Perhaps Mikko Koivu, the Wild’s captain, wanted to make sure the intensity level was where it needed to be for his struggling team, which is about to return to action following the All Star break.
Maybe it was just a battle drill in which both Koivu and Matt Dumba just….battled.
For whatever reason, a very crisp and rather high-intensity practice Monday afternoon at Xcel Energy Center got a little more intense when Koivu and Dumba had a bit of a set-to during the aforementioned battle drill.
It came as the team worked in the offensive end, after the two made contact and both went to the ice. They came up pushing and shoving; Dumba lost his helmet. But no punches were thrown.
And nobody seemed to think it was any big deal after the practice ended.
“It’s a battle drill and things happen,” Koivu said. “It’s not the first time and it’s not the last time. And we’ll go from there.’’
Said coach Mike Yeo: “I think we’re not ready for the game tomorrow if we’re not competing at a real high level. And so I liked seeing the intensity today.’’
Koivu and Dumba in happier times
The team gets back into action on the road, starting with Tuesday’s game against the New York Islanders in Brooklyn. For the first time this season the Wild – which started the season well – will be out of playoff position in the NHL’s Western Conference; moving out of the top eight in the conference happened after the Wild had begun their All Star break.
And so, after putting a January in the books that included just three wins in 13 games, the Wild players know they have to start playing better and scoring more.
“We were in a pretty comfortable spot, and now, all of a sudden, we’re on the outside looking in,” Zach Parise said. “Hopefully we can have a good road trip and start this last 30-some game stretch the right way.’’
Here are some other items from practice
--Here are the lines Yeo went with today: Koivu with Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle; Mikael Granlund with Parise and Jason Pominville; Jarret Stoll with Thomas Vanek and Jason Zucker; Erik Haula with Chris Porter and Justin Fontaine.
--Ryan Carter, who has missed seven games with a hand injury, practiced today and looked good, Yeo said. “Not going to get any definitive answer on our lineup right now,” Yeo said. “But I’d say there is a good chance we’ll be seeing him here soon.’’
--All Star goalie Devan Dubnyk was given the day off from practice.