Tag Archives: Clayton Stoner

Zidlicky Back at Practice; Schultz Family Addition

The Wild was back in action Friday morning, albeit at a suburban ice rink thanks to Kenny Chesney’s concert at Xcel Energy Center tonight. That didn’t stop the Wild from having an intense practice that lasted more than an hour and saw the team work on quite a few things, including breakouts and ending the day with physical battles around the net.

The big news this morning was that Marek Zidlicky returned to practice for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury nearly two weeks ago in Vancouver. Zidlicky’s addition was dampened by the fact that Cal Clutterbuck was ill and did not practice. Whether Cal and Marek can play tomorrow, or the Wild goes with seven defensemen, or the the team needs to recall a player from Houston (Warren Peters cleared waivers and was reassigned to Houston today) will all be determined tomorrow.

“I feel much better today, so we’ll see tomorrow,” said Zidlicky. “I felt well. I felt much better. So, I’ll try a hard practice tomorrow morning and will see after it.”

While Head Coach Todd Richards couldn’t yet determine if Zidlicky or Clutterbuck would be in the lineup against St. Louis, he did say that none of the team’s current injured players – Barker, Harding, Latendresse, Scandella and Sheppard – would play tomorrow.

Beyond the Wild trying to end its homestand with a win, tomorrow’s game against the Blues should be very interesting because of the team’s earlier two games this season. If you recall, the Wild grabbed a 5-4 shootout win in St. Louis on Feb. 11 before hosting the Blues the next night in St. Paul, coming away with a 3-1 win on Hockey Day Minnesota. Both games were very physical, the last of which ended with a skirmish between the teams at the final buzzer, most noticeably when Clayton Stoner did this to David Backes:

Stoner joked about facing Backes at Hockey Unplugged this Wednesday saying, “Do you think he’ll want to or what? Well I don’t know; when you got beat up on the playground, did you ask the guy to go again?” Stoner then said in all seriousness they’ve each had good nights against the other and seemed to give the same sentiments when asked about another set of back-to-back games with the Blues.

“They’re the type of team that always plays hard, they play with a lot of grit, so when you’re matched up against those teams and especially another home-and-home with them, it’s going to be a battle,” said Stoner. “Going into the game you know that it might be an extra-intense game, especially with what’s on the line with us, wanting some redemption in a sense that we lost the last couple of games here.”

Richards also spoke about facing the Blues, saying, “I think players remember; we all remember, especially how that one game ended here at home. St. Louis is playing hard right now and we’ve got to be ready for that.”

In some off-ice news, the Wild family grew by one when Nick Schultz’s wife, Jessica, gave birth to the couple’s third child this morning. Schultz was at practice today and was all smiles when talking about 6-pound, 2-ounce Sydney Marie. “It was pretty quick,” said Schultz. “Luckily it happened when it did, which was nice to be around for it.” Congratulations to the Schultz Family!

For the full recap of this morning’s Wild practice, listen to today’s PONDcast

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Clutterbuck And Koivu May Both Be Back Tonight

The Minnesota Wild has just wrapped up its morning skate in Vancouver, and the news is sounding good. Head Coach Todd Richards is saying that Cal Clutterbuck and Clayton Stoner are both in, and that Koivu is a gametime decision.

When Koivu was asked if he’ll take pregame warmups, he said, “we’ll see.” One would think that if he wasn’t going to, he would have just said “no.” And one would also think that if he’s taking warmups, he’s playing.

What a huge boost this would be to a team in need of a win against the best team in the Western Conference tonight. Of course, here in Minnesota, we always brush off that label when it comes to the Canucks. It doesn’t matter where they are in the standings, the Wild always seems to have its best ready. To have their best, it helps to have their best players and Koivu and Clutterbuck fit into that category.

Expect Niklas Backstrom to get the start in this most gargantuan of games.

