In 1812, brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published their first volume of children's tales that we now call Grimm's Fairy Tales. There has been debate over the years as to whether they were really intended for children at all, and over the years, they have been edited, and later adapted by Disney to become what many of us know them to be. Depending on which version of the tales are on the shelves, they've occasionally been subjected to book bans by concerned parents, such as in the original versions, Little Red Riding Hood carried wine in her basket. The original versions of these tales had some references to sexual activity of the characters; therefore Jacob and Wilhelm were required to revise their stories. With many of these tales, they use many ideas of folk tales. The classic tale of Sleeping Beauty is seen in different countries, "written" by various authors. The version included by the Brothers Grimm was entitled "Little Briar Rose" or in German, "Dornröschen." In the tale, an evil fairy cursed the young princess that when she was sixteen years old, she would be spinning yarn, and she would prick her finger with the spindle, and die. To save her life, a good fairy put the princess and everyone in the castle to sleep. Many years passed, the castle long forgotten when a young, handsome prince stumbled upon the hidden castle. Upon exploring, he came across the beautiful, sleeping princess. Being so overcome with her beauty, he felt the overwhelming need to kiss her. Upon this kiss, the princess, and all who resided within the castle, awoke. Generally, all the stories contained a moral to be learned. In the case of Sleeping Beauty it was the lesson of having good manners, as all the chaos of the story was the result of the King and Queen forgetting to invite one of the fairies of the kingdom to the party that celebrated the birth of the princess.
However, in the world of hockey, the moral to be learned, has nothing to do with invitations nor is it a lesson for the fans. No, the tale of Sleeping Beauty the lesson is for the league officials and the players' union. The lesson is that realignment needs to happen and happen soon. It's a Friday night, and those of us in the Upper Midwest have to wait until 9:00pm for the puck drop. Now, I realize that this isn't a divisional game, but we do have a division opponent where start times of 9:00 and 9:30pm are part of the season. Yes, as Wild fans, we know that we're going to have these late games on occasion, but when it seems like we have these late start times on the road more times than not, it's difficult for the fans. With all of these late start times, there are many days after a game, where I feel like Sleeping Beauty. When the game is over, win or lose, I just want to crawl into bed and forget about the alarm clock. Thankfully tomorrow I have the day off, so I get to sleep in. That is not always the case, nor is late games isolated to weekends. The last time realignment was proposed, the NHL Players' Association, said no. We the fans knew they were going to use it as a bargaining chip with CBA negotiations. Negotiations were long and painful, and it felt like it was the fans were the ones who were punished the most. So we have to wait and see if the Minnesota Wild reward their fans with effort and hopefully a win. Heading into Anaheim, I think many of us are worried that the Ducks will act as the evil fairy in the tale of Sleeping Beauty, and we'll be punished with eternal sleep.
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1st Period Thoughts: If you needed a good word to describe the opening minutes of tonight's game, flurry would be it. It was frantic, inconsistent play on both sides. However, Minnesota looked like the tired, rusty team. The Wild did get some chances, but it was the questionable passes behind Darcy Kuemper that just made you shake your head. Even more disconcerting, was the lack of awareness of puck location at times. Yet, one bright spot in those early, frantic minutes was the emergence of the second line of Devin Setoguchi, Matt Cullen, and Jason Zucker. If you needed proof on the importance of speed, you need look no further than that line. However, the goodwill generated by that line was short-lived, as Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf would tally the first goal of the night. I know I always worry about an early goal by the opposition. You always have to worry about how it will affect the psyche of Minnesota. They seemed to not let it get them down, and they showed some moments of smart hockey. Yet, just under seven minutes after the first goal, Teemu Selanne found the back of the net after a lucky bounce over Nate Prosser's stick that allowed for a two on one. With five minutes left in the period, the Wild found themselves on the powerplay. Now for most teams, this is an exciting time. However, there is a reason why some fans have started to call it the "powerless play." You just start to feel that they can't even get anything going while having the man advantage. And just when you were hoping that it would be the first intermission, hard work and determination between Mike Rupp and Torrey Mitchell almost notched that first Wild goal, except for that bouncing puck and strong goaltending by Jonas Hiller. One of the stranger things this period was a fight between Clayton Stoner and Matt Beleskey. When I think "hockey fight" I don't automatically think Stoner, especially considering that Zenon Konopka is in the lineup over struggling Mikael Granlund. But I guess when things aren't going quite how you would like them to go, you need some sort of spark from any quarter. Hopefully between the late period fight and a good talking to in the locker room, the Wild come out with a stronger game plan for the second period.
