The other day a question was forwarded on to me. It seems there is a fine young good Samaritan who happened to have a couple extra tickets to last nights affair at the X. Who was I to decline an offer to the preseason spookshow at the X?
We got there pretty early, easily beating the rush and were some of the first to walk in the doors. We walked a lap around the X which was quite leisurely seeing as the concourses were nearly empty. All the sights and smells were there. The kids pedaling game programs, the burgers and hot dogs on the grill, the Zamboni laying down some fresh ice, and the chill of a hockey arena.
It was time to drop the puck and the game was underway. I can't say that I recognized more than a couple names on the Colorado Avalanche roster. They brought what looked like their C team into the X. For the Wild, Eric Staal, Jason Zucker, and Jason Pominville manned the top line. Jordan Schroeder was in the lineup, along with notable prospects Alex Tuch and Joel Eriksson Ek. Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin were also out there but the starting defensive pairing was Mike Reilly and Christian Folin.
One might think the Wild had plenty of firepower to make easy work of the Avs, but that just didn't happen. I was quite underwhelmed by Tuch's energy level out there, and Easy E looked lost at times. A lot of the team did in fact. I don't know if the ice was bad or the guys were still trying to shake the cobwebs, but the passing was pretty sloppy for the most part.
Victor Bartley would score the lone goal for the Wild when he flung a puck towards the net that ping-ponged off some equipment and fluttered past Avs netminder Jeremy Smith. Speaking of Avs goalies, in the 3rd period Nathan Lieuwen made an incredible save when he snagged a puck out of thin air behind his back.
Needless to say, the Wild faithful, especially those in and around our section who had a great view of the save, were not too headstrong for their team as to not stand up and cheer for the opposition on that one. It was impressive folks. Who knows if it would have even bounced off something and gone in. We'll never know because of a deft glove hand from Lieuwen.
Getting back at the Wild goal early in the first, it was my first opportunity to experience the Wild's new goal song 'Lets go crazy', in the flesh. As I expected, I was just as amped up after the goal, even without 'Crowd Chant' blaring in my ears. Here's the biggest difference I noticed, and I'm chalking part of this up to the PA system seemingly being turned down a bit, by my recollection at least, but Crowd Chant is a very crisp song. There's a driving beat and very distinctive guitar riff. Lets go crazy feels a little muddied and spastic because there is just so much going on in the song it's almost difficult to make out what is going on over the crowd and the fog horn.
I still don't give a rip what they play after a goal. I go to hockey games to hug Nordy, watch the game, and do the wave.
Zucker and Staal together looked pretty good at times, but Pominville seemed invisible for most of the game. Devan Dubnyk looked sharp for the most part. He made me a little nervous when he strolled out of the net to chase a loose puck in front of him which his defender was going to be the first man to anyway. After the near collision I may have had some choice words for Dubs, but I doubt he heard me.
Marc Hagel had some very sweet, Granlundesque flow going on underneath his lid. Colton Beck looked pretty quick out there as well. Brodin got caught pinching in the 2nd period, but made a nice recovery to get back and break up a would be scoring chance for the Avalanche.
All in all, it was a fun game. Thank you Mark for providing the tickets! If you ever have extra again just let me know, I'll happily help you fill those seats! Something to keep in mind about the loss, you had the Wild with a bunch of guys who are pretty secure in their roster spots going against an Avalanche team with a bunch of guys fighting for roster spots, in a pre-season game. Of course the Avs wanted it more, and they should have. I wouldn't worry at all about a pre-season loss against that lineup.