Tag Archives: Marco Scandella

Cullen Approaching 1,000th NHL Game

To see Matt Cullen skating around at today’s Minnesota Wild practice, you might think that he was just starting a National Hockey League career, not on the verge of playing in his 1,000th NHL game.

However, the 35-year-old – who still comes to the rink with the zeal of players half his age – will hit the milestone tomorrow night when the Wild plays the San Jose Sharks at Xcel Energy Center.

“It’s kind of funny to think that I’m that old already,” Cullen joked. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and certainly more than I ever could have dreamt of and to be able to do it at home is something special.”

The former Moorhead Spud star went on to play college hockey at St. Cloud State University for two seasons before making his NHL debut with the Anaheim Ducks in 1998.

“My first game was in Maple Leaf Garden,” Cullen remembered. “What stands out is that I lost the first faceoff against Mats Sundin right back to their point, and they shot it and the goalie saved it.”

Cullen’s line was immediately changed after the play.

“It was a short shift,” he said with a laugh. “It doesn’t seem like that long ago, that’s the funny thing.”

Playing all those games, Cullen is still humble and has perspective on his career, “I realize how lucky I am to be able to do this and I enjoy it everyday.”

Head Coach Mike Yeo and teammates talk about Cullen’s accomplishment, in a Wild TV video, here.

After practice, Yeo addressed Marco Scandella’s reassignment to Houston earlier today. With seven healthy defensemen on the Wild’s roster, Yeo said, “He’s a young player – doesn’t have to clear waivers – can go to the minors and its pretty easy for us to focus still on his development and make sure we give him a chance to go down and play some games and get his confidence back.”

“It’s a little bit easier to make this decision and handle it this way with a guy like that.”

Finally, Pierre-Marc Bouchard (lower body) again didn’t practice with the team today. He hasn’t skated since playing against Vancouver on January 4. Yeo said that Bouchard was going to get “checked out today,” so we should know more about his status tomorrow.

Scandella And Zanon Return To Practice; Wild About Children

The Wild has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. With solid goaltending, stingy defense and timely goal scoring, the Wild sits atop the NHL standings. And with Thanksgiving this week, the team looks like it could be adding a couple more plates at the dinner table.

The Wild got an extra helping of defense at practice as Marco Scandella (concussion) and Greg Zanon (groin) both skated with the team today. Head Coach Mike Yeo expects Mike Lundin (back) to rejoin the club tomorrow and begin practicing, after a two-game rehab stint with the Houston Aeros.

Zanon, who has been out since Oct. 20, didn’t stay on the ice for the entire practice, but Yeo said that as long as there are no setbacks he would continue to skate with the team until fully healthy. Zanon has been out since Oct. 20.

Scandella has missed four games and his status is still undetermined, but with the team sending Kris Fredheim back to Houston on Saturday, his return could be right around the corner. He participated in all of the team’s drills at a full speed, which included some light contact. However, the team can wait until Wednesday before making a decision about his status on the injured reserve.

As for tinkering with the Wild’s league-leading defense, Yeo said: “Let’s get them back, let’s get them in shape, let’s get them feeling the puck and looking like they’re 100 percent and ready to come back into the lineup and then we’ll make those decisions.”

In the spirit of the season, the Wild will host “Wild About Children,” presented by West Bend, tonight at the Landmark Center in Saint Paul. The entire Wild roster will drop their gloves and pick up the serving trays,  and wait on nearly 275 dinner guests. The night benefits Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota with several fundraising efforts, including live and silent auctions.

Scandella Breaks Finger; Prosser Recalled

Defenseman Marco Scandella had his finger broken when he blocked a shot by Columbus’ Derek Dorsett on Saturday. Shortly after the game’s conclusion, the Wild recalled Nate Prosser, who will make his season debut tomorrow against the Montreal Canadiens.

Prosser has posted 8 goals and 15 assists through 68 games this season. He appeared in the Wild’s final three games last season and notched one assist.

The Wild remains short on defenseman with Marek Zidlicky still dealing with a lower body injury.

As a reminder, tomorrow’s game against Montreal will be played at 5:00 p.m. The game was originally scheduled for 6:00.

Injury Updates From St. Paul

Good afternoon from St. Paul, where there were some exciting injury updates this morning. As I was working on the game preview for tonight’s Wild game in St. Louis, I got an email from Wild PR guru Ryan Stanzel letting me know goalie Josh Harding would be skating in full gear this morning for the first time since preseason.

After hustling to the rink, I checked in with Hards, who informed me that he got back from the doctor and just had to tape a stick before he’d suit up. As I was watching Harding practice at Xcel Energy Center, I couldn’t help but think of the irony that he is finally back in full gear the same day the Wild face the Blues, the team he injured his knee against in preseason action.

Also making some news on the injury front was defenseman Marco Scandella, who skated for the first time since getting hit in the head by a puck on Jan. 14. While he did not wear full gear, opting for a sweat suit and helmet, it was good to see him out on the ice since he’s been sidelined with concussion symptoms.

You can see video of Scandella going up against Harding (green jersey) this morning on the Wild Facebook Page.

Harding and Scandella were joined on the ice by Marek Zidlicky, Guillaume Latendresse, James Sheppard and Wild Strength and Conditioning Coach Chris Pietrzak-Wegner, who manned the net opposite Harding.

