Tag Archives: Pierre-Marc Bouchard

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.

Bouchard And Staubitz Both Return Tonight

Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Brad Staubitz will both be in the lineup tonight against the Edmonton Oilers as they return from their respective suspensions.

It’s a brand new season with new players on both teams, and statistics mean nothing once the puck is dropped. Still, looking at some of these Wild numbers against Edmonton is enough to make you rub your eyes before taking a closer look.

The Wild has won seven in a row against the Oil, and the last 16 straight at Xcel Energy Center. Since the last Oiler win in St. Paul, the Wild has outscored them 58-21 in those games, with 14 of 16 games being decided by two or more goals.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard picked up nine points (2-7=9) in just four games against the Oilers last year, and he now has 10 goals and 28 assists against them in 38 career games against them.

Mikko Koivu put up eight points (2-6=8) against Edmonton last year, and he has three goals and 27 assists in 40 games against them.

Niklas Backstrom is 18-2-1 against the Oilers with a 1.74 goals against average, a .935 save percentage and four shutouts. He has won 14 starts in a row against Edmonton at Xcel Energy Center. Wowza!

Now then, some off ice news for you folks. If you’re a Tweeter and you’re going to be watching tonight’s game in person, at home or online, I want your help for tonight’s live in-game commentary on Wild.com. The best tweets about the game with the hashtag #wildtweetup will earn that Tweeter a pair of tickets to a suite for this Saturday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings. Not too shabby for you, and not too shabby for me, since I can let y’all do the work I’m supposed to be doing.

In the business, we call that a win-win.

You have to be 18 to qualify, and you can find out more here. Good luck!

Finally, help the Wild “Better Halves” in their PJ’s for Patients Drive tonight by bringing new, unworn youth pajamas to the game tonight for local pediatric cancer patients. By doing so, you’ll get a Buy One Get One Free Ticket Voucher for a future 2011-12 Wild game.

Again, a win-win.

Bouchard Ready To Go Tonight

Are you like me? Do you have Butch fever? It’s an affliction that causes those of us affected to lose concentration on all things work related because we’re too flippin’ excited to watch Pierre-Marc Bouchard return to the Wild lineup.

I’ve been shaking uncontrollably, and I’m not ashamed to admit that on more than one occasion today, I’ve told my cubicle mates to pick up their phones and dial 9-1, and then hit one again if I look like I might spontaneously combust.

At today’s morning skate, both Bouchard and coach Todd Richards attempted to quell everybody’s enthusiasm saying that it will take some time for Butch to get into game shape, and get his timing back as he’s eased back into things. I would assume “ease” means going off for two goals and two assists tonight.

I know, I’m a little excited. That’s what happens when you get Butch fever.

Just a couple days ago, I had Spurgeon fever because Jared Spurgeon made his NHL debut. Despite looking like he should be walking to the rink in all his gear while wearing Sorel boots and ordering hot cocoa from the warming shack, Spurgeon had himself a very solid night on Monday in Calgary. He earned himself at least one more game in a Wild uniform tonight. Justin Falk will be a healthy scratch, and Clayton Stoner remains out with an upper body injury.

Chuck Kobasew appears close to returning from his lower body injury, but  Richards said it won’t be tonight. He wants Kobasew to have a few more team practices before getting back out there. Considering the Wild plays three games in four nights beginning tonight, there won’t be a lot of practice time available. If he’s not in by this weekend, you’d have to imagine he returns next Thursday in Phoenix, barring any setbacks.

That should about do it. Don’t hesitate to buy some tickets for tonight’s game and get there early so you get first dibs on an Andrew Brunette Bobblehead. Like his human counterpart, Bobble Bruno lacks blazing speed, but his on-ice vision is remarkable. Just tap his head and you’ll see that even though his head will shake a lot, his eyes stay completely focused. It’s unbelievable.

Bouchard’s Return “On Pause”

As far as morning skates go, today was interesting. Usually, one morning skate looks the same as any other on the ice, as was the case today. But afterward, things were different.

Normally, Todd Richards talks with the media immediately (or close to) after the skate. Today, he went right to his office. This led to all kinds of speculation among the assembled masses that there would be some news about Pierre-Marc Bouchard. There was, although it wasn’t the great news we were hoping for.

