Greetings from Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, Calif., just across the road from LAX. The Wild skated here today (at the Kings official practice facility) and will head downtown shortly. The Kings skate in El Segundo on gamedays as well, but the Wild will hold its morning skate at 11:30 a.m. Pacific time tomorrow. You’ll want to check out this link as we give you an exclusive behind-the-scenes glance at the Wild on the road. We’ll torture you fans back home with some “how warm is it” shots too.
There was lots of news today.
Wild captain Mikko Koivu is expected to miss four weeks after surgery this morning on his fractured ankle, the team announced today upon arriving in Los Angeles. Koivu was injured in Saturday’s game versus Washington. He returned to play a key role in a comeback from two goals down, being on the ice for a pair of PPG to tie the game less than a minute apart.
Charlie Coyle is expected to move to the top centerman spot (lines from practice today are below). Erik Haula was recalled from AHL Iowa to take Koivu’s spot on the roster.
Head Coach Mike Yeo spoke on a variety of topics after practice:
On loss of Koivu: “It’s a tough one for us. We have to find a way.”
On lines: “We discussed a lot of options and scenarios. Hopefully, we don’t see some of them (laughing). We decided, let’s try to keep most of the lineup, the same as we can. It’s going to be a bit of a splash, but let’s limit the ripple.”
On opportunity for Coyle-Granlund-Haula: “It’s an opportunity for everyone. Those three guys are going to get a real taste of a heavy workload, of playing with and against top guys.”
Here’s what the lines looked like today:
In other pre-practice news, Nino Niederreiter was named to Team Switzerland for the upcoming Olympic Games in Sochi. Finland and Sweden announce their rosters tomorrow — it’s expected Koivu and Mikael Granlund will make it for the Finns, and Jonas Brodin for the Swedes.
Koivu and Josh Harding were each placed on IR today. Niklas Backstrom did not practice today, but that was just a maintenance day to get him ready for four games in six nights. Goalie coach Bob Mason was on the phone for a back-up, which wound up being Peter Nordell, a Grand Forks native who went to the University of Maine.
Haula and southern California native Jon Blum were on the Wild’s charter today. Haula will center the third line. It remains to be seen if Blum will play tomorrow or not. Yeo said he’d like to see Blum in the lineup at some point.