I'm not sure how you Russoheads are going to handle it, but he's off for the next three days and you're stuck with me, Kent Youngblood.
I was at practice today, but defenders Greg Zanon and Clayton Stoner were not. Zanon (groin) is doing some work off the ice and some skating on his own. Stoner, who hurt a finger blocking a shot with his hand in the second period of Thursday's game, was seeing a doctor this morning and Wild coach Mike Yeo had not yet gotten an update.
But he said neither are expected to play tomorrow, and that a personnel move is expected later this afternoon. I'll update the blog as soon as it happens. Yeo also said a player could be placed on injured reserve (Stoner, I'm sure), precluding the need to send anybody down to make room for the expected addition.
Other notes from this morning:
--The overriding message of today's practice was shooting the puck on net and creating a numbers advantage in front of the net. I'll be writing more about this for tomorrow's paper, but Yeo said the Wild isn't doing enough of either. Part of it maybe players over-passing, or trying to get to different spots to get what they think will be better angles. But Yeo wants the team to develop a mindset, a shooter's mentality. Along with that, he wants players to crash the net to take advantage of loose pucks. "Go on NHL.com and see how goals are scored," Yeo said. "Across the board, every game, it's the same thing. At least four out of five goals of every game, if not five out of five, is you get a puck in that area, around the blue paint, and you have numbers there. We have to become better at that."
--Winger Guillaume Latendresse is now a member of the Wild's top line, along with Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley. Latendresse got a couple shifts there Thursday and Yeo liked what he saw. Today's other lines: Center Matt Cullen with Devin Setoguchi and Pierre-Marc Bouchard; center Kyle Brodziak with Cal Clutterbuck and Nick Johnson. The fourth line Friday was Darroll Powe with wingers Brad Staubitz, Brett Bulmer and Colton Gillies splitting time. Matt Kassian was skating as a defenseman with Zanon and Stoner out.
--Speaking of Kassian, it was his 25th birthday today. To celebrate, his teammates gave him a shaving cream pie-face. There were balloons and cookies in his locker, presumably sent by his family.
--As per usual, the team ended its workout with a shootout drill. This time the coaches took part, and Yeo actually beat Josh Harding with an attempt. Harding said he let Yeo score. "Otherwise I might not have started tomorrow."
Yes, Harding will get his second start of the season Saturday, his second against the Red Wings. Talk about tough duty.
That's about it for now. Have a good afternoon.