The Wild held a very optional practice at Xcel Energy Center. Thomas Vanek was among the handful on the ice, but he’s a ways away from being able to play.
“Well, we’ll see how he feels after today,” coach John Torchetti said. “I haven’t talked to him yet. He just got off. And then have a report for you maybe [Wednesday]. He’d need a couple [practices]. He’s got to get bumped. So that’s the number one thing.”
Zach Parise also skated today on his own as part of his rehab. Torchetti also said he’d provide an update on Parise on Wednesday, but it sounds like that status update won’t change. Out indefinitely for now.
The Dallas Stars just wrapped up practice. Sounds like Kris Russell is still not feeling the greatest and likely ’t play. Jamie Benn was given the day off for maintenance reasons. Coach Lindy Ruff indicated he’ll play. He did take some hard hits last night.
"The fans don’t need to worry. There’s nothing to worry about," Ruff said.
Tyler Seguin isn't skating back in Dallas, Ruff indicated.
If you didn’t see all of our Game 3 coverage, please go to startribune.com/wild for game stories, articles, columns, videos and photos.
Big win for the Wild on Monday night. Now how does the Wild carry that momentum into Wednesday’s Game 4?
“Like we talked before the game, it was the biggest game of the year so far,” said captain Mikko Koivu, who scored the game-winner. “And so is [Wednesday] night’s. We want to carry that momentum into [Wednesday] night’s game. Again, it’s going to be a new game. I think that’s all about the playoffs. You can’t get too low, you can’t get too high. I think we’ve been handling that very well the last couple months here. So we want to keep doing that. Again, recharge here, rest a little bit today, then start preparing.”
Added Torchetti, “We’ve got to bring the energy, but have a better start. Be focused on the walls. You know they’re going to come out just like we were, we were hungry for a win. I’m sure they’re going to want to bounce back and try to get on top of us fast too with a forecheck and try to create turnovers like they did in the first five minutes. So we better be prepared and focused and ready to answer their storm and come back with ours.”
You could tell the excitement level of the players last night just by the celebrations after the goals. Each one was bigger the next between Chris Porter, Erik Haula, Jason Pominville and Koivu.
Koivu jumped into the glass and knocked down two beers. They actually looked like a couple vodka sodas to my untrained eye.
“It was pure joy and excitement and everything about it,” Koivu said. “I owe them two beers.”
Rachel Blount is writing a Koivu story for Wednesday’s paper, I wrote a feature on Lindy Ruff and have a ton of notes in the notebook. Plus, a Chip column.
You can tell Torchetti’s at ease right now. He said it’s not only because his 80-year-old mom and one of his sisters and a couple nephews are in town. It’s because the Iowa Black Aces and especially the staff is up, the equipment and medical guys and PR guy that he has been with since Houston.
“It just feels calmer,” he said.
Torchetti said he couldn’t get to sleep until 3:30 in the morning last night just because he was so wired and having fun with his family.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “Having your family around just makes things that much easier. You can go horse around at dinner, talk, we’re not talking hockey, just talking about family, just doing funny things. Just feel comfortable when you’re around family.”
Here’s some more of Torchetti from today:
On how much his personal experience with Kurtis Gabriel led to the trust to play him: “It’s everything. Trust in a player and a coach is everything. Once everybody’s on the same page, good things happen. Once a player feels the coach trusts him, even when he makes a mistake, he knows he’s going back out there. That’s the biggest thing that everybody from a coach and a player’s standpoint, that’s where you have to understand that that player is going to go right back out there no matter what. When a player has doubt on that, then it starts to sneak into his game and then he’s a little bit worried and he doesn’t play as fast, like we talk about, being too robotic. Once a player and a coach trust each other, good things happen.”
By the way, Gabriel was awesome today talking about his NHL playoff debut and his relationship with Torchetti, and all that will be in Wednesday’s paper.
On challenging Koivu on the ice yesterday: “We were just talking about the game and just what we’re expecting from everybody. Everyone talks about the leaders and think they’re just the three guys. It’s not the three guys. It’s the team. The message is echoed and they follow is lead. I tell guys all the time, there’s nothing wrong with telling guys to work harder or telling your teammates they need to do this or that better. I think we need more of that. That’s what strengthens your locker room.”
On Mikael Granlund’s physical game: “ Mikey’s always played that way. I’m just telling you. I know that he’s got a big compete inside that heart. He’s always had it. I remember the strike (lockout) year and we played Oklahoma City and we played against the Oilers’ guys that were down. 4-on-4 and I said Granny, ‘You’ve got to be the hardest competitor out there,’ and he went out and got the game-winning goal. I like his game. Great kid. Got to shoot a little bit more for me. But good things to come. … Just the type of kid that has a great future here.”
More net-front presence on offense, deflections Monday: “Well, finally. That’s one game now. Now if we can do it for a second game. It’s just like how do you teach a team to shoot? You’ve got to want to shoot the puck, you’ve got to want to be in the lanes, you’ve got to be in a lane. It’s a commitment from the whole team.”
Niederreiter-Haula-Pominville line: “I just want them to check, and that’s the truth. They get points from checking. I don’t look for offense from them. I talked to nino about it. I think when you stray away from your game is when you think you want to get more points, and that’s when your game changes and you kind of get on the wrong side of things because you’re trying to do something extra. Just do what you do best and good things will happen.”
On his fiery first intermission challenge Monday: “Just going over stuff that should be done right, that’s all it is.”
I’ll be on KFAN at 5 p.m. today, KFAN at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday and Fox Sports North on Wednesday night.
Also, the next Russo-Souhan Show is 4 p.m. Wednesday at Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub.