You always know when the Wild is playing a Canadian team, because the number of visiting media expands by about a factor of three. And when it’s Montreal, it’s particularly large. The Wild locker room was stuffed with cameras and reporters Thursday, and most of them wanted to talk to Matt Cullen.
If that seems like an odd choice—Cullen is centering the Wild’s fourth line—check the date. Thursday is Cullen’s 41st birthday, and he’s still grinding away, even after thinking he would retire after winning another Stanley Cup last season with Pittsburgh. Cullen said dietary changes have helped keep him healthy and fit, and the chance to play in Minnesota was too good to pass up.
“With a little bit of time and recovery, I started to feel good again and thought I might be able to play,’’ he said. “I’m treating this like it’s my last year. I don’t want a year to go by and then think, ‘Yeah, there might be another year,’ and miss out on enjoying everything. I’m trying to enjoy it as much as I can.’’
Defenseman Matt Dumba will stay in the lineup, despite the glaring mistake that got him benched for the final 19 minutes, 17 seconds of Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to Winnipeg. Dumba’s thoughtless drop pass to open ice was stolen by Nikolaj Ehlers, who skated in alone and scored the winning goal. Kyle Quincey will be the healthy-scratch defenseman for the second game in a row, after Gustav Olofsson played well enough Tuesday to keep his place in the lineup.
Boudreau was furious with Dumba, who did not get back on the ice after his error. But he stopped short of pulling him from the lineup, believing Tuesday’s punishment was sufficient.
“It crossed my mind,’’ Boudreau said, when asked if he considered scratching Dumba. “In the end, I thought 19 minutes was enough. And hopefully, he got the message.
“We’ve talked a lot. I would anticipate that he’s going to be playing better.’’
Devan Dubnyk will start in goal.
Other news from the morning skate:
--Marcus Foligno has been allowed to remove the cage from his helmet. The forward had been wearing the protective gear since breaking a facial bone in a fight Oct. 12 at Chicago. He said the injury healed more quickly than expected and that he has no restrictions, meaning he hasn’t been told not to fight.
--Forward Landon Ferraro, who has a hip flexor injury, was on the ice. Called up from Iowa to fill a roster spot when the Wild forward corps was missing three injured players, he was hurt Oct. 20 in his second game. He hasn’t played or practiced since.
Boudreau said Ferraro is “getting closer’’ and could be ready to play by the weekend, when the Wild end the six-game homestand with a Saturday game against Chicago.