Afternoon from Winnipeg, where there was a pretty eventful morning down at the MTS Centre before the first-ever Wild-Winnipeg game.
According to coach Mike Yeo, Matt Cullen was hit by a flu bug last night and had a rough night. So the team will try to send him back to Minnesota today for some rest and it’s hopeful he can be ready for the Blackhawks game tomorrow.
But with no extra forwards after Jeff Taffe was reassigned, the Wild went from looking like it may have to play seven defensemen (Nate Prosser) to hustling Guillaume Latendresse into tonight’s lineup after only one practice.
The plan is to activate Latendresse off injured reserve by the 4 p.m. deadline. No other roster move would have to take place because the Wild had 22 players on the active roster, four on IR (23 is maximum roster).
Latendresse has missed 15 games since Nov. 10 when he suffered a concussion. He was injured in the second period at San Jose when checked into the boards by Doug Murray, but Latendresse wonders if the injury actually occurred the game before when he was driven face-first into the glass in what I thought was a dirty hit by Calgary’s Mark Giordano.
Latendresse had a bloody nose, but he says he didn’t feel concussion-like symptoms until after the Murray hit. But like is often the case with concussions, sometimes symptoms don’t arise until after the fact.
Coach Mike Yeo said Latendresse will start on the fourth line and he’ll ease him into the game, but while he may play fourth-line minutes, it sounds like Latendresse will be spotted into situations where he can be productive, like on the power play and with more offensive players than Colton Gillies and Brad Staubitz.
As of now, it looks like Cody Almond will start by centering Casey Wellman and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. But remember, Wellman and Bouchard can play center, so on changes on the fly, perhaps Latendresse gets shifts with the second line.
“I’ll talk to the coach during the game and see how I feel,” Latendresse said. “With the adrenaline, sometimes you don’t feel you’re tired because you’re in game. I’ll just try to get into the game and get into the flow and have some fun, I guess.”
Again, he wasn’t supposed to play, so this was a huge surprise to him, but he said, “Why wait?” In other words, what good would another practice or two do?
Well, it’ll be interesting because he has missed a month and his stamina could be an issue. Remember also, the Wild has another game tomorrow against Chicago, so maybe if Cullen comes back, Latendresse gets that game off. Just conjecture, but you’d hate to see the guys strain a muscle rushing back.
Latendresse was starting to feel and look good, like his old self, when he got hurt. The Wild is 12-3 without him.
Niklas Backstrom will start. Matt Hackett will back him up.
Injured Josh Harding, Marek Zidlicky and Justin Falk (Winnipeg native) did skate.
That's it. Talk to you tonight.