By Michael Russo
Assistant GM Tom Lynn confirmed after today’s practice that defenseman Marek Zidlicky, considered to be the Wild’s most significant offseason acquisition, will miss Saturday’s opener with an ankle injury.
Lynn said the Wild will try to get Zidlicky ready for next week.
I talked with Zidlicky. He said he sprained his ankle with four minutes left in the Sept. 26 exhibition game in Chicago when a Blackhawks player fell on top of him. He played the rest of the game.
He said he felt something “pop,” but that x-rays are negative and it’s sprained.
He said he tried to skate, but it’s still too sore. He’s disappointed he won’t be ready to play in the home opener, but said he’s working hard off the ice in an attempt to make his Wild debut on next week’s road trip.
He said at the time of the injury, team doctors said it would be two weeks minimum. Two weeks is Friday.
In the meantime, Erik Reitz or Tomas Mojzis will replace Zidlicky in Saturday’s lineup. It’ll probably be Reitz. Remember, Jacques Lemaire said he’d play his “best lineup” last Saturday in Montreal, and Lemaire chose to dress Reitz and not Mojzis.
And Reitz played quite well against the Canadiens.
As for other news, defenseman John Scott will be placed on injured reserve with a sprained ankle. Scott will make his prorated minor-league salary and won’t count against the salary cap.
Also, it’s anticipated that Barry Brust will be assigned to AHL Houston this afternoon. Josh Harding looks A-OK to back up Niklas Backstrom on Saturday.
As for the forward lines, they remained the same today:
Here are some Jacques Lemaire quotes on line combos as transcribed by Brian “Stencils” Stensaas:
“Are you seeing some combinations that will work?) Yeah, yeah. What we have right now, I think it will be fine. If one center or winger isn’t playing like he’s capable of, I’m going to change it. But hopefully it will be a lot easier for me not to change then lines. Just open the door – you’re next, you’re next, you’re next.
(With Koivu this year, he’s probably your best checking center and playmaker. Will he switch roles?) Depends how he plays. The thing is, if you end up with, I don’t know, two points after playing 30 power plays, I might make a change. I might. Especially if we don’t win. Could be sooner. It’s like that for any players. It’s hard to say this guy’s going to do this all year, this guy’s gonna do that, I’m going to use this guy, OK? All the intentions are great right now. They’re working well in practice, we haven’t lost a game yet. Everything’s fine.
(Building your lines, do you start with two guys?) I gotta start by two, yeah. It’s better when you have three, but you gotta get two together, especially the wingers. That is important. The centerman depends on who you’re playing against, how good their lines are, how effective they are that night. How this, how that. Subject to change.
(What pairs do you like right now? Gaborik and Veilleux were together in Montreal) I will probably try that. See how it goes. If it doesn’t work, it will be a quick change. Bruno-Miettinen. Bruno-Gabby, I like this. Miettin-Veilleux, I like this. Butch-Owen. Steph-Butch. But again, Steph would have to score to stay with Butch. He could play one period. I will have to work with this all year. I’ve got some doubts there. And I am sure I will have to make adjustments.
(OK with scoring options from the blue line even with Zidlicky out the last two weeks?) Our scoring is fine. We just can’t give too many goals, because we won’t score enough.
(That’s what you were counting on from him, though, right?) Score or make the forwards score. Bergeron has a good shot. When you have good shots on the point, they have to squeeze in, watch the point men a little more. It gives you more room down low. You can work more on the point.
(Do you have enough big men to go with teams like Chicago and Vancouver?) Nolan, Weller, Boogey. And if we’re not fine, we’ll get some more. I’ll ask my boss.