Round 3
Stanley Cup Final
Posted On Sunday, 12.15.2013 / 10:30 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - USA Selection Camp Blog

Zach Stepan healthy, ready for camp

MINNEAPOLIS -- Zach Stepan, who is at the United States National Junior Team selection camp this week, is fully healthy for the camp that got underway Sunday evening at Mariucci Arena.

Stepan, a freshman at Minnesota State University, was injured in Game 2 of a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series Saturday against the University of Alabama-Huntsville in Huntsville, Ala.

With the Mavericks leading 2-1 late in the third period, Stepan was hit high and from behind into the boards behind the UAH net. Stepan lay on the ice for several moments before being brought back to the locker room.

Stepan did not return to the bench over the final minutes, a move he said was precautionary.

"I'm fine," Stepan said. "They just wanted to make sure everything was intact, and it was, so we're good to go."

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Posted On Sunday, 12.15.2013 / 9:02 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - USA Selection Camp Blog

Lucia takes break from Minnesota to coach U.S. team

MINNEAPOLIS -- With the United States National Junior Team selection camp officially underway, coach Don Lucia has handed over the keys of the one of the top-ranked collegiate hockey program to his assistant coaches.

With Lucia occupied by this week's camp and the World Junior Championship beginning Dec. 26, the University of Minnesota men's hockey team -- ranked No. 2 in the country -- has been left in the capable hands of assistant coaches Mike Guentzel and Grant Potulny.

"We came back from Michigan State [Dec. 8] and I told the guys, 'I'm turning it over to Coach Guentzel now,'" Lucia said. "[Minnesota] had a couple days of light practice, but I didn't even go on the ice. I just tried to stay away from the office as much as I could."

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Posted On Thursday, 12.05.2013 / 2:36 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blackhawks, Wild shuffle lineups

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild have each made adjustments to their lineups in advance of their game Thursday at Xcel Energy Center (8 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).

For the Blackhawks, Andrew Shaw and Michal Handzus did not make the trip to Minnesota and are unavailable Thursday. Handzus is sick and will miss his second consecutive game. Shaw sustained an upper-body injury when he was checked hard into the boards late in Chicago's game Tuesday against the Dallas Stars.

Each is considered day-to-day and Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said each could return to the lineup as soon as Friday when Chicago plays the Anaheim Ducks at United Center.

The Blackhawks also reassigned center Brandon Pirri to the Rockford Ice Hogs of the American Hockey League. Pirri had six goals and five assists in 24 games with Chicago, but Quenneville said Pirri needs to work on his game in the defensive end.

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Posted On Monday, 12.02.2013 / 2:24 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Back spasms sideline Flyers' Lecavalier vs. Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Philadelphia Flyers will be without leading goal-scorer Vincent Lecavalier on Monday against the Minnesota Wild. The veteran has back spasms which began during the third period of the Flyers' 3-2 shootout win Saturday at the Nashville Predators.

Lecavalier, who leads the Flyers with nine goals, finished the game Saturday and scored the deciding goal in the shootout. But with four games left on their road trip, the team thought it best to give Lecavalier the night off. Brayden Schenn is expected to take over Lecavalier's second-line center spot.

"We're losing a very good centerman," Flyers coach Craig Berube said. "Brayden Schenn has played a lot of center and it's a good opportunity for him to slide in there. He's played center pretty well his whole life."

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Posted On Sunday, 11.17.2013 / 1:57 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Dumba in for Wild against Jets

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba is back in the lineup Sunday when the Wild face the Winnipeg Jets at Xcel Energy Center.

Dumba hasn’t played since Nov. 9 against the Carolina Hurricanes — the only game this month in which he's played — but the Wild were impressed with the Dumba-Clayton Stoner pairing in preseason matchups against the Jets.

“He’s played well against these guys,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “I just want to see him continue to evolve, continue to grow. He’s in here for a reason and I want to see his strengths come out in the game."

