In an 82-game season, every National Hockey League team will have to deal with injuries at some point. Without its leading scorer, Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild will be put to the test tonight as the team kicks off a three-game road trip against the Ottawa Senators.
Parise left Tuesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins and after seeing doctors yesterday was diagnosed with a concussion. He didn’t travel with the team and there is no timetable on his return.
“Obviously, a big blow to us,” Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said. “It came on during the course of the game; luckily he was talking to our trainers and our trainers took the appropriate steps to meet with the doctors.”
In Parise’s absence, Thomas Vanek will move to the wing with Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville. Vanek and Pominville have experience playing together as members of the Buffalo Sabres and hope to rekindle the chemistry they had there.
The early exit polls show that the Minnesota Wild and Pittsburgh Penguins are statistically two of the best teams in the National Hockey League. Both are among the league leaders in a number of categories including: goals for (Wild’s 3.4 is third, Pens’ 4.1 is first); goals against (Wild first 1.8, Pens’ 2.2 is 11th); shots on goal (Wild’s 35 per game is second, Pens’ 31.1 is ninth); and scoring differential (Wild’s 1.6 is second, Pens’ 1.9 is first).
The lone statistical disparity comes on the power play. However, even political numerical prognosticator, Nate Silver, couldn’t have forecast the statistical anomalies on the man advantage of both teams through 10 games.
Thomas Vanek, Kyle Brodziak and Nino Niederreiter had never practiced together before Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo put them together on a line against the Boston Bruins. It took the trio less than five minutes to make an impact on the game.
After a dump into the corner, Brodziak finished a check on B’s defenseman Zach Trotman. The hit forced a bad pass and Vanek stole the puck from his defensive partner, Matt Bartkowski. Vanek found Niederreiter, who was cutting through the slot, with a tape-to-tape pass for a goal.
The ice at Xcel Energy Center was spookily undermanned during today’s optional Minnesota Wild practice. It wasn’t a quite ghost town, but a handful of players took the option along with those ailing from injuries.
Defenseman Jared Spurgeon didn’t skate and will miss tomorrow’s game against the Dallas Stars. The blueliner left during the third period of yesterday’s game against the San Jose Sharks following a Joe Pavalski hit. Spurgeon didn’t finish the game after suffering an upper-body injury. Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said that Spurgeon will likely miss multiple games and didn’t put a timetable on a return, but is hopeful it’s not a long-term injury.
The Minnesota Wild’s motto has been to always look forward, focus on the next game and forget about what happened in the last outing.
However, for the Lighthouse it’s not always that easy.
It was especially difficult to supplant the Wild’s last game, a 4-3 comeback win in Boston on Tuesday, during Head Coach Mike Yeo’s media availability today. That’s because someone turned the speakers in the Wild locker room up to 11 and was blaring the Dropkick Murphys’ “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” while Yeo fielded questions from media members.
No hockey player enjoys it, but it’s something most have to do at some point in their career: participate in a morning skate even though they’re a healthy scratch for the night’s contest.
That was the case for Minnesota Wild defenseman Nate Prosser as he walked into Xcel Energy Center this morning. Skate hard, be a good teammate and prepare like he was going to play, even though he wasn’t going to be in the lineup.
However, things quickly changed as soon as he arrived in the team’s locker room. Prosser saw that two defensemen who were expected to play, Christian Folin and Keith Ballard, were both sick. Prosser would be in penciled into the Wild lineup as the team hosts the Arizona Coyotes.
"I walked in and saw a couple guys were sick; I didn’t know if they’d be playing. I was preparing like I would every day,” Prosser said. “My number’s called, so I’ve got to play my A-game.”
When the Lighthouse saw the photo tweet of Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker posing as Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in Step Brothers from @mnwild last night, we got more excited than Dale during Shark Week.
The BFFs were posing in a photo shoot for the December issue of Wild Magazine, modeling official team gear found at the Hockey Lodge. They both reached for the same sweatshirt and decided to reproduce the iconic shot from the comedy.
When the Lighthouse was in college, we were on St. Cloud State’s hockey broadcast, Husky Productions, as a color commentator. On television, the broadcasts are filled with little tidbits of info to help fill the broadcast and give the viewer a better understanding of some of the storylines going on between the teams. These factoids come across as what’s called in the business a lower third, a graphic that fills, you guessed it, the bottom third of the screen.
Well, on a broadcast we had a producer who was running the show for the first time and he wrote a lower-third graphic that read: High Score Wins. Which is an accurate assessment, but also fairly obvious fact for even a first-time viewer. My broadcast partner, Rob Hudson, read the script on air and said something like, “High score wins…Well, duh.” Then we started to laugh. And laugh. And laugh. And laugh some more. Hudson, the consummate pro, hit the mute button, so that the audience couldn’t hear him chuckling hysterically. The Lighthouse, on the other hand, giggled like a schoolgirl into the hot mic; we keeled over from laughing so hard. Then Hudson took his finger off mute and started to laugh and began to mock the graphic, because, well, duh, to win the game a team needs to outscore the opponent. We basically forgot there was a hockey game going on below us, as this went on for a good three minutes of the live broadcast.
There are two morals to this story: First, have someone look over your work if it’s your first time doing something. Second, in hockey the high score always wins.
Hollywood loves a comeback story, so it’s only fitting that Minnesota Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom will make his season debut in Tinsel Town against the defending Stanley Cup champion, Los Angeles Kings.
Last season’s script played out like a twisted drama for the 36-year-old, as he battled through injury appearing in only 21 games, by far his lowest total since coming into the League in 2006. The goaltender made his final appearance on Jan. 30 against the Colorado Avalanche, and was shut down for the season after undergoing corrective core muscle surgery in February.
The “Happiest Place on Earth” is right down the highway, but the Minnesota Wild (and Lighthouse) couldn’t be giddier about getting back into game action–five days after its last outing, a 3-0 road win against the Colorado Avalanche. Tonight, the Wild skates in the land of Mickey and Minnie, as the club faces the Anaheim Ducks.
For the Wild, it will be important to get off to a good start after the layoff and back up to game speed.
“Making sure that our battle level, our intensity and our pace of play is ready to go from the drop of the puck,” Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said. “When you’re playing the games and you’re in the swing of it you’re already at that speed.”