Tag Archives: Nick Schultz

Wild Smiles; Blueline Questions

4 p.m. Update: The Wild has indeed made a call to Houston, recalling defensemen Justin Falk and Maxim Noreau from the Aeros.

TGIF, Wild fans! Fridays are always fun, but even more so after a Wild victory.

I know I’ve spent the past few days talking about how the Wild’s barely celebrated the end of its winless streak, but the scene in the locker room today was a lot more fun. Kyle Brodziak and James Sheppard deserve gold stars for their turns at running the locker room iPod. I want to leave most of the details in the room, so I’ll just say some stellar 80’s and 90’s hits caused plenty of jokes and fun. It was great to see the guys smiling and enjoying themselves because they deserve to let off a little steam with two straight wins after such a stressful and difficult stretch which must have tested their pride.

Not much news was expected out of the Wild’s short practice at Xcel Energy Center late this morning but unfortunately, there was plenty of not-so-good surprises. Marek Zidlicky and Nick Schultz both missed the skate with injuries and Head Coach Todd Richards said afterward that they are questionable for tomorrow’s game. Cam Barker continued to practice with the team but will again be questionable to get back into the lineup. Making matters worse, Brent Burns left the ice and is now questionable for tomorrow’s game after a very innocent-looking and weird play in practice.

In a simple drill where players line up, take a pass mid-ice and go in to shoot, Burns seemed to lose his footing all alone at center ice, with one of his skates slipping out underneath him. It looked like absolutely nothing until Burns remained down on ice, stretching out his leg before skating to the bench and walking down the runway with a look of pain on his face. Unfortunately, it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke, unless Todd Richards was in on it, too, saying Burns is now a question mark for tomorrow.

With four defensemen questionable for tomorrow’s early afternoon game, the Wild is likely to recall a few blueliners from Houston. Richards said Backstrom will start against the Lightning, who clinched a playoff spot with a win against Pittsburgh yesterday, and Theodore will get the nod in Detroit Sunday. A sidenote: did you see Backs’ awesome toe save last night? You’ll want to watch it over and over.

Listen to Richards’ comments after practice in today’s Minnesota Wild PONDcast.

With tomorrow’s game six hours earlier than the typical contest, I asked Matt Cullen and Jared Spurgeon about how the change will impact their day. A 1 p.m. start means the usual morning skate won’t be an option for the players. Cullen said his day will just start earlier than normal, that he’ll stick to the same schedule and just push everything up. Cullen said he’ll get up early, try to get outside and get his body moving and will probably end up having an extra cup of coffee.

On the other hand, Jared Spurgeon plans to sleep in and try to eat as big a breakfast as possible since he won’t be having two meals before the game. However, both players were on the same page when it came to their plans for the rink.  To those two at least, it doesn’t matter when the game starts, they’ll just back track from the time of puck drop and do their typical tasks in the arena, getting to the Xcel Energy Center with the same amount of time to prepare as usual.

Glen will be back from Florida and is planning on making his return to live,  in-game commentary tomorrow, so you can count on a high level of wit returning to wild.com. No jokin’.

Have a great Friday afternoon!

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

The Lighthouse Shines In Dreary Chicago

Hello from Chicago, where the only thing drearier than the cold, gray air is the general attitude of pretty much everyone in this great city. Apparently, they have an American Football team in this town and I guess they lost a big game yesterday. It sounds as though the guy in charge of throwing the football is not the most popular guy in town, and I’ve seen pictures of him, he looks like a pretty grumpy guy. But then, so does everyone in Chicago today.

The only people with smiles on their faces appear to be the Wild players, who, by all accounts, had a thoroughly enjoyable rookie dinner last night. They were graced by the presence of Charles Barkley and Michael Strahan, and no, that’s not a misprint. Those two superstars-turned-broadcasters happened to be at the same restaurant, and eventually spent close to an hour with the entire Wild team.

They had some fun at the expense of the rookies in attendance and they shared their stories of rookie dinners gone by. Apparently, there was also an argument about which fast food chain is better between Barkley’s Taco Bell and Strahan’s Subway.

Needless to say, there were plenty of Barkley-Strahan stories being tossed around on the bus this morning. I did not get any word on whether or not Barkley gave some golf swing advice to Pierre-Marc Bouchard.

