After a week of inactivity for the National Hockey League’s All-Star Break, the Minnesota Wild restarts north of the border. The Wild kicks off a three-game Canadian roadie tonight against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place.
The Wild will have Mikael Granlund back in the lineup against its old Northwest Division foe. The forward missed 13 games after suffering a fractured wrist on Dec. 27 against the Winnipeg Jets.
For the first time in a long time, the Wild looks like a healthy club.
It wasn’t his typical game of 30-plus minutes on ice, but Ryan Suter still managed to register a goal and an assist in his second NHL All-Star game with 19 minutes and 46 seconds of ice time. His team, Team Toews, defeated Team Foligno 17-12 in Columbus.
“It was fun, it was exciting to be part of. A lot of goals were scored, probably too many, but it was a lot of fun for sure,” Suter said after the game.
As a shutdown defenseman, goals don’t come all that often for Suter. Last season he scored a hat trick, and tonight his goal looked like a goal-scorer’s snipe again, squeezing one past the post.
“I don’t know, I closed my eyes,” Suter started to joke. “No, I just got a pass from [Vladimir] Tarasenko and the slot kind of opened — not a lot of guys blocking shots — so the slot opened up and I just shot it in.”
But it was the celly that stood out. Suter isn’t known for his big celebrations after goals, yet there he was, throwing his arms up like a kid who got to eat a cookie before dinner.
“I was joking around with Webs, if I score or if you score,” Suter said of his defensive partner tonight and former Nashville teammate, Shea Weber. “In practice we used to joke around when we’d score; so it was just a little inside joke between us I guess.”
Nevertheless, it was a “very productive weekend for the NHL,” Suter said.
But the best part wasn’t his goal, assist or his plus-2 rating — it was getting to spend the time with family, particularly his son, Brooks.
“It was all fun. It was neat seeing Brooks down on the bench the other day, watching everything, he was excited about that.”
For the average person, sitting and waiting to be selected by a team can be nerve-wracking — think back to when you were in middle school waiting to be picked for a dodge ball team. However, for Ryan Suter, the nerves didn’t exist.
“I’m excited to be out there or to be here and to be drafted and not go last,” Suter said.
Plus, he was reunited with his former defensive partner from Nashville, Shea Weber.
“They talked about that before,” Suter admitted. “They said they were going to draft me and Shea before…They were going to draft us first and say that we were going to play the whole game; they don’t want any other D, but the NHL wouldn’t let them do that. Probably a good thing.”
Ryan Suter: I think just watching the skills competition — that’s always fun to see the guys showcase their skills. It’s always something different, someone will do something different and put on a show.
Suter: I know all of the players. I’m friends with a few of the guys, played with a few of the guys on different teams for the U.S. World Championships or Olympics, different U.S. things like that. I played with Shea Weber in Nashville. So I’ll probably hang out with those guys.
For photos throughout the weekend stay tuned to @mnwild, the Wild's instagram and the Wild.com photo gallery.
“We were up in the suite trying to watch the game,” Suter smiled. “(Thomas) Vanek’s kids didn’t show up so I had to play.
“I was the goalie.”
In addition to acquiring goaltender Devan Dubnyk from Arizona, the Minnesota Wild made a few other roster moves today.
Dumba was recently named to the AHL All-Star Classic, scheduled for Jan. 25-26 in Utica, NY. The 20-year-old has posted 12 points (4-8=12) in 17 games with Iowa. In 20 games with Minnesota this season, Dumba has a goal and three assists.
Scandella is retroactively placed on IR, Jan. 6. The blueliner has missed four games with an upper-body injury.
Falk suffered an upper-body injury in Pittsburgh last night.
Nothing is easy for the Minnesota Wild right now, and tomorrow night’s game against the Buffalo Sabres could become more challenging some time after 5 p.m. EST. That is when the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety is scheduled to have a phone hearing with Wild defenseman Ryan Suter.
Last night in Pittsburgh, the blueliner caught Pens’ forward Steve Downie with an elbow during the second period. Downie left the game and didn’t return. Suter wasn’t assessed a penalty on the play.
“It was kind of a fluky thing, he brushed my arm, elbow, as he went by,” Suter said after the game. He said that it was incidental and after poking at the puck was going to grab his stick with both hands. “That’s not the type of player I am.”
Pick any sports cliché out of a hat to address how the Minnesota Wild can dig its way out of its current slide, but, at the end of the day it’s about wins and losses. Sometimes it doesn’t come down to X’s and O’s and the way that a team gets out of a funk is by performing on the greatest platitude of them all—compete for a full 60 minutes.
“It’s only going to take one win to gain some confidence and get on a roll,” Wild forward Matt Cooke said. He joked that you can pretty much use a sports cliché generator right now, but most importantly the club needs to, “have fun and embrace the challenge.”
Tonight, the Wild’s challenge is Cooke’s former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, currently sitting third in the Eastern Conference.
The State Of Hockey lost a great pioneer of the game last week when Jean-Paul Parise passed away at the age of 73 after a bout with lung cancer.
The Celebration of Life Service will be held on this Friday, Jan. 16, 2015 at 3:00 PM with visitation from 1:00 – 3:00 PM at the Colonial Church of Edina.
In lieu of flowers, the Parise family is requesting donations be made to Defending The Blue Line, a cause that J.P. cared deeply about.
Condolence messages and photos can be uploaded and shared here.
The Wild has reassigned defenseman Stu Bickel to the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League (AHL).
Bickel, 28 (10/2/86), totaled one assist and led Minnesota with 46 penalty minutes (PIM) in nine games. He set a franchise record with a career-high 39 PIM at Dallas on Jan. 3. Bickel has also recorded three assists and 30 PIM in nine contests with Iowa this season. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound native of Chanhassen, Minn., has totaled 10 assists and 203 PIM in 76 career NHL games with the New York Rangers and Minnesota.