I’m aware of some consternation as the result of two shutout defeats from last week, but I did some research and data analysis. By my calculations, a 4-3 loss counts for the same amount of points as a 4-0 loss, thus rendering the “shutout” tag irrelevant. Also, the Wild remains four points back of eighth place Calgary, with two games in hand, so the playoffs are still there for the taking with 13 games to play.

And, if the Wild can bag a couple wins over a too cool for school Vancouver team, and a Sharks team that has lost three of four, things are going to get very interesting come the weekend. Following this road trip, the Wild will play five of their next six games against teams on the outside of the playoff picture. The only exception is Montreal.

My point is, things are far from over.

And finally, as a product of the great white North, I have to comment on perhaps the most tension filled hockey day that the Duluth area has ever seen. On Saturday, Hermantown (which is basically a Duluth suburb) fought should-be Double A school St. Thomas Academy to the very end in an overtime defeat in the Class A state finals. That night, my alma mater Duluth East, fought Eden Prairie, a school with a student population right around 1 million, for three overtimes before finally succumbing. All the while, the UMD Bulldogs were tangling with St. Cloud State in a three overtime thriller to get to the WCHA Final Five. FYI – the Bulldogs won.

For folks who saw any of those three games, I’m willing to bet they won’t forget any of them. To use a cliche, those games are why we love hockey. So thanks to all the players and coaches and fans who were involved for creating those memories.

Now then, don’t expect triple overtime tonight in Vancouver, because it’s impossible. But, expect a Wild win, and it will be so.

Latendresse, Barker and Stoner Won’t Play Tonight

The Minnesota Wild just wrapped up their morning skate and then began furiously packing their equipment bags for a quick flight to Columbus. Head Coach Todd Richards told the media today that tonight’s game will be the measuring stick for how training camp went. He’ll have a mostly full roster, and he wants to see his team in regular season for tonight.

Guillaume Latendresse did not skate today, and he will not travel with the team. He is nursing a sore hip flexor, but Richards said it is not serious. He equated it to Cam Barker’s hip injury, which is also not serious. Barker will not play tonight.

For tonight’s lineup, Cal Clutterbuck will hop up to the line with Martin Havlat and Matt Cullen. Eric Nystrom will take Clutter’s spot on a line with John Madden and Chuck Kobasew. The fourth line will be Kyle Brodziak centering Matt Kassian and Brad Staubitz. That means Casey Wellman will not play tonight.

Richards hadn’t decided on defensemen for tonight, but Clayton Stoner will not be one of them. Stoner will be left home. Niklas Backstrom will play the first two periods tonight, and Anton Khudobin will get the third. Backstrom will get the entire game on Thursday against Columbus.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard skated again today with his teammates. He had the same green jersey on like all of the forwards, but then again, there is no contact during morning skates anyway. I guess what I’m saying is there is no new information on him. How’s that for wasting a paragraph with absolutely zero good information in it?

In a little over 48 hours, the team will be bound for Finland, so as a special treat, Mikko Koivu will be answering fan questions this week. Here’s the catch: because the team has a game on Thursday and then immediately departs, fans only have about 24 hours to submit their questions. So as soon as the Question form is posted on Wild.com in the next 20 minutes or so, get your questions in prontisimo.

More Target Field Fun

Yesterday, Wild.com provided footage of the “Pride of Prior Lake,” Zach Parise and pals taking hacks at Ron Gardenhire knucklers at Target Field last week.

Now, it’s time to see how some of our own Wild players swing the aluminum. On Saturday, Clayton Stoner and Josh Harding squared off against T.C. Bear and a fella named Joe Ganther in a softball home run derby prior to the Twins taking on the Angels.

It wasn’t Stoner’s day as the big man couldn’t replicate the swing that they apparently taught Justin Morneau up in British Columbia.

Harding was a different story. As Bert “Be Home” Blyleven might say, “He used that uppercut swing, and he DID NOT miss it.” Harding displayed so much power that I am not even going to start teasing him for the white capri pants that he wore during the contest (but at least he wore the white pants before Labor Day).

