A rivalry was born Tuesday night in Winnipeg. It will take a year for it to come to full fruition; that’s when the NHL’s realignment plan will go into effect, locking the Wild and the Winnipeg Jets into the same conference. Two teams, 450 miles apart, who took a huge step towards starting something very big.
In one of the most intense regular-season games the Wild has played in this year, Minnesota‘s seven-game winning streak ended in a 2-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. But it gained a rival just 450 miles to the north, in Manitoba.
Maybe it was because the 15,004 fans sounded like 50,000, from start to finish. Maybe it was the electrifying rushes by both teams. Maybe it was one of the better goalie duels you’ll see. But it was probably the physical nature of the game that sowed the seeds of bad blood.
There was Clayton Stoner fighting Tanner Glass after Glass had run Wild defenseman Greg Zanon. Maybe it was Dany Heatley’s crushing hits throughout the game. But the one that will stick with the Wild came with 1:06 left in regulation, with the Wild buzzing, when Jets player Zach Bogosian was assessed a boarding major and a game misconduct when he drove Pierre-Marc Bouchard face-first into the boards. Bouchard collapsed to the ice, bleeding profusely from his nose.
Put all that together, stir, and what do you have?
“Definitely felt like (a rivalry),” said Wild center Kyle Brodziak, who played with an edge and was in the middle of a game-ending scrum. “That was a hard-fought game. There was definitely no love lost.”
Added Wild coach Mike Yeo: “You could see the two teams don’t like each other.”
Unfortunately, the Wild will have to wait until Feb. 16 to renew this brand-new rivalry. Minnesota is back home Wednesday night for another rivalry game, against Chicago.
NHL Team Report - Minnesota Wild – NOTES, QUOTES
–It wasn’t supposed to happen this quickly. LW Guillaume Latendresse had missed 15 games since sustaining a concussion Nov. 10. Heck, he only practiced with the team for the first time Monday, before flying with the Wild toWinnipeg. But, after Matt Cullen was sent home sick, Latendresse was inserted into the lineup. He began with the fourth line, but by the time the night was over he had skated nearly everywhere, including the power play. And he responded by scoring the Wild‘s only goal. It came on a 5-on-3 in the first period. His return could be big for a Wild team that, while it continues to play well, consistently struggles to score. “I’m just happy (to be back),” he said.
–All the Wild and its fans can do now is wait and hope. Will Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s injury be just an ugly bloody nose? Or will it be worse? Bouchard, who has a history of concussion problems, was sent face first into the boards by the Jets’ Zach Bogosian with 1:06 left in regulation Tuesday. Bouchard hit the ice and stayed there. When he was helped up, he was bleeding profusely from his nose. Wild coach Mike Yeo didn’t have an update immediately following the game. “Obviously, we’re hoping he’s OK,” Yeo said. If Bouchard is unable to play Wednesday against Chicago, the Wild might need to call up a forward unless center Matt Cullen, who was ill and missed Tuesday’s game, is ready to return.
–LW Dany Heatley’s last year with the Atlanta Thrashers was in 2003-04, but the Winnipeg media surrounded the Wild winger Tuesday morning as if he’d be a Jet today if he didn’t request a trade from the Thrashers. “It was a little bit sad (to see the Thrashers move),” Heatley said. “But this is a great hockey city and they’ve shown it so far.” The only member of the Jets still left from Heatley’s Thrashers days is video coach Tony Borgford. Heatley quickly made his presence felt at MTS Centre on Tuesday morning by exploding a piece of glass behind the visitors’ bench with a shot. “They can bill me,” he said. “It wasn’t even a hard shot.”
QUOTE TO NOTE: “We were pretty loose in a lot of areas. It led to a little too much open ice for them and a little too much back and forth. When you do that, you turn it into a 50-50 games.” – Wild coach Mike Yeo, whose team’s seven-game winning streak was ended in a 2-1 loss to Winnipeg
NHL Team Report - Minnesota Wild – ROSTER REPORT
–LW Dany Heatley played in his 700th career game against the franchise that originally drafted him, second overall, in the 2000 draft. He picked up an assist on Gui Latendresse’s goal to extend his point streak to seven games.
–RW Cal Clutterbuck returned after missing two games because of a charley horse injury.
–C Matt Cullen got sick on Monday night, was unable to skate Tuesday morning and was sent back to the Twin Cities to rest. The hope is Cullen, who centers the Wild‘s second line, will be healthy enough to play Wednesday night against Chicago at Xcel Energy Center.
–C Mikko Koivu picked up an assist Tuesday. He has points in six straight games, including goals in three of his last four. And he has 17 points in his last 13 games.
–LW Guillaume Latendresse returned after missing 15 games with a concussion to play Tuesday night in Winnipeg. He celebrated by scoring the Wild‘s only goal.
–D Marek Zidlicky (concussion) practiced with the team for the first time on Monday and could be close to returning to action. He missed his 13th game Tuesday.
–G Josh Harding (whiplash) has been cleared to play and has had one full practice with the Wild. He missed his third game Tuesday.
–D Justin Falk (upper body) has been cleared to play and he returned to practice with the Wild on Monday. He missed his eighth game Tuesday.
–RW Devin Setoguchi (lower body) has yet to do any skating on his own. His return is at least a week away. He missed his third game Tuesday.
–Nick Schultz, Mike Lundin
–Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon
–Clayton Stoner, Greg Zanon
–LW Dany Heatley, C Mikko Koivu, RW Cal Clutterbuck
–LW Casey Wellman, C Cody Almond, RW Pierre-Marc Bouchard
–LW Colton Gillies, C Kyle Brodziak, RW Nick Johnson
–LW Guillaume Latendresse, C Darroll Powe, RW Brad Staubitz.