The Minnesota Wild skated at Scottrade Center in St. Louis this afternoon, the day before taking on the Blues. Reminder, the game time was changed to 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network.
Missing from the ice was Matt Cullen, who Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said was held out as a maintenance day, and expects him to play tomorrow.
His absence created a domino effect on the team’s lines in practice. Taking Cullen’s place on the wing with Mikael Granlund and Devin Setoguchi was Pierre-Marc Bouchard. With Bouchard moving up a line, Darroll Powe skated alongside Kyle Brodziak and Cal Clutterbuck. Matt Kassian was on the fourth-line wing with Torrey Mitchell and Zenon Konopka.
After practice, Yeo said he might tinker with the Wild’s second and third lines against the Blues, but didn’t get into specifics on who would be rearranged.
One thing the Wild’s bench boss did note, he’d like to see the team to convert on gritty scoring opportunities. Minnesota generated a number of scoring chances last night, especially early, but was unable to capitalize. The team conducted a number of drills with players crashing the net and trying to bang home rebounds. WildTV caught up to captain Mikko Koivu and he talked about the importance of continually creating chances offensively and how getting into the right frame of mind can have a snowball effect on the offense.
Yeo said that Niklas Backstrom would return between the pipes. He didn’t play against the Blues last season and is 6-6-0 with a 2.65 goals against average, a .904 save percentage and one shutout in 12 starts against St. Louis lifetime.
Jared Spurgeon missed the skate as well, so the defensive pairings were the same as last night’s game, with Matt Dumba subbing into the rotation.