‘Twas the day before holiday break, when all through Xcel Energy Center, the Wild was stirring, practicing to score a game winner.
The Wild looks to head into the holiday break with visions of sugar-plums dancing in their heads, tonight hosting the Philadelphia Flyers. After two-consecutive overtime losses, the Wild will shake things up before taking three days off.
Forward Mikael Granlund will return to the lineup after missing Saturday’s 6-5 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators. Granlund was expected to go and participated in warmups, but was feeling ill and didn’t play. He skipped yesterday’s practice for an extra day of rest.
While Minnesota has secured victory in only one of its recent OT games, a 4-3 shootout win against the Arizona Coyotes on Dec. 13, the team has showed its resolve in the third period. In its last two games against the Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators, the Wild has tied the contest in the third period to force overtime and earn an extra point.
“I give our guys a lot of credit. Again, it is tough to be battling back all the time,” Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said. “I am pleased that our guys continue to battle back, and that shows something to me, but now let’s make sure not to put ourselves in that position so many times.”
"Just thinking of you..."
"Hey Charlie, where'd you get that spiffy sweater?"
In the half decade the Wild has taken it outdoors for practice, there have been a variety of weather scenarios — mostly sunny and cold.
Today, at the Wild’s outdoor practice at The John R. Rose OVAL in Roseville, presented by Audi Minneapolis and Audi St. Paul, it was a picturesque setting. Four days before Christmas, giant snowflakes fell as the Wild skated outside for 30 minutes, after more than 2,000 fans reveled in holiday activities for two hours.
Prior to the Wild taking the ice, fans skated for 90 minutes on the outer portion of The OVAL. Santa and Mrs. Claus were on hand, as well as a handful of reindeer, which all made for great photo opps.
“This really brought me back to the first Winter Classic,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said after, with a Santa-like twinkle in his eye. “(Outdoor hockey) is hopefully something our fans will get to experience here sometime soon.”
The Wild primarily played shinny. Lots of laughing could be heard, none more than when Jason Zucker went leaping over the “boards” (think border patrol) backwards. The Lighthouse is happy to report that Zucker is fine.
“It wasn’t a structured practice,” said Yeo, noting the players elected to forego a scheduled day off to practice in front of the fans. “It’s great for them to come out and meet these fans and go back to their roots.”
Another funny moment came at “intermission”, when Yeo called for the shovels. The snow buildup had become intimidating, so they had to clear it away. The rookies went first, but even veterans Matt Cooke and Thomas Vanek joined in cleaning the ice.
The team likely spent as much time signing autographs for fans along the boards as they did practicing.
“It was a lot of fun,” said a beaming Wild captain Mikko Koivu, his left glove wrapped in snow. “It’s a fun way of spending a morning, getting relaxed. It brings back a lot of memories from when you’re a kid. It feels amazing to have the fans out here even when the weather wasn’t that great."
We will fight to the end, we will stand and defend...the awesomeness of these ugly sweaters.
Yesterday’s rest was good for three Minnesota Wild players, who are all hoping to get back to action tomorrow when the club hosts Central Division foe, Nashville Predators, at 7 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center.
"All we want for Christmas is two toques and one set of choppers." — Mike Greenlay
Curry, 30 (2/27/84), was recalled by Minnesota yesterday and did not appear in the Wild’s 3-2 overtime loss to Boston. In 12 games with Iowa this season, he is 4-6-0 with a 3.02 goals against average (GAA) and .911 save percentage (SV%), including 3-1-0 with a 2.12 GAA and .934 SV% in his last four starts. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound native of Shorewood, Minn., is 3-2-0 with a 3.55 GAA and a .893 SV% in six career NHL games with Pittsburgh and Minnesota.
Sutter, 27 (6/2/87), was recalled by Minnesota on Monday and collected one assist and four penalty minutes (PIM) in two games with the Wild. He has tallied 14 points (5-9=14) in 26 games with Iowa this season. The 6-foot, 200-pound native of Viking, Alta., has tallied eight points (2-6=8) and 40 PIM in 56 career NHL games with the Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota.