As I start typing this, there are exactly two hours remaining until the NHL’s trade deadline passes. As of now, all has been quiet on the Wild front. There is always the chance that changes because of the flurry of activity that usually comes with the final hour or so.
Don’t forget that a post-deadline Q & A with Chuck Fletcher will be posted on Wild.com by 3:30 p.m.
But in the Wild locker room today, there didn’t seem to be a lot of trepidation. Guys are surely thinking about it, but most seem pretty relaxed and excited about what lies ahead with the remaining 20 games and the guys in that locker room.
League wide, there hasn’t been much to talk about so far. Probably the biggest news is the Blue Jackets unloading original member Rostislav Klesla in a deal for Scottie Upshall and Sami Lepisto from Phoenix. Many of you know Klesla as the player selected by Columbus immediately after the Wild selected Marian Gaborik with the third overall pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.
What makes this deal even more interesting is that it features two teams in the Western Conference, both with a very real chance of making the playoffs.
As for tonight’s game, Kyle Brodziak will return to the lineup and rejoin Martin Havlat and Pierre-Marc Bouchard on a line. Warren Peters, who was recalled today after being sent to Houston on Saturday, will center the fourth line.
On the injury front, the Wild will await word on Mikko Koivu, who is getting an update on his broken finger today. Koivu has been held off the ice thus far, even though he could skate. The last thing the Wild wants is for him to catch an edge and injure his finger while hitting the ice.
Guillaume Latendresse left practice yesterday due to some pain associated with his midsection, but Todd Richards only called it a setback. He still said he fully expects to get Latendresse back at some point before the end of the regular season.
Cam Barker will remain out because of his upper body injury.
We need a new word other than “big” to describe games like tonight’s. But you should know the drill right now. Every night, the Wild is battling a team that is within one or two points in the standings, and tonight, the boys will face a team they’re tied with in the standings.
The Wild will finally get to feast on an Eastern Conference diet after tonight’s game. Minnesota has watched Western Conference teams fun roughshod on the East in recent weeks, while the Wild hasn’t played outside the conference since that three-game Eastern sweep of New Jersey, Boston and Pittsburgh from January 4 through January 8.