Elk River's Nate Prosser made his NHL debut tonight and got his first NHL point with an assist on Andrew Brunette's 25th goal of the season, which is two off his career high.
Prosser became the 39th player to dress for the Wild this season and seventh to make his NHL debut. He became the eighth Minnesotan to play for the Wild.
His first three or four shifts, he looked like a ship without a rudder. He was freaking out basically. Not only was it his first NHL game, but he hadn't played a hockey game since his final game with Colorado College three weeks ago.
He was ahead of the play at times, looking like he was playing forward. At one point, he snapped his stick and started playing with it, a no-no the refs allowed him to get away with.
But Prosser settled down very nicely and played real well, a mostly solid 19 minutes, 31 seconds. He also got his first double-minor on a high-sticking late in the game on Ryan Potulny. I didn't get a good look, but Prosser didn't think he got him.
“I tried to take a few deep breaths in warmups, but I was pretty nervous,” Prosser, 23, said. “I was pacing in my hotel room and I was sweating bullets before the game. But after a shift or two, I kind of got in a rhythm and started playing my game.”
Prosser was playing because defensemen Nick Schultz (leg) and Marek Zidlicky (a minus-15 the last 10 games, arm) couldn't play. Prosser took Zidlicky's spot on the power play and was shocked to say the least.
"He put me out on the first power play, and I was a little nervous at first, but kind of eased into it," Prosser said.
Owen Nolan was also out with a leg injury, and then things got really hairy when Guillaume Latendresse, who has been playing banged up to begin with, had his back seize up on him in the second period and Marty Havlat pulled his hamstring and groin, according to coach Todd Richards.
Greg Zanon, who took another few ridiculous shots to the foot today and had trouble getting up after falling into the goal cage at one point, took Havlat's spot on the power play the rest of the game.
The Wild's so shorthanded now, the second power-play unit forwards at one point were Cody Almond, Casey Wellman and James Sheppard, then Wellman, Sheppard and Cal Clutterbuck.
"We didn't have a lot of options," said Richards.
Brent Burns was minus-3. Cam Barker, another poor game. His skating is a major issue. Havlat and Latendresse were minus-2's. Mikko Koivu didn't have his best game but got his 49th assist, one off P-M Bouchard's team record. The Wild gave up its league-leading 13th shorthanded goal.
Brunette became the sixth Wild player to get to 25 in a single season.
Derek Boogaard played maybe his best game of the season. He was a presence, skated well, had chances and clearly made Oilers dodge checks. John Scott got 2-5-10 for instigating Dean Arsene into a fight after Arsene took a leaping head shot at James Sheppard's face well after he dumped the puck. We'll see if the league looks at it.
The 6-9 Scott pummeled Arsene.
Here's a funny quote from my man Jim Matheson from the Edmonton Journal: “I could have hit him with a baseball bat and I don't think he would have flinched,” said Arsene. “I tried to get him with a couple of quick lefts, figuring he wouldn't know I was a lefty, but I hit him with one and he just stood there. Nothing happened. Somebody on our bench asked me, 'Did he hit you on the nose when you went down?' I told him, 'if he hit me on the nose, the nose would have been on the ice.'"
The Wild will take Tuesday off, so I'll give you an injury update if I get one. Otherwise, I've got a ton of large stories to write for this week as the Wild and myself play out the string. So, you may not hear from me.
All of Houston might have to come up now with all these injuries, although Chuck Kobasew's on the trip and may be able to play Thursday.
Talk to you from Calgary Tuesday or Wednesday.