Wild coach Todd Richards said this morning that the plan is for Petr Sykora to return from 24 games away with a concussion. He first must receive medical clearance before the game, but that seems to be a foregone conclusion.
Defenseman Clayton Stoner will skate warmups. He tweaked his groin against the L.A. Kings and lasted five minutes at the optional morning skate in Anaheim. He said it felt much better today, but he still feels it and must be smart about it -- as tough as that is for a hockey player looking to stay here and not be returned to Houston. But I'd suspect that he'll probably miss tonight's game, meaning John Scott would play.
Sykora will start the game on the fourth line. James Sheppard would be the likely scratch, however, Richards said there's three or four gametime decisions because there's a lot of banged-up bodies.
However, everybody did skate today. Sykora will be looking to get Derek Boogaard a goal. He said he assisted on Zach Stortini's first-ever goal in Edmonton, "so who knows?"
Some real positive news as far as concussed defenseman Brent Burns. Burns has been working out more and more, and most importantly, has skated three or four days in a row, including today, according to Richards. He said the next step is for Burns to progress enough to feel comfortable practicing with the team. So barring any setbacks, Burns appears to be getting closer.
The L.A. Kings didn't show up at the rink this morning due to its difficult back-to-back. They played last night in Calgary, and it was a real physical, sometimes-nasty battle if you look at the highlights. So coach Terry Murray (one of my favorite coaches I've ever covered, and I've covered a bunch) chose not to even have an optional. One player is getting bagged right now, and the only member of team personnel I've seen is assistant GM Ron Hextall.
Chatted with Niklas Backstrom for a bit, and he said it's "pretty clear," whom the No. 1 will be for Team Finland. He said officials announced Miikka Kiprusoff will be the No. 1 at the Olympics, and Backstrom told me he's been told he'll play one game.
Kent Hrbek will do the "Let's Play Hockey" tonight.
Also, gloomy day for us media types. The ultra-nice Lou Cotroneo is working his final game in the Wild press box tonight. The "Godfather of St. Paul," as dubbed by Norm Coleman, is stepping down for family reasons as the Wild's press box “meet and greeter.” Lou is the former head hockey coach at Johnson High. He has been with the Wild’s Press Operations since the club’s first-ever game in 2000. He will continue to work for the city of St. Paul.
OK, talk to you tonight.