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.