Peters gains much as fill-in for Clutterbuck

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 11, 2011 - 12:55 AM

One game was enough of an eye-opener for Peters to know that if the Wild ever gets in a pinch, he has got the faith of coach Mike Yeo that he can more than just play, but actually contribute.

Wild forward Warren Peters

Photo: Andy King, Andy King/Bruce Kluckhohn Photo

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SAN JOSE, CALIF. - Cal Clutterbuck returned to the Wild lineup Thursday night after missing one game because of an injury.

That meant Warren Peters was the choice to be scratched after playing in Tuesday's win at Calgary.

But that one game was enough of an eye-opener for Peters to know that if the Wild ever gets in a pinch, he has got the faith of coach Mike Yeo that he can more than just play, but actually contribute.

A minor league journeyman who is one of the key veteran cogs of the Houston Aeros, Peters has learned during past NHL call-up experiences that it's typically to eat up minutes.

But Tuesday against the Flames, Yeo, who coached Peters last year, gave Peters a significant role on the penalty kill. Almost six of his 10-plus minutes came shorthanded -- unheard of for Wild call-ups of years past.

"I know what he's going to do when he goes on the ice," Yeo said. "I know how he's going to play the game. I know how his battle level's going to be. I know he's going to go to hard areas and make hard plays, and I know he's going to play the system the right way.

"With that, it breeds a lot of confidence."

And that breeds confidence in Peters, 29.

"I know I can contribute, but you've got to have a coach who believes you can play at this level," Peters said. "It doesn't matter if you believe that yourself. You've got to get that chance, too. It's exciting to contribute."

Sheppard recovering

Former Wild first-round pick James Sheppard, now with the Sharks, said it felt like a "grenade" in July when he learned he needed knee surgery all over again. He missed all of his final season with the Wild due to a broken kneecap.

"I knew I wasn't 100 percent. And when you're in this league, you have to be 100 percent, especially with the role I'm going to be doing," Sheppard said. "I can't play at 75 percent. I didn't feel right."

He is skating on his own but still sounds a long way from playing.

"We really look forward to the day where not necessarily he can play, but he can get out there and fully become part of the team," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.

Etc.

• Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley and Marek Zidlicky are the three Wild players on this year's NHL All-Star ballot. Polls open Nov. 14 on nhl.com and close Jan. 4. The top three vote-getting forwards, two defensemen and one goalie will be selected to the All-Star Game in Ottawa, while the rest of the teams are selected by the NHL in consultation with each team's GM.

• Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner missed his sixth game because of a finger injury. "He's still not feeling 100 percent, and he's getting frustrated with that," Yeo said. "I know his legs are there and it's just a matter of letting things heal up."

• Yeo said rookie defenseman Justin Falk has set the bar "awfully high" with his play since Greg Zanon was injured. "I often joke that guys made a mistake because now we expect that of him all the time. I know he's capable of this game," Yeo said.

• McLellan raved about 24-year-old San Jose defenseman Justin Braun, who hails from the Twin Cities. "He's forced some players out of the lineup because of his good play," McLellan said. "He feels like he fits in now and should be playing. Last year he hoped he should play."

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