Tag Archives: Justin Falk

Zucker Set To Debut; Backstrom and Falk Back

Minnesota hosts the Florida Panthers tonight and there is a wide range of news coming out of Wild camp today, so I’ll try to catch you up on everything.

Jason Zucker will make his debut in a Minnesota sweater and will wear number 16. He’s the 45th player and 14th rookie to suit up for the Wild this season. See the Wild TV pre-game video of Zucker, here.

Niklas Backstrom is set to make his first start in goal since suffering a groin injury on March 1 against the Montreal Canadiens. Backstrom backed up Josh Harding against the New York Rangers on Tuesday, but the cage will be all his tonight. Backstrom dressed as a backup for a few games, but suffered a different lower body and missed the Wild’s last road trip.

Justin Falk is expected to return to the blue line after missing nine games with a lower body injury. Falk has practiced with the team this week and is set to see his first game action since March 4.

Tonight also is the Wild’s tribute to the Minnesota North Stars “Back on Home Ice” celebration. More than 30 former North Stars are scheduled to be in attendance. A number of former North Stars were on hand at Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub yesterday, as St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman proclaimed March 29-31 North Stars Alumni Weekend. Check out the Wild TV videos of the North Stars Alumni and the mayor’s proclamation.

Finally, this is probably the coolest thing in gaming (video gaming not gambling) since NHL 94 (the year you could one-time the puck and create your own players. Mike Doyle broke Wayne Gretzky’s single-season scoring records that year, but I digress). EA SPORTS is letting fans pick the EA SPORTS NHL 13 cover player. Mikko Koivu and Niklas Backstrom are going head-to-head in the first round. Awesome right? Well, you can vote one of them through until April 11, here. For the full story on the cover campaign visit Wild.com, here.

Wild Signs Powe, Extends Qualifying Offers To Seven Players

Evening, State of Hockey legion. All of us here in Wild land are recovering from the very busy weekend that was the 2011 NHL Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild has been in preparations for nearly two years and I think it’s safe to say the big event was a huge success. The organization was thrilled with this weekend’s events, especially all of the fans who came to St. Paul to showcase their love of hockey, including the more than 17,000 that attended the Draft Friday and Saturday.

There was certainly plenty of excitement during the two days of the Entry Draft, much of that coming from the hometown team. Click here for the Wild’s Draft Central page, which has stories and video from Wild management and some of the top selections in the Draft. Additionally, Wild radio’s Kevin Falness today spoke to Charlie Coyle, who was a big part of Minnesota’s first-round trade Friday night. Click here to listen to the interview and hear Coyle’s wicked Boston accent.

The 2011 NHL Entry Draft might now be over, but that doesn’t mean the Wild Hockey Operations department is taking a rest. In fact, the Wild made another trade today, acquiring 26-year-old forward Darroll Powe from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Powe is considered a physical player who totaled 17 points (7-10=17) while leading the Flyers with 196 hits this past season. Click here to read the wild.com write up on the trade and here to listen to Powe’s reaction.

The guys in Hockey Ops weren’t done yet, and also used the day to extend qualifying offers to seven players: Justin Falk, Colton Gillies, Jarod Palmer, Jeff Penner, Darroll Powe, James Sheppard and Casey Wellman. The Wild did not tender a qualifying offer to Patrick O’Sullivan.

There isn’t much rest for the weary as the Wild decide whether to sign restricted free agents this week and then jump into the free agency pool starting Friday. Plenty of action to come, hockey fans!

Falk Reassigned To Houston

The Wild is just about to hit the ice at Xcel Energy Center for the first of three practice days before heading to Phoenix on Wednesday. There is a bit of news before that takes place, however. Defenseman Justin Falk has been reassigned to the Houston Aeros. Falk was recalled from Houston on November 23 as insurance for the defensive group with seven games in 11 days. He did not see any action during that callup.

Falk’s departure currently leaves the Wild with six healthy defensemen, including Jared Spurgeon. I hope to have word on Clayton Stoner’s status after today’s practice.

Falk And Kassian Recalled

With one call to Houston, the Minnesota Wild will be getting a lot bigger in advance of its game tomorrow night. You’d think the big, bad Philadelphia Flyers were coming into town.

Tomorrow morning, the Wild will recall 6-foot-5 defenseman Justin Falk and 6-foot-5 winger Matt Kassian. Both will be in Minnesota in time for tomorrow’s tilt with the Flyers, which will also feature the Wild debut of Patrick O’Sullivan.

