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Posted On Tuesday, 12.23.2014 / 7:04 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

Wild goalie Backstrom a late scratch due to illness

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom was a late scratch Tuesday for the game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Xcel Energy Center because he is sick.

Coach Mike Yeo announced Backstrom would start against the Flyers following the Wild's morning skate, but he was removed from the lineup prior to warm-ups.

With Backstrom out, Darcy Kuemper will get the start. Kuemper has been pulled in four of his past five home starts.


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Posted On Tuesday, 12.23.2014 / 1:10 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Flyers at Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild center Mikael Granlund is expected to play Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers after missing one game with an illness. He missed the Wild's game Saturday against the Nashville Predators, as well as the past two days of practice, with a stomach ailment that has gone through the Wild dressing room.

Coach Mike Yeo said he expects Granlund to assume his duties on Minnesota's top line despite a solid game Saturday by Charlie Coyle, who skated between Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek after Granlund was scratched following pre-game warm-ups.

Minnesota aims to snap a three-game losing streak and head into the NHL's three-day holiday break with some momentum. To do that, Yeo hopes significant changes to Minnesota's bottom-six group will make things more difficult on the Flyers. Erik Haula and Justin Fontaine will be scratched and Stu Bickel will be in the lineup at right wing on the fourth line.

"Teams have been too comfortable coming in here lately," Yeo said.

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Posted On Saturday, 12.20.2014 / 2:29 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Predators at Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Nashville Predators will be without forward James Neal on Saturday when they play the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.

Neal remained in Nashville because of an illness. Predators coach Peter Laviolette said it is not believed to be the mumps and Neal could join the team later on their three-game road trip, which starts against the Wild. The Predators play at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday and Tuesday at the Boston Bruins Tuesday before heading home ahead of Christmas.

Laviolette moved Craig Smith into Neal's spot on the right side of Mike Ribeiro and Filip Forsberg on the Predators' top line.

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.17.2014 / 2:55 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Bruins at Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Boston Bruins forward David Krejci could return to the lineup Wednesday as the Bruins play on the second half of back-to-back games against the Minnesota Wild (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Krejci hasn't played since Nov. 18; the Bruins have gone 3-7-1 in his absence. He has three goals and seven assists in 11 games this season.

"Been trying to stay positive throughout whole process," Krejci said, according to the Bruins website. "This is just another step forward. Got to wait and see."

He said he's being cautious to make sure once he does return to the lineup, he's able to stay there.

"I've worked hard to get back where I am," he said. "I don't want to any setbacks anymore. Want to keep playing from now on until the end of the season."

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.09.2014 / 2:22 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Islanders at Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter will return to the lineup Tuesday when his team plays the New York Islanders at Xcel Energy Center. Suter has missed the past two games because of the mumps.

Suter began showing symptoms of the illness nine days ago, and missed games last week against the Montreal Canadiens and Anaheim Ducks, the first games he has missed since signing with Minnesota in July of 2012.

"It's hard to put it into words [what his return means,]" Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "The first thing you have to look at is the amount he plays through the course of the game, we're talking half the game. Then obviously from a defensive standpoint; how he helps to alleviate pressure, how helps you defend quickly, the way he's able to separate guys from the puck.

"I could keep going, there's a lot of things."

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Posted On Friday, 12.05.2014 / 2:39 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Ducks at Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter, who has the mumps, took part in the morning skate but will not be in the lineup when the Wild host the Anaheim Ducks at Xcel Energy Center on Friday.

Suter sat out the Wild's game Wednesday against the Montreal Canadiens. It was the first game Suter had missed since signing with the Wild in July 2012.

"Won't be in tonight but it was a good sign to see him on the ice," Wild coach Mike Yeo said Friday. "We have a few days here afterward so hopefully we'll get him back in the lineup for our next match." After Friday the Wild are off until a home game Tuesday against the New York Islanders.

Suter leads the League in average time on ice at 29:19 per game. In 23 games he has one goal and 12 assists.

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Posted On Thursday, 12.04.2014 / 9:02 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - US Hockey Hall of Fame blog

Patrick Trophy winner Daly sees hockey as a family

MINNEAPOLIS -- As an attorney in the early 1990s, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly was able to see the inner workings of a number of professional sports leagues.

None, he said, compared to hockey.

Daly and Philadelphia Flyers President Paul Holmgren were honored Thursday with the 2014 Lester Patrick Trophy for outstanding service to hockey in the United States.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.04.2014 / 8:38 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - US Hockey Hall of Fame blog

Vairo's road to USHHOF began as midget coach

MINNEAPOLIS -- There are few men in the world who can tell stories like Lou Vairo.

How many other people can claim to be friends with both Viktor Tikhonov and Herb Brooks -- bench adversaries when the U.S. knocked off the Soviet Union in the "Miracle On Ice" at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics?

"Viktor Tikhonov was something else," Vairo said. "He was the most demanding coach who ever lived. He's just unbelievable. He was appreciated and well-respected by the Russian public. He brought glory to his country."

Tikhonov passed away Nov. 24 after a long illness. Vairo returned from Moscow last Sunday after attending his good friend's funeral. Four days later, he was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.


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Posted On Thursday, 12.04.2014 / 6:36 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - US Hockey Hall of Fame blog

1980 'Miracle on Ice' team inspired Bye Dietz

MINNEAPOLIS -- To Karyn Bye Dietz, the 1980 Lake Placid might as well have happened yesterday.

Bye Dietz is one of many inspired by the "Miracle On Ice" U.S. team that stunned the Soviet Union before winning gold against Finland. Watching those games with her brother and emulating her hero from that team, defenseman Bill Baker, still brings a smile to her face.

Bye Dietz joined Cindy Curley and Olympic teammate Cammi Granato as the third female member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame when she was inducted Thursday.


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Posted On Wednesday, 12.03.2014 / 2:34 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Canadiens at Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter will miss his first game in four seasons Wednesday when the Minnesota Wild play the Montreal Canadiens at Xcel Energy Center (7 p.m. ET, SN).

Suter has not missed a game since signing with the Wild in July 2012, playing all 153 games in the regular season and 18 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The defenseman is sick; the Wild aren't sure if it's the flu or the mumps.

"We're hoping it's just illness, but we won't know until we get the blood work," coach Mike Yeo said. "He doesn't have swollen glands, but there are a couple of symptoms he has that would make us concerned that it could be that [mumps]."

Suter leads the NHL in average time on ice this season at 29:19 per game. His plus-10 rating is best on the Wild and his 12 assists are tied for the team lead.

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Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic