Minnesotans watching the Wild in record numbers

NHL, we just don't know how to quit you.

One question following the end of the NHL Lockout was how much steam a team like Minnesota, who erased years of malaise by spending $196 million on free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, lost in the four month labor dispute. Would being out of sight and out of mind cost the Wild ticket sales and TV ratings?

Turns out the answer through seven games on TV is a hearty "no".

Game Seven: The Hangover

Wild.com recap (Minnesota 3 - Chicago 2 F/SO)

Regardless of whether or not there is a Minnesota-Chicago rivalry, that was a great game. The Wild found themselves on national television for the second half of a back-to-back against the undefeated Blackhawks. Not only did they play well, the Wild came back from a 2-1 deficit to win in a shootout (another feat).

Zenon Konopka & Josh Harding are not happy campers

Sometimes not everything goes to plan and for Josh Harding, that was Wednesday night. The Minnesota goaltender lasted a grand total of 6:45 after he gave up 2 goals on 4 shots and had a third hit the post. That didn't sit well with Harding, who was not afraid to vent his frustration in the tunnel following an early pull by head coach Mike Yeo.

Not to be outdone, Wild enforcer Zenon Konopka was called for interference 13:57 into the first period when he tried to get the Blackhawks' Brandon Bolig to start fighting. I'm not a lip reader but the gist of what he said looks like it rhymes with "luck." Or maybe "duck you."

Minnesota currently trails Chicago 2-1 after 1 in this week's edition "Rivalry Wednesday." Matt Cullen has the lone goal for the Wild 90 seconds into the game while Andrew Shaw and Jonathan Toews scored for the Blackhawks.

(h/t/ @cjzero)

Game Six: The Hangover

Look, I get that Minnesota beat Columbus last night, ending a three game skid- nevermind the thrilling fashion in how it happened, but should we be happy, much less impressed, with it? If anything, this game should cause more concern amongst the observers of the team despite what looks like a game with some bright spots.

"Rivalry Wednesday" Introduces Us To The Unknown Wild-Blackhawks Rivalry

There's something to a rivalry. The passion, the history, having players go from one team to another and being told "this is who we hate." They are the big games, the ones fans circle on their calendars months in advance.

But unless I missed the boat or we've traveled to 1991, Wild-Blackhawks is not a rivalry.

Colton Gillies Fights Darroll Powe

(And now some regularly scheduled hockey coverage)

With a site named First Round Bust, it's hard to not comment on 2007 first round Colton Gillies when we see him. Since being waived by Minnesota and picked up by Columbus in January 2012, Gillies found a spot with the Blue Jackets (coached by former Wild head coach Todd Richards) as a grinder; scoring 6 points (2G-4A) in 37 games.

Mike Russo is on the slow path to the Don Cherry suit collection

This is getting a little away from talking about the Wild and their prospects, but since Michael Russo's suit blew up my Twitter timeline, I feel like we can quickly discuss it.

One of the more interesting things to happen this year when it comes to Fox Sports North's TV broadcasts (besides FSN Bingo, still a work in progress with new announcer Anthony LaPanta) is having the Star Tribune beat writer discuss the team and NHL as an "insider." It's an improvement over the old "Face-Off" standby. As much as we like to watch and discuss the Wild, there are 29 teams out there that exist in ways other than "that team is coming to the X on Wednesday so let's pump their tires."

I'm a fan and all for the segment and anything that puts the Wild's play and moves in context with the rest of the NHL. So it's weird to say the biggest takeaway in tonight's game is fashion advice (and surprisingly not from the Fox Sports North Girls) with Russo appearing to have a gateway suit to Don Cherry's closet.

Since people are discussing, @Russostrib's appearance on... on Twitpic

Some like it, others don't - decide for yourself above. Regardless, Minnesota currently leads Columbus 2-1 after 40 minutes.

(We now break away from not being fashion experts and return to our regularly scheduled hockey coverage.)

(H/T @cjzero)

Wild Prospect Update: Jason Zucker Scores, Nick Seeler Gets A Headbutting Major & More

With the Minnesota Wild struggling for scoring depth through 5 games, one of the popular names tossed around for a call-up has been Houston Aeros forward Jason Zucker. The 2010 second round pick has performed well with the Aeros, scoring 36 points (17G-19A) in 39 games, and impressed fans during his six-game stint at the end of last season.

Zucker was rewarded for his effort this year by being the lone Houston representative for the AHL All-Star Game last night, which saw the Western Conference win 7-6 with 11 seconds left after the East came back from a 4-1 deficit. He scored the game's first goal on a partial breakaway when Zucker beat Niklas Svedberg on a backhand.

