Devan Dubnyk, who has stopped the past 94 shots he has faced over a 180-minute stretch, vs. Robin Lehner tonight as the Wild, 4-0 at Xcel Energy Center, plays its final home game until Nov. 15.
Four in a row on the road starts Saturday afternoon in Denver.
As I reported yesterday, Zac Dalpe underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to repair a lateral meniscus tear. He’ll be out four to six weeks. He was placed on long-term injured reserve so the Wild could exceed the salary cap ceiling and recall three players – Tyler Graovac, Christoph Bertschy and Jordan Schroeder, the reigning AHL Player of the Week.
With one game in the next nine days, I’d think the Wild will shuttle guys back and forth to Iowa to save some cap space unless Bruce Boudreau really convinces Chuck Fletcher it’s worth spending daily cap space in order to have quality practices. The Wild does have some mandatory off days in the next week-and-a-half, so maybe the Wild just do its reassignments those days.
We shall see.
My guess on lines tonight vs. Buffalo based on Boudreau saying he won’t play the three recalls together on the fourth line and that Graovac would be on the fourth line:
At some point, I’d try Zucker with Staal and Coyle. Just sayin’
Oh, Chris Stewart is playing tonight after missing Monday’s practice with an illness.
Schroeder would love to stick around this time around, but at this point, he knows his role in the Wild organization.
“That’s why I have to prove to them that I belong here,” he said. “So I’m just going to go out and do what I do best and hopefully it’s a good outcome.?
He said he was “a little shocked” to be assigned to Iowa because he thought he was in the midst of a good camp.
“But they were giving I guess some other guys some looks,” Schroeder said. “That’s the way it goes sometimes. Not everyone has an easy road. It’s been difficult for me, but I think mentally I’ve overcame a lot of challenges. You look at a lot of people, they crumble and they fall apart when they keep getting sent down, but my mental attitude has been pretty outstanding from what I’ve seen and how I’ve handled it. So, it’s deserving to get that call. A lot of hard work goes in behind the scenes that a lot of you guys don’t really see, so it’s good to get rewarded.”
He says, “I’ve probably changed as a person a lot since I first started pro hockey. You realize how difficult this league is. It’s not easy. You’ve got to take advantage of every opportunity you can, and mentally, you have to stay positive and just keep going and not give up and not quit. That’s been the hard part.
“I have expectations of myself, I have high goals. And whenever I don’t reach those goals, it’s disappointing. I feel like I let myself down. But usually it takes me a few hours, maybe a day, to kind of regroup. And I say, I’m going to get back on my horse and I’m going to work as hard as I can to get back up.”
As you know by now, Boudreau doesn’t mince words. Asked what he saw from Schroeder in camp, he said, “Well, not enough evidently. But we know how he plays. He’s fast, he knows how to play with the puck. He’s a goal-scorer, he’s an offensive guy. The difference down there playing in the American League is he’s playing center, here, he’s gotta play wing, where you need to be a little more physical. If he uses his wheels like we saw in training camp, then he’s a really effective player.”
Graovac knows one goal doesn’t make a career.
“The biggest thing with management here, they've always wanted me to play consistent hockey. That's been kind of the bottom line for me the first three years. It's going to be a good challenge for me tonight to stay consistent whether it's faceoffs and keep my feet moving. I've got some good wingers tonight and I'm looking forward to battling.”
With Dalpe out and until Erik Haula returns from a foot injury, Graovac said, “When one guy gets hurt, another guy can kind of jump in there and help the team out. It's always an opportunity no matter where I am. And I'm excited to keep rolling here.”
Graovac said GM Chuck Fletcher explained the situation when he sent Graovac and Bertschy down the other day.
“Bertschy and I were foam rolling out, having a protein shake, and Chuck called us in and said, 'You know what Grao, I know you're getting sick of this, but we're going to have to send you down.' It's understandable and at the end of the day this team's on a roll and I'm a part of it so that's what's great. He's a very personal GM. He seems to develop a really solid relationship with me and he just said, 'You know, Grao we've got to send you down for money reasons. So just keep rolling and we'll get you back up as soon as we can.'”
Boudreau doesn’t want to give Graovac too much rope until he proves more, saying, “I think he’s doing fine where he is. Too much too soon sometimes becomes a problem. He’s played one good game, let’s try to build on that and make it two. And all of the sudden, you get a consistency factor. That’s what we want. During the course of the game, a lot is predicated on how they’re playing, whether they get more or less too. That’s the way we’ll work it.”
With Dalpe out, Boudreau said, “When one door closes, another one opens. There’s obviously a spot there, so it’s a little bit like training camp. We’re waiting for somebody to come up and grab it and say, ‘It’s mine and that’s it.’ The opportunity is going to be there for any of those guys plus more guys in Iowa. They keep playing well, they’re going to get opportunities.”
On Dalpe’s injury, Boudreau said, ““I feel bad for him. I was using him more and more and I still have confidence in him, but he competed, he fought for us, he did all of those things. When a guy who has been playing most of his life in the minors, when that happens, you feel bad for him because this was his opportunity to stay here, not that he’s going anywhere. But an injury derails that momentum that he had.”
By the way, Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Hell’s Kitchen, please join Jim Souhan and me for a live taping of the Russo-Souhan Show.