A Real Road Trip On The Horizon

The Minnesota Wild hit the Xcel Energy Center ice sheet for the last time this week today in a workmanlike practice. Tomorrow, the team will hold an off-site practice before boarding a plane for the first “real” road trip of the season. More on that later.

While yesterday’s practice was filled with hoots and hollers and laughs, Todd Richards promised a harder day today. And he got it. While the team is still obviously carrying around a deserved feeling of optimism, things were much more serious today. As Richards said, “It started off (fun), but I think as the work started, it got quiet quick, which is what usually happens.”

Richards thought his team lacked some energy today, but admitted it’s tough when there are still two days before the next game, which is all players are really thinking about.

There wasn’t too much news surrounding practice today. Antti Miettinen practiced again and will meet with a doctor today. All signs are pointing toward him making a return to the lineup very soon. As for other injury updates, there’s not much. The hope is that Marek Zidlicky starts skating on his own tomorrow, and Guillaume Latendresse and Chuck Kobasew skated on their own today, but neither appears ready to go for Thursday.

There may be a callup necessary, but the Houston Aeros are in Abbottsford, which is way up in British Columbia. So whoever gets a call is going to have some serious traveling ahead of him before getting to Atlanta.

And that brings me to the “road trip” portion of today’s Lighthouse post. The Wild has played four road games, winning two, losing one and dropping one in a shootout. But the first road game was in Finland. The next two were back-to-backs in Edmonton and Vancouver. And the last one was Saturday’s win in Columbus, in which the team was in Ohio for less than 24 hours.

This week’s trip is a real trip, and the Lighthouse will be shining its light on the Southeast. Some of the markets we’re visiting have a reputation for not being hockey hotbeds. It will be my mission to prove that hockey is alive and well in the dirty South, no matter what attendance figures (or as they say in the south, figgers) might say.

It certainly won’t be an easy trip. The Atlanta Thrashers and Tampa Bay Lightning are both playing well, and currently sitting in the East’s top eight. The Florida Panthers are wallowing at the bottom of the Southeast Division, but I’m sure they’ll get a morale boost when former Sun Sentinel beat writer Mike Russo brings his sunny disposition to town. As Wild Radio producer Kevin Falness likes to remind everyone within earshot, Mike actually used to cover the Panthers when he was in Florida.

A couple other nuggets before shutting off the Lighthouse beacon:

  • Former North Star Dino Ciccarelli was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame last night. Here’s a cool piece on his career, followed by a snippet from his speech. Here’s an interview with Dino that he gave Falness late last week. And here’s the legendary Scotty Bowman talking about Dino.
  • Have you noticed that your UMD Bulldogs are currently ranked number two in the nation after a thrilling overtime victory over North Dakota on Saturday? If you want to see a game-winning OT winner that’s as pretty as they come, watch this video. And unless you’re a Sioux fan, you’ll particularly enjoy the crowd shot at 1:01 of the video.
  • And finally, the most famous moustache in the Twin Cities prior to Cal Clutterbuck’s taking the Twitterverse by storm, will be in the building on November 20th. Carl Pavano and his ‘stache will be doing the “Let’s Play Hockey” declaration prior to the game against the New York Rangers. What are the odds he’s still a Twin at that point?
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