The ice at Xcel Energy Center during today’s Wild practice was a little more crowded, and that’s a good thing.
Mikko Koivu’s status hasn’t changed much from yesterday and the Wild hasn’t ruled out the captain for tomorrow’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes at Xcel Energy Center. However, Head Coach Mike Yeo and Koivu will discuss how he has responded to contact before making a decision, so we won’t know until tomorrow. Koivu has missed 13 games since re-aggravating an upper body injury. Obviously, we would all love to see Koivu back in the lineup, but Yeo said that he doesn’t want to risk further injury. Koivu was participating in battle drills and said it felt good to begin to get his timing back. View the Wild TV video of Koivu speaking with the media, here.
Matt Cullen, Devin Setoguchi and Josh Harding were back on the ice after missing yesterday’s practice. Setoguchi was off yesterday for maintenance and is expected to play tomorrow. Yeo said that for Cullen and Harding, like Koivu, it would be their decisions for tomorrow. However, Cullen said his leg was definitely better than a couple of days ago, but didn’t drop any hints as to his availability for tomorrow.
Niklas Backstrom also is nearing return and feels “almost normal.” He has skated with the team the last two days and said that he is feeling much better. Yeo said that he will speak with Backstrom and would decide his status at that time. So, no word on which goaltender will start or backup tomorrow against the Hurricanes. Backstrom spoke with Wild TV, here.
Check out the Wild TV video of Yeo talking about the players and practice, here.
If you didn’t get a chance to see the first day of the WCHA Final Five, you missed a couple of doozies. In the afternoon game, Wild prospect Jason Zucker scored the overtime winner to lead the Denver Pioneers over the Michigan Tech Huskies, 3-2. In the evening game, St. Cloud State University suffered a 4-1 loss to North Dakota.
Today, Denver goes against the defending NCAA National Champs, Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs. The University of Minnesota and Wild draftee, Erik Haula, face UND in the evening tilt. If you’re not a fan of college hockey, this is the best tournament to jump right into the mix. I suggest you tune in, or better yet, get to Xcel Energy Center and take in a game.
Out east, Wild draft-pick Steve Michalek was named to the ECAC Hockey All-Rookie Team. The Harvard goaltender posted a 2.77 goals-against average and .906 save percentage against league opponents.