After a weekend of Disney on Ice, Xcel Energy Center again had hockey players at the rink. Following a 4-1 win in Phoenix Saturday night and a day off yesterday, the NHL-leading Minnesota Wild was back in the State of Hockey for an unusually crowded practice. This is good news for Wild fans as some familiar faces returned to the ice.
Guillaume Latendresse and Marek Zidlicky, both missing significant time with concussions, were full participants in today’s skate. Latendresse has missed 14 games and Zidlicky has been out for 11. Also back on the ice were Josh Harding (upper body) and Justin Falk (upper body).
“No passengers around here,” Head Coach Mike Yeo said about the returning players. “We got guys back out there working hard and good to see them back.”
Cal Clutterbuck (lower body) skated with Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley, and it looks like he will make his return on the top line, barring any setbacks.
“I’ve been anxious to get in,” Clutterbuck said. “I thought I was going to get in in Phoenix, but I wasn’t feeling 100 percent.”
Clutterbuck is the only expected addition to the lineup for tomorrow night’s game. The team departs for Winnipeg later today. The Wild looks to extend its current seven-game win streak and seven-game road win streak tomorrow night against the Jets.
“Great to see Gui, Zid and Falky, but today is their first practice,” Yeo said. “Lets give them a couple opportunities with the team to execute at game speed.
“Going into tomorrows game, Clutter will be the one big change.”
Devin Setoguchi was noticeably missing from practice, and rookie goaltender Matt Hackett, who was named the NHL’s Second Star of the week, left the ice after a slap shot hit him in the side of the mask and didn’t return. Hackett is the second Wild player to be named on of the NHL’s Three Stars this season. Nice way to congratulate the 21-year-old. Yeo said he would be comfortable with Harding in a backup role if Hackett were unable to make the trip.
While Hackett was setting NHL records – he established an NHL record for longest shutout streak to start a career at 102 minutes, 48 seconds – Darcy Kuemper stepped up in Houston and was awarded the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week ending Dec. 11. Kuemper made four starts and allowed only four goals on 134 shots, posting a 2-0-2 record, a 0.96 goals-against average and a .970 save percentage.
Apparently the Wild is deeper than the Mariana Trench at every position.