Dane Mizutani / St. Paul Pioneer Press
NEW YORK—You could tell it was weighing on the mind of Minnesota Wild rookie Joel Eriksson Ek. Going 50 games without scoring a goal is enough to make even the most confident player start to question himself. Maybe that's why the stoic rookie let out such a big roar when he saw the puck cross the goal line in a 5-3 win over the New York Islanders on Monday afternoon, Feb. 19, at the Barclays Center.
NEW YORK—Wild coach Bruce Boudreau has remained steadfast that struggling rookie Joel Eriksson Ek is going to figure it out. Eventually. A couple of months ago, Boudreau stuck up for Eriksson Ek after a Dec. 27 matchup with the Dallas Stars despite the fact the Swede hadn't scored since the Oct. 5 season opener against the Detroit Red Wings.
ST. PAUL—With only 20 minutes separating the Minnesota Wild from building a three-point cushion over the Anaheim Ducks for the final spot in the Western Conference playoff race, they let the lead slip away and ultimately fell 3-2 Saturday, Feb. 17, to on the heels of the longest shootout in franchise history. After 11 rounds and 22 shooters, Ducks winger Nick Ritchie finally beat Devan Dubnyk to hand the Wild their second consecutive loss at the Xcel Energy Center. Not that anyone would know based on the overwhelmingly positive reaction postgame.
ST. PAUL—While most of the Minnesota Wild players gathered in the locker room for a pregame meeting Thursday morning, backup goaltender Alex Stalock was still out on the ice, dripping in sweat as he blocked one shot after another until goaltending coach Bob Mason finally made him call it quits. "He's a worker," Mason said of the Wild's backup goaltender. "He goes out early. He stays out late. He does all these little things to keep his game as sharp as he can. He's been a backup in this league, so he knows how to handle situations like this."
ST. PAUL—There are times throughout a game that coach Bruce Boudreau will catch himself looking at the out-of-town scores from his perch behind the Wild bench. "I can see like everyone else can see when the scores flash up (on the screen)," said Boudreau a self-professed hockey junkie. "You look at it and then get back to the game." Boudreau never discusses the scores with anyone — at least not until after the game — though it's safe to assume he was doing backflips in his mind while keeping tabs on Tuesday night.
ST. PAUL — Lakeville, Minn., native Brady Skjei remembers watching "Saturday Night Live" at his apartment a few months ago when his New York Rangers jersey suddenly appeared on the screen. "My phone blew up right away," Skjei said of the Nov. 18 episode that featured hip-hop icon Chance The Rapper. "I probably had like 20 text messages as soon as it happened and my Twitter and Instagram and everything like that was blowing up. It was pretty cool."
ST. PAUL — It's that time in the regular season when NHL front offices look at their hands, take a deep breath and push their chips to the center of the table. At last season's trade deadline, Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher flipped a first-round pick to the Arizona Coyotes for hulking center Martin Hanzal and "junkyard dog" winger Ryan White. While he's unlikely to trade another first-rounder, these two weeks before the Feb. 26 trade deadline will go a long way toward determining whether Fletcher goes all in or stands pat.
ST. PAUL — Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin will miss three to four weeks after having surgery to repair a broken left hand, the team announced a few hours after practice Wednesday, Feb 7. Brodin was injured midway through the second period of Tuesday's victory at St. Louis, slamming awkwardly into the boards. He appeared to favor his left hand before retreating to the bench. Without Brodin, the Wild will turn to Gustav Olofsson and Mike Reilly, an enormous opportunity for defensemen that have spent the season rotating in and out of the lineup.
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Growing up on the dirt roads of Rand, W.Va., where childhood dreams go to die, Randy Moss never thought about being where he is today, on the precipice of inclusion into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was too busy pretending to be someone else. Whenever he threw the ball, he was Joe Montana. When he ran the ball, he was Walter Payton or Earl Campbell. When he caught the call, he was Jerry Rice.
ST. PAUL—NHL legend Jaromir Jagr, 45, was placed on waivers by the Calgary Flames on Sunday, and signed a deal with a team he owns in his native Czech Republic on Wednesday. And just like that, Wild forward Matt Cullen, the 41-year-old from Moorhead, Minn., assumed the role of oldest player in the league. "It's been mentioned a few times (around the locker room)," Cullen said. "I saw that coming when I started seeing the news. I was like, 'Oh, boy. Here we go.' "