During the holiday season, many people recognize the Gap as a bland clothing retailer. In hockey, the gap is the neutral-zone space between the attacking forward and defensemen. The forward wants a wide gap, while the defenseman wants to reduce their time and space with the puck.
For the Minnesota Wild, the team’s battle for gap control will be weapon against the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks, currently tied for first in points in the Western Conference, like to get into the offensive zone and use its size to cycle and grind down opponents. Minnesota wants to prevent clean zone entries at the blue line to prevent the Ducks from getting to its forecheck.
The Minnesota Wild has stayed on the winning track, going 7-2-1 in its last 10 games, despite two bugs that continue to plague the team: lack of production on the power play and the mumps.
Defenseman Ryan Suter has been diagnosed with the mumps and missed practice today. Last night’s 2-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens was the first game the blueliner has missed as a member of the Wild, halting a 153-consecutive game streak. The team has taken every precautionary measure, but the strain’s persistence and lack of answers is puzzling and frustrating.
The Minnesota Wild’s blue line will have a large void to fill as the team hosts the Montreal Canadiens at 6 p.m. Minnesota will be without the National Hockey League’s leader in ice time, Ryan Suter, who is out with an illness.
Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said that Suter has had blood-work done, but it hasn’t been determined whether or not it is the same illness that sidelined other defensemen this season. Yeo said that the blueliner had “some” of the same symptoms, but didn’t go into any specifics other than he doesn’t have swollen glands.
Suter, of course, is the team’s anchor on the blue line. He has led the NHL in time on ice the last two seasons, plays in all situations and is the team’s leading defenseman scorer (1-12=13). The rest of the D-corps will have to step up in a big way.
The Wild has recalled defenseman Christian Folin from the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League.
The 23-year-old played in eight games with the Wild this season before being reassigned to Iowa on Nov. 14. In eight games with the Iowa Wild, Folin had two goals, two assists and a plus-1 rating.
The Minnesota Wild had a few specials guests in the stands as the team reconvened for practice at Xcel Energy Center. Minnesota Hockey’s Coaching Excellence Award recipients were attending practice before heading over to Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub for the honor’s luncheon. Minnesota Hockey recognized 35 coaches with the distinction and they brought along the people who nominated them and a guest.
The coaches ranged in level and age groups, and were nominated by parents. The award winners demonstrate behaviors provide for a positive athletic experience, allowing players to develop to their greatest potential, have fun and learn to love the game.
Defenseman Jonas Brodin has been activated from Injured Reserve and is expected to play tonight against the Dallas Stars. He's missed seven games with an illness.
The blueliner has skated in 12 games this season, totaling two assists.
On Turkey Day eve, the Minnesota Wild will have its plate full against the defending Stanley Cup Champion, Los Angeles Kings. Minnesota returns home after a three-game road trip, while the Kings enter to Xcel Energy Center hungry, winless in its previous two contests on the road.
Minnesota looks to avenge a 2-1 loss against the Kings at STAPLES Center on Oct. 19. The Wild outshot LA, 41-16, but Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said that there isn’t much to take away from that early-season meeting. You don’t raise the Cup without depth and good coaching, something that Yeo pointed out. He knows the Wild have to bring a strong game against the reigning champs.
“I wouldn’t say that we learned anything, it was early in the season, I thought we had a good game,” Yeo said. “A good game isn’t good enough against that team.
After a day off the ice to recuperate, the Minnesota Wild will close out a three-game road trip against the Florida Panthers. The team had a meeting yesterday and an off-ice workout in order to recharge the batteries as it looks to close out the roadie on a high note.
Goaltender Niklas Backstrom gets the nod in net tonight against the Panthers. The netminder looks to rebound after his last outing when he was pulled after three third-period goals against the Winnipeg on Nov. 16. The 35-year-old played well in the first two periods, but hit a bit of bad luck as one of the tallies came on a redirection and the other bounced in off the back of his leg.
The Minnesota Wild’s morning meeting had a little different vibe before the team took the ice for its pregame skate in Tampa Bay. Head Coach Mike Yeo invited the fathers and mentors, who are on the trip as the club closes the Florida portion of the roadie, into the room.
“They were pretty quiet, I felt like a school teacher,” Yeo joked. “I asked a couple of questions and nobody wanted to talk.
“A couple of guys started to raise their hands, and their sons grabbed their arms to make sure they couldn’t raise it.”
Yeo cracked that he didn’t show any power play footage so that the fathers and mentors wouldn’t have any pointers.
The Minnesota Wild looks to keep things sunny in Philadelphia. The Wild sails into the City of Brotherly love on a three-game win streak, tonight facing the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.
The start of the game will be pivotal for Minnesota, as the Flyers are coming off a 2-0 loss on the road last night against the New York Rangers. The Wild has failed to score the first goal in four-straight road games, but would like to buck that trend.