to lose and the Predators are playing Colorado, so who knows with that one.

The Stars season has been a bit more difficult than the Wild with the team’s stats just floating above .500. This struggle may be in part due to Ales Hemsky’s hip injury that happened back in October and has caused him to miss 37 games thus far. He has already missed almost three of the expected 5-7 months, more than likely the rest of the season will be without him playing. He has played one total game this season and that was the game he was injured in. Last season he had 39 points with 13 goals and 26 assists so Dallas could really use his presence but it may not be until next season.

The Wild’s line-up will be the same as the Habs game and it is as follows:

Parise-Staal-Coyle

Zucker-Koivu-Granlund

Neiderreiter-Haula-Pominville

Schroeder-Graovac-Stewart

This line-up seems to have been working well for Minnesota and we’ll see if it continues especially with Staal who has truly thrived this season with Parise and Coyle as his line-mates. Apparently Kuemper will start tonight because of the Wild’s back-to-back so Dubnyk can start tomorrow against Chicago. Hopefully Kuemper is ready and on top of his game.

The game will be at 7 pm central time and it sounds like it could be a very good game being both teams are vying for every point they can get. There’s also the heated rivalry of the former Minnesota team and the current that will most likely never go away. Thanks for reading!

Hockey rocks!

 

Player Celebration: Charlie Coyle

Charlie, Charlie, Charlie yes Charlie Coyle the Minnesota Wild player who became famous after he waved to a fan in the crowd and it was the most adorable thing ever! If you haven’t seen it yet you should definitely go on YouTube and find it, it’ll brighten your day!

Charlie joined the Wild back in 2012 and he made a name for himself rather quickly, in that season alone he had eight goals as a rookie, it’s pretty rare for a rookie to even get one goal let alone eight. He also assisted on six other goals leaving him with 14 points in his short season. Mind you, Charlie only played 37 total games as well which is just short of half a season, many rookies also don’t get that chance either.

I remember when Coyle first showed up and everyone was like “who the heck is this kid?” and soon everyone knew who he was and the next season he was pretty much a household name and hasn’t had a less than 30 point season in the last four years.

Charlie worked his way up to the first line and was often partners with Captain Mikko Koivu. No matter who Coyle is paired with he usually does fine and often times makes the other players around him better. When he is with the team a bit longer, he could have the potential to be a captain.

Coyle sits second on the team in points right behind Eric Staal and in front of Mikael Granlund. He has 33 points in just 40 games played with a faceoff percentage of 50 which is pretty good considering our top center has 55%. Charlie also has three game winning goals, if he keeps this up he could have a 60-70 point season and shatter his past season highs.

With the way the Wild are playing, Charlie could very well hit those marks and he has greatly helped their play. The Wild just need to keep on track and focus on getting better every game despite if it’s a win or loss and Charlie is a big part in that since he is an up and coming youngster at the ripe age of 24 with many more seasons to go and we hope they are with the Wild! Thanks for reading!

Hockey Rocks!

Two Points

The Minnesota Wild have been playing some outstanding hockey as of late and have secured themselves a second place spot in both the Division and the Western Conference with just 40 games played. The Wild are just two points out of first place, trailing the Chicago Blackhawks who have played four more games than Minnesota, which means the Wild could have a chance to tie or get ahead of Chicago when the time comes for the games to even out.

Minnesota is coming off a recent 7-1 defeat of the Montreal Canadians last evening in St. Paul at the Xcel Energy Center. Six different Wild players had goals in the fury of scoring including Nino Niederreiter who contributed two goals.

Eric Staal and Matt Dumba also had great games, they both had three points each. Staal had one goal and two assists while Dumba had three assists. Goaltender Devan Dubnyk had a pretty good game also as he stopped 20 shots out of 21 and he had a .952 save percentage.

The Wild’s next opponent will be the Dallas Stars in Dallas, yes the Wild will be on another road trip after recently getting back from California where they played three games and went 2-1. Dallas isn’t having such a great season, the Stars are just above .500 and are fifth in the division. They are coming off a recent victory over the Detroit Red Wings so the Wild better be on top of their game to stay in front of Dallas no matter what the records are.

