There was good news and bad news at Thursday’s Wild practice.
Defenseman Ryan Suter, the NHL’s time-on-ice leader the past two seasons, practiced and showed no lingering effects of an arm injury from Tuesday’s Game 3. Left wing Matt Moulson, however, didn’t practice and will miss at least Game 4 with a lower-body injury that coach Mike Yeo said the veteran has been battling through for a while.
It may explain why Moulson, acquired to add goal-scoring pop in the playoffs, has been so ineffective this series (one assist) and has only one goal in 10 playoff games.
“He’s been battling this for a little bit here, so hopefully we can use this as an opportunity to get him back,” Yeo said.
Suter said he’s fine after Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa landed on his arm “weird” late in the second period Tuesday. He said his arm burned afterward. “It was kind of scary, but I feel good now,” Suter said.
Suter played nearly 10 minutes in the third period, sprung a 3-on-2 that led to Mikael Granlund’s goal and assisted on Zach Parise’s power-play goal.
“Everyone played better in the third,” Suter said. “We’re still down in the series. We still have to play desperate. They’re a very good team. They’re probably champing at the bit to get going again, and we have to have that same urgency and the same intensity we had Tuesday night.”
Asked if he felt the Wild had leveled the playing field with the Blackhawks, Suter said: “I don’t know about that. I mean, they’re the Stanley Cup champions. I think we’re still building. But to be in the situation we’re in is a huge thing for us because we’re still in the building stage of our organization. To be where we are is great. I still think we can win, and [Friday] night’s going to be a tough game.”
Since watching a Wild- produced postgame celebratory video from Game 3, many Wild fans have wondered why Wild players called Granlund “Bruuuuuce” when he walked in the locker room.
It actually stems from players calling Parise “Brinks,” a nickname Mike Rupp brought to the Wild with him from New Jersey, where he and Parise were teammates.
“One day we’re sitting at breakfast and I was walking away and Granny called me ‘Springs,’ ” Parise said. “I’m like, ‘What did you call me?’ He goes, ‘Springs.’ I go, ‘What is that?’ He goes, ‘Isn’t that what everyone calls you?’ I go, ‘No, no, they call me Brinks.’ He goes, ‘Oh, I thought it was Springs, like Bruce Springsteen’ [because I played in New Jersey],” Parise said, laughing hysterically.
“That’s how nicknames get started. We started calling him Bruce. He does not look like a Bruce at all, so that’s what makes it better.”
Cooke set for third line
Left wing Matt Cooke will return from a seven-game suspension for kneeing Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie in the first round and replace Moulson on the third line with rookies Erik Haula and Justin Fontaine.
Yeo said he expects Cooke will be able to jump right back.
“We’ll have a talk with him to make sure that his head’s in the right place as far as how he has to play the game, and he’s going to add, definitely, some speed. He’s going to add some physicality,” Yeo said.
Parise said Wednesday’s day off should benefit the entire team after a busy schedule.
“When you do have two-day breaks, you’ve got to take one day and as much as you can get away from it, not think about hockey and shut it off. It’s refreshing,” he said.
He joked that after entertaining his twin boy and girl Wednesday, “to me, this [Thursday] is a day off and that [Wednesday] was work.”
Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, coming off his first playoff shutout since 2006, is enjoying the ride with the Wild.
“It’s a unique atmosphere and a unique team here,” Bryzgalov said. “It’s so enjoyable. Every day you come here, you just enjoy the hockey and understand how great it is. It’s tough to describe, but it’s the group of guys, the group of people. People are incredibly nice and kind. It’s enjoyable to be around.”
Starting time update
Game 5’s puck drop will be determined after Friday’s Rangers-Penguins game. If the Rangers win, the Wild and Blackhawks are expected to have another late puck drop. If the Penguins win, the Wild and Blackhawks are expected to play in the early evening.