As I've written a bunch lately, defenseman Mike Reilly will likely be shuttling back and forth between Minnesota and Iowa for multiple reasons: 1) he's one of the few players on the Wild that doesn't require waivers to get to Iowa (defensemen Christian Folin and Nate Prosser do); 2) the Wild's nestled right up against the $73 million salary cap ceiling; 3) he's a young D that could use extensive playing time in the minors.
Well, Reilly will indeed be in Iowa's lineup Tuesday against the Grand Rapids Griffins.
As GM Chuck Fletcher said a few weeks ago, he has asked the coaches to give him the lineup he wants for each game and he'll adjust accordingly. It was clear in today's practice that Reilly wasn't going to play Tuesday against the Los Angeles Kings, so Reilly is now officially on his way to Iowa, at least temporarily.
With seven defensemen on the roster, Folin coming off a strong game vs. Winnipeg, the Wild playing another heavy team in the Kings and Reilly coming off a shoddy debut in St. Louis, this was bound to occur this afternoon.
Also, Joel Eriksson Ek's work visa has been approved and there's a chance he could be in Iowa's lineup vs. Grand Rapids. Because he hasn't practiced in a week, coach Bruce Boudreau isn't about to throw him into Minnesota's lineup right this season. But he could be up soon, especially because at least one of the Wild's forwards is playing with a nagging injury right now.
Playing in Iowa does not count toward the nine-game window.
As for Tuesday's game, the Wild is 3-0-1 in its past four against the Kings, outscoring them 14-4. At home, the Wild’s 5-1-1 in its past seven since March 31, 2012, vs. the Kings.
The Kings are 0-2 with three goals in two games and without injured goalie Jonathan Quick.
"We're playing probably the most physical team in the league, so we better get ready for them," said the former Ducks coach. "I know exactly what they're thinking. I've seen that team more than I've seen any other team in the league. I think I know what to expect and how they're going to come out, and it's going to be a great test for our team, a great test."
Same lines in today's practice, and same power-play units, with Teemu Pulkkinen on the second unit with Mikael Granlund and Mikko Koivu and Marco Scandella at the point with Matt Dumba.
Watching the Wild's victory against Winnipeg over again, Boudreau said that as mad as he was after the first period when the Wild allowed two goals in the final 71 seconds, the Wild actually played a great game. Other than those two plays, the Wild's breakouts were outstanding all game.
The Jets were charted by the coaches with seven scoring chances in 60 minutes.
"We were shutting them down pretty good," Boudreau said. "I thought we did a lot of good things as long as we don't rest on our laurels."
The most underrated line in that game was the reunion of Nino Niederreiter, Erik Haula and Jason Pominville. They were great in all three zones.
"I thought Erik was so much better, and I told him so, than he was the first game," Boudreau said. "When he's using his legs, he's a pretty good player. He sort of generates the other two guys on the line. They were good to the point that I put them on the power play one shift in the second period."
Jason Zucker remains on the fourth line for now. Said Boudreau, "Me and him talk a lot about defensive responsibility. If he becomes really responsible defensively, he's going to get those chances and they're going to go in for him."
Boudreau also loved the Zach Parise-Eric Staal-Charlie Coyle line: "That line had 11 of the 20-something scoring chances we had in the game, so they're coming along. If you talk to them, they say, 'we're just a little off right now, but we like what we see, we're getting closer.' Zach in particular hasn't had any goals. He's had three breakaways in the two games, I think, really good looks, so I think for him it's a matter of time."
Couple prospect notes:
-- Wild prospect Kirill Kaprizov was named Kontinental Hockey League Forward of the Week. He has seven goals and 13 points in 19 games this season and had a hat trick last week.
-- Wild prospect Ales Stezka was named USHL Goalie of the Week with consecutive shutouts.
-- Wild prospect Dmitry Sokolov, back from a shoulder injury with Sudbury has five goals and an assist in his first six games, including a hat trick.
-- Wild prospect Mario Lucia, who hurt his knee in an Iowa practice, could make his season debut Tuesday vs. Grand Rapids.
Remember, the first Star Tribune Fans Night Out is Thursday against the Maple Leafs. The ticket package includes a lower level ticket, a pregame Q and A with Wes Walz and I, all-you-can-eat concessions and a Wild gift. The link to buy a ticket is here.
Also, the next Russo-Souhan Show is at Hell's Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis at 4 p.m. Wednesday. Please come on down.