The Wild went through a quick but brisk 40 minute practice today at the Ice Haus, the awesome practice facility connected to Nationwide Arena. After arriving at the hotel in Columbus at 3:15 a.m., Mike Yeo pushed practice back to 2 p.m. to give the players an extra hour of rest. Every Wild player participated in practice.
Yeo said he’s likely to play the same lineup in tomorrow’s New Year’s Eve clash with the Blue Jackets. Jason Zucker is still back home with “no energy” from his virus. Jonas Brodin (upper body injury) has a doctor’s appointment today. Niklas Backstrom skated today. Yeo said he’d like to get him involved in practices as soon as possible, based on him having been sick for more than two weeks.
“We need both guys healthy and playing well,” Yeo said. “You can point to a lot of different areas when we aren’t completely at the top of our game, but no one plays perfect. You don’t win without really good goaltending in this league. Kuemps, like the whole team, can’t be satisfied with one game.”
3rd D-Pair Impresses
Yeo lauded the defensive pair of Nate Prosser and Stu Bickel. After playing forward for parts of this season, Bickel has had a great couple games on the blue line.
“They’re hard to play against, and that’s what I like,” Yeo said. “If the guys play around the net, they’re going to feel it. When teams are too comfortable, it makes it too easy for them to execute in certain areas.”
4th Line Production
Put on the ice several times in critical situations last night, the fourth line of Kyle Brodziak, Ryan Carter and Brett Sutter excelled.
“When they’re scoring goals…usually they’re in the game and doing things the right way and they get rewarded,” Yeo said. “At every point in the game that could have been deemed a break point, they went out and did the right thing for us.”
Reaction On Graovac
Yeo liked Tyler Graovac’s NHL debut.
“For a young kid, there’s a lot of details he needs to learn, things that will take not even days, but years, to get on top of,” Yeo said. “But he really showed me things as far as size, speed, skating ability and his hands. He can make some plays. His faceoffs in the third period, he picked it up too.”