By Brian Stensaas
The first thing I heard Wild PR guy Ryan Stanzel say into his cell phone this morning was: "There's no goalie here."
Ten hours before face-off, that's quite the predicament, eh?
What he meant was no goalie had been called up to the Wild, and that Josh Harding will be tonight's backup to Nik Backstrom. Yesterday, coach Todd Richards said Harding - who injured his hip in the first period of Thursday's game against Detroit - would likely be out 1-2 weeks. But after practice (which Harding did not participate in) Harding was put through a pretty thorough list of tests. He passed.
"They just asked me if I could backup and I said yes," he said. "It was pretty simple."
Turns out, this news isn't too surprising. Harding said today that coming out of the game Thursday was not his decision. "It's nothing too bad," Harding said. "I'll battle through it. There's worse things that can happen to you, that's for sure."
Harding then added that after thinking about it, coming out of the game was the smart thing to do and that getting back on the ice today was crucial.
He looked pretty good out there. He didn't make a ton of acrobatic moves (who does during a morning skate?) but it wasn't obvious he was hurting or anything.
Same defense tonight, and Backstrom in net of course. But up front it looks like Derek Boogaard could get back into the lineup. Maybe he'll practice his slap shot out there.
I had some real fun conversations with players about tomorrow's skills competition. Boogaard and Clutterbuck are scheduled to square-off head-to-head in the hardest shot competition. Expect no shortage of trash-talking.
John Scott is in there, too, and there's some thought he will take the title.
"If he doesn't fan on it," Eric Belanger said.
More great one-liners like that can be read in tomorrow's notebook.
Still about eight hours til puck drop. St. Olaf and UW-Stout are playing a game at the X starting at 1:30. I'll probably be back at the rink to catch the end of that, then get some work done before Wild/Blue Jackets. As of now, I am still covering, but if Russo shows up it wouldn't exactly be a stunning development.
If I do wind up covering tonight, I'll be posting updates via Twitter under "stensation." Actually, even if I don't wind up being on tonight, feel free to follow me because I am scheduled for five games in the next few weeks.