Wild vs. Philadelphia Flyers tonight at Xcel Energy Center
Devan Dubnyk makes the start for the Wild. Steve Mason for the Flyers. Ryan Carter returns from a hand injury. Nate Prosser will miss his second straight game with a hand injury (although he skated) and Tyson Strachan will play his second game with the Wild. Justin Fontaine is scratched.
Here were the lines at today's skate:
#mnwild: Parise-Koivu-Zucker; Niederreiter-Granlund-Pominville; Vanek-Haula-Coyle; Porter-Stoll-Carter— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) January 7, 2016
The good news for the Wild? Mikko Koivu will play tonight after getting hurt 1:13 into Tuesday's game in Columbus.
I'm told he was taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons because he was spitting up blood. They wanted to check all his internal organs like kidney, spleen, lungs, etc, but everything checked out. So perhaps he bit his tongue upon impact.
Sounds like he's sore from the impact but playing tonight, which is good news (more on this below). He says he's OK and was able to have dinner last night with one of his best friends, Flyers defenseman Nick Schultz. Koivu, who will play his 721st game tonight for the Wild, is 23 games from passing Schultz's team record of 743.
If you missed it, I did my Sunday column on Schultz. Here's that link. Schultz is two games from becoming the 301st NHLer in history to play 1,000 games.
My next Sunday column will be on the Ryan Johansen for Seth Jones trade and how it affects the Wild, which was in on Johansen but arguably doesn't have a top blue-line prospect like Seth Jones on the roster.
Also, if you missed my feature in today's newspaper, I sat down with four local college kids who drove to St. Louis, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale and Columbus on this past Wild road trip and told some of the funny stories they shared. Fun story to write, really cool kids.
As for Koivu, I'll toss the full details as I know it in the newspaper tomorrow, but Koivu says he's OK.
"You always want to see how it is on the ice and how it is when you actually get to skating and all that," Koivu said. "But I should be good to go
"I think everyone saw the play. For sure it’s always scary when you don’t really have control and you go into the boards at top speed. … Probably got lucky in a way that nothing more happened. I guess I was able to prepare a little bit when you know you’re going into the boards. A lot worse it could have been. Good thing we’re back here and getting right back at it."
Knowing Koivu, it had to be a miserable experience being at the hospital with his team fighting on the ice. But he said he was worried going to the hospital.
He said, "I think you just want to know that everything is good and you’re healthy and that there’s no emergency. That’s the first thing and then it’s trying to get better and get healthy as soon as you can."
As you know, Kaapo Kahkonen, a Wild prospect, backstopped Finland to gold at the world juniors. Finland has three absolute studs that will be top draft picks this June.
Here's Koivu, who captained Finland to gold at the world championships a few years back, on the win:
"I think the whole tournament was a big deal for us. They were getting good crowds. I think they were able to get the whole country behind them basically. It’s gotten a lot bigger with the years. But it’s not always easy – especially at their age – to handle the pressure of playing at home. You want to win so bad, but I think they handled that very well. They had some tough moments in the tournament almost every game basically. But I think they were able to beat that. They got stronger and stronger and their confidence was high – you could see that. It was great to see. And I think it’s not just one tournament. It’s for the future for Finnish hockey, it’s huge that they learn how to win and that they expect in every tournament to do good. I think that’s something, they’re still young, but it’s their first big tournament and they’re able to win that competing against their best at their age. That’s a good sign for the future. More and more when you keep that on, the stronger and stronger the culture is going to get."
As you can see, Koivu was more in the mood to talk about world juniors than his own health.
Here are some snippets of Mike Yeo today:
On Koivu: "That was scary. As soon as he went into the boards, it was scary, and then you find out that he’s gone to the hospital, but obviously the test results, everything was clear. And he feels well, so that’s good news."
On Darcy Kuemper practicing today with the team: "He’s been skating, he’s been working pretty hard. Now it’s just a matter of him getting the workload and getting back. Busy stretch coming up. Pretty tough on Duby what he did last weekend, pretty impressive what he did, but obviously not ideal to have to throw a goalie in there four games in six nights all the time."
Can Kuemper be ready for one of the back-to-back games this weekend: "I don’t know. Right now I think this is a good first step for him getting him out with the group and lets see how quickly he can regain his conditioning and his timing and we’ll have to play that by ear as we go."
On Dubnyk being an All-Star: "Very happy for Devan. Individual awards, it’s a great compliment to those players and the job that they’ve done, and I don’t think that those players are able to achieve that without their teammates, but what he’s done since we traded him for last year is incredibly impressive. We’re all very happy for him. Do feel bad for a couple other guys. The format’s a little different this year. In a normal year, we’d probably have two, maybe three guys. So feel bad for a couple guys that didn’t get voted in.
"Suter, Mikko, Zach, all three of those guys are having great years."
Prosser: "He’s not at a level that he can play. Strachan did a good job. Saw him in training camp and the level and the pace is completely different. But he came in and did a real good job for us and earns another opportunity tonight."
Today at 4 p.m. at Tom Reid's, Jim Souhan and I will be doing another podcast. Come on down.