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