Darcy Kuemper vs., I’m assuming, Alex Stalock tonight at Xcel Energy Center.
If Stalock starts, it’ll be the former UMD Bulldog’s first career start in his home city. He made 18 saves in his first career start against the Wild last month in San Jose.
If Antti Niemi starts, it’ll be a second of back-to-back for him after last night’s last-second Sharks win at Winnipeg. That win put the Wild seven back from a playoff spot, but at least the Jets didn’t get a point, too.
Nate Prosser is the latest sick Wild player. I think I mentioned the other day how all the latest stomach bug guys sit all around each other in the locker room (both goalies, Sutter, Zucker, etc.). Well, Prosser’s right there, too.
“Hopefully that’s where it ends,” coach Mike Yeo said. “It’s made its way through a lot of different people. I keep saying, ‘it’s his turn.’ But I say that jokingly. I’d like for it to end.
“You have to overcome these things. But it seems like it always happens on a game day. You prepare, you practice the day before, you have your lines or your pairings set and then for whatever reason a game day always seems to be the time when it hits us.”
Justin Falk has been recalled presumably to play for Prosser, who was playing the left side. If Falk sits, Stu Bickel would play.
Speaking of Bickel, he sprinkled the infield with an instigator 10-minute misconduct, aggressor for trying to hit Jason Demers when the fight was over and another game misconduct the other night in Dallas. I couldn’t figure out what the game was for. I confirmed that the game misconduct was for getting into a second fight at the same time he was in another.
So, not only did Trevor Daley not get a third-man in, Bickel was the one penalized for Daley holding his arms back as he got punched by Demers. Hard to get calls that wrong, but hey, it was mayhem on the ice.
Kuemper has been pulled five times since Nov. 13. Yeo will come back with him tonight and said, “Let’s write the Dallas game off completely. Aside from that, I think that he’s been very good [post-Christmas].”
Yeo means the whole team stunk in front of Kuemper on Saturday, so he’s not pinning that loss on Kuemper’s play.
I’m doing my game notebook on Alex Tuch for tomorrow’s paper. I talked to Wild assistant GM Brent Flahr about the 2014 first-round pick and analyst Pierre McGuire, who says he watched every game of the world juniors and knows his game well.
Lastly, Clayton Stoner, the Wild draft pick who signed a four-year, $13 million deal with Anaheim July 1, took some potshots at the Wild in an Orange County Register article here.
“I didn’t like the way it was run in Minnesota,” Stoner said. “They kind of just give one defenseman all the minutes and the rest suffer. And I wasn’t happy there. I don’t think the minutes displayed how I was playing. It was more of the just the way things were run there.
“That being said, I wanted a new opportunity. A new chance. Bob said that there’d be a good chance here. Everything so far has been good, if not better than I thought it would be.”
Yeo said, “I don’t have any comment on it. … I don’t think that Suts played 59 minutes of every game.”
The quotes were interesting though and paint a picture of what at least Stoner was thinking when he played for the Wild. The comments come at an interesting time also when Suter hasn’t been playing well and when the Wild seems hesitant to put Marco Scandella into a bigger role on a power play.
But, to be fair, it’s hard to say the Wild only gives the ice time to Suter when the Wild has three defensemen in the top-21 in average ice time per game in the NHL (Suter, Jonas Brodin and Jared Spurgeon).
Also, while Stoner’s average ice time took a significant hit last season at 13 minutes, 20 seconds per game, he is averaging 17:36 this season with Anaheim – less than he averaged in 2013 with the Wild (18:13 a game) and exactly what he logged in 2011-12 (17:36). In his career with the Wild, he averaged 16:12 per game.
Regardless, the Wild misses Stoner’s size, ruggedness and physicality, especially with Keith Ballard out indefinitely. I said last July and August after the Wild missed out on Willie Mitchell that the Stoner haters would see there was a void missing despite the occasional turnover.