Because he is not completely symptom free,  Bouchard’s return is “on pause” according to Todd Richards. Butch spoke with specialist Dr. James Kelly last night, who said it was good that nothing is getting worse, but he shouldn’t start playing yet because he still has symptoms. This obviously wasn’t the news that anybody wanted to hear, but it could have been worse. Both Bouchard and Richards still think the return is close, but just not as close as perhaps was speculated earlier in the week.

Bouchard won’t do anything different. He will continue to participate fully in drills and absorb contact. He will just be waiting a bit longer for game action.

That wasn’t the only reason for chaos today. First, Calgary is in town, so any Canadian team is going to have a large media contingent. Many of them circled around Eric Nystrom, who will face his former team for the first time tonight. Nystrom, who will be on Wild TV later today, is a great quote. I asked him the best advice to give a guy like Matt Kassian to get rid of the nerves of playing his first NHL game. He said to go out and kill somebody, but not enough to get a penalty or your debut could be very short.

Kassian will be in the lineup tonight, along with Cody Almond who was recalled yesterday. Marek Zidlicky skated today and will be a gametime decision.

Chuck Kobasew, who has been dealing with a nagging issue in his lower body, will be out tonight and tomorrow in Columbus. That means there will be a whole lot of line juggling tonight. Cal Clutterbuck will join Andrew Brunette and Mikko Koivu. Matt Cullen is going to move to the wing and play with Kyle Brodziak and Martin Havlat. Casey Wellman will play with Nystrom and John Madden. And the black and blue line will be Brad Staubitz, Almond and Kassian.

Bouchard To Meet With Doctors Today

If you’re sick of hearing every detail about Pierre-Marc Bouchard, you’re not alone. Bouchard himself is getting tired of answering questions about his return. But until he does, we’re looking for positive signs and there was another one today.

Bouchard will meet with a doctor today, and assuming that goes well, he could get clearance to play this weekend. Todd Richards said that if he does get the green light, and Butch feels ready, he will likely be sent to Houston for a rehab assignment.

We hope to find out the results of Butch’s meeting today, but if not, we’ll know at practice tomorrow.

As you know, Colton Gillies was already sent to Houston today, but that doesn’t mean anybody else is close to returning. Richards said the team would make a call up today, and while he didn’t say who that would be, all signs are pointing to it being Matt Kassian, literally. His nameplate was on the locker stall that Gillies previously occupied.

Not much news other than that. Today was an optional practice, so about half the team was on the ice. All of the players took part in a team autograph signing in which they all put their Herbie Hancock’s on hundreds of sticks, jerseys and photos.

Practice Follow-Up

Carly Peters, Wild digital media coordinator, here. Just wanted to give a quick follow-up to Glen Andresen’s earlier blog with some details from today’s practice.

Thanks to an event at Xcel Energy Center tonight, the team had a quick video session at the arena and then bussed to the suburbs for an off-site practice this morning. After an optional skate yesterday, it wasn’t surprising to see Todd Richards keep his team out on the ice for more than an hour.

Richards utilized many different types of drills, a lot focusing on breakouts from the Wild zone. The players seemed pretty into their work today, shouting with pride and banging their sticks when they were on the winning side of a drill, even toward the end of the skate.

As Glen mentioned in the previous blog, both Chuck Kobasew and Guillaume Latendresse missed practice with groin injuries. Kobasew is day-to-day but Richards said Latendresse will miss tomorrow night’s game against the Capitals. Cam Barker was back at practice, but is still questionable for tomorrow night.

Richards said Gui had a MRI on his groin yesterday and it showed “something wrong” but that he still needed to speak with Head Athletic Therapist Don Fuller to get all the details. When asked if he thought Latendresse would miss more than one game, Richards said “probably” before later adding that he didn’t think the injury is too worrisome; he just thinks Gui needs to be shut down for a little bit but won’t be missing weeks.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard will not be an option for the Wild tomorrow so the team may decide to call up a player from Houston. Who that player might be has yet to be determined.

Richards also said Backstrom will start in net tomorrow against Washington.

As for lines, they remained in tact, with Bouchard taking Latendresse’s spot alongside Cullen and Havlat. Richards did say that he would probably put Kobasew in Latendresse’s spot if he is available to play tomorrow.

We’ll pass along more updates on the lineup after morning skate tomorrow, however, the Capitals play in Carolina tonight, so it’s likely they won’t take the ice until pre-game warm ups.

Nothing But Smiles And Laughter

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.