With the Minnesota High School State Girls’ Hockey Tournament kicking off today at Xcel Energy Center, the Wild bussed to Saint Thomas Ice Arena for a spirited practice before leaving for Florida.
Yesterday, Head Coach Mike Yeo said that Mikko Koivu was 50-50 to join the Wild on the road against the Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars on back-to-back nights, but again he was absent from practice today with an undisclosed injury. Yeo said that he skated at Xcel Energy Center this morning, but didn’t sound optimistic of his chances of traveling with the team on the road.
“It’s going to be tough for him to play, having not practiced with (us) today,” Yeo said. “We likely won’t bring him if he’s not going to play.
“Odds are he won’t be coming with us.”
As earlier reported by the Lighthouse, goalie Matt Hackett was recalled from the Houston Aeros for today’s skate. According to Yeo, Hackett was called up as a “precautionary” measure because Josh Harding had a lower body “tweak” at yesterday’s practice. Yeo said that Harding had an MRI yesterday, which came back negative, and felt great at today’s skate. If Harding is healthy, it is likely that Hackett will not make the two-game road trip, but might travel with the team as a precautionary measure.
Greg Zanon was back on the ice after missing yesterday’s practice with an illness. Yeo said that he’d be ready for the road trip and Yeo personally paced him through several iron crosses (a skating drill that didn’t look particularly pleasant) and he responded well.
Despite the not having its captain for the last two days, the Wild was able to get in two solid days of practice, something that is rare this time of year.
“For us to have these two days to get some battle drills, to get the pace and execution and really push the limits, as far as our endurance, has been really good for us,” Yeo said.
With the Wild heading on the road for two tough back-to-back nights in two different time zones, the team’s endurance will be put to the test. And if Minnesota can earn a few wins on the road, especially against the Stars, which the Wild trails by three points in the Western Conference, the team’s playoff hopes will shine a little brighter.