Greetings. Youngblood here. I had the pleasure of taking in the Wild's first outdoor practice over the oval in Roseville.
It was a fun time. There were no sideboards, only knee-high pads that provided the outline for the rink. After warming up and skating through a few drills the Wild did some 4-on-4 scrimmaging. Afterward a few of the players commented on how good the ice was, and how much fun the practice was.
I think it was a welcome change of pace for a team locked in a playoff chase. Afterward many folks talked about how cool it would be to get an outdoor NHL game in Minnesota.
But, to the news at hand, namely Mikko Koivu's left hand.
Wait. There really wasn't any new news there on the status of the Wild captain's condition. GM Chuck Fletcher said an update would come Monday. Richards said he had no new information. Just about everybody talked about how hard it would be to fill the hole in Koivu's absence, whether it be short or long.
Short term? The Wild called Cody Almond up from Houston and Richards said he'd be the team's fourth center. So don't look for either Bouchard or Nystrom to move inside for now. Like he did against Anaheim Friday, Richards said he'd likely suit seven defensemen for tomorrow's matinee against Detroit. You will continue to see players expanding their roles like they did Friday, when Martin Havlat killed penalties and Nystrom got in on the power play.
Richards said he hoped the team would take the loss of Koivu and make it a rallying point. Getting the kind of effort the Wild got out of centers Matt Cullen, John Madden and Kyle Brodziak Friday wouldn't hurt either. Indeed, Richards said he thought the line of Madden-Nystrom-Clutterbuck, which was matched up with Anaheim's Getzlaf line, was perhaps the team's best Friday.
Richards said Backstrom would be in nets vs. the Red Wings.
D Marco Scandella returned to practice for the first time, but Russo thinks he could be re-assigned to Houston.
I talked to GM Chuck Fletcher during practice, but he wasn't letting on about whether the team is more willing to dive into the trade market in the wake of Koivu's injury.
That's about it for now. Russo will be at tomorrow's game, weather permitting.