By Michael Russo
Not much to say about this one, which is good because I’d like to get out of here due to a 6:30 a.m. flight home.
First of all, don’t panic. Look at the lineup the Wild brought and the Blue Jackets played. This was to be expected, and in a way, was good because coach Todd Richards said it showed which youngsters can play in the NHL and which youngsters just aren’t ready.
Unfortunately for Tyler Cuma, he might have fallen into the latter. The talented 19-year-old was used and abused on three goals, especially one by Rick Nash. The kid’s going to be a great defenseman, but the Blue Jackets were largely the real Blue Jackets tonight, and Cuma just didn’t look up to snuff. Now to be fair, he did play last night, has barely played hockey the last year, is a teenager and some of the Wild’s players, especially the regulars, didn’t show up.
But Cuma was overmatched, and Richards seemed to indicate that in his quotes in Tuesday’s paper.
Richards is mostly concerned though with all the injuries. Benoit Pouliot went down in the third period with a strained groin, and Richards was so worried, he benched Antti Miettinen (he should have gotten benched because of his play, quite honestly) and Kyle Brodziak due to the soft ice.
Back in Minnesota, Mikko Koivu, James Sheppard, Andrew Brunette, Craig Weller, Shane Hnidy and Derek Boogaard are also hurt, and that’s just who we know about. I have seen other players wrapped up like a mummy, too. Richards, and the Wild highers-up, says the ice at the X has been terrible, and that’s a large reason for all the leg injuries.
Because of all the injuries, Richards isn’t getting a full cast of players at any of his practices, which is tough when you’re trying to implement a new system. He feels even in the two home wins, the execution was sporadic and that the players eventually started freelancing and reverting back to old habits and systems.
He said “we’re losing time,” and also said it’s time for everybody to start to show some urgency and get out on the ice. He understands these are injuries, but he also is well aware the season starts in less than two weeks. You can read this in the paper.
That’s really it. Not much to say about tonight. Twelve days ’till Opening Night, and it’s time for the Wild players to hit the accelerator.
Brodziak is clearly a warrior. Guy is just a gamer. Richards praised Greg Zanon, Nathan Smith, and of course, Josh Harding, who only gave up really one goal he’d like to have back — a bad rebound. But the other goals were off terrible defense and a team that just couldn’t handle Nash, Huselius and Brassard.
The Wild plans to cut seven or eight players, probably Tuesday and definitely before Thursday’s game against St. Louis.
That is it for now.