The game will start at 7 pm in Dallas tomorrow evening. Thanks for reading!

Hockey Rocks!

Wild Slope

The Wild’s last two games have not been pretty, on Saturday Minnesota faced Colorado in Denver and let a two goal lead slip away in the third period when the Av’s scored three unanswered goal.

The second game, last night against Dallas in Dallas was a fairly close. Every time the Stars scored, Minnesota scored back, it ended in a two to two tie so the teams went into overtime. Dallas’ Jamie Benn scored the game winner that handed Minnesota its second straight loss on their mini road trip.

It’s not time to panic yet though Wild fans, even though it is a little nerve-wracking to watch your team give up a two goal lead and go on to lose the game, there is still hope. It’s early on in the season and usually every team has a slight slump at some point. This could be the Wild’s and they’ll jump back on the winning bandwagon in time for me to go to their game against the Pens on Friday!

I’m making this recap short because it covers two games that were both losses and the Wild have another game tomorrow that I’ll hopefully have a preview posted for!

Thanks for reading!

HOCKEY ROCKS!

Concussions are a SERIOUS ISSUE!

Concussions… Yes, concussions are back in the spotlight for the NHL and as many of you fans know, the two do not have a good relationship. The rockiness over the last few years has included many former athletes bringing up lawsuits against the NHL for concussions suffered while playing. They have claimed the NHL has not done enough to either help or prevent concussions from happening.

I for one agree with this. I love the NHL but they have been horrible when it comes to taking proactive steps in concussion awareness. Lately however, they have started to take action against concussions. With more penalties/suspensions for players who take shots to the head of other players and do dirty hits, the NHL is becoming more active in the fight against concussions.

Many don’t realize the significance of a concussion until it’s too late. A concussion is defined in many ways from the most minor being “A blow to the head that results in your brain moving inside your skull and often contacting the skull” to the most dangerous being “a blow to the head that results in brain damage and loss of consciousness”. To me, either definition sounds pretty scary. Your brain can move inside your skull? Um, not too sure I’m comfortable with that idea. The definition of a concussion has changed over time as more and more people become aware of what actually happens with concussions and the advancement of technology has helped greatly with this. This used to be something that was “shaken off” and you continued to play. Thankfully that has changed in this day and age and part of that is coming from the NHL.

The NHL recently announced that it is going to take a more proactive step in not only try to prevent concussions but also keep players from playing if they are believed to have suffered a concussion. That is one of the most dangerous things surrounding a concussion. If you suffer one and are unaware; thus continuing to play, a second hit could mean either serious brain damage that is irreversible or death.

The NHL’s step is having what they call “concussion spotters” at all games, this means that there will be a person designated at each game who’s only job is to watch players and try to detect if they have possibly suffered a concussion after a hit, in which case that person would alert refs and coaches who will stop play to escort the player off for further testing.

In reading an article posted by the NHL (I will include this at the end for those who want to read), this program is not new but how the League handles it is. They will now have their own spotters put in place at games instead of the team designating their own, and there will be two people; one for each team. The rules are a little fuzzy to me, but the teams can still decide if they want to use the League’s spotters or their own but if they choose to use their own, the League spotter will remain at the game to still spot whether a concussion has happened or not.

The League’s spotters are trained by the league and will have radios to communicate with coaches and trainers on the bench about players who have possibly been affected. The medical aspect will still remain with the doctors for the teams but the spotters are trained to see the symptoms of a concussion and thus help warn players/teams if one has occurred. In short; this is a good step in the NHL.

This won’t prevent concussions but it will prevent players from playing with concussions and being unaware or trying to ignore the symptoms. Many people may think this isn’t that big of a deal, but if you take a second and think about all the players in any sport who have dealt with a concussion. I bet nearly 90% of hockey fans alone have heard of either a player on their favorite team or have heard about a big name player dealing with a concussion. Sidney Crosby for example, is one of the best players in the NHL (my opinion, yes but stats don’t lie) and he dealt with a very serious concussion after a dirty hit a few years ago.

