Greetings. Youngblood here, covering practice as Russo wings his way to Calgary.
It was an interesting day over at the X. I got there before practice began. Usually the players warm up, then stretch, then get a little chalk talk from coach Todd Richards, then begin their drills. Today it was a little different. Before the drills began there was an extended period while Richards, surrounded by the team, held a give-and-take, question-and-answer session. The subject? Richards was rather coy, saying he was just discussing Thursday night's loss to Ottawa.
It appears at least one point of discussion was getting the team to a point where it can handle adversity without falling flat, which is what happened Thursday when a Wild goal was waived off because of a too-many-men penalty, then Ottawa took a 2-1 lead nine seconds into the overtime.
At this meeting some of the players spoke up, some responded to queries from Richards. "Just a friendly conversation," Richards said. "We just talked about last night's game. That's was really it. I wanted their thoughts on last night's game."
Might just be me, but I felt a real edge around the dressing room today. This home-and-home with Calgary is huge, and the team knows it.
Meanwhile....Cal Clutterbuck is, "banged up,'' according to Richards and his availability for the Calgary game will be decided tomorrow. He did make the trip, which is a good sign.
Center Matt Cullen is also expected back in the lineup after missing three games with a groin injury.
Also: Richards mixed up his lines a bit at practice, and said those changes could carry through in the game. The productive line of Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Martin Havlat and Kyle Brodziak is intact. But he had Chuck Kobasew on a wing with center Mikko Koivu and winger Andrew Brunette. Antti Miettinen was on a line with center Cullen and winger Patrick O'Sullivan. Finally, John Madden was centering a line with Eric Nystrom and Brad Staubitz.
That's about it. Russo will pick things up tomorrow.