When pressure mounts on an object, the weight of the force can crush it or the body can develop a tough exterior.
On a four-game losing streak, the Minnesota Wild’s resolve will be tested yet again as the team hosts the Buffalo Sabres. Defensemen Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella will be out with an illness. They are experiencing comparable symptoms to Christian Folin and Keith Ballard, which kept them out for multiple games.
With the health of four players affected in less than a month, Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo has reasons to be concerned. It seems as though the virus is circling the team’s locker room.
“We don’t know for sure, but similar symptoms,” Yeo said. “This came from somewhere else, but there’s obviously a possibility that it’s inside our locker room now.
“The problem is you start to wonder and start to worry is this sitting inside anybody else waiting to come out, too?”
UPDATED: Jared Spurgeon has been activated from Injured Reserve and will be in the lineup against Buffalo. Zach Parise has been placed on IR, retroactive Nov. 4.
With the blue line weakened by two players—both of whom log a high amount of ice—the Wild
is likely to will have the services of Jared Spurgeon. Yeo didn’t confirm that Spurgeon would be in the lineup, but the defenseman took line rushes with Ryan Suter this morning and skated on the team’s power play during the pregame skate.
The addition of Spurgeon would give the team a much-needed boost at both ends of the ice. Before suffering an upper-body injury on Oct. 30 against San Jose, the 24-year-old had six points (2-4=6) and was a plus-7 in nine games. If he’s in tonight, the Wild will have to activate him from Injured Reserve, so check back in with Wild.com or @mnwild before puck drop.
Like an experienced gambler, Yeo kept his lineup card close to the vest this morning. Yesterday, defenseman Stu Bickel and forward Jordan Schroeder were both called up from the team’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Iowa Wild. The team’s bench boss said that he could put either at forward tonight against the Sabres.
However, during the team’s morning line rushes, Schroeder, former University of Minnesota standout, skated on a line with a pair of ex-Gophs. The Lakeville native was on the wing with Erik Haula and Thomas Vanek, forming a ready-made nickname: The Gopher Line.
Yeo said that the forward has been playing well in Iowa. With the team’s lack of offensive production of late, he wants to reward a player who was scoring in the AHL. Schroeder leads the AHL team with 11 points (4-7=11).
“It’s pretty cool, you don’t see that too often in the NHL,” Schroeder said about the all Gopher line. “I want to come out and be a spark plug out there—use my speed and create some offense.”
Vanek didn’t realize that he was partnered with two other U of M alums until after the morning skate. He faces the team that drafted him in the first round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft (fifth overall) for the first time as a member of the Minnesota Wild. He said that he has a lot of good memories from his time in Buffalo, but isn’t concentrating on facing his old mates.
“I’m pretty used to playing on new teams here in the last year,” Vanek said. “My focus is on the Wild and getting us back on track.”
If Schroeder is in, he’ll be the 19th Minnesotan to wear a Wild sweater in the franchise’s history. However, a 20th State of Hockey native might join Schroeder in the lineup: Bickel, another Gopher alum, could on the blue line. In the morning skate, the Chanhassen native took line rushes as a defenseman with Nate Prosser.
Shake It Off
(The Lighthouse promises this subhead will be the one and only Taylor Swift reference to appear on Wild.com, ever).
The Wild looks to shake off its offensive woes by shuffling the lines. The morning skate saw a complete overhaul of its forward lines. Charlie Coyle was moved along side Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter. Yeo said that he’d like Granlund to play a more north-south game tonight and placing him between two hard-charging forwards could help.
“It’s important for our group to recognize that when you’re not winning games, changes are made,” Yeo said. “Were going to try and make some changes to our lineup and give a bit of a fresh look.”
We’re not exactly sure which players are going to play, play, play, but here’s our best guess based on the line rushes this morning:
(Glad that’s over. The Lighthouse will be cranking AC/DC and drinking Jack until puck drop).
Military Appreciation Night
The Wild will salute the armed forces with Military Appreciation Night, presented by Thomson Reuters and benefitting Defending the Blue Line. The Wild will wear camouflage sweaters during warmups, which will be auctioned off immediately on Wild.com.