Good afternoon from the Cities, where I'm throwing on another late blog. Busy, busy day between errands and working ahead on stories. Lots of phone interviews today or simply calling around and checking in with some NHL folks.
Be sure to pick up Tuesday's paper. Kent Youngblood has a real good story written on John Madden, and I'll handle the notebook duties.
The green team put together a last-second rally during today's scrimmage to stun the white, 3-2, in a shootout. Cody Almond banged it by Darcy Kuemper with 13 seconds left in regulation to tie it on assists by Brent Burns and Marty Havlat. Then, in the fourth round of the shootout, Guillaume Latendresse won it.
Robbie Earl, who's looked very good, also scored his second goal in as many scrimmages for green, while workhorse John Madden scored a pair of goals for the white team after a couple Clayton Stoner mishaps -- one when Cal Clutterbuck knocked him off the puck in the green end with a big check and one on a turnover inside the white blue line when Stoner tried to hand it to Brad Staubitz under pressure.
Stoner, who will likely be on the team after two abdominal surgeries last season, looked good the first couple days though.
Roster hopeful Justin Falk had another good day today, as did Nate Prosser and Tyler Cuma.
Burns and Nick Schultz are the only two players in camp who are 2-0. They were traded from the white team to the green team today for some Gatorade powder and a power bar. I think the white team got hosed in the deal, but that's just me.
Funniest moment in the scrimmage came when Mikko Koivu and Burns battled for the puck in one end. Burns started hitting Koivu over the back, and when Burns turned to skate away, Koivu sneakily took the blade of his stick, turned it up right and jammed the handle of Burns' stick. Burns' stick lofted into the air about 50 feet up ice.
"I still came away with the puck," said Burns in the locker room after. Koivu disagreed.
Todd Richards was much happier with today's scrimmage, but Tuesday, the Wild will split the team into two long practices and have a controlled scrimmage during each. In other words, they'll work on things, scrimmage, stop it dead, reinforce things and then scrimmage again. According to the CBA, the first three days of camp can't be more than three hours. Starting Tuesday, it can, so buckle up.
Power play was worked on in both split practices today, and they'll really work on it Tuesday in preparation for Wednesday's exhibition opener against the St. Louis Blues.
With the game at home, you can expect many of the Wild regulars to play vs. the Blues. Richards hopes to give players expected to be on the big club four of the six preseason games before leaving for Finland. With three games in three nights this weekend at St. Louis, home vs. Philly and at Montreal, it will be interesting to see how Richards divvies up the lineups. Some guys will simply have to play back-to-back. There's really no choice when every preseason lineup must have at least eight NHLers included.
-- Unshaven James Sheppard, his left knee swollen after surgery to repair his broken kneecap, was at the rink and on crutches today. I asked him to speak. He said he will eventually, but he really didn't want to today. I can hardly blame him. The Wild hasn't decided yet what they're going to do with him contractwise, and the kid's surely disappointed with having to miss a huge chunk of this season because of this ATV accident.
-- Defenseman Marek Zidlicky (hamstring) practiced for the first time in training camp today.
-- Eric Nystrom, who had another good scrimmage today, was all excited afterward. He's been borrowing sticks in camp, but he received his Bauer shipment today. You'll be seeing a lot of Nystrom quotes this season. Great quote, smart player, and he's a fellow Long Island boy.