After last night’s come-from-behind victory in Nashville, Wild coach Mike Yeo called for an optional practice today.Your friend Michal Russo was one of those opting out.
Twelve skaters and goaltenders Niklas Backstrom and Darcy Kuemper took to the ice for the skate, which included some half-rink 3-on-3 scrimmaging and some work on the transition game.
Here are some of the nuggets to come out of today’s workout:
--It was good news to see both forward Ryan Carter and defenseman Marco Scandella again on the ice working out out with the team. Scandella has missed the last eight games with an upper body injury and Carter has been out since Feb. 9 with a shoulder injury.
The quick news: Neither will play in tomorrow’s home game with Washington; Wild coach Mike Yeo said he would go with the same lineup against the Caps that he used in Nashville. But both players took more contact today and came out feeling OK, so both seem to be nearing a return to the ice.
Here’s what they had to say, post-practice:
First, Scandella: “I battled a little bit more today,” he said. “It still feels good. I’m just trying to get back and be sharp out there, try to get into game shape.’’
There is still a ways to go with Scandella. He said the injury affects just about every hockey movement, and it has inhibited his ability to really let loose on his shot. “I’m shooting harder and harder every day,” he said. “I’m not going full-out yet. But it feels good.”
And now Carter: He said he ramped it up a little bit more today. “It’s another step in the progression,” he said. “It’s nice to keep moving forward. When you’re not skating you feel like you’re standing still, or going backwards. It’s good to be moving the right direction.’’
For Carter, it appears he needs one or two good on-ice workouts with his teammates before he returns. He said he’s eager to see how he feels tomorrow, after having gone hard today. And there is also the matter of getting into game shape; he wasn’t able to do much skating early on in his recovery. And the action he’ll see when he returns is late-season, playoff-push hockey, so he needs to be sharp when he does return.
--So what happens when Carter is ready? With both he and Scandella close, Yeo is going to have some difficult decisions to make down the stretch of the regular season. Maybe as soon as this weekend; Yeo said he’d have a much better idea of a timetable for Scandella and Carter after Friday’s practice.
“It’s going to come to a point where we’re going to be scratching players that have done good things for us, things we like in the lineup,” Yeo said. “There will come a point where we’ll have to make some of those decisions. We’re going to try to keep everyone involved and we’ll try to make those decisions the best we can. But (Carter) is a big part of that penalty kill, too. We like him as a penalty killer.’’
--Matt Dumba was still smiling the day after his lightning-quick overtime goal gave the Wild the win in Nashville. He said his phone blew up with messages and texts from friends and family. Asked, again, to describe the goal, he said: “It was us three, me, Mikael (Granlund), and Zach (Parise), just watching (Ryan Suter) in beast mode,” he said. “We watched him shake two guys, and then we were lucky enough he got the puck up to us, and we were all jumping the other way. I tried to advance it up as much as I could. As I was coming up the ice I kind of knew what Zach was thinking. And he made a great drop pass. I just got lucky and got a little bit of a screen from the defenseman.’’
That’s about it for now. Russo will be back with the team tomorrow.