It was interesting to see the goal because it was set up by former Denver teammate (and current San Antonio Rampage) Drew Shore. In fact, Zucker's goal looked like one the two had at the WCHA Final Five a couple years ago.

After the jump, more on Zucker with tidbits on Nick Seeler, Johan Gustafsson, Louie Nanne and Erik Haula.

Game Five: The Hangover

Wild.com recap (St. Louis 5 - Minnesota 4 F/OT)

Despite having a 3-1 lead in the second period, the Minnesota Wild dropped to 0-1-1 on their road trip when Vladamir Sobotka tipped in an Andy MacDonald shot 2:16 into overtime to give St. Louis a 5-4 win Sunday night. It's the third straight loss for Minnesota and raises this question: is it safe to say the Honeymoon is already over for the Wild?

Sunday Bathroom Reading

Some news and musings before the Blues tilt tonight.

Game Four: The Hangover

The good thing about the panic in my Twitter timeline last night is that it means folks give a damn, right?

Jonas Brodin gets the call

...and he accepts the charges
Another day brings another first round bust pick to the Minnesota Wild roster.

With 2010 first rounder Mikael Granlund scoring his first goal on Saturday and 2012 first rounder Mathew Dumba getting experience in the art of press box popcorn making (and whatever else on-ice experience being around NHLers bring), 2011 first round selection Jonas Brodin has been called up Thursday before the team's game in Detroit on Friday.

Game Three: The Hangover

Wild.com Recap - Nashville 3, Minnesota 1

I'll get right to it - this loss obviously is my fault. Not Niklas Backstrom for a giveaway that deserves the "Yakety Sax" treatment nor the lack of scoring, mine.

Game One: The Hangover

Ed. Note- A good friend of mine is currently living abroad in China, and asked if I was going to do a recap type of deal for last night's game so he could read it and have a greater sense of the game despite not being able to really view it. So, in an effort to make that happen, I (or Nate, or whoever) will try our damndest to do one of these posts after every game; not so much for a recap, but to relay some thoughts or observations of each game. 


I'll begin this by saying this; I've been amazed at just how much media coverage the market has given The Wild since the Lockout ceased; for an area which The Vikings DOMINATE the coverage, pretty much year round, it was almost instantaneously over- like a switch flipped once the football season was over. There was seemingly a news story every night, newspaper coverage ramped up (including including by such noted puck guys like Jim Souhan and Pat Reusse), and even #1 Vikings bobo Paul Allen stopped tweaking his nipples to his Adrian Peterson Fathead poster in order to join in on the mania.

Its just crazy. Now the season has begun.

What to Make of Matt Dumba...

...Making the Opening Night Roster.

Photo Courtesy of Wild.com; Lip Ferret Courtesy of Dumba
By now everyone's been hit over the head with the "Matt Dumba got cut from Canada's World Junior Camp but made the NHL Opening Day Roster" storyline. Yes, its true. Although it looks like he'll be sitting in suit and tie watching the game from above and indulging in the James Sheppard Memorial Popcorn Machine, its still noteworthy.

So why did he make it?

Why We're Glad The NHL Lockout Is Over: Former Minnesota Defensemen Look Homeless

With the NHL Lockout is in the past and fans and players alike ready for Saturday's season opener, there are many reasons to be happy. Sure we all said that it would take time to come back to the NHL (and the 13,000 people at the Xcel Energy Center goes to show how much that bluff was called) and despite arrogant advertising saying "hockey is back" and false promises, we're ready to add you to the other hockey that's been keeping our fix going throughout these four months. The league and players have taken steps to rectify their issues with the fans and hopefully there are more at hand.

More importantly, the end of the NHL Lockout means former Wild defensemen can stop looking like they've been living in a van down by the river.

Prospect Viewing: Adam Gilmour

Photo Courtesy of Wild.com
Adam Gilmour, Center
6'3" 193 Pounds 1/29/1994 Hanover, MA
Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)

I made it a point to head to Waterloo this last Saturday because The Muskegon Lumberjacks were in town to play the Blackhawks; and considering The Jacks don't come this way (or near this way) all too often (they play in The Eastern Conference of the USHL) and there were a couple Draft-Eligibles I wanted to see play live.

And the cherry on top was getting to watch Minnesota's 2012 4th Round pick play too.

Prospect Viewing: Mario Lucia

Photo Courtesy of Third String Goalie

Mario Lucia, Left Wing
6'3" 193 Pounds  8/25/1994 Wayzata, MN
University of Notre Dame (CCHA, soon to be Hockey East)

(Damn college hockey realignment)

It's been quite the last few months for Lucia; he skips the Wild Prospect Development Camp because he enrolled in Summer Classes at Notre Dame, and then breaks his leg during practice before the season starts, which had endangered his chance of making the United States World Junior Team, which he had a strong Evaluation Camp.

