By Brian Stensaas

First - a word of warning to anyone traveling out there: BE CAREFUL!

This blog is coming to you a little late and will be brief because I'm just now returning home from covering practice today down at the X. Getting there and back to my south suburban home was just a complete mess. I thought my way there was bad when it took nearly 45 minutes to go 20 or so miles. Then I tried getting home. 35E southbound was closed because of an accident, an overhead freeway sign told me. So I hopped on Highway 13 and got completely lost somewhere between Mendota and Mendota Heights (I've lived here 10 years - didn't know there was a difference ..). Once I found Highway 77, I nearly spun out on the ramp but a little careful driving (coupled with a cuss word, I admit) saved the day.

Speaking of cussing, I won't rat anybody out but boy was today's Wild practice intense. It started right away when coach Todd Richards made it very clear to the team that they could do things his way and be out of there in 45 minutes, or continue to lag and be out there in an hour and a half. They must have found some sort of happy medium, because the practice lasted just a little over an hour. It was a good, tough practice, though. Lots of conditioning in this one, especially at the end.

A couple of good battles in the corners today. I saw one player whack his stick on the boards in frustration. And, like I said, some of the language was fierce.

Ah, hockey.

Just about everyone who should be out on the ice was today. The lone exception was Andrew Brunette. Richards said Brunette tweaked his knee or ankle against Edmonton, played on it against the Flyers and came in today saying it was sore. So he just hit the weights. Richards said if the team had a game today, Brunette would have been out there for the morning skate. So I wouldn't worry too much about this.

What else ....

Antti Miettinen has a nasty-looking upper lip after taking an uncalled high stick to the face against the Flyers. Miettinen received a pretty deep cut and required stitches both inside and outside of his lip. I joked that he'll have to be careful shaving, and he deadpanned that he will keep the razor away, and probably will have a mustache for the Olympics. We'll see about that one

Niklas Backstrom was on the ice for about two hours today. He said he feels great and is ready to go. He did not, however, bite when asked if he's going to play Wednesday against Phoenix. He gave tus a grin and then the 'ole "You'll have to ask the coaches."

Chuck Kobasew again skated on his own after practice. He has been out since spraining his left ACL and PCL on Dec. 26. He must be getting close, though, because Richards said Kobasew will take part in Wednesday's morning skate.

OK - I have to get writing. Remember to follow me on Twitter ("stensation") this week for all your Wild updates while Russo gets ready for ice dancing coverage in Vancouver.