Happy New Year everybody.
The Wild had an 80-minute, strenuous practice down at the X this morning in which power play and defensive-zone structure were huge priorities. It ended with a skateathon.
Good work day, players called it.
Three players returned to practice this morning, including Devin Setoguchi, who hurt his knee Dec. 6 on a check he didn't like from the man he was traded for, Brent Burns. He lasted the entire practice and skated on the No. 1 line and No. 1 power-play unit. Setoguchi has missed 12 games. But does the fact he was so engrained in practice mean he could actually return Wednesday in Vancouver after only a second practice?
"Definitely a good chance," Setoguchi said.
The Wild will make the decision after seeing how he holds up during a second tough practice Tuesday, but coach Mike Yeo said, "We could use him."
Also back in practice are Casey Wellman (wrist, nine games missed) and Clayton Stoner (groin, four games missed). Both looked good. The Wild will bring nine defensemen on the road trip, Yeo said. Obviously Stoner won't play initially, but with Marco Scandella, scratched last game, likely returning against Vancouver, there will be two defensemen scratched. Lately, the likeliest candidates are Mike Lundin and Greg Zanon.
Yeo basically admitted today that it would be awfully hard to scratch Marek Zidlicky or Nick Schultz, but he also said every player his held to a standard and there's no "untouchables." Personally, I do think Lundin particularly is a victim of this. The scratches for Zanon began the game Zidlicky returned and Lundin's began the game after he and Schultz really, really struggled in Vancouver. I just think it would be awfully tough for Yeo to scratch Schultz, the longest-tenured player on the team, the all-time leader in games and a leader who's extremely popular in the room.
But with 9 D now, unless something gives by way of a trade of Zanon or Lundin, it's getting to the point that every defenseman is a big mistake or two from sitting with me in the press box. Zanon could be back there after his very tough game against Phoenix.
Speaking of Phoenix, Raffi Torres had a hearing today with Sheriff Shanahan for his head shot on Nate Prosser the other night.
No Guillaume Latendresse on the ice because of this, nor injured Jarod Palmer.
Also, my thoughts and prayers are with Benilde-St. Margaret's student-athlete Jack Jablonski, who suffered a serious injury Friday in a JV hockey game. Here is the story. He's currently paralyzed, but there remains big hope that his longterm prognosis is good.
Just a sad story and a couple Wild players were talking about going over and visiting Jack this afternoon. I wish Jack, his family and his friends all my best.