The Xcel Energy Center ice was rather crowded today for practice. And that's a good thing.
Defensemen Marek Zidlicky (concussion) and Justin Falk (upper body) were back skating with the team. Ditto for Gui Latendresse (concussion) and goaltender Josh Harding (whiplash). The only player not practicing was Devin Setoguchi (lower body), who did not make the trip to Winnipeg.
But don't look for a bunch of lineup changes. Latendresse and Zidlicky have a lot of rust removal and conditioning work to do before coach Mike Yeo puts them back in the lineup. The same holds true for Falk. "Obviously it was great to see Gui and Zids and Falky out there," Yeo said. "But today was their first practice . Let's give them a couple opportunities to get out there with the team and execute with the team at game speed."
That means you'll likely see just one lineup change tomorrow in Winnipeg. Winger Cal Clutterbuck, who was skating very well Monday, will be back in the lineup, skating on the top line with Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley. Clutterbuck has dealt with charleyhorse injuries to both legs. The first came in Edmonton at the end of November, the second in San Jose Dec. 6. He has played in just two of the Wild's last five games, missing the last two. But he said after practice that he felt better than he has since the first injury and is ready to go.
Meanwhile, the Wild put three goaltenders on the plane for Winnipeg in Niklas Backstrom, Matt Hackett and Harding.
Hackett was named the NHL's second star of the week after going 2-0-0 with a 1.01 goals-against average and a .974 save percentage last week. Unfortunately, he took a Brad Staubitz shot to the head in practice today -- it hit him right near the ear. Slumped over, he left the ice and did not return. Yeo didn't have an injury update on Hackett post-practice. If Hackett isn't able to play, Harding would be Backstrom's backup.
Ideally, Yeo would like to get Harding -- who has missed the past two games after getting hurt in San Jose -- some more practice before having him back on the bench.
One other note: Houston goaltender Darcy Kuemper was named the league's Reebok/AHL player of the week. With Hackett playing for the Wild, Kuemper made four starts last week, going 2-0-2 with a 0.96 goals-against average and a .970 save percentage.
That's about it. Russo will meet the team in Winnipeg.