Prior to the Minnesota Wild bagging up their equipment and their NHL-best 39 points and heading to Los Angeles, the team put in one more skate at HP Pavilion.
The practice didn’t last too long, but it did feature another unique finish with the team shootout. Head Coach Mike Yeo always finds ways to spice up the shootout contest, giving the last player to score some type of chore. Recently, Nick Johnson lost and had to high five about 100 kids sitting in the Xcel Energy Center stands. Earlier in the week, Nick Schultz was the last man standing and had to sport a mohawk (make no mistake, this is a faux hawk, but you get the point).
Today, for every shot missed, the players had to shed one piece of hockey equipment. We were spared any gratuitous nudity, but the last two shooters were Assistant Coach Darby Hendrickson and Colton Gillies.
“We work hard,” said Yeo. “And I think it’s a good thing to mix some fun with that as well.”
Darby was shirtless by the end, and Gillies was without breezers by that point. You’ll be able to see some (but definitely not all) of the highlights later when Dusty Peterson is able to upload his video.
Anyway, Yeo was asked about Josh Harding and Devin Setoguchi, who were both injured in last night’s 2-1 win over San Jose.
“Hards feels a lot better today. Seto not as much. But both guys need to be reevaluated. But Hards definitely felt a lot better.”
Backstrom was the other goalie on the ice today, and while Yeo said he had not received an update on his condition, he noted that Backstrom “looked really good out there.”
Last year’s trade deadline move to send Anton Khudobin to Boston in exchange for Mikko Lehtonen of the Swedish Elite League already looks good, even if Lehtonen never plays here.
Yeo said that trade was “huge” for Matt Hackett’s development and opened the door from him to be Houston’s number one goaltender for the stretch run, as well as the march to the Calder Cup Finals.
“I like Anton a lot and he was a great goalie for us. But we knew Hack had the potential to be a great NHL goalie. If his development was going to start, we had to kickstart it by giving him the net.”
The Los Angeles Kings are next on the docket. The Wild will look to avenge a 5-1 thumping at the hands of the Kings a month ago. Thus far, the Wild has not lost to a team more than once this season.
Lastly, check out this ESPN.com article, naming Chuck Fletcher as the top GM in the NHL.