Optional Skate; Follow Up On Stoner’s Masterton Nomination

Head Coach Mike Yeo was in high spirits at optional practice, a day after beating the Vancouver Canucks, 2-0.

“To be honest, not much has changed from last night,” said Yeo with a smile.

Yeo didn’t go out on the ice with the handful of Wild players skating, but among the participants were Mikko Koivu and Niklas Backstom.  The local press tried to pump info from the bench boss about their availability for Thursday, but to no avail. Both of the players’ statuses remain unchanged: to be determined.

With two days off until Minnesota hosts the Calgary Flames on Thursday, it would be tough to imagine Yeo would go with Backstrom after Josh Harding’s 33-save, shutout win. But, we probably won’t know who is in net till Thursday’s morning skate. The Wild TV video of Yeo addressing the media will be up shortly.

Players who didn’t skate went through an off ice workout.

Among those on the ice was Erik Christensen, who probably wants to keep what he has going, going. After the skate, Christensen spoke at length about his recent play and how simplifying his game has paid dividends. Not only does he have four goals in his the last four games, but his play has seen a spike in confidence and assertiveness. See the Wild TV video of Christensen, here.

Yesterday, it was announced that Clayton Stoner was nominated for the Bill Masterton Trophy, awarded to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the sport of hockey. Well, that description pretty much epitomizes Stoner and his career in hockey. Yeo said that, “Any guy who’s been around Stony has a lot of respect to him…he’s the type of guy you root for.” Stoner spoke with Wild TV about the nomination and the adversities he’s endured during his career including the tragic off-season loss of his older brother, here.

If you’re wondering why today’s skate was optional, look no further than the schedule. This is the only two-day break the Wild has for the remainder of the season. Starting Thursday, Minnesota plays every other day to close out the season: 10 games in 17 days.

Finally, Houston Aeros goaltender Joe Fallon was selected as the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Mar. 18.

Fallon made four starts during a critical week for Houston and led the team to its first four-game winning streak of the season, allowing just five goals on 125 shots. During the week, Fallon posted a 1.20 goals against average and a .960 save percentage.



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