Good early evening from snowy Minny. The All-Star break is officially over and Tuesday night, the X re-opens for hockey.
The Wild and Kings hope the All-Star break didn't douse the pre-break momentum. The Wild had won four of five, the Kings three in a row.
The standings are super-tight, so neither team can afford any lapses. The Wild's 10th in the conference, one point behind 7th-, 8th- and 9th-place Chicago, San Jose and Colorado. The Kings are tied with the Wild with 55 points in 11th place, so also one point behind the logjam.
And Calgary apparently was not left for dead with the Wild's 6-0 annihilation a couple Wednesdays ago. The Flames are now one back of the Wild and Kings, two off the 7th, 8th, 9th pack.
All six teams play Tuesday night, so the standings will flip around like it will the remaining 30 or so games. Todd Richards was working hard today to get the player's minds refocused on hockey. Like all NHL teams typically in the first practice after the All-Star break, players today looked like they were on an All-Star break.
Andrew Brunette will become the 261st player to skate in his 1,000th game and second in a Wild sweater (Keith Carney). The underrated 37-year-old winger has scored 250 goals and 688 points in 999 games.
Since 1998-99, he has played in more games than any NHL player (937), having missed just three games since the start of the 2001-02 campaign. He had his 509-game Iron Man streak snapped a few years ago because he had the nerve to miss two games with a torn ACL, a torn ACL he played on for the REST OF THE YEAR!
Those were the only two games he missed since Dec. 31, 2001.
In parts of six seasons with Minnesota, he's got 113 goals and 303 points in 456 games. Brunette ranks second in franchise history in goals, power-play goals (54) and points, third in games played and game-winning goals (16) and fourth in assists.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, via Ryan Stanzel's twitter (rstanzel), he and Daymond Langkow are the only two players in the shootout era to have scored 250 goals and have no shootout goals. His .181 shooting percentage is second among active players (Alex Tanguay 18.7). And his 306 penalty minutes is the fewest of the active 1,000-gamers.
I did a big Bruno story for tomorrow, and there will be a few more Bruno things popping up in the next few weeks. Lots of extras I couldn't squeeze in.
He will be honored before the Feb. 9 game against his old team, Colorado. His parents, Dan and Sue, are coming, as are his wife, Lorie, and younger brother, Jamie. The players also bought Brunette a pretty awesome gift.
More on Brunette on Tuesday.
Injury updates: Guillaume Latendresse has started skating lightly in a track suit. Richards said Marek Zidlicky may start skating soon. James Sheppard and Josh Harding continue to skate on their own. Marco Scandella (concussion) is no better than before the break, which isn't good.
Martin Havlat didn't practice today (Darby Hendrickson was a superstar alongside Kyle Brodziak and Cal Clutterbuck today), but he's fine. It was optional for he and Brent Burns. Burns did practice and held court for a long time after practice.
He told lots of stories about the All-Star Game, several funny ones, like his dad, Robert, walking in the room at the morning skate and picking up Jonas Hiller's pads to check them out, on Peter Laviolette jabbing him for taking "too short" of shifts (I noted after the second period on Twitter how some guys, like Dustin Byfuglien, were averaging close to 2-minute shifts and Burns was playing 57-second ones) and the true context of his backchecking comment on Mic'd Up.
Burns was actually chirping Havlat for backchecking to break up Jeff Skinner's breakaway goal, telling him, "You never backcheck like that in Minnesota."
Burns talked a lot about how hard the game is for a defenseman. With no hitting, no body positioning, no anything in the D-zone, you're basically a useless observer. If you isolated your eyes just on Burns' d-zone shifts Sunday, it was quite hysterical. He didn't know what the heck to do. Burns was great today also talking about what it was like playing on the same team as Nicklas Lidstrom. I'll write more about Burns' experience during All-Star Weekend this week.