There were a lot of bodies taking part in today’s Minnesota Wild practice, with three players on injured reserve joining the healthy regulars on the ice. Greg Zanon, who has missed the last 13 games with a groin injury was a full participant, as were Mike Lundin and Marco Scandella.
Zanon admitted to feeling a little rusty and is still lacking some explosiveness, but said he feels better. Scandella will be in the lineup tomorrow night against Nashville and Niklas Backstrom will be the starting goaltender. One would think Josh Harding gets in a game at some point before this homestand concludes. The best bet is on Monday against Tampa Bay, which is the second of back-to-back home games, a rarity.
Today’s practice was highlighted by the end-of-practice shootout, which has become a great source of entertainment for the players, as well as those in the stands. Today, there were about 100 people (many of them kids) representing last year’s winners in the 3M Excellence In Coaching Awards in the Xcel Energy Center seats.
As usual, the loser of the shootout has to perform some kind of task or embarrassing stunt. Today, Nick Johnson fell in the final round to Greg Zanon, so his “reward” was to go to the penalty box, take off his skates and then walk into the stands in full gear to high-five everybody who was in the seats.
“It turned into an autograph session,” joked Johnson afterward.
It could have been much worse for Johnson. Mike Yeo said the other penalty would have been Johnson having to wear the rust-colored button-up shirt that PR lackey Aaron Sickman was wearing today. Apparently, that was determined to be too cruel to do to anybody.
You can check out the video of Johnson’s high-five session, as well as get a look at the shirt in question here.
Yeo almost got away from today’s media scrum without having to talk about Sidney Crosby’s return last night. On his way out the door, Yeo said, “When all of our defensemen come back, they’ll be expected to put up four points.”