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Posted On Friday, 11.15.2013 / 2:27 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Panthers move on without Versteeg

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Change has been afoot with the Florida Panthers. Last week it was replacing their entire coaching staff. Then late Thursday Florida traded forward Kris Versteeg and minor-league forward Philippe Lefebvre to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for prospects Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen.

Panthers general manager Dale Tallon had hinted changes could be coming to the roster earlier in the week after coach Kevin Dineen and his staff were let go. His team snapped a nine-game winless skid Tuesday with a 3-2 win against the Anaheim Ducks, but has sandwiched three losing streaks between their four wins this season.

The Panthers will try and put together their first winning streak of the season Friday against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.

Versteeg was off to a slow start with two goals with five assists in 18 games. He also was a minus-9 and hadn't scored a goal in 11 games, making him expendable for a team that appears ready to get younger.

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.13.2013 / 12:54 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Wild give Backstrom start against Maple Leafs

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- With Josh Harding feeling ill Tuesday evening, the Minnesota Wild will go with Niklas Backstrom in goal when they play the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center (7:30 p.m. ET, TSN).

Harding, who leads the NHL with a 1.22 goals-against average and is second with a .947 save percentage, was not present for the team's optional morning skate Wednesday, but will back up Backstrom in the game.

"Harding was feeling a little under the weather [Tuesday] night, so we kept him off [Wednesday] and went with the one goalie rather than go through the motions and have an average skate," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "I'd rather give the players the option of doing what they need to do to get ready."

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Posted On Tuesday, 11.05.2013 / 1:44 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Coyle back for Wild against Flames

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- As it turns out Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo's prognosis of Charlie Coyle's setback Friday was correct after all.

After missing 11 games with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his knee, Coyle returned Friday against the Montreal Canadiens. But a substantial amount of what Coyle termed as "just soreness" returned after the game and Coyle didn't play Sunday against the New Jersey Devils. Following the Wild's morning skate Sunday, Yeo said the knee had been re-injured against Montreal but classified Coyle as day-to-day.

Coaches are known for not always being upfront when it comes to injuries, but in this case day-to-day was spot-on. Coyle will return to the lineup Tuesday when the Wild play the Calgary Flames at Xcel Energy Center. He'll be the right wing on the Wild's top line, alongside Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu.

"A couple days off was really good," Coyle said. "I'm feeling a lot better about myself. It feels great right now. I'm ready to go."

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Posted On Sunday, 11.03.2013 / 9:30 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Devils' Volchenkov scratched; Merrill injured

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New Jersey Devils were without defenseman Anton Volchenkov against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Sunday night due to a lower-body injury.

Volchenkov has three assists and is a minus-2 in 13 games this season.

In his place, the Devils inserted Jon Merrill, a rookie making his NHL debut. A second-round pick of the Devils (No. 38) in the 2010 NHL Draft, Merrill is considered one of the organization's top prospects.

But less than five minutes into his NHL debut, Merrill raced Wild forward Torrey Mitchell into the corner to gather a loose puck when he appeared to lose an edge, smashing hard into the boards. Merrill appeared cut above the eye and needed assistance from two teammates when leaving the ice. The Devils announced at the start of the third period that Merrill suffered lacerations and he did not return to the game.

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Posted On Sunday, 11.03.2013 / 2:07 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Wild's Parise to face Devils for first time

ST. PAUL, Minn. — In what seems like a weekly ritual for at least one member of the Minnesota Wild, another prominent player will play against his former team. This time it's Zach Parise going against the New Jersey Devils.

After Parise signed with the Wild on July 4, 2012, Minnesota and New Jersey did not play during the lockout-shortened season. That means Parise will get his first crack against a number of former friends and teammates Sunday when the Wild host the Devils at Xcel Energy Center.

"It'll be a lot of fun," Parise said. "It'll be a little different playing against those guys, knowing all of them and everything. Playing against them for the first time will be different, but I'm looking forward to it. A little nervous, but I'm looking forward to it."

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Quote of the Day

Sick. I said a couple of bad words in Russian, but I said, 'Sick.'

— Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov on Alex Ovechkin's highlight-reel goal in Game 2 against Rangers on Saturday