The Minnesota Wild wrapped up practice at Xcel Energy Center today, and while the team has been struggling and four new players are on their way up, it was a spirited outing today. Head Coach Mike Yeo split the team up into a white squad and a green squad, and ran drills that pitted the two teams against each other.
Team Green was the winner, but Yeo refused to say what the losing team’s penalty would be. It was nice to see some laughing, and trash talking and goal celebrations, however. It’s pretty clear that the team is taking a negative time and trying to turn things around by staying positive and having fun together.
But there will be changes. Matt Kassian, Jed Ortmeyer, Nate Prosser and Chad Rau are all on their way up, while Casey Wellman and David McIntyre have been sent back to Houston. Yeo didn’t get into specifics about who would be in the lineup tomorrow, but he made it clear that they need to change things up, and this was one way to do that.
Maybe the best sight at today’s practice was seeing Mikko Koivu firing pucks in the shooting cage near the Zamboni tunnel. Koivu was being monitored by Head Athletic Therapist Don Fuller. I never too the MCAT test, but I would think it’s a good sign that Koivu is already shooting pucks less than a week after sustaining his upper body injury.
Matt Cullen and Mike Lundin both talked with Wild TV today about Hockey Day Minnesota and their memories as kids playing outdoors. Yeo also spoke about the culture of hockey in Minnesota, and actually said the whole team views tomorrow as a big day, with people celebrating hockey. He’s hoping the team can build off that and come out with a big performance against the former North Stars tomorrow.
Prior to the game, there will be a ceremony to honor Matt Cullen, who played his 1,000th NHL game on January 10. He’ll be given a silver stick that he said he hopes his three-year-old doesn’t get a hold of and start whacking things around the house with it.