I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
— Bob Dylan, A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
With a Flash Flood Watch in the San Francisco Bay Area, a shorthanded Minnesota Wild defensive corps will again have to rise to the occasion against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center. It’s been an all too familiar tune for the Wild in the early going this season, as the team again will be without a pair of contributing blueliners.
Marco Scandella will serve the first of a two-game suspension following an illegal check to the head against the New York Islanders’ Brock Nelson on Tuesday. It was the second hit of the season that was reviewed by the Department of Player Safety, the first coming the St. Louis Blues’ T.J. Oshie on Nov. 30, which warranted no suspension.
The Wild has been without one of its top four defenseman due to injury, illness and now suspension, seemingly, since the start of the season.
“We’ll have to get through it now,” Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said. “It looks like every time we’re getting there, something else happens.
“This is not new to us, but there’s no question I’d like to get into a situation where we can get those four guys going.”
The club also will be without Keith Ballard, who is out indefinitely after suffering three facial fractures and a concussion due to a hit from the Islanders’ Matt Martin.
Yesterday, the team recalled Justin Falk from the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League, who will skate in his fourth game with Minnesota this year.
“We need him to come in and play a heavy game,” Yeo said. “He’s give us a couple of good games with us this year and certainly this is an opportunity for him here, being a left-shot defenseman. With Marco being out that’s one thing, but with Bally being out, there’s potentially an opportunity for him.”
Falk was originally drafted by Minnesota in the fourth round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. He skated in 108 games in Minnesota before being traded to the New York Rangers prior to the 2012-13 season. The 26-year-old signed as a free agent with the Wild on Aug. 8.
“It’s another opportunity for myself to go out there and show I want to contribute and can help this team when need be,” Falk said. “Whenever the call comes, you’re always excited to come back up here.”
Falk will have a familiar D-partner in Nate Prosser. As the third pairing, they’ll want to play a physical game against a Sharks team that likes to play an in-zone, puck possession game.
“We’ve got to be ready to be physical right from the first shift we’re out there,” Prosser said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re in their heads a little bit and know that we’re going to be hitting them and playing strong one-on-one battles in the corners.
Prosser was on the ice when Ballard was injured. It wasn’t an easy sight for anyone to see the blueliner on the ice in pain.
“That was a really, really unfortunate situation,” Prosser said. “And to see it happen to a good teammate like that is tough. He’s in all of our prayers and hoping for the best for him.”
The Wild responded against the Islanders after the hit, but wants a better start against the Sharks.
“We can’t wait around for something to happen,” Prosser said. “We’ve got to be engaged right from the drop of the puck.”