Wednesday Practice Update; Backs To Start Thursday

Good afternoon, Wild fans!

The Wild returned to the ice at Xcel Energy Center about 14 hours after clinching a much-needed win in St. Louis last night. While I’m sure there was some relief among the players and staff after Jose Theodore turned aside the final attempt in the shootout, the team was in no way celebrating today.

Head Coach Todd Richards might have summed it up best in his post-practice talk with the media: “Nobody’s happy where we’re at, with everything that went on over the last two weeks. I think we’ll always have that, we’ll always be thinking about these two weeks and really trying to connect the dots and what happened, because we’re a better team than how we’ve been playing.”

Still, the team isn’t spending too much time looking back when it still has games ahead. After last night’s win, Mikko Koivu talked about bringing this type of performance back to St. Paul, saying the team owed to the fans to play better hockey on home ice. Today, Richards said the team has a lot of pride and is striving to give fans a better performance. The head coach was happy with what he saw from his team against the Blues and is looking for the Wild to continue that effort tomorrow night.

Click here to watch the video of Todd Richards’ talk with the media this afternoon.

As far as today’s skate, it was a fairly typical practice. Despite missing last night’s game with a leg injury, Chuck Kobasew practiced today and, as Richards said after the skate, “more than likely will be OK to play” against the Oilers. Cam Barker and James Sheppard also joined the healthy players out on the ice.

Richards said he will have to talk to his staff to determine the lineup for tomorrow’s game, whether Kobasew plays, Wellman is reassigned, or another forward comes out. He did say that Niklas Backstrom will start tomorrow against the Oilers, which isn’t surprising since Backs is 13-0-0 against Edmonton in St. Paul. Yeah, that’s not too shabby.

In addition to the on-ice stuff tomorrow, you’ll want to come down because the game against the Oilers starts the 2011 Wild Fan Celebration. All fans in attendance will have a chance to win the jerseys off the players’ backs, which will be presented to the winning fans on ice following the game. Get all those details here. Additionally, tomorrow’s game will be the final night for the Wild wives and girlfriends “Our Favorite Things” basket auction. I’ve seen some of baskets, and even if you didn’t care about the player-autographed items, you’d still want to bid on one for the sheer number of cool items in them. Get the details on the auction here.

Finally, a special thank you to all the fans who came out to the Mall of America for the Wild Interactive Viewing Party last night along with FS North, Best Buy and SONY. I was busy writing the live, in-game commentary, but it looked like everyone was having a great time and I was glad to see Wild jerseys take over the MOA. Have a good afternoon, all!

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