Nick Schultz, the outstanding Wild defenseman who had his appendix removed Monday, said it was painful to watch the 3-2 overtime loss to Colorado on television at his home Wednesday night.

"I'll head down to the Xcel Center and watch it from probably the press box [tonight]," he said. "... You know, it's pretty weird playing all season and all of a sudden you're sidelined at the best time of the year -- playoff time -- and you're watching. But it's something where I'm glad I'm healthy now and can try to get back to game mode now and hopefully play again.

"It's hard. It's frustrating for you as a player and your team. We've got a great time and a great chance to have a good run and stuff, so I mean it's definitely frustrating.

"I think the guys played well in Game 1. Guys stepped up and elevated their game, and that's what teams do in the playoffs to have success when certain guys go down. You're going to have that throughout the playoffs, and it's just something where I hope I can get back and try to help out on the ice."

Avalanche improved

Schultz described Colorado as stronger than it was when the Wild took the regular-season series 5-3.

"When they added those guys, those veteran guys that have played in that organization before and won there, that adds a lot of confidence to their team," he said. "A lot of leadership and then obviously the skill with [Peter] Forsberg and what he can do on the ice and [Adam] Foote on the point. He's a big, physical guy, a veteran guy, and that helps a lot. They're definitely a lot stronger now than they were probably even midway through the season."

"We've had a great season against them. We've won a lot of games; the other ones have been close, we've been right there. So I think you saw that in the first game. We dominated them for two periods and into the third, [and] things just didn't go our way. But it's something that happens in certain games."

He credited Avalanche goaltender Jose Theodore with some great saves among his 28 for the game. "That's playoff hockey right there, good goaltending, and the team goes the other way and gets their first chance of the game and it's in the net," he said. "That's something where it can be frustrating, but he played well. I mean, we had a lot of chances. We've just got to keep going at him, keep getting chances and the puck will go in."

Said Schultz, who was missed Wednesday, about his recuperating: "Yeah, I'm doing pretty good, doing a lot better. I'm pretty excited about how the recovery's going, just kind of chipping away here every day, hopefully get a little better."

He hopes to play yet this season if the team can come back to beat Colorado and advance to the second round. "I'm pretty confident right now that I'll be able to play again," he said. "It's something where it's hard to say right now when, but I'm pretty confident I can get back healthy here and on the ice."

He said his problem started Saturday morning while with the team in Colorado.

"I woke up that morning and kind of had a pain in my stomach and it just kind of got worse and worse," he said. "It got to the point where they checked me out and next thing you know, I'm in the hospital getting surgery.

"Actually [my appendix] burst a little. It was leaking a little bit, but it was a thing where they got everything cleaned out and washed out of there. So yeah, if it would have burst completely, it would have been a totally different story."

Need partner

Gov. Tim Pawlenty, speaking to a group of local top businessmen Thursday, said it is obvious the Vikings can't continue to play in the Metrodome for many more seasons.

However, Pawlenty made it clear the Vikings have to find a partner to help fund the $1 billion stadium. The Vikings owners and the NFL would pay $250 million.

"Minneapolis has a law that prevents it from spending more than $10 million on a stadium," Pawlenty said. "Hennepin County just went into partners with the Twins. So with the state having a $900 million deficit, the Viking stadium is a problem."

However, the governor made it very clear he is willing to listen to anybody who has a solution.

"I realize that the Vikings can't continue to play at the Metrodome," Pawlenty said.

Jottings

Gophers football coach Tim Brewster said he is really excited about what Notre Dame transfer and offensive lineman Matt Carufel has shown in practice so far. "He's going to have to sit this year, unfortunately, because I'm going to tell you what, Matt Carufel has had a great five days of practice and I wish he could line up for us right now."

Gophers hockey player Blake Wheeler, who was drafted by Phoenix, said he will have a better feeling on whether he will be back for his senior year after his last day of classes in May. "After last season they [Phoenix] were just in a little bit of contact, but I think more or less I'm under the old [collective bargaining agreement], so it's a little bit different contract situation and so I don't think they wanted to waste a year on my contract. But more or less, I think they just wanted to wait until after the season and after I was out of school before really talking about much."

Former Gophers hockey captain and defenseman Mike Vannelli, who was with the Philadelphia Flyers organization for part of the past season, is selling orthopedic products and his pro hockey days are over. But he said, "I definitely want to try and find a way to stay involved in the game somehow."

The 2008-09 Gophers wrestling schedule will include competing in the Las Vegas Invitational on Dec. 5-6 and the Dallas Duels on Jan. 3. The Gophers also will host Oklahoma State's outstanding team here during next season.

Former Gophers basketball player Quincy Lewis, who is playing for Club de Baloncesto Bilbao in Spain, scored a season-high 14 points in a 93-90 victory over Club Baloncesto Estudiantes on Saturday. Lewis is averaging 7.9 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. ... Another ex-Gopher, Adam Boone, is averaging 13 points per game for Oberwart in the top Austrian League. ... Vincent Grier is leading his Maritime Gravelines-Dunkerque team in France, scoring 13.2 points per game. Michael Bauer who is playing for Stade Lorrain Université Club Nancy in the same French league, is averaging 11.7 points per game.

Chris Taylor, son of former Gopher Corky Taylor, played in 21 games for Brown the past season as a freshman forward and scored a total of 15 points. His coach was Craig Robinson, presidential candidate Barack Obama's brother-in-law. Robinson recently left Brown to become head coach at Oregon State.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast twice a week at www.startribune.com/sidcast. shartman@startribune.com.