Minnesota is lovely this time of year, isn’t it? More on that in a moment.
The Wild went through a skate of a bit longer than an hour today, and several players were still on the ice when I headed back upstairs at 12:30 p.m. – some 90 minutes after practice began. With no practice on Wednesday or Thursday due to the Christmas break, the Wild took as much ice time as it could today to remain sharp.
Jacques Lemaire ( J. Lemaire
) skated out the following 3 line combinations today (Eric Belanger practiced after being ill late last week, and he is probable for tomorrow’s game against Carolina):
C Koivu, LW Brunette, RW Miettinen
C Sheppard, LW Veilleux, RW Gaborik
C Pouliot, LW Clutterbuck, RW Bouchard
The most intriguing matchup tomorrow may be Mikko Koivu
versus Rod Brind’Amour. Koivu is second in the league in faceoffs won and fourth in faceoffs taken. Brind’Amour, the ageless one, is first in faceoffs won and taken. He’s at an eye-popping 63 percent. Yet is still minus-23. He’s most often matched up against the top opposing line.
Assistant GM Tom Lynn gave the following injury updates:
D Marc-Andre Bergeron – lower body injury, out through New Year’s
RW Owen Nolan – lower body injury, is skating on his own, out Tuesday, will be re-evaluated after Christmas break
C Eric Belanger – skated today after missing two games due to illness, is probable for Tuesday’s game.
Lynn also stressed that Marian Gaborik will be managing his comeback for at least the next month. So it’s to be expected that he would leave a practice early from time to time, or be given the day off. Lynn said the fact the Wild plays just one set of back-to-backs in the next month will help Gaborik. Lynn noted Pavol Demitra was given the same luxury last season. Gaborik did skate today.
I delivered some Christmas presents to Derek Boogaard and Erik Reitz – their Houston Aeros bobbleheads.
And now, I’m headed to pick up my car, which as I was afraid of, didn’t start Sunday morning at 1 a.m. at the airport. Two failed jumps and a seven-hour wait Sunday afternoon/evening for a tow truck, and I’m lucky to only need a new battery. I’ll be taking a cab to and from the airport next time it’s going to be minus-30.
I’ll talk to everyone Tuesday at the Wild’s last game before the Christmas break.