Twelve skaters along with goalies Niklas Backstrom and Darcy Kuemper took the ice at Xcel Energy center for Friday’s optional practice.
The whole team was here, with those not skating doing an off-ice workout as the Wild get ready for the upcoming home-and-away series with Colorado that starts here Saturday night.
Here are some items from today’s practice:
--Still no news, baby-wise, for goaltender Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk, whose wife is expecting their second child, was at Xcel today and is slated to start against Colorado Saturday. “We’re planning to start Devan right now,” coach Mike Yeo said. “If something changes, we’ll adjust.’’
--Among the 12 skaters on the ice today was winger Zach Parise, who is still working very hard to get his game back to where it needs to be. Parise has played in four games since missing eight with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee. Parise knew there would be a process of knocking off the rust from his game. Still, the process has been frustrating. “It’s very frustrating,” he said. “The hard part is I felt really good about the way I was playing before I got hurt. Just the way I was skating, the way I was handling the puck. So when you come back you want to just pick up where you left off, and it’s hard to do.’’
According to Yeo, Parise played progressively better in each of his first three games back, peaking with a very solid performance in Tuesday’s 2-1 victory in Chicago. Last night’s 1-0 victory over Toronto was a different story.
“In the Chicago game Zach looked like Zach,” Yeo said. “The last game, I saw more signs of him not being quite there yet. I don’t expect it to come around completely. I think there will be moments when he’s completely there, there will be games when he’s completely there. And certainly he’s a guy whose competitiveness and determination will make it a quicker process than it might be for others.’’
--Here is Yeo on what it will take to get the Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Nino Niederreiter line going again: “At the beginning of the year that was a group that was not focused on scoring goals,” Yeo said. “I think they were focused on just playing their game. They were getting a lot of zone time, getting momentum off of that. There was a lot more movement in the offensive zone as opposed to right now. I feel we’re getting a lot of pucks and we’re trying to make a play. When that happens you stop moving your feet, and then people close in on you. Then you either turn the puck over or they separate you from it.’’
Yeo wants the line to sort of hit the reset button and go back to playing the way it was at the start of the season. “These are three guys who are strong in their puck battles,” Yeo said. “If they can go out with that mindset a lot of good things will follow.’
--Yeo said defenseman Matt Dumba’s game has gotten markedly better the last three games. “The picture has looked far more like what it should look like,” he said.