From what I hear, Sunday’s practice was very interesting and there were apparently some angry words and actions on the Xcel Energy Center ice. I didn’t see any of that on Monday. It seemed that players and coaches were in a much better mood as a full day of practice wrapped up with a contest at center ice.
Players hooted and laughed as each skater took a turn firing a shot from the center ice faceoff dot into an empty net. Players had to go until they made their shot, and the last one to make one became the designated “Juice Boy.” It came down to Cal Clutterbuck and video coach P.J. Deluca whose final attempt was a wounded duck that missed by 10 feet.
After practice, Richards compared yesterday and today, saying it’s just like raising a kid. You have to be strict when needed, but you also have to help them. Today was about helping, and the Wild special teams got a lot of work and help, even though they’ve been good early in the season.
Richards was asked about the lack of production from even strength lines. He admitted he is thinking about shuffling the lines up, but he did not hint at what those moves might be, and he’s not sure he’ll try something new before tomorrow night’s game with Vancouver.
He didn’t get much of a chance to experiment today anyway, because Matt Cullen, Martin Havlat and Nick Schultz all missed practice due to illness. There is some bug making its way through the locker room, but Richards is hopeful that all will be available tomorrow. If not, the Wild may be forced to call down to Houston tonight.
The good news is that Brent Burns was on the ice, and his lower body injury doesn’t seem to be bothering him.
Finally, Richards touched on Pierre-Marc Bouchard, saying he looks good and everyone’s getting excited about him. Still, there is no timetable for contact. But I will say he looks good. It will be up to him when he feels good enough to take contact, but I have to think it could be getting close. As I type this, I’m watching him and Clayton Stoner skate some Herbies with Darby Hendrickson.
That’s all from today’s skate. Don’t forget about tomorrow’s 8:00 p.m. start against the Canucks. Also, the first of the Year Ten team bobbleheads will be given to the first 5,000 fans through the gates. Mikko Koivu will be tomorrow night’s figurine.