The Wild held a relatively brief practice Monday at Xcel Energy Center, and no wonder. The real task of the day was laid out along the path from the locker room to the rink: hundreds and hundreds of pieces of memorabilia to be signed. Twice a year, the team gathers huge quantities of sticks, jerseys, pucks and other items—including, on Monday, a Wild-logo electric guitar—and has players sign them for charitable donations, prizes and other purposes.
That made hand cramps or wrist discomfort the biggest injury risk of the day. As far as actual hockey injuries, Nino Niederreiter said his sprained left ankle felt much better after the 45-minute practice, leaving open the possibility he could return for Tuesday’s home game against Winnipeg. Coach Bruce Boudreau was a little more circumspect.
Niederreiter practiced Monday on a line with Eric Staal and Marcus Foligno and didn’t appear to be hampered in any way. Boudreau continued to say Niederreiter’s status will be a game-time decision.
“He’s trending in the right direction,’’ Boudreau said of Niederreiter, who has missed six games since being injured Oct. 12 at Chicago. “He’s looking better.
“He looks ready, he’s in shape, all of those things. You never know what happens. In a game, you’re going to have a different movement, because you’re playing guys that really don’t like you and are going to try to get you off your game. So we’ll see.’’
Winnipeg crushed Pittsburgh 7-1 on Sunday behind a hat trick by Plymouth native and former Gopher Blake Wheeler and another excellent performance by goalie Connor Hellebuyck. Hellebuyck is 5-0-1 with a save percentage of .937 and goals-against average of 2.05.
The Wild lost 4-3 at Winnipeg on Oct. 20 in the teams’ only meeting this season, as Wheeler scored the winner with 6:46 left.