Greetings. Kent Youngblood here. I was at practice while Russo took yet another day off (just joking).
So we were all hoping to have some decision today on Pierre-Marc Bouchard. But it looks like we'll have to wait at least a few more days.
As you know, PMB, coming back from post-concussion syndrome, has been taking full part in practices for a while now. The thought was that GM Chuck Fletcher, coach Todd Richards, Bouchard and the team's medical personnel would sit down and decide whether he needed a few games in Houston before making his debut with the Wild or whether he'd make his debut with the home club.
"It's still day-to-day," Richards said after practice Monday. "He looks great out on the ice, he's doing every drill full right now. The confidence and conditioning, he feels good. I think we're close. I really do. ... It's a matter of sitting down and mapping out a plan."
More Richards: "Physically he looks fine. He looks quick, speed isn't an issue. It's all confidence and how he feels. And once we get to that point, it's the next step. You guys probably want to know what the next step is. I'm not sure."
Bouchard reported no setbacks. But he also said that it's hard, in practice, to get the kind of full-contact test needed. "The drills, the battles in front of the net, the 3-on-3s down low, in front of the net,playing through traffic a little bit. I haven't done much of that. I need to do a little more of that to get my timing back."
Bouchard said he's "open'' to going to Houston for a tuneup should it be required. "I'll do what they think is best for me."
Bouchard also said he's experienced no setbacks. There are still times when he feels a little pressure at times, but is usually OK to go again after a good night's sleep. He wasn't willing to set a goal time by which a decision would be made. "I don't want to put a date out there and not reach it and be frustrated," he said. but it's coming."
Here are some other tidbits from Monday's practice:
--Antti Miettinen (concussion), ChuK Kobasew (groin) and Guilliaume Latendresse (groin) did not practice Monday. Richards said he was just giving Kobasew the day off and he expects the winger back for tomorrow's game against San Jose. Miettinen could be at least a week away from returning. Latendresse has no official time table.
--With Kobasew out, Bouchard staked on the top line with Mikko Koivu and Andrew Brunette.
--Other lines Monday were: Matt Cullen with Marty Havlat and Cal Clutterbuck; John Madden with Eric Nystrom and Casey Wellman; Kyle Brodziak with Colton Gillies and Brad Staubitz.
--Richards said he and the coaching staff talked at length Monday morning about moving Havlat to the top line with Koivu and Brunette but the decision was made to keep Havlat with Cullen on the second line; Richards really wants to wait and see if that line can become more productive. Having said that, Richards said he will, at times, throw Havlat on the top line in key situations, much like he did against Chicago.
--That's about it. Have a good day.