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Little Town on the Prairie

PrairieSASKATOON, Saskatchewan -- Talk about a town that's excited about it's hockey. The town of Saskatoon has said it will not roll up its sidewalks until 11 p.m. tonight instead of the usual 9:30.

Yes, people are that excited about having the NHL visiting this charming burg. It's a rarity, an NHL game here, although there had been talk of a team moving here back in the day. Sorry guys, I like this town, the people are great, but it's not a major-league sports town. Just too small.

Anyway, there is a passion for hockey here, and if that was enough I could see a team moving here. But loving a sport isn't always enough, although selling 11,000 tickets to an exhibition game a long time before the game was scheduled to start says something about the passion. I'm looking forward to seeing the atmosphere, looking forward to seeing folks who love this game so much get to see the best players perform on their ice.

-- Tomas Vokoun back in net tonight, the third straight night he gets the start. JM says he's only playing the first 30 minutes. David Shantz in the bullpen ready to close. Craig Anderson and Shantz/Plante Thursday in Chicago.

-- Bryan Allen out for a third straight night, JM saying his surgically repaired knee the reason. He might get cleared to play Thursday. Mike Van Ryn (groin) didn't practice today, doubtful for Thursday. Olli Jokinen (no injury) among the notables not going tonight. Richard Zednik (back) also not going. Rostislav Olesz is playing, so I guess I have to get my own popcorn tonight.

-- Some of the things the NHL Board of Governors may discuss at their meeting in Chicago include revamping the schedule and potential for expansion. Las Vegas is being mentioned (a columnist in Saskatoon said the NHL was looking at Louisiana and New Hampshire as possible expansion sites. Yeah, first time I have heard that. And Kansas City is in Missouri, not Kansas.)

Seriously, the league needs to expand to Vegas. Now. If they hurry, they could have a team there by the weekend.