Hey everyone. Hope you’re on a sugar high from Holiday treats like we are around the Wild offices. It’s just so good, what’s the harm in one more, right?
Speaking of holiday treats, the Wild’s holiday skating party for the players, coaches and their families is taking place as I type. Since the get together was scheduled for early evening on the Xcel Energy Center ice, practice was moved from the morning to a 3 p.m, start.
It could’ve just been an observation during my own afternoon lull, but practice seemed to have a pretty high tempo today. The players were skating around at a fast pace and battling with some nice intensity. Even Todd Richards seemed to be a little more into practice, pushing the forwards around as he was playing D during a drill among other things. It was a nice sight to see as the guys smiled after two tough division wins.
Practice itself was basic drills, before ending with a rotating 3-on-3 scrimmage using one end of the ice. Marco Scandella scored the winning third goal for his team to end the day. There was also a pretty funny, if not hold-your-breath, moment towards the end of the scrimmage when Brent Burns and Mikko Koivu battled along the boards like it was Stanley Cup Final. Mikko went down pretty hard (don’t worry, nothing TOO hard) and afterwards they could be seen with their typical practice faces: Burns a goofy grin and Mikko a stern, straight face.
After practice, Todd Richards addressed a variety of topics with the media. Most importantly, he first updated the status of Nick Schultz, who took a hit to the head in Saturday’s game in Calgary. Schultz was the only active Wild player missing from practice yesterday and today. But in some good news after it was mentioned that Schultz might have a possible concussion yesterday, Richards said he skated on his own yesterday and it was “positive” afterwards. “I don’t think it’s anything serious,” said Richards, who added that Schultz will not play in Thursday’s game in Denver and will continue to be “day-to-day” after Christmas.
Richards also praised the performance of Kyle Brodziak, who has been great between Martin Havlat and Pierre-Marc Bouchard, making room for the two skilled players. Like yesterday, Richards again applauded his rookie defenseman, specifically Jared Spurgeon’s intelligent play and Clayton Stoner, who he said has had his best games of the season in the last two Wild contests. Richards said that for now, he’s happy with the way the rookies have played on the blueline and isn’t expecting changes on the blueline for Thursday.
Richards talked briefly about Thursday’s opponent, the Colorado Avalanche. With a bevy of wins lately, he talked about the Avs being at the top of their game right now and an offensive juggernaut with the most goals in the league. “They’ve got a lot of things going for themselves right now, said Richards. “They’re feeling pretty good.”
A few cool things to check out on Wild.com today, too. First, I think it’s pretty obvious who you should vote for in the latest matchup in the battle for the Capital of the State of Hockey. Sorry, Baudette, but Keith Ballard isn’t THAT impressive. Go Jags 🙂
It was also announced today that the Houston Aeros will play a game against the Peoria Rivermen on Feb. 13 at Xcel Energy Center. Wild players will sign autographs before the game that will give you a chance to see some of the top Wild prospects in action.
Finally, check out this great video on the new Christmas coal, which features students from the St. Paul class Wild staffers volunteer with. Be sure to show all the naughty kids you know and they’ll quickly change their tune, I’m sure.
Glen Andresen is heading up to his beloved Duluth tomorrow for the holidays so I’ll be back with another practice update tomorrow. Have a great night.