As for the Wild net in St. Louis, Jose Theodore will get the start, while Niklas Backstrom will be in goal against the Blues tomorrow in St. Paul. Get all the details of tonight’s game in the preview here.

Of course, tomorrow’s game is the finale of this year’s Hockey Day Minnesota. The annual event will be another day-long celebration of the game we all love. Check out all of the HDM content here.

Finally, congratulations to Jason Sprague of Vadnais Heights for winning the Wild Backyard Rinks Contest, presented by The Home Depot. And speaking of outdoor hockey rinks, the Wild announced today it will hold an outdoor practice for the first time in team history. Fans are welcome to attend the practice at the Guidant John Rose MN OVAL in Roseville on Feb. 19. Get those details here.

Harding Skates; Wild Heads East

It was a very low-key morning down at Xcel Energy Center today, but the media assembled got some much needed excitement when Josh Harding walked past and announced he skated earlier today. It was in fact the first time Harding has gotten on skates since his knee surgery a few months ago, and even if he only skated for a bit in sweats, it’s still means he’s nearly a full month ahead of schedule to return from the torn ACL/MCL he suffered in his right knee during the preseason. Harding said he’s never counted himself out for this season and continues to work just to get back in the lineup.

Since he’s back on the ice, Harding now has a stall in the Wild locker room for the first time this regular season:

Harding was all smiles as he talked with the media and said the skate “felt good” but also added that “you’ve got to take it easy, you can’t over push it.” When asked if he’d be returning in a few weeks, he answered, “I’d love to say, ‘Yeah,’ but it obviously just depends on how everything goes and you’ve got to be careful with it…we’re just going to take it week by week.” Harding joked of good friend James Sheppard’s return from injury, saying, “I’m trying to beat him back.”

As for the Wild players not on injured reserve, six players joined Assistant Coaches Rick Wilson and Darby Hendrickson for a optional practice before the Wild flies to New Jersey early this afternoon. Perhaps most noticeably, Marco Scandella was on the ice after missing last night’s game because of an illness. He was joined by Clayton Stoner, Brad Staubitz, Patrick O’Sullivan, Cal Clutterbuck and Jared Spurgeon.

In some other news, Niklas Backstrom declared himself good to go with no lasting effects of the collision with Scandella in practice last week. Backstrom told the media that at this level you have to practice how you play and the collision was “just part of the game.” He added that Scandella’s “a great guy” and he holds no ill will about the collision.

As for the lineups for the Wild’s contests on the East Coast this week, it is still unknown who will start because Todd Richards was not available to talk with the media this morning. But lucky for you, Wild.com brainiac Glen Andresen is traveling with the team on this road trip, so he’ll have all the lineup details for you this week, as well as some cool other features for wild.com.

Until Glen posts his first report from New Joisey, here’s today’s PONDcast from Kevin Falness to get you through the day.

Finally, don’t forget to watch the USA-Canada showdown in the semifinals of the World Junior Championship from Buffalo, N.Y., tonight on NHL Network at 6:30 p.m. CT. Good news for the Yanks: Wild prospect Jason Zucker and Jeremy Morin are both expected back in the U.S. lineup. It might not be a gold-medal matchup, but any game between the Canadians and Americans should be incredibly entertaining, especially during World Juniors. I couldn’t get Brad Bombardir to make an apparel bet again since he ended up having to wear my USA Hockey scarf the day after the U.S. gold last year, and Wild Equipment Manager Tony DaCosta wavered before refusing to commit, too. Looks like we’ve got some Canadians in St. Paul who aren’t too confident in the outcome! GO USA!

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.

Scandella Will Debut Tonight

I’ll be honest, I’ve seen better Minnesota Wild games than the one I watched last night in a sparse Philips Arena press box. But I got a text from a couple friends that already started predicting a doomsday for the Wild (I won’t reveal their names because that seems to be the new trend started by the Chicago Sun Times). Really? We’re going to get upset over one loss after a three-game win streak and four key players still missing from the lineup?

I think we need to step back a bit and realize that there will be clunkers. Every team has them. The Blackhawks had them last year. The Penguins had them the year before. The Wild gets right back at it tonight, and with a win, all that remains from last night’s game is a scoresheet, which unfortunately we have to keep for our records.

Now then, Marco Scandella will make his NHL debut tonight, which is exciting, because I really think this guy could end up being a star defenseman in the years to come. I don’t want to put to much pressure on a kid that’s 20 years old, and I realize that very few young defensemen come in and are dominant, with Drew Doughty being one of the few exceptions. But sometimes, you just have that feeling after watching a kid play, and he has that look of a big, multi-faceted blueliner. I’m excited for the Scandella era, even if it only lasts a game or two before Marek Zidlicky returns.

Todd Richards had an entertaining media scrum today, poking fun at a couple of the media folks assembled. He was asked about playing with current Florida Panther Darcy Hordichuk when they were teammates with the Orlando Solar Bears. Richards had a big smile on his face, and then alluded to how fearless (or possibly crazy?) “Hordy” was. He said, “Youtube his fights against Mel Angelstatd. Honest to (Goodness), they might be two of the best fights you’ll ever see. Richards wasn’t lying. Here’s Round 1 and here’s Round 2. Wow!

That’s it for now!