Tag Archives: Mikko Koivu

Zucker Set To Debut; Backstrom and Falk Back

Minnesota hosts the Florida Panthers tonight and there is a wide range of news coming out of Wild camp today, so I’ll try to catch you up on everything.

Jason Zucker will make his debut in a Minnesota sweater and will wear number 16. He’s the 45th player and 14th rookie to suit up for the Wild this season. See the Wild TV pre-game video of Zucker, here.

Niklas Backstrom is set to make his first start in goal since suffering a groin injury on March 1 against the Montreal Canadiens. Backstrom backed up Josh Harding against the New York Rangers on Tuesday, but the cage will be all his tonight. Backstrom dressed as a backup for a few games, but suffered a different lower body and missed the Wild’s last road trip.

Justin Falk is expected to return to the blue line after missing nine games with a lower body injury. Falk has practiced with the team this week and is set to see his first game action since March 4.

Tonight also is the Wild’s tribute to the Minnesota North Stars “Back on Home Ice” celebration. More than 30 former North Stars are scheduled to be in attendance. A number of former North Stars were on hand at Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub yesterday, as St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman proclaimed March 29-31 North Stars Alumni Weekend. Check out the Wild TV videos of the North Stars Alumni and the mayor’s proclamation.

Finally, this is probably the coolest thing in gaming (video gaming not gambling) since NHL 94 (the year you could one-time the puck and create your own players. Mike Doyle broke Wayne Gretzky’s single-season scoring records that year, but I digress). EA SPORTS is letting fans pick the EA SPORTS NHL 13 cover player. Mikko Koivu and Niklas Backstrom are going head-to-head in the first round. Awesome right? Well, you can vote one of them through until April 11, here. For the full story on the cover campaign visit Wild.com, here.

Koivu On IR; Taffe Recalled

The Wild has placed captain Mikko Koivu on the Injured Reserve. The Wild was hopeful for Koivu’s return tonight against the Edmonton Oilers, but will have to wait until after the Christmas break.

With the open roster spot, Minnesota recalled forward Jeff Taffe from the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League (AHL).

In two games with the Wild this season, Taffe had two assists and was plus-3 .  The Hastings native ranks second on the Aeros in scoring with 21 points (5-16=21) in 27 games and leads the team with 74 shots.

Taffe has collected 46 points (21-25=46) and 40 penalty minutes (PIM) in 177 career NHL games with Phoenix, the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh, Florida, Chicago and Minnesota.

Wild Lineup Against Canucks: TBD

Post by Mike Doyle

For the first time this season – with the exception of Mike Lundin, who hasn’t skated because of a nagging back injury – the injury bug may bite the Wild against the Vancouver Canucks today.

Because of the early start time (3 p.m. in the State of Hockey) in Vancouver, the status of Mikko Koivu, Greg Zanon and Guillaume Latendresse will be unknown nearly until puck drop. The team didn’t participate in a morning skate and all three are game-time decisions.

Koivu received 10 stitches to the face after being clipped by linemate Dany Heatley’s skate against the Oilers Thursday night. Koivu didn’t skate yesterday, but signs point toward him playing tonight. One of the setbacks: the chin-piece of a full facemask would rest on the sewn-up area. If he skates without a mask, the wound will have no protection. If he skates with it, a solid knock to the mask would likely reopen the wound.

Zanon missed the third period against the Oilers due to a tweaked groin. The shot-blocking machine has only missed one game during the past three seasons. If he is a no-go, Justin Falk will see his first action of the year.

Latendresse was held out of practice with a lower-body injury. The team leader in points missed 58 games (10/28-3/6) last season following surgeries to his left hip. Hopefully, the big winger was held out for precautionary measures. If he is rested, Nick Johnson will likely be inserted into the lineup with some line shuffling to follow.

Quick Skate And Off To Canada

The Wild were on the ice today for a short, yet, strategic practice before heading North of the Border to face the Edmonton Oilers tomorrow night.

Working mostly on systems, breakouts and the transition game, the Wild seemed to be dialed-in and focused after last night’s 4-2 loss to Pittsburgh.

Head Coach Mike Yeo said that he wanted the team to be intense and on-point today, and the team responded with an up-tempo, concise practice. He describe the effort as practicing with “snarl.” Although Yeo was disappointed with his team’s performance last night, especially in the first period, today was not the time nor the place for conditioning drills with a quick two-game road swing, capping with a Saturday afternoon game in Vancouver, on the docket.

Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi were reunited on the top line after spending some time apart against the Pens. Yeo said that sometimes a team needs to mix up the lines in an attempt to create a spark. Of note, the wings were playing their strong sides (LW for the left-handed Heatley and RW for Setoguchi), possibly, to help with D-Zone and transition play. Yeo didn’t show his hand in regards to how long any line combination will last or how quickly it will be split.

Defenseman Greg Zanon sat out practice, but not because of the second period blocked shot to the midsection against the Penguins, but to rest a tweaked groin.  He is expected to be ready tomorrow night.

Finally, if you think the team would be down in the dumps, they didn’t show it, at least not the young’un, Brett Bulmer.  At the end of practice, Bulmer and Yeo dropped their gloves and engaged in a mock-fisticuffs standoff and good-natured phantom punching.

After practice, while talking to the media, Yeo joked that Bulmer made some mistakes in the D-Zone and had to be taught a lesson.

Lesson number one Rookie: Don’t mess with the coach; he determines your ice time.

Shooting Pucks To Shooting Bullets

In less than a week, Mikko Koivu went from this:

to this:

While the country of Finland is still basking in the glow of winning the IIHF World Championship, and beating rival Sweden to do it, Koivu is back to serving his military service.

The photo is courtesy of Harri Mäenpää, and it is part of a Finnish article that is loosely translated by Aku Mutanen as follows:

As the celebrations for the gold medal are getting smaller across
Finland, the Finnish Lions (nickname for the national team) have
scattered across the country. Captain Mikko Koivu has currently the
roughest conditions, as he is literally in the wild.

“This is a bit different from beginning of the week, but that is the
way it is supposed to be,” said Koivu as the rain was beating on his
helmet. “Military service is an honor for everybody,” Koivu said and got back
to the shooting position with his rifle.

Koivu will be back to celebrating shortly. Mike Russo of the Star Tribune reports that a massive celebration of the World Championship will take place on Friday in Koivu’s hometown of Turku.

Team Finland Gets Heroes Welcome In Helsinki

Believe it or not, there was some good news for Wild fans over the weekend, although it was hugely overshadowed by the tragic passing of Derek Boogaard.

But one of Boogaard’s former teams, the Houston Aeros, is now two wins away from advancing to the Calder Cup finals after a 3-2 victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs last night. Colton Gillies notched the game-winner while Robbie Earl and Marco Scandella also scored. Jared Spurgeon notched a pair of assists.

There is still a lot of work to be done right now for the Aeros, but thus far, their playoff record is an impressive 10-3. And this was a team that didn’t get a sniff of the postseason a year ago.

And across the pond, Boogaard’s fellow 2001 Wild draftee Mikko Koivu won a gold medal at the World Championships as Finland thumped their arch nemesis, Team Sweden by a 6-1 score. Koivu and Mikael Granlund each had an assist in the game, but of course the talk of the tournament was Granlund’s jaw-dropping goal in the semifinals against Russia. The Wild’s top pick last year finished the tournament with two goals and seven assists in nine games.

If you have any doubt about how popular the kid is over there, check out this link so you can build your own Granlund Paper Doll.

As for Koivu, he picked up two goals and six assists in the nine games and served as team captain.

To view some photos upon Team Finland’s arrival back in Helsinki, you can check out this gallery courtesy of Tomi Natri.

Finally, Martin Havlat and Marek Zidlicky picked up bronze medals after defeating Russia in the third place game. Zidlicky had a goal and four assists in nine games, while Havlat had two goals and four assists in six games.

Wild World Championship Update

Last week, Dennis Endras started things off the right way for players with Wild ties at the IIHF World Championship. He posted a shut out of Russia in the opening game of the tournament. He appeared to set the tone for some other players of interest to Wild fans.

Mikael Granlund has had himself a nice showing through two games in helping Finland go 2-0. The 2010 first round pick tallied a power play goal in a 5-1 win over Denmark, becoming the first Team Finland player born in the 1990’s to register a goal in World Championship competition. In a 3-2 shootout win over Latvia, Granlund picked up assists on both regulation goals and would have been Finland’s final shooter in the shootout if not for Mikko Koivu sealing the win with his patented backhand roof shot on the glove hand side. Koivu also has an assist through two games.

Finland’s next opponent will be the Czech Republic, which is also 2-0 thus far.  Martin Havlat is tied for the team lead in scoring with a goal and two assists, while Marek Zidlicky has one helper.

Brent Burns and Cal Clutterbuck each have a point for undefeated Team Canada, with Burns notching a goal and Clutterbuck assisting on a Travis Zajac tally in a 9-1 rout of France. Canada is currently trailing Switzerland, 1-0 in the final game of pool play.