The Minnesota Wild returned home today from its second and final five-game road trip. Despite a tough loss on Saturday in Vancouver when the Wild pumped 40 shots at Roberto Luongo, the team was in high spirits after three wins and two losses.
The other returns to speak of were Andrew Ebbett and Petr Sykora getting back on the ice. Both of them skated after the Wild’s team practice was over. They weren’t running any type of drills, but mostly just shooting pucks and passing to each other. Still, this would have to be considered a big step forward because it’s unlikely they would do any physical activity if they weren’t symptom-free. However, Ebbett is going to be placed on injured reserve for the time being, likely to make room for an expected call up.
In other return news, Josh Harding
returned to the Twin Cities yesterday on a commercial flight. He had been feeling ill since Saturday and was given Monday off. The Wild will be calling up Anton Khudobin as a precaution, but on Monday the backup goaltending reins belonged to Strength and Conditioning coach Chris Pietrzak-Wegner, who is more commonly known as “P-Dubs” or “Wegs.” I’m fairly certain that’s because nobody knows how to pronounce his last name.
“Wegs” starred in high school with Brooklyn Center, and then dominated the University of Minnesota club hockey league for a season.
Left wing Robbie Earl is expected to the big club, while Nathan Smith has officially been sent down to the Houston Aeros. As far as forwards go, Earl has had the most success of any call up this season. He scored two goals in his second game and provided plenty of energy for the lineup.
If Earl does indeed get the call, as Head Coach Todd Richards said was likely to happen, James Sheppard will likely remain at center unless Andrew Ebbett is cleared to play, which doesn't appear likley. Earl would also fill a hole left by Owen Nolan who is likely out of tomorrow's game with a lower bocy injury.
Richards also mentioned that Pierre-Marc Bouchard
and Brent Burns have not been skating, but word is that both are feeling better.
Finally, Richards spent a lot of time talking about how well Martin Havlat has been playing, especially in the past week. He pointed to the ice time that he’s getting as the best evidence to how well the coach thinks he’s playing.
He also mentioned that Havlat’s performance goes well beyond the points that he’s racked up. He specifically recalled a backcheck in Phoenix that nullified a sure three-on-two rush.