Even with all of the news coverage many people still don’t believe concussions are a serious issue. Well, after doing research and seeing how many athletes in general are affected.. CONCUSSIONS ARE ALWAYS SERIOUS! WAKE UP PEOPLE! I’m so sick of people trying to say “oh shake it off” or “nah you’re fine get back out there”. I know games are important but not to the point you risk your life. Yes, concussions are that dangerous! THEY CAN KILL YOU! If you are not proactive about them.

Be aware! Parents, don’t let your kid play if you fear they have a concussion, put your foot down and simply say no, for the sake of their safety. Take them to a doctor before you let them play again, sure it could turn out to be nothing but wouldn’t you rather be safe than sorry? Concussions can stop people in their tracks and they may never be the same again.

Sure, Sidney Crosby can still score goals but if you watch his games before the concussion and after, there are differences. No offense to him, but he’s not the same player. Same with Justin Morneau (formerly of the Minnesota Twins), Brent Burns (formerly of the Minnesota Wild), Willie Mitchell (Minnesota Wild alum), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (Minnesota Wild alum), Jonathan Toews (Chicago Blackhawks)… I could go on and on in hockey alone but I think you get the point. Yes, concussions even happen to big name athletes and can affect them greatly.

Concussions need to stop or at least be dealt with in the right way. I know it sucks to not have your favorite athlete playing for your favorite team but think about their well-being. Would you want to deal with migraine headaches every time you open your eyes, not being able to be in a room with just normal sunlight, be affected by every little sound…? These are just some of the things that happen to players when they get a concussion not to mention the nausea. These are common with the more serious concussions but can happen if a very minor concussion escalates.

Take Derek Boogaard for instance (former Wild/Rangers player) who sadly is no longer with us. Yes, he was addicted to painkillers but do you know why? Yes, he was a fighter but from those fights he received so many concussions he could not deal with the pain. I understand this is a very serious case but it could happen to anyone. No, his death was not a direct result of a concussion but they were part of the cause. Had he not received concussions he would not have needed to rely on painkillers to relieve his pain.

He was a good person who sadly was so hurt by concussions he became addicted to pain killers that eventually led to his death. His concussions were results of fights (I plan to write about fights in another post) but there are more players like him, fighters or not, they are still humans and should not have to go through things like this. He was taken far too soon and it wasn’t fair to the hockey world to lose such a good person who cared so greatly about the fans.

It’s also not fair to expect athletes to risk their lives just for a game. I would much rather watch my team play without that player than hear about that player not having a normal life after retirement. Or even worse, hearing about that athlete suffer from Second Impact Syndrome, which is a condition that happens when you receive a concussion, go back to play and receive a second concussion before the first one has fully healed/or healed at all. This can result in DEATH! Or very serious brain damage. I know minor concussions can be healed with rest and relaxation, and they don’t seem like a big deal but trust me they can become one.

If you don’t believe me, do a little research on your own. All of you have Google on your Smartphones or computers, just Google concussions and go from there. You will see the severity of them and maybe change your perspective. I’m not trying to deter people from sports… not that at all! Play to your heart’s content but just be careful and if you believe you have suffered a concussion, please tell someone and get help. It’s a brain injury after all and that needs to be taken seriously! Brain injuries can cause more than just physical pain, they can mess with emotions too and cause depression, so things like this need to be taken very serious!

As I said before, don’t be afraid to get help if you believe you have suffered a concussion! Your brain is not a game, if you play games with your brain you will most likely lose and how can you play your favorite sport if you are no longer around? Just be careful and be aware, it’s okay to take a break from a sport to let a concussion heal, your favorite pro athlete would agree! Thanks for reading!

http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=779135#&navid=nhl-search (here’s the link)

HOCKEY ROCKS!

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