Speaking of this morning, you might have thought the Wild would have a rough practice after a night of fun, but Head Coach Todd Richards liked what he saw today in a high-energy practice. There were some entertaining one-on-one battles at the end, most notably between Mikko Koivu and Kyle Brodziak, who has some of the funniest celebrations you will see. The goal of the day, however, was scored by none other than rookie Clayton Stoner, who undressed John Madden and then roofed one from in tight on Niklas Backstrom. That drew some serious howls in Johnny’s Ice House, the Blackhawks’ practice facility.

Nick Schultz skated today, as he did yesterday, and he is just fine. He will be ready to go tomorrow, which means we likely won’t see a defensive callup just yet. The news wasn’t as good in regards to Marco Scandella. According to Richards, he skated yesterday and “it didn’t go great.” Scandella will likely have to be shut down for awhile, and fortunately, he’ll have a week to do that after tomorrow’s game.

Because of the Chicago Bulls taking on the Milwaukee Bucks tonight, the Wild dressed at the United Center and rode the bus a mile to the rink. It is rather entertaining to watch fully padded goaltenders Nik Backstrom and Jose Theodore try to maneuver into some seats on the bus.

Tomorrow will be a huge game in the final contest before the All-Star break. The Blackhawks currently sit seventh in the West, three points ahead of the Wild. But, the Hawks are coming off a dismal effort yesterday against Philadelphia, and they’ll be looking for a rebound performance.

Nothing But Smiles And Laughter

From what I hear, Sunday’s practice was very interesting and there were apparently some angry words and actions on the Xcel Energy Center ice. I didn’t see any of that on Monday. It seemed that players and coaches were in a much better mood as a full day of practice wrapped up with a contest at center ice.

Players hooted and laughed as each skater took a turn firing a shot from the center ice faceoff dot into an empty net. Players had to go until they made their shot, and the last one to make one became the designated “Juice Boy.” It came down to Cal Clutterbuck and video coach P.J. Deluca whose final attempt was a wounded duck that missed by 10 feet.

After practice, Richards compared yesterday and today, saying it’s just like raising a kid. You have to be strict when needed, but you also have to help them. Today was about helping, and the Wild special teams got a lot of work and help, even though they’ve been good early in the season.

Richards was asked about the lack of production from even strength lines. He admitted he is thinking about shuffling the lines up, but he did not hint at what those moves might be, and he’s not sure he’ll try something new before tomorrow night’s game with Vancouver.

He didn’t get much of a chance to experiment today anyway, because Matt Cullen, Martin Havlat and Nick Schultz all missed practice due to illness. There is some bug making its way through the locker room, but Richards is hopeful that all will be available tomorrow. If not, the Wild may be forced to call down to Houston tonight.

The good news is that Brent Burns was on the ice, and his lower body injury doesn’t seem to be bothering him.

Finally, Richards touched on Pierre-Marc Bouchard, saying he looks good and everyone’s getting excited about him. Still, there is no timetable for contact. But I will say he looks good. It will be up to him when he feels good enough to take contact, but I have to think it could be getting close. As I type this, I’m watching him and Clayton Stoner skate some Herbies with Darby Hendrickson.

That’s all from today’s skate. Don’t forget about tomorrow’s 8:00 p.m. start against the Canucks. Also, the first of the Year Ten team bobbleheads will be given to the first 5,000 fans through the gates. Mikko Koivu will be tomorrow night’s figurine.

TGIFair Time!

What a wonderful day at the Great Minnesota get together yesterday. I got to meet all sorts of wonderful “View from the Lighthouse” fans, and there were even some Wild fans there too.

If you missed me yesterday, don’t feel bad. In fact, I still say it’s worth it to stop by the booth during any of the remaining 11 days of the fair. You can register to win a team-autographed stick, which is given away every day. You can meet Nordy (who made me laugh repeatedly yesterday) between 12:45 and 1:45 every day. You can play “Top Shot,” which is a puck shooting game where you have to hit a lit up box. I spent a half hour yesterday feeding pucks to half pints, and some three foot whipper snapper set the record with seven targets hit on 10 shots. I won’t say his name because I passed it on to Chuck Fletcher. We don’t need some other NHL club scouting our best kept secret.

Of course, the big day to get to the Wild booth is Sunday at noon when Nick Schultz and Wes Walz will unveil the Top Ten Games in Wild history, and then sign autographs for an hour.

If you’re going tonight, I think I heard through the grapevine that Michael Russo, the most intense beat writer in the NHL, will be doing some radio show from the fair. Since he’s not one to promote his own gigs, I figure I’ll throw him a bone in this space here.

Hopefully you saw that every Wild regular season game will be televised this year. That has to make you happy heading into the weekend, so I won’t say anything more to dampen your spirits.

Enjoy the weekend!