By Brian Stensaas
Good day from my home in Apple Valley, just a few miles from Burnsville Center where the newest Minnesota Wild "Hockey Lodge" store is set to open Friday. Come one, come all. Though, I won't be there for the 10 a.m. grand opening of the new 2,184 square foot store. I'll be back at Wild practice - assuming it starts at the advertised 11 a.m. time, unlike today. Weird story, but the team sent out an e-mail shortly after 1 a.m. today saying practice was pushed to 1 p.m. While both Mike Russo and I were on the e-mail list, neither of us received the message. So there I was at roughly 10:40 today, and saw nothing until Clayton Stoner took a few whirls around the ice to test his sore groin a couple minutes before 11.
Odd that no one else was around. Maybe an optional?
Nope. That possibility was dashed when I saw coach Todd Richards walk out in a t-shirt and shorts ask strength coach Chris P-W (trust me; it's easier to just shorten his last name) if he wanted to suit up as a practice goalie. Doing some mental math in my head, I knew it was going to be a later practice. And a short time later, I was informed I was still about 90 minutes early.
Anyway, along with the strength coach, callup Wade Dubielewicz was in for practice today. That, of course, is not good news. Neither Josh Harding (hip) nor Niklas Backstrom (illness, back) took the ice. Richards said the goaltending situation would be re-evaluated later today or tomorrow. Backstrom must still be pretty sick; Richards said his illness has caused him to go to the doctor today. If all tests come back OK, Backstrom could still skate this afternoon. But, let's be honest, he really hasn't done much of anything activity-wise since Jan. 23 against Columbus. So the reality of seeing him back for tomorrow's game against Edmonton is slim.
We'll all learn together how Harding's hip is doing tomorrow after the morning skate. I did not even see him around today, until his Escalade went whizzing past me while I was waiting to cross the street over to my car after practice. So he was at least there today.
Like he did last night after losing in Dallas, Dubielewicz vowed he has to get his act together if he's going to keep getting minutes in this goaltender conundrum the Wild has itself in.
"I have to be ready in any situation," he said today. "If I'm given an opportunity again, I'll be better."
Richards said - for now - the plan is to keep Dubielewicz with the team.
The WIld plays its next five games at the X - its longest home stretch of the season. Winning all five is pretty much a must if the WIld wants to be in the playoff conversation after the Olympic break. Lots of talk about that today in the locker room, and you can read all about it in tomorrow's paper.
And tonight, feel free to tune in to AM-1500 at 6 p.m. for Russo Radio.
Russo, by the way, will have you covered tomorrow night for the game with Edmonton. I'll be around during the day for the team's morning skates and will provide any pregame updates, including the goalie situation.
Yikes, it's 3 p.m. already. Time to get writing.