Mathew Dumba is on NHL Network tonight

On Monday I discussed the possibility that 2012 first round pick Mathew Dumba would be invited to Minnesota's shortened Lockout-induced training camp. The expectation from Red Deer head coach/GNM Brent Sutter to essentially everyone else was that the Wild would bring him in and that Dumba would miss this weekend's games and possibly more.

Turns out that's not the case.

Although Dumba will likely still end up in camp, the defenseman will end up playing in tonight's WHL game against Memorial Cup-hosting Saskatoon. That is fortunate for fans in the State of Hockey and throughout North America because the game will be televised on NHL Network (Sportsnet in Canada). So if you want a chance to watch the seventh overall pick before he hits training camp, tune it at 7 p.m. CT.

This post is for the ladies....

In a male-dominated sports world, sometimes it is easy to overlook the female perspective. Where news about Alabama QB A.J. McCarron's girlfriend Katherine Webb gaining 90,000 Twitter followers during the BCS National Championship game spread like wildfire, there's not much in the other direction. We are guys and our brain and biases are wired that way.

So this post is for the ladies.

Cosmopolitan recently covered more on the NHL than ESPN the subject of which NHL players are the hottest. It was a heavy-hitting subject that certainly needing diving into. Anyways, new Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter made the cut over fellow $98 million contract superstar Zach Parise, with Cosmo summing him up the only way they could:
Ryan signed with the Wild this year. Lucky, lucky Minnesotans.
Lucky indeed. So there you have it, Ryan Suter is hot and men everywhere learned thanks to Cosmo that  being a hometown person does not add anything. Other NHLers in the slideshow include former Wild defenseman Brent Burns ("he does good too"), former Gopher Phil Kessel, Mike Fisher and Scott Hartnell.

FBJ Has Graced Our Presence

The greatest obviously true photo known to man (found here)

Since First Round Bust launched in the olde time days of October 2010, we've been constantly bombarded throughout its existence with one question: "When is Mikael Granlund going to play for the Wild?" Well ladies and gentleman, that question can finally be put to rest.

Minnesota, Finnish Baby Jesus is in the State of Hockey.

Mathew Dumba expected to be called to Minnesota's training camp, per Brent Sutter

Back in August, Minnesota brass made sure they would be able to recall 2012 first round pick Mathew Dumba in case the NHL Lockout went longer than the beginning of the CHL season. That ended up being the case and according to Red Deer GM/Coach Brent Sutter, Dumba will be making his way to St. Paul. Per Troy Gillard:

The NHL Lockout Is Over - Now What?

And we're back.

That wasn't so bad, was it? It is not like being without an NHL game in the self-proclaimed "State of Hockey" for 9 months had its benefits. There were the dreams of the day Minnesota picked up Zach Parise and Ryan Suter and the nightmare of Mikael Granlund and Jonas Brodin getting injured in the same game. Getting to know nature. There was even plenty of hockey around between college, HS, AHL and showcase tournaments that I feel like I've gotten my fix.

Hell, you could have both conceived AND had a baby in that time.

But we're back to the NHL like we, the so called "greatest fans in the world" said we would be. While NHLers spent 113 days out gooning for Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin (or at least seeing Donald Fehr be right in D2: The Mighty Ducks), the league and the NHLPA hammered out a CBA agreement that should be ratified later this week. There are plenty of ramifications, which we'll take a look at after the break....

No Bull: Graovac's Debut in Belleville a Doozy

(Jean Levac/Ottawa Citizen)

Tyler Graovac, who was dealt from Ottawa to Division rival Belleville in the morning, had a goal and three assists in his Bulls debut- overall his line accounted for four goals and 12 points in a 6-2 win over Sault Ste. Marie last night.

On the year Graovac has 22 goals and 17 assists in 31 games.

Ottawa as a bottom feeder in the Ontario Hockey League's Eastern Conference, and with the trade Graovac heads just down the road and up the standings to Belleville, who is leading the Eastern Division, and are second in the Eastern Conference- meaning he'll get a chance to be apart of another long playoff run in hopes of receiving an entry-level contract offer from Minnesota.

“I knew with all the rumours, I was likely going somewhere,” said Graovac to Don Campbell of The Ottawa Citizen.

“I guess I’m just kind of all over the place right now. I’m shocked that it’s Belleville and shocked that it happened so fast. I thought I had a couple of more days in Ottawa before the deadline. But it’s a chance for me to go further in the playoffs and finish junior with a contender. My family is excited. Minnesota is excited. And I am excited. I think I can help the Bulls offensively. And my last year, I want to give it everything I have.”

We'll look forward to watching Graovac and the Bulls moving forward.

Game On.


I suppose it means we should you know, actively write on the blog again, yeah?