Falk played in 16 of the Wild’s first 17 games before being reassigned to Houston last week. He played his first game of the season with Houston on Friday, and Aeros General Manager Jim Mill said he was the best defenseman on the ice. He played two more games over the weekend and helped the Aeros to a 2-1 record while notching one assist.

Kassian returns to the Wild after playing two games with the big club earlier this month. He did not register a point, but logged his first NHL fight against Jared Boll of Columbus in his second game. In 17 games with the Aeros, he has a goal and an assist.

In case you’re wondering, the Flyers still have quite a few bruisers in their lineup, including Chris Pronger, Daniel Carcillo and Jody Shelley.

Thursday Practice Update: Richards on Falk, Scandella

Happy Thursday, everyone. Hope you’ve got some big plans tonight to celebrate the birthday of Mr. Stache himself, Cal Clutterbuck. More on that in a bit.

I made a quick stop at practice this morning. On ice, it was drills as usual with the same injured Wild players still missing from action. Off-ice, much of the talk was about the big Wild news of the day, defenseman Justin Falk being assigned to Houston. With Brent Burns returning from his two-game suspension, you knew the Wild was going to make a move to send down one of its eight blueliners, but perhaps it was a little surprising that the move was made this quickly or that the defenseman was in fact Falk.

Falk’s played in all but one game this season, continuously earning praise for his poised play. But as Head Coach Todd Richards said after practice today, Falk’s game “has been slipping a little bit.” Richards quickly added, “It doesn’t mean he was bad, it just means we don’t want our young players sitting around…We’ll get him down and he can play some games and log some big minutes down there and when the opportunity arises again, when the door opens, I’m sure he’ll jump and be good at the opportunity.”

When asked why Falk was chosen over other defenseman, Richards said the following: “[Clayton] Stoner has a little bit different element than Falk does, with the toughness and the grit, so sometimes that leads into the decisions, too.” He added, “It’s circumstances right now. We have eight guys and Scandella’s come up and done a really good job.”

“This is what you want in an organization,” said Richards. “You want young guys pushing for ice time here…to me, that’s what drives teams is that competition for ice times. It’s a healthy competition.”

Richards went on to talk about the three solid games Scandella has had with the expected “surge of adrenaline and excitement” that comes with your NHL debut and making sure his play doesn’t start to drop off. He recalled Claude Noel always saying, “Players are good enough to get here – are they good enough to stay here?”

Richards also noted that the 20-year-old Scandella will have to control his emotions during tomorrow’s game in Detroit. “I’m sure he’s watching [Nicklas] Lidstrom, as a kid, play. And you’re going to be out on the same ice as him. You might be lining up next to him on a faceoff. So, that’s where the shock and the awe comes in a little bit. And you’ve got to get over that.”

After yesterday’s performance, Richards is looking for the whole team to have better control against the Red Wings “in emotion and play.” Richards talked about the Wild’s tendency to have a period of great play, followed by a period of low-caliber hockey, saying, “it can’t be the extremes.”

As for this weekend’s goaltending lineup, Richards said Jose Theodore will start in net against Detroit. He added that for the Rangers contest, “We’ll wait and we’ll see on Saturday.”

Finally, as I mentioned earlier, it’s Cal Clutterbuck’s 23rd birthday today. There wasn’t any confetti or cake around his locker stall this morning, but apparently ClutterStache is showering him with gifts throughout the day.

Heading To Finland?

I’m alone in the stands at Xcel Energy Center right now, and I’m looking at what will closely resemble the team that the Minnesota Wild will be taking to Finland on Thursday night.

First, Pierre-Marc Bouchard is one of the players out there. Todd Richards started off practice by welcoming him back, which was followed by stick-tapping from the entire team. “Butch” is the only skater in a charcoal grey jersey, which obviously means “do not hit unless you want to spend the rest of your career in Siberia.”

Now then, there are five players that are still here that could be considered “question marks,” or guys that were fighting for roster spots. They are forwards Matt Kassian and Casey Wellman, and defensemen Drew Bagnall, Justin Falk and Marco Scandella.

Although we don’t have official word, that likely means everybody who is not on the ice has been sent to Houston. Probably the biggest surprises are Robbie Earl and Nate Prosser. Earl saw a lot of time up here last year, and was one of the best players early in training camp. Prosser was solid in preseason games, but it appears that they want him to get more seasoning in Houston.

The most surprising name has to be Kassian. The rugged winger has turned some heads with his willingness to stick up for teammates and drop the gloves. He’s also shown some offensive skills, getting a couple chances in Saturday’s game against Philadelphia. Stay tuned to more news about today’s roster moves on Wild.com, where we’ll have feedback from Head Coach Todd Richards and General Manager Chuck Fletcher.