The Minnesota Wild’s blue line will have a large void to fill as the team hosts the Montreal Canadiens at 6 p.m. Minnesota will be without the National Hockey League’s leader in ice time, Ryan Suter, who is out with an illness.
Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said that Suter has had blood-work done, but it hasn’t been determined whether or not it is the same illness that sidelined other defensemen this season. Yeo said that the blueliner had “some” of the same symptoms, but didn’t go into any specifics other than he doesn’t have swollen glands.
Suter, of course, is the team’s anchor on the blue line. He has led the NHL in time on ice the last two seasons, plays in all situations and is the team’s leading defenseman scorer (1-12=13). The rest of the D-corps will have to step up in a big way.
“I think we’re missing a guy who plays 30 minutes a night, that’s half the game,” Yeo said. “That void’s going to have to be filled by guys like Marco (Scandella), Spurge (Jared Spurgeon) and Brods (Jonas Brodin) eating up a little more ice time, but that’s up to the rest of the guys to be sure they’re ready to respond.
“As a team we have to understand there’s going to be times the game isn’t going to look perfect for us and have to be prepared to play a hard game, a dirty game and making sure we’re doing everything we can to help out our D.”
Suter’s presence on the back end has had a profound impact on the team’s younger defenseman. This will be the first game he’s missed in Wild sweater since signing with the team in 2012. Scandella has been a front-row student of Suter’s game. The Montreal native will be expected to carry a bigger load against his boyhood team, but knows one player alone can’t replace Suter.
“We need guys to step in and be ready to play,” Scandella said. “He’s a big part of our team and plays a lot of minutes. Guys will need to step up, but not change their game.”
Yesterday, Minnesota recalled defenseman Christian Folin from the team’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Iowa Wild. The blueliner played eight games, scoring twice and adding two assists.
Yeo said that the team wanted Folin to be more aggressive and assertive in Iowa. He felt like the blueliner was “on the safe side” at times in Minnesota before getting sent down. Folin said that he used the time in Iowa to work on his game. He missed time in Minnesota due to illness and wanted to get back to form.
“After my sickness I didn’t really get into too much game shape,” Folin said. “Just getting back into shape and trying to get better every day.”
Here’s what the D-pairs will look like with Suter out of the lineup:
The forward lines will look the same as its last outing against the St. Louis Blues and Stu Bickel will be the team’s healthy scratch.
U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2014
Tomorrow Karyn Bye Dietz, Brian Rafalski, Jeff Sauer and Lou Vairo will be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame at the Minneapolis Marriott City Center. Tonight before the game, they will drop an honorary puck.
The induction celebration also will include the presentation of the Lester Patrick Trophy to Bill Daly, deputy commissioner of the National Hockey League and Paul Holmgren, president of the Philadelphia Flyers. In addition, Bob O'Connor will receive the USA Hockey Builders Award.
Passing Of Canadiens Legend
The Canadiens will play the day after the passing of one of hockey’s all-time greats, Jean Beliveau. The Montreal legend was 83. The former Habs captain was one of the most popular players in team history and has been remembered in a number of stirring tributes today.
Beliveau helped lead Montreal to 10 Stanley Cup victories, won three Hart Trophies, an Art Ross and a Conn Smythe, but will be remembered as a gentleman off the ice as much as his accomplishments on it. Class and elegance are descriptions that have been used to define Beliveau’s game on the ice and his demeanor off it.
“What a great player, but it was amazing to read and everyone talks about what a great person,” Yeo said. The Wild’s bench boss never met Beliveau, but has herd stories of him through his years in hockey. “Truly a legend in our game and somebody who made the game great.”