I'll be honest, I am dragging today, so this won't be a particularly special blog.
4 a.m. wakeup call after getting back from last night's game at 12:30 a.m., and then just as I'm walking out of my hotel room at around 4:30 a.m., the airline calls to tell me my 6 a.m. flight is now leaving Washington at ....... 1 p.m!!!
Uh, no chance. A couple phone conversations later, and I was rerouted to Raleigh through Detroit.
So I'm tired, cranky, still have my Sunday Insider to write, my back hurts, my head hurts, Falness is still annoying, it's cold out, the gas in my rental car wasn't all the way full, my buddy who lives in Raleigh had the audacity to go on his honeymoon, they're playing Matchbox 20 on Pandora right now, the Panthers continue to be an absolute trainwreck and the hotel Internet is slow.
But other than that, everything's just great!!!
(Note: For those of you who are probably steaming right now thinking that Russo doesn't know how good he has it and 'I wish I could cover hockey and get paid for it, so stop your whining,' I am tired, but the rest of the above stuff, I swear to you, I am kidding around. Well, I am cranky. And Falness is ...).
On the Wild front, not much going on.
--First, the good news. Zach Parise looks good to go for Saturday's game against the Staaaaaaal Brothers and the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena (it will always be RBC Center in my heart). Parise was working on his sticks this morning and he says he's OK. Big sigh of relief throughout the organEYEzation and the state of MinnesOHta. When he took that shot off the wrist last night, you can bet Mike Yeo's heart began to triple time.
--Second, defenseman Clayton Stoner, who crashed hard into the boards last night on a trip by Aaron Volpatti and sustained some kind of leg injury, got treatment today and is questionable for the Canes game. Yeo said he is feeling better, but they'll have to see how he feels in the morning.
If Stoner can't play, unless Keith Ballard or an Iowa reinforcement is being helicoptered in, Matt Dumba would play his 10th game.
You know that would be a sigh of relief for the 19-year-old, who is as tired of answering questions from the ink-stained wretches about the benchmark as the stinkin' ink-stained wretches are asking him about it.
Remember, Ballard is back home, and he's a left-shot D (although he has been mostly playing the right side). Stoner is a left-shot D.
So if Stoner can't play, Yeo would have a choice: Does he separate left-shot D pair Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin OR does he play Nate Prosser or Dumba, both right-shot D, on the left side? That is not easy and remember one reason why Prosser was a continuous healthy scratch last season is because Yeo didn't have a lot of confidence putting Prosser on the left side.
But Yeo doesn't sound like a man that wanted to break up his top defense pair, especially against Eric Staaaaaaaaal.
Cue Yeozie on putting a right-shot D on the left side: "At the end of the year, I said we should have given [Prosser] more opportunity [even if it were on the left side]. We only gave him a few games there and sometimes it takes a little time to get used to it. We've never seen Dums play that, so I don't know. Sometimes you have to show the confidence in the players so they can show they can do it, so we'll see."
--Third, Yeo didn't reveal which goalie will start vs. Carolina, Josh Harding or Niklas Backstrom. Backstrom did get on the ice today, Harding played basketball. Harding continues to play well, but as I wrote the past few days, the Wild wants to get Backstrom in at some point. So we shall see.
-- Fourth, Yeo was still very pleased with the effort and game the Wild put forth in a shootout loss last night in D.C. He said you can argue that was one of the Wild's better games recently, saying, "Our forechecking pressure, that relentless pursuit, we were a very frustrating team to play against. I think we were really having an effect on them, but we need to find a way to close out that game."
Wild is 6-1-1 in the past eight.
-- Fifth, About 10 or 12 players skated at the Canes' practice rink.
The rest played hoops on the NC State's basketball court. Not exactly Cameron Indoor Stadium, but it'll have to do.
The Wolfpack (the guys from NC State, not the Hangover) play Appalachian State tonight, I believe, since the Wild tried to challenge a few of them to hoops.
On the court playing hoops today with Canes coach Kirk Muller scouting included off memory: ChAHlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Jason Pominville, Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, Matt Cooke, basketball star Josh Harding, Mike Yeo, Kirk Olson, Rick Wilson, Torrey Mitchell, Ryan Suter.
I did my Wild Minute for Saturday with them in the background. A few of the guys were surprisingly good. It's clear Harding is just an athlete-and-a-half in pretty much everything he does.