Harding was forced a playoff, and actually beat T.C., the reigning champion. But he didn’t have enough to topple Ganther, who has been offered a tender to join my co-ed softball team.

As for other news, it became official today that the Houston Aeros are booked to host the Peoria Rivermen at Xcel Energy Center as part of Hockey Day Minnesota on February 12. Just think, if the Wild is forced to make a call up that day, they could let a player get his pregame skate in against Peoria before activating him to finish out the doubleheader. Of course, the St. Louis Blues could do the exact same thing, since Peoria is their AHL affiliate.

And speaking of affiliations, the Wild is has added an ECHL affiliate with the announcement having just been made. The Bakersfield Condors will join the Wild minor league family for the upcoming season.

If you check out their site, they currently have seven players on their roster, but that should change once NHL and AHL training camps start sending players elsewhere. And hey, even if that’s how the roster stands come October, I wouldn’t bet against the seven current Condors. After all, they do have former Bulldog and West St. Paul native, Jay Cascalenda on the squad. That kid can skate like the wind blows.

Tomorrow, from 9 to 3, yours truly will be at the Wild’s Minnesota State Fair booth located in the FAN Central building. Stop by, say hello and say something funny. You just might get your name in the next “View from the Lighthouse” post.

The Lighthouse Has Been Activated

The Lighthouse was turned off last week as yours truly enjoyed a lovely Staycation right here in the State of Hockey. If you love your home state like I do, then there is no need to go jetting off to some other distant land. I have everything I need right here in “The Sota,” and that includes a first place baseball team, a 40-year-old quarterback who loves his head coach and the Tettegouche Arch.

Whaaaaat!?!?!? The Arch has crumbled into Lake Superior you say? Now do you see what happens with the Lighthouse takes a week off?

I apologize for my malfeasance, but I promise I wasn’t completely slacking off. On Wednesday, I had the privilege of accompanying my 23rd favorite NHL player, Zach Parise (who is beaten out only by 22 Wild players), to Target Field. Zach was invited to take batting practice and shag flies along with his brother, Jordan, and buddies Kyle Okposo (Islanders), Drew Stafford (Sabres), Casey Borer (Hurricanes) and Marty Mjellili (former SCSU Husky).

It was a thrill to be on the field, meet some of the Twins players and shoot the breeze with Gardy. And, we got it all on tape. Look for a video to appear on the Hockey Day website, wild.com/hockeyday within the next 24 hours.

Speaking of baseball, Josh Harding and Clayton Stoner were also at Target Field on Saturday. They took part in the pregame home run derby when they squared off against T.C. Bear. We will also have video of that and you can see how they fared.

Quick story: my favorite line from Wednesday came from Gardenhire in the dugout. Brian Duensing had just finished a bullpen session and Gardy asked him how it went. Duensing said it was the best bullpen session ever, and he didn’t allow a single hit. Gardy replied, “That’s great. But I would have taken you out after seven innings.”

On Thursday, I found myself in Stacy, Minnesota at the studio of goalie mask designer, Todd Miska. He sat down with 15-year-old Peter Best, the winner of the Niklas Backstrom Mask Contest, and the two of them conceptualized the mask. Best was absolutely thrilled to be there, and you could tell it was going to be a long month for him leading up to September 18, when he’ll present the finished product to Backstrom.

Now that I’m back to the grind on this beautiful Monday, it’s all about preparation, because failure to prepare is preparing to fail (Would you believe me if I said I made that line up?). We’ve got a lot on tap before training camp starts, and that includes the State Fair, the television broadcast schedule and plenty of work on preseason publications like the Wild Team Guide.

We’ve got less than a month before Training Camp starts, and you can expect near daily updates of the Lighthouse blog from now until then. Don’t forget, you can subscribe to the RSS feed of the Lighthouse and get an email immediately when a new post appears. You will join the likes of rapper, T.I., who is a huge Lighthouse fan and rocks a Wild hat wherever he goes. He’s also a fan of socks with sandals, which I hope will be the next fashion trend. I hear chicks dig that look.