Order will be restored to the universe tomorrow, when Mike Russo is back in the daily-coverage seat. Until then, this is Rachel Blount, checking in from today's practice.
Defenseman Ryan Suter, who missed part of the second period and all of the third in Thursday's 2-0 loss to St. Louis, didn't skate at all today. Coach Mike Yeo refused to say what kind of injury Suter has or where it is, saying only that Suter is day-to-day. It did sound as if he has a decent chance of playing Saturday, when the Wild face Columbus at Xcel. Here's what Yeo had to say after practice:
"He's day to day. Obviously, we want to keep him off today and give him a better chance to rest up for tomorrow. With the minutes he plays, with a guy like that, you pretty much go into these practice days and see how he's feeling anyway. So if he's not feeling 100 percent, then you might as well just keep him off.''
When asked if Suter thought he could work through the injury Thursday, since he did return in the second period after missing shifts early, Yeo said it wasn't worth it to keep Suter in. "Why run the risk of hurting yourself worse?'' he said. "It wasn’t quite good enough yesterday. This is a tough guy. He is a tough, tough guy. So again, having part of that game and all of today to rest should help.''
Matt Cullen did skate on his own again Friday, but Yeo said he also is day-to-day.
The healthy guys did some line shuffling Friday. RW Charlie Coyle was reunited with C Mikko Koivu and LW Zach Parise, while Jason Pominville--who was playing right wing on that line--was teamed with C Kyle Brodziak and LW Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Yeo emphasized it was not a demotion for Pominville. He simply thinks, he said, that Pominville fits well with Brodziak and Bouchard, and that their complementary skills might spark this hard-luck offense.
Those numbers again: the Wild has been shut out in three of its past four games. It has six goals in its past six. And it has not scored in the past 121 minutes, 25 seconds.
RW Cal Clutterbuck also was placed on the fourth line with Torrey Mitchell at center and Mike Rupp at LW, while Zenon Konopka was holding a space at LW alongside C Mikael Granlund and LW Devin Setoguchi that will be filled by Jason Zucker, who was recalled Friday afternoon. Zucker was named to the AHL all-star team last week and leads Houston with 24 goals, 50 points and eight game-winning goals. In 14 games with the Wild this season, he had four goals and an assist and was a plus-5.
Yeo on Pominville's move: "Their line (Parise-Koivu-Pominville) hit the post and had four or five quality chances (Thursday). They could have easily potted a couple of goals last night, so this is in no way, shape or form based on the idea that that line can't be really effective for us. We've seen they can be. What it's really about is trying to find some balance through our lineup and putting (Pominville) with Butch and Brodz, that's a line that can definitely produce for us. ... It's got speed, it's got skill, it's got a shooter, it's got a guy who will go to the net. There are a lot of pieces in there. All three are smart players. I'm anxious to see how it works out. ''
Yeo also was careful in discussing the move of Clutterbuck, who hasn't gotten a point in the past seven games and has just three goals and five assists in 33 games this season. "If you're talking about points, then yes, (Clutterbuck is struggling),'' he said. "There are other parts of his game that have been really good. I'm not big on the whole first, second, third, fourth lines. To me, we've got four different lines, four different identities, four different roles.
"As far as I'm concerned, the line he was playing with today fits his role, fits his identity, and it should have the ability and potential to generate some offense. It can certainly generate some momentum and be a line that’s really tough to play against. I don’t think that changes his role. We can say it's the fourth line, but what I see is a line that can be very tough to play against and can bring us some momentum.''
Yeo continued the theme he struck after Thursday's game, that the Wild is doing many things well despite the lack of scoring and that players must stick to the plan and stay positive. Clutterbuck said there is one thing that is making it easier to do so than it might have been in the past.
"We're in the playoffs,'' he said, referring to the Wild's seventh-place spot in the Western Conference standings. "It's a lot more positive than it has been the last couple of years around here. If we win (Saturday) night, then we'll be having a much different conversation the day after.''
More from Star Tribune
More from Russo's Rants
He was let go soon after the Wild's 4-2 loss to the Bruins
Spiraling uncontrollably downward in the Western Conference standings, the Wild has lost eight in a row overall (0-6-2), eight in a row at home (0-5-3), 13 times in the past 14 games overall (1-11-2) and 16 times in 19 games since the calendar flipped to 2016 (3-12-4).
The Wild looks to snap a seven-game losing streak and seven-game home losing streak this afternoon against Boston.
Wild coach Mike Yeo continued to talk about the progress his team has made in recent games, but understands that people are frustrated when the progress doesn't result in victories.
Alex Ovechkin's hat trick helped hand the Wild its seventh consecutive home loss.