2nd Period Thoughts: Thank goodness for the fourth line. You know things are not so good when I have to say those words. In an ideal world, great play by your rarely seen or thought of fourth line, is simply bonus material. Yet tonight, it's the fourth line looking like they came to play some hockey tonight, with the occasional flashes by the second line that I mentioned during the first period. Minnesota would get a fairly early power play, after a high sticking penalty by Saku Koivu. Once again, there are those moments where you get just that close, but never close enough. Pierre-Marc Bouchard is showing his value on the power play. One just has to think that pucks will start going in more times than not for Bouchard. Of course, we as fans continue to hope that happens for every Wild skater. You know that discussion about things needing to go right for once? Well Konopka got into a fight with Patrick Maroon. On top of the fighting major for Konopka, he ended up with an extra two minutes for roughing. That power play hadn't been over long, when Matt Beleskey tipped in a puck sitting on the goal line under Kuemper. It’s not all doom and gloom, even though it feels that way. Every now and then, we see those flashes of hard work and near goals. It's just beginning to feel like there will be no lucky bounces. It's those flashes that I have to cling to, as I don't think tonight will end in the win column for the Wild. If you needed one good thing to feel about regarding this period, it's that Minnesota outshot Anaheim. I guess that's something to hold on to, but it's not enough. I know that, you know that. Hopefully the Wild know that.
3rd Period Thoughts: Momentum is one of the most important concepts in sports, and life in general. Often, we just need that little push in the right direction to get things going. Case in point, Kyle Brodziak. Just twenty-nine seconds in from the start of the third period, Brodziak found the back of Hiller's net. It seemed like the Wild got their legs back underneath them for a bit. The first five minutes of this period seem to be what we wish the first forty minutes were like. Fight, energy, and chances. But you begin to think that fates are against you, when Setoguchi races after an iced puck, and you're 99.9% positive that he touched it first, but it was not to be. Add that to the passes you know are coming before they're even made, so that Anaheim is easily able to prevent them, and you just feel like it's an uphill battle. The chances that Wild kept getting, it felt as if eventually something good had to come of them. Just when you're starting to feel down in the dumps, Setoguchi makes it a 3-2 Anaheim game with a decent amount of time left in regulation. Add to that, lots of hard work by Zach Parise, and I know I'm starting to feel positive again. Win or lose tonight, this game is an absolutely perfect example of the importance of playing a full sixty minutes. In this league, even against the worst team, you simply cannot afford to take a shift off. In the waning minutes of the period, we saw the extra effort that needed to there all night. If it had, the bounces they faced may have not been so painful. So while Minnesota comes out with the loss, one positive thing I can add, is at least we didn't allow Anaheim to score the empty netter.
So here I sit. It's after 11:30pm Central Standard Time. I'm thinking of what to say, all the while wishing I could be Sleeping Beauty, sound asleep in my bed. I'm tired. I'm wishing that the Wild had gotten the "happily ever after" ending story so common in fairy tales. Instead, we're more like the other women at the ball where Prince Charming met and chose Cinderella. So close, yet so far away. If the Minnesota Wild needed a moral of the story, it's to play each and every game as if their lives depended on it. And in this shortened season, that "life" is whether or not one gets to go to the playoffs.
~ The Wild roster tonight was as follows: Matt Cullen, Mikko Koivu, Devin Setoguchi, Zach Parise, Dany Heatley, Jason Zucker, Torrey Mitchell, Kyle Brodziak, Mike Rupp, Zenon Konopka, Charlie Coyle, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Clayton Stoner, Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Nate Prosser, Jared Spurgeon, and Tom Gilbert. Niklas Backstrom backed up Darcy Kuemper.
~ The 3 Stars of the Game were: 1st star, Ryan Getzlaf; 2nd star, Jonas Hiller; 3rd star, Matt Beleskey.
~ Attendance was 15,264 at Honda Center.