By Michael Russo
It was back to work for the Wild down at Parade Ice Garden this morning after most players attended a teammate’s Super Bowl gathering yesterday.
Jacques Lemaire put the team through an up-tempo, intense practice in which there were several heated battles along the wall. Stephane Veilleux, at one point, looked like he was going to pull a Ryan Hollweg on a few guys, but he refrained thank goodness.
Lemaire finally whistled practice dead after one shift in which poor Petteri Nummelin got hammered by Marian Gaborik, then got slew-footed by Todd Fedoruk.
Nummelin looked like he hurt his knee, although he seemed to shake it off.
This was clearly to get the team ready for Tuesday’s matchup against the best team in the NHL, Detroit. The Red Wings have won seven in a row (third winning streak this season of six or more games). They have 40 wins in 54 games. They are 27-4 in games decided by two or more goals. To put that in perspective, the Wild is 16-15 in such situations.
Think about that for a second. The Red Wings have lost four games this season by more than a goal. Think about that!!! I’ll pause for 10 seconds while you think about that.
Jacques also had defenders play with their sticks upside down today (in other words, holding the blade) in an attempt to try to promote the Wild skating with the Red Wings rather than hooking, etc.
Mark Parrish (head) practiced fully today. Then I watched him put his stick in a bag and nearly tip over. He clearly lost his balance, although he quipped it was a heavy stick.
I’m no doc, but after talking to him for a bit, he’s clearly foggy (sorry Parrish, but you are) from the Columbus game and I’d be shocked if he played tomorrow. To make matters worse, Parrish is on his way to see Dr. Nanne to get a new tooth from the Vancouver game a few weeks back.
Bad few weeks for Parrish.
Seems like this happens a lot to the Wild this season, but the NHL’s First Star of the Week is Pavel Datsyuk, who comes in tomorrow, and Second Star of the Week is Marty Turco, who comes in Thursday.
Lastly, I have been told by very good sources that General Manager Doug Risebrough has inquired about free-agent center Peter Forsberg. Like I mentioned last week, the Wild is interested, but it would be awfully tough to convince Forsberg to sign here.
Plus, according to two GM’s I’ve spoken to, anybody who signs Forsberg will probably have to sign him to a deal for next year, too, at around $5 million.
And since Forsberg’s missed this season, is clearly injury-prone and — maybe most importantly — since the Wild has enough contract issues with Demitra, Rolston, Schultz, Bouchard and Gaborik, I don’t see Risebrough willing to sign up Forsberg for another year.
Risebrough wouldn’t comment on Forsberg this morning.
One other thing, Risebrough’s been scouting a bunch of high school games recently. He said there might not be “another place in the world” that’s producing better quality and quantity right now than the state of Minnesota.
He brought up Hopkins. He scouted them the other day and said they have an eighth-grader that might be the best on the team.
By the way, Risebrough’s scouted Minnetonka’s Jake Gardiner twice recently and clearly likes him a lot. The Wild will likely be eyeing him a bunch down the stretch because he’s ranked 22nd among North American skaters, and the way it’s going, the Wild will likely be drafting in the 20s in Ottawa at June’s Draft. And assistant GM Tommy Thompson’s told me he would really like to add some top defenseman prospects at the Draft.
Risebrough also scouted Roseau defenseman Aaron Ness the other day.
I’m doing a Demitra-Gaborik-Fedoruk story for tomorrow since they’re playing so well. Demitra was a pretty terrific interview today on the subject. Late Russo note: The story evolved into solely a Gaborik-Demitra story. I’ll probably lead my game notebook Tuesday for Wednesday on Fedoruk’s influence on the line.
By the way, notice Miami University (Ohio), led by Wild prospect Ryan Jones, is still Numero Uno in the nation?
Bloomington’s Peter Mueller named NHL Rookie of the Month for January.