The Wild had a very optional skate today at Xcel Energy Center with nine skaters and two goaltenders on the ice in full gear. Jason Zucker, who left last night’s game after taking a hit from Anaheim’s Corey Perry, went on to the ice and skated in sweatpants towards the end of the ice session.
After the skate, Zucker said that he suffered an upper body injury from the hit, but didn’t go into any deeper details. Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said he didn’t think that Zucker ‘would be allowed to go out on the ice if he had been diagnosed with a concussion,’ but didn’t elaborate on what was ailing the winger. WildTV has Zucker updating the media on his status.
With the Colorado Avalanche coming to Saint Paul tomorrow night, Yeo said that he’d have to speak with Zucker and the training staff before making a decision on the forward’s availability for the contest. But, after a scary hit last night, it was obviously a good to see the forward take the ice today.
For the hit, the NHL has suspended Perry for four games.
Although he wasn’t on the ice for today’s optional skate, the Minnesota bench boss talked about a number of topics today including the difficulty in finding practice time and balancing it with the proper rest between these intense, playoff-atmosphere games.
When the compacted NHL schedule came out, it really didn’t seem all that bad. But now that we’re in the thick of things, the fatigue has started to set in, even for the Lighthouse. However, fatigue is one thing, while taking a shot for the team is another. While enjoying the optional skate from his usual spot in the stands behind the net near the Zamboni tunnel, Wild radio play-by-play announcer Bob Kurtz took an errant puck to head. Kurtz was leaking blood and had to leave to get the three-inch gash stitched up. We joked that he was considered day-to-day with an upper body injury, but he was in good spirits before leaving for the hospital and will be back on the air for tomorrow night’s game.
We thought that we’d have a nice and easy optional skate to cover, but our media was taking pucks to the head and then the Wild made a couple of roster moves to add to the festivities.
First, the Wild signed veteran defenseman Brett Clark to a one-year contact. The blueliner will bring more than 600 NHL games experience to Minnesota’s back end. Both Yeo and General Manager Chuck Fletcher like his poise and ability to be slotted into any situation. The move also adds healthy competition amongst the defenders, which is always a positive. Clark and Fletcher both spoke on the PONDcast this afternoon.
The Wild also activated Darcy Kuemper off Injured Reserve and reassigned him to the Houston Aeros. The 22-year-old went 1-2-0 with a 2.22 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage in four games with Minnesota. The goaltender skated in today’s optional practice before departing for Houston.
The other skaters on the ice today were Cal Clutterbuck, Charlie Coyle, Justin Falk, Mike Rupp, Zenon Konopka, Nate Prosser, Tom Gilbert, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Clayton Stoner. Goaltender Matt Hackett also was in net taking shots.
Rest is not an option tomorrow as the Wild host the Avs at 7 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center.
Special Lighthouse birthday well wishes go out to Carly Peters, Wild media relations coordinator, who provides detailed stats for the blog and Wild.com, and helps keep the bloodthirsty media at bay.