Minnesota Wild defenseman Willie Mitchell has finally been able to get some chores done around the house. With four days in between home games, the Wild’s team captain and his teammates have been able to heal up the aches and pains suffered during the rigors of 17 games in the past month.
"Yeah, it’s been nice and relaxing, and I’ve been able to run some errands around town, and sit back and watch some t.v."
Better get the drycleaning and the grocery shopping done now, because with the Northwest division leading Calgary Flames coming into the Xcel Energy Center on Saturday, the intensity will have to be at a season-high.
"They’re having a good season right now," said Pierre-Marc Bouchard about the Flames. "They’re a good, hard-working team. They have a good game plan, they’re always on the puck, and they’re physical. It’s an important game for us and it would be good to get that game."
Assuming that he gets the thumbs-up from head coach Jacques Lemaire, Bouchard will be back in the lineup on Saturday after missing the last two games with a headache and sore neck resulting from a hit from Colorado’s Ossi Vaananen last Thursday. His return couldn’t come at a better time.
"I feel pretty good. I’ve been skating the last few days and I should be ready for Saturday," said Bouchard. "You look at the standings and everyone is close to each other. We need those points so we’ve got to be ready for Saturday."
Mitchell explained that the Wild needs to feel a sense of urgency beginning on Saturday night. Currently, the Wild sits in the 10th spot in the Western Conference with 44 points in 43 games. The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim are just ahead in the standings with 45 points in 45 games. Both teams are now chasing the Edmonton Oilers, who have fallen behind Colorado in the eighth playoff spot in the West.
"It’s a big game because we’ve been idle for four days so some teams ahead of us have been hot and getting some wins and creating distance. We’ve got to crawl back in the games we are playing, and do it now. There’s got to be that urgency to do it now."
Following Calgary, the Wild has nine games to close out the final 15 days of January with six of those games being played on the corner of West Seventh and Kellogg.