Niklas Backstrom's knee is fine, as is Matt Hackett's glove hand.
The Wild -- or a bunch of youngsters and minor-league vets wearing Wild sweaters -- grinded out a 1-0 win here at Scottrade tonight over the St. Louis Blues.
Backstrom, who missed the early training camp scrimmages with a sore knee, looked terrific with 18 saves in two periods of work. He made a number of highlight-reel stops, but that was nothing compared to the workload Hackett faced in the third.
The Wild spent the entire period in its zone, and despite being outshot 14-1, Hackett shut the door to complete the shutout. The young Hackett, who helped lead Houston to the Calder Cup Finals last spring, made a couple huge saves, especially a dynamite glove save to rob Andy McDonald from between the circles.
He also robbed Jonathan Cheechoo late right from the goalmouth.
This was a pure evaluation game for the Wild. Let's put it this way: The only players in this game who have resided in the Wild's NHL locker room during training camp were Backstrom, Eric Nystrom, Jared Spurgeon, Jordan Hendry and Brad Staubitz.
In exhibition games, teams must dress eight "regulars," but regulars constitute any combination of players who played 30 NHL games last season, 100 in their career (i.e. Jed Ortmeyer is a regular) or a first-round pick from the preceding draft (i.e. Zack Phillips is a regular).
The Wild got to take a look at the four defensmen vying for a spot -- Nate Prosser, Justin Falk, Marco Scandella and Hendry. Prosser was real good, I thought, as was Scandella, who played 24 minutes. Falk had bigtime problems the first two periods, and Hendry was mostly good except for a bad turnover at one juncture.
To me, Prosser's been the most impressive so far. Other than his first shift in Edmonton where Taylor Hall shocked him with his speed and Prosser overcommited for a scoring chance against, I think Prosser been steady and impactful. As always though for a seventh D spot, contract plays a part, and Falk requires waivers to get down to Houston.
The four D should get another look maybe in Pittsburgh Saturday, especially with Mike Lundin still shut down with back spasms and Nick Schultz being kept from games until next week after his season-ending concussion. He's been practicing though. Wild just don't want to risk it.
Ortmeyer and Warren Peters (goal, assisted by Hendry and Backstrom) were terrific tonight and you can see the faith former Aeros coach Mike Yeo has in them. With Cody Almond and Casey Wellman hurt, there's a definite door open for a number of these forwards to challenge for that 13th forward position. Ortmeyer and Peters are two responsible vets who could fill that role well.
Anyway, this was a good game to let the young guys see what it takes at this level. Zack Phillips showed signs of good, but he also learned you can't skate through three defenders in the NHL. Taylor Peters was impressive as a defensive checker and I think the Wild may look to sign him. Brett Bulmer again got under skin, but he's got to continue to get bigger.
The Wild's 2-0 this preseason and hosts Columbus on Friday night.
In that game, the Blue Jackets and Wild will each unveil their new first lines: Rick Nash, Jeff Carter and Vinny Prospal vs. Devin Setoguchi, Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley. Greg Zanon and Marek Zidlicky are also making their exhibition debuts, and the third line of Darroll Powe-Kyle Brodziak-Cal Clutterbuck will play. Josh Harding should start.
In Pittsburgh, the second and fourth lines should play with Backstrom in net.
Talk to you Friday.