By Brian Stensaas
Cold and a bitter wind. Just feels like Opening Day for baseball, eh? Nah – feels more like hockey weather out there. So let’s get on with some hockey talk, shall we?
It doesn’t look too good for Nick Schultz getting into tomorrow’s home game against the Stars. He didn’t practice today, and officially the team is saying he is doubtful with an eye/head injury. Nobody is really too sure what, but something happened to Schultz Sunday against the Red Wings. Coach Jacques Lemaire said he thinks Schultz hit his face on the glass during a hit.
The only other real bit of news from today is that Krys Kolanos was sent back to AHL Houston.
UPDATE: Wild just announced it has signed its second round pick (55th overall) from the 2008 draft, 6-foot-3, 206-pound defenseman Marco Scandella, to an entry level contract beginning with the 2009-10 season. He will head to the Aeros on an amateur tryout for the remainder of this season. Scandella, 19, recorded 37 points and 67 penalty minutes in 58 games in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this season.
So with Schultz out, that leaves Minnesota with six defensemen. That’s plenty for a game, but yu have to wonder if the team might shake something up for tomorrow. Winger Craig Weller has played defense in the past (though not as a pro), and wore a maroon jersey today with all the other defensemen. Probably a long shot, but at this point in the season, why not? Weller, by the way, would have no problem with switching back to his old position.
Kim Johnsson also did not skate today, leaving that open spot for Weller to fill in during practice. But like Nik Backstrom I think Johnsson was just given the day off.
So the season is not over yet. The Wild does still have some life. But you sure can sense that it’s all but done. Mondays are usually pretty busy media-wise around the Xcel Energy Center. And there were a lot of past tense verbs being tossed around when asking questions today. Players and coaches barely batted an eye when answering questions about “what if?” Every so often somebody would catch it and say something like “well, uh, you know, not that it’s over.” Really, though, it’s all there for everyone to see.
“Disappointed,” Lemaire said when asked how he was feeling today.
Yep. That about sums ‘er up.
Side note: I can now tell all my friends I shut down a Hall of Famer. Just before addressing the media today, Lemaire was using his hockey stick to play around with a foam lacrosse ball leftover in one of the side locker rooms from Swarm action this weekend. After shooting a few off the wall, he fired the ball at me and – doink – right off my leg.
“Ah. Good save, there,” was all the congratulations I got from the man who scored 366 NHL goals and has 11 Stanley Cup rings. But what a proud moment!
Annnnyway. Russo’s back with you tomorrow for all things Stars v. Wild.