After a long practice Sunday, the Wild didn't skate Monday--or at least, most of the team didn't. Forwards Justin Fontaine and Erik Haula, working their way back from injuries, skated by themselves at St. Thomas Ice Arena. The rest of the team did an off-ice workout at Xcel.
Coach Mike Yeo returned after missing Sunday's practice and said he expects to know more soon about the status of Fontaine and Haula for the season opener. Rosters must be submitted to the NHL by 4 p.m. Tuesday; as of early Monday afternoon, Yeo wasn't sure whether Fontaine (oblique injury) and Haula (groin) will be ready to go for Thursday's game at Colorado. The coach said "we're pretty clear'' on who he wants on the 23-man roster for opening night, but it won't be settled until he has more definitive answers on his players' health.
Fontaine and Haula could return to practice Tuesday. Yeo did note that even if Fontaine is declared healthy, he might not be ready for the opener.
"He's missed a significant portion of camp,'' Yeo said. "So even if he is healthy enough to play, there are some other parts that go into it in terms of getting his conditioning up to snuff, getting his legs underneath him and making sure his game is up there, too. He's missed a lot of time here. So we'll see how it goes.''
In talking about his defensive corps Monday, Yeo said he would put his group up against anyone in the NHL. While the depth should lighten the load on ironman Ryan Suter, Yeo cautioned that he won't pare back Suter's minutes too much.
"He's not going to be playing 18 or 19 minutes a night,'' Yeo said. "He's one of the top defensemen in the National Hockey League, and we have to make sure we're utilizing him the best we can. We feel if we can take (Suter's minutes) down a little bit, that will increase the productivity for him.''