Afternoon from high above the ground, where we're bouncing around the sky like a ping-pong ball.
Pretty sickening flight to be honest. No cabin service, seatbelt sign on since we left the ground 40 minutes ago.
Apparently, there's so much weather out there, we're taking a very, very long re-routing to St. Louis, like by way of Cali or something.
In non-Nate Prosser news, at the end of Thursday’s morning skate at Xcel Energy Center, coach Mike Yeo pulled Charlie Coyle aside to give him a little pep talk.
Yeo reiterated to me afterward, "I'm not unhappy with Charlie's camp," but he rose the bar so to speak the last 12 games of last season and the playoffs and he wants him to start making plays.
That begins tonight at St. Louis when Coyle mans the right wing on a young top line against the big, bad Blues.
"The biggest thing for me is I want to get all of our guys that I know are going to be with us feeling good about their game," Yeo said. "My only message to him was systemwise he looks good, battle level, conditioning all that stuff looks good. I do know there’s another level to his execution, his playmaking out on the ice. He hasn’t 100 percent been feeling it, so tonight I just want him making plays. And if it doesn’t work, try it again."
Tonight, the Blues will dress a terrific lineup that includes David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Vladimir Terasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Paul Stastny, Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Alex Steen and Kevin Shattenkirk.
Jake Allen is expected to start. Niklas Backstrom for the Wild. The game is not televised. It can be heard on 107.9-FM and I'll be tweeting away at www.twitter.com/russostrib.
The Wild's only regulars playing include Coyle, Nino Niederreiter, Kyle Brodziak, Erik Haula, Keith Ballard and Marco Scandella. As I reported on yesterday's blog, the Wild's lineup includes eight roster hopefuls (Jason Zucker, Michael Keranen, Cody Almond, Stephane Veilleux and Brett Sutter up front and Matt Dumba, Christian Folin and Stu Bickel on the back end) and five callups from Iowa.
"It’s good," Yeo said. "This is what we were hoping for. I was expecting them to ice a good lineup, so this is just what we want. We want a good challenge for these guys to go in there."
They'll also play a tough lineup that includes Paul Bissonnette, Ryan Reaves and motormouth Max Lapierre.
"I’m not concerned about our toughness," Yeo said. "We definitely have some in the lineup as well."
Joel Rechlicz and Bickel will play.
As I mentioned on the previous blog, I'll catch up with GM Chuck Fletcher when he gets to the rink (I'll actually beat the team by an hour) regarding today's Prosser pickup.
I provided what I think the rationale is on the previous blog, but we will see if Fletcher can explain how or if this affects Folin and Dumba. I don't believe the Wild has made a final decision on either yet making the team out of camp, and Prosser just gives the Wild another NHL body if either needs to start in Iowa right away or the Wild's not fully confident that Bickel can be an extra.
Ballard, who has been laboring with abdominal soreness, will get back in the lineup tonight. Again, barring injury, for Folin AND Dumba to make the team, they both need to be inside the top-6. By process of elimination, that affects Ballard.
Yeo though said, "We haven’t put any of that kind of pressure, so if that is something that he’s feeling, then that’s coming from him. We haven’t given him any indication to feel that kind of pressuire. We just want to make sure that his game’s feeling really good and we’re counting on him to have a great season for us."
All eyes will be on Zucker tonight. Up front at wing, the Wild has Parise-Pominville; Vanek-Coyle; Cooke-Niederreiter in the top-9 currently.
So, Yeo compared Zucker today to Justin Fontaine last season in camp. Fontaine made the team, but Yeo said, "We weren’t really sure what kind of role he was going to have with us. Sometimes he was out of the lineup, sometimes he was on the fourth line, sometimes he was on the third line, sometimes as high as the first. Same thing with Nino. We’re giving [Zucker] the opportunity to show at the very worst break in possibly with our fourth line and then from there earn more opportunity. That's all we can do right at this moment. You look at our top 9 forwards, and we’re pretty set there right now. ... If there's going to be an opportunity, that’s the way it'll come about. So far he’s shown he’s capable of filling that kind of role."
The question is whether Keranen can. He's a power-play guy. There may be no room for him on the power play, so there's a real question as to whether Keranen can play a fourth-line role (i.e. be physical, a momentum turner, etc).
Talk to ya after tonight's game.