By Brian Stensaas
UPDATED AT 2:45 p.m. OK – just back from Wild practice and based on the last two hours here’s what I know:
James Sheppard has a nice cut under his right eye from his fight in New York. John Scott is kicking some tail in the players’ NCAA basketball pool. And Mikko Koivu will travel with the team to Alberta.
Hmmm. Maybe I should have listed that last one first ….
Yes, Koivu practiced today fully with the team. He was pretty happy afterwards, about as upbeat as I’ve ever seen him. He will travel to Western Canada today and depending how he feels tomorrow morning, a decision then will be made whether or not he plays. Clearly this is a positive sign for a Wild team that needs all the help it can get. With teams all around it in the standings pulling out surprising victories (like Columbus shellacking Calgary and Nashville beating San Jose last night) Minnesota, too, needs to be one of those teams.
Considering the Wild has won three times in history at the Saddledome, any success at all will be considered an upset. An upset, though, is exactly what this team needs.
As far as practices go, today’s did seem a little more robust than normal. Guys definitely had a hop in their step. Perhaps seeing coach Jacques Lemaire use the line of Nolan-Koivu-Gaborik had a little something to do with that. Imagine the possibilities …. Will that line stay intact for tomorrow?
Russo has landed in Calgary (or at least he’s somewhere he can send/receive e-mail) and will have you covered through the weekend. He’ll also be on the airwaves at 6p.m. tonight for a special Friday edition of Russo Radio – don’t miss it!
One last final note (nothing surprising here) Brent Burns and Derek